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(Detroit Free Press)   Freegans pluck meals from trash   ( divider line
    More: Strange  
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11415 clicks; posted to Main » on 27 Dec 2004 at 3:35 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2004-12-27 04:20:37 PM  
I've been known to dumpster dive, but usually only for durable goods. Electonics, etc. I've built two computers (one is a K6/2-500mhz, and the other an Athalon 1.2Ghz - no hot rods, but still useful), a JVC stereo amp, and a 50" Hitachi big screen out of dumpsters and dumpsites. The amp only had a blown fuse, and the big screen needed a $2.00 capacitor from radio shack to get it going. I don't think I could do food from the trash, but there are certainly things that are worth dumpster diving for, if you know how to do a little basic electronics repair. Same goes for Thrift Stores...people around here often toss out high end stuff that only needs a few minutes of attention to get working again.
2004-12-27 04:21:34 PM  
Damn, am I the only one who needs to wash after just HEARING about this?

/Goes looking for the soap and Lysol
2004-12-27 04:24:39 PM  

Have you heard of "Food not Bombs"?

It's when a large group of people like these dumpster divers, and like-minded peers do exactly that. They gather all the materials they can, usually donated, but also scavenged, and cook an incredibly large (and, from what I've heard, tasty) meal from it. All are invited to both help cook, and to eat, and a large amount of homeless often show up. It creates a nice sense of community. I live in Detroit, but I know it also happens all over North America. DIY for life.

2004-12-27 04:25:06 PM  
"Did they ever consider talking to the stores throwing food out? Maybe they can donate the day old baked goods to homeless shelters. I know of a few bakeries in my area that do that. This alone helps no one, but does bring awareness to the fact that maybe some food is going to waste."

---> Sorry, but the homeless and freegans don't like muffin tops. :)
2004-12-27 04:26:05 PM  
The food's perfectly edible, its not like people are taking rotting meat or anything. I've eaten plenty of skipped food and never got ill from it. What possible, reasonable objection could anyone have to people choosing to feed themselves this way?
2004-12-27 04:28:13 PM  
I live here in Santa Cruz, CA. Home of UCSC.

At the end of each semester, when the kids take their breaks, transfer, etc --we romp through the dumpsters. These farking rich spoiled kids throw away ANYTHING. Ive gotten a minidisc player, scores of CDs, two computer monitors, rugs, and tons and tons of books.

/just thought Id throw that out there
2004-12-27 04:28:28 PM  

Excellent plans!

Now that the infrastructure has been built, clean water is available, and a safety net is in place if you need it, I wish I could feel free to do absolutely nothing with my life.
2004-12-27 04:28:47 PM  
I thought a "freegan" was someone who protested capitalism by refusing to buy food, and coming up out of the basement a few times a day to eat food his mom bought.
2004-12-27 04:29:28 PM  
"I'm a Level 5 Freegan. I don't eat anything out of a dumpster that casts a shadow.

I'm have only a Level 3 Freegan but he has the Filthy Hippy Cordoroy of Self-Importance +5 and Stench of Wounding +3

I should be able to level him up once we kill of few more Spectres of Imaginary Righteous Cause.
2004-12-27 04:30:54 PM  
Laugh at the name, but Ho-Ho-Kus and Wycoff are pretty nice neighborhoods. They ARE probably dumpster diving at Whole Foods and bistros. They need to get lives. Maybe jobs. (Not surprised after hearing 6-year-old Wycoff kid throw a temper tantrum for sushi)
2004-12-27 04:32:10 PM  
KFC routinely throws out hundreds of pounds of chicken every day, if it fails to sell in a matter of hours; in most cases it's perfectly good.

Eggs are routinely thrown out by the case if they are overdue, or if one or two are broken, the whole dozen is dumped.

Clothing is discarded at apartment complexes in large quantity; tube type TV sets and VCR tapes and recorders are being dumped en masse because flat-screen TVs and DVDs are the coming thing.

