Plastic-Free Adventures (and Misadventures) #1: Dumpster Diving!

1:30am, undisclosed location in Central Auckland, home to an open dumpster. I can’t tell you where. Truth is, it’s a trust system between dumpster divers*.

Two excited (and slightly drowsy) scavengers enter the carpark with trepidation. “Let’s try to look normal, like we’re supposed to be here”. Yeah, I think, 1am supermarket runs are completely normal. “Far out, these floodlights are bright!”. “Hehe”. ‘Walk with purpose’,  I keep telling myself.  There seems to still be human movement at the garage in the far corner of the lot. Nevertheless, striding like we’re born this way, we make it over to the dumpster gate. “Man, are we gonna have to jump that?” “Not if we can fit in through this hole.” “Yayyy we’re small enough!”

 “Hey, here’s a torch 🙂 – how about you check out the front, and I’ll head to the rear?”.  Tip toeing in the half-dark, I poke my head over the side. This is when it gets real: it’s a treasure trove! Bunches upon bunches of perfectly ripened bananas, twirled-up bags of sliced loaves, Hulk-sized broccoli and watermelons, even a sealed container of yesterday’s fresh baking. Score! We keep stashing and stashing into banana boxes, probably over $100 worth of food. “Look, a full bottle of wine!” “Someone’s gonna be celebrating tonight” (Or, more accurately, this morning). 

In all the giddy glory of abundance, a crazy reality presented itself to me: this amount of food is thrown away every day. The majority of it edible, much of it fairly good condition. At the same time, people are homeless and begging, and many children without access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Since the adventure, I’ve been doing some investigating, but can’t seem to find figures on tonnes of food thrown away by NZ supermarkets per week. However, whatever this is is likely to be miniscule compared to the 122,547 tonnes of food thrown away by Kiwi households per year (all of which could have been eaten).

As fun as it was for my Dad** and I, the glory of dumpster diving is really a symptom of a greater issue: a society whose way of living includes throwing away much more than we need to. However, the good news is that being the change is really fun. Buying wisely, looking for fun ways to use things up, and making the most of waste, are becoming easier and easier.

Check out this Love Food, Hate Waste campaign for more ideas: Love Food, Hate Waste 🙂

Very upliftingly, it also appears that supermarket chains such as Countdown donate more than $3.5 million of food per year, including around approximately 509 tonnes of food each to those in need.

And for those who are a little adventurous I reckon the stuff they throw away is still pretty choice!

*If you’d like to know which dumpster we went to,  leave a comment :).

**Who is like a best friend to me. ❤

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