Last week I was invited to see a documentary movie called “Just Eat It.”
The movie was about a young couple who decided they would just live of discarded food.
They would go about looking through bins of large food outlets to see what had been thrown out.
As the movie progressed they discover that big supermarkets send 40% of their shelf product to landfill.
But that’s not all. One third of fresh product does not even make it to the seller, as the fruit or vegetable has to be of a certain size and color otherwise the supermarket won’t buy it.
Once a customer brings home the shopping bag full of groceries, it is not unusual for roughly a third of that food to go off and be thrown out before eaten.
In Australia $8-10 billion dollars’ worth of food is wasted or 4 million tons ending up in landfill.
Globally $750 billion U.S. dollars in edible product is thrown away.
Each year several billion tons of fertile soil are lost due to organic foods been put in landfill.
850 million people in the world don’t have enough to eat, at the same time 1/3 of food goes to waste.
The grand global total being 1.3 billion tons of food thrown away.
Naturally I was shocked by the documentary. The couple accumulated so much food they ran out of space in their house to store it. The guy had put on 10 pounds, he got fat!
So after the movie I decided to investigate and see if the startling facts were true.
I would “Dumpster Dive”, which is the name coined for looking through the bins of food outlets.
So at 1 am in the morning I walked through Melbourne’s back alley’s looking through any bin I could find.
Most were locked with chains, but I quickly struck gold out the back of David Jones. I then found some more cool stuff next to the Vodafone outlet and by 3 am I had so much stuff I could not walk.
Luckily one shop had discarded a quality Airline Suitcase, so I was able to carry the haul on little wheels.
The garbage trucks came and went at 4am. With all the bins empty I went home to see what I had collected.
Here is the list:
Electrical (all working):
1 Electric Kettle. 2 AC240 volt power adaptors. 1 Computer Mouse. 3 Computer Power Cables. 1 Monitor Cable. 1 Sony Phone Dock Charger. 3 USB Phone Connectors. 2 Samsung Phone Chargers. 2 short phone cables. 1 Nokia Phone Adaptor. 1 iphone Adaptor.
1 Caroline Morgan size 12 Black Pants. 1 TRUE Size 44 Polka dot Jacket. 1 EZEKIEL Striped Top. 3 assorted scarves. 1 Cardigan (non name). 1 Country Road Beanie. 1 Funspirit Girls Pink Jacket Hoody. 1 Trafuluc Black Sleeveless Top. 1 UNI QLD Black Fleecy Top. 1 H&M Kids Cap. 1 Pink Girls Purse.
1 Small Plush Little Penguin. 1 Small Plush Pink Elephant.
5 Apples. 5 Containers of Fresh Vegetables for making Soup.
plus 15 ceramic Coffee Mugs, 1 Coca-Cola drink glass and a really big Airline Suitcase, with the wheels and the fold up handle.
Stuff I Had to leave behind:
maybe 20 kg of Vacuum sealed Chicken Breasts, Possible 100 kg of fresh vegetables, 3 Computer Chairs, 1 Computer Desk, 1 Pool Filter (still in box), more assorted airline bags, 5 shop window lights (really pretty, such a shame) and much more.
The amount of perfectly usable items thrown is staggering. This was just one night of 365 days in the year. I could only rescue a tiny percentage due to my carrying capacity.
While I was amazed and feeling lucky by all the good stuff I found, I was also sad. It was quite a unique feeling; I imagine it would be not unlike the emotion of winning the lottery then losing the ticket.
I recommend anyone to go foraging through bins, even if it is just to see the massive amount of good products we throw away.
Please Note: If you are thinking of Dumpster Diving for the first time, it would be advisable for you to click on the post header below and read about how to safely prepare the food you find. 🙂
Loxley Smithett earthknight.org