Dumpsters are Great, Capitalism is Boring
I shop differently than I used to. I also don't pay for many things anymore. I guess knowing of the incredible treasures to be found in the garbage can lead to that real quick.
I went through a phase once of spending lots of money on wellness shit and organic food. I was making a fair bit of money during this time so it worked. Then life happened, I became frugal (raiding clearance sections ayyy), and began to spend less and less. Later I spent all my money on yoga and travel. Money became a limited resource. Lucky for me, some great souls spoke of dumpster diving in a way that gave me the confidence to try it. And so I did, and my first night at it I pulled out three full boxes of organic produce in seconds (high score yo). It’s kind of a super power. Just last night I was walking down Bronson and found a great Columbia sleeping bag in some sidewalk garbage bin which I then slept in that same night
“That's nice”, you say. Indeed it is. Not worrying about money as much has done wonders. Being able to travel almost money-less was a magical experience. I don’t pay for food very often anymore (at least when I have time to cook, lately that’s been a challenge). My line of work in food waste recovery and redistribution on campuses helps out a fair bit when times get tough, but that aside, I know the ways.
Consider this: walking down the produce section, you notice many a blemish on assorted sections of produce. People seem to be averse to said blemishes, so there is a fair expectation that they may be thrown away. So, all those apples and tomatoes are basically garbage that hasn’t made its way to the compactor yet. But wait! See all those other shiny pristine pieces of granny smiths about? Imagine a third or so will be tossed, too. Now stop imagining and understand that a third of those grannies (or some other significant amount) will be tossed as well. Likewise for all the other produce. And those cosmetics. And the packaged food items. And meat and dairy and bread. Basically, a lot of it will end up in the garbage, compacted or recoverable in the bags in the dumpster (heheh).
This is what I see in grocery stores. I see inevitable waste (I see other things, too). And then I go around back when the sun sets and it’s all right there. And I can have it. Only this time I don’t have to pay for it. And I get a workout out of it (diving is quite laborious, let me tell you). It's a predictable series of events happening every day in almost every food selling establishment. And it makes me gag. I don’t need that many containers of yogurt, or 20 different bottles of assorted supplements and herb powders in capsule form. Or eye shadow. A bunch of kale, some root veggies and a loaf of bread will do me well. Think broccoli is scary? Imagine having to decide whether to drag two dozen heads back home or take one and accept that it will be wasted. You get over it pretty quick though; you’d be dead before you can carry that much home.
Maybe they should give it away or something. Maybe to their employees. Could be a thing to try.
// image by Rohit Anand