Hotels and motels are a good place for towels, sheets, pillowcases, wash cloths, and mattresses. They are also a good source of porno mags and dirty videotapes.

Big deep-cycle batteries are usually discarded in the spring at places which cater to the outboard motor set; quite often all they need is a charge.

In a military town, everyone moves in the summer, so furniture is discarded by the ton. Wall to wall carpeting is usually replaced when it is nowhere near worn out by hotels and offices.

Convenience stores routinely throw away a whole six-pack if one can is punched; only drawback is, beer tastes too good when it's free.

Empty cigarette packages are worth an average of $0.25 in merchandise; I got $7,000 worth of loot last year that way.

I don't recommend this, but cars are free---temporarily. Check a dealer's lot early Sunday morning, and quite often you will find the keys in the ignition, or under the seat. Put plates on it, drive it across State lines, park it a week or so in a shopping mall parking lot, leave it sit for a week.

This also works well at Halliburton if you would rather have a big diesel truck: they leave the keys in them routinely, just drive it off and tell the boss I said it was okay.

Motorcycles aren't free but you can come close if you know where to look, and when: start in January when the Christmas bills are stacked up and the Income Tax refunds are a long way off. Look for something which hasn't been run in months, with scratches down one side. This indicates the owner has dumped it, and lost his nerve. He wants the money---but he REALLY wants to see the last of that bike!

Everything's free in America, or darn close to it. You just gotta know where to look.
2004-12-27 04:32:23 PM  

I don't see McDonald's on the donor list.
2004-12-27 04:33:05 PM  
....Well if thats what they want to do.... but they're still stupid.

My new hobby is dumpster pissing! I will be the first urigan.
2004-12-27 04:33:18 PM  

Re: Food No Bombs.

That's a great idea. I'd like to see people just get food from stores instead of getting it from the trash, but whatever. And in this article, the kids didnt say they go and donate the food to people who could use it. They all live with their parents and just choose to eat this food instead of the food their familie buy. Now if this article went on to tell me that they gave this food to the homeless, people who cannot afford food at all, I'd respect them a little more. But at least they got people's attention concerning the amount of food wasted.
2004-12-27 04:34:47 PM  
I'll stick to dumpster-diving from computer/electronics stores, thanks.

/poor geeks are very resourcesful
//not poor anymore, haven't done it in years
2004-12-27 04:34:49 PM  

I don't own land, and therefore cannot garden, but I do recycle. Most of my friends who DD (Dumpster Dive) and rent houses with gardens use them. alot.

Like Betty said, all of the food is perfectly fine. I have a friend who's parents refuse to eat at his house because they know he dumpsters. When he brought over the 15 lb bag of sealed popcorn he found in a dumpster, they were suspicious, but willing to try it, provided he wash the seeds first. He did, and they said it was the best popcorn they've ever had.

And Trucker, most dumpsters aren't as bad as you might think, especially if you go out to the suburbs. Just stay away from chinese restaraunt's dumpsters, trust me!

2004-12-27 04:34:50 PM  
I eat food from dumpsters all the time. Its free and delcious, what more could you ask for?
2004-12-27 04:39:58 PM  

Luxury boats are available free during the week; just snag one on Monday morning, and it will probably be Friday afternoon before they know it is missing.

Small aircraft are easy to pilfer, and the lock system on a Piper Cub or something equivalent is usually inferior to that of even a cheap car. As with boats, Monday morning at 6 AM is the perfect time.

Bear in mind, boats and planes are only free on a temporary basis; you have to leave them once you are through with them, usually the same day, preferably a long ways from where you found them.

Drugs are also free if you make your own, and it reduces the chances of getting caught if you keep your mouth shut about it. is loaded with good drug book recipes. Paladin Press has good books on how to pick locks so you can borrow cars and planes any time you need them.
2004-12-27 04:40:57 PM  
At age 20, 2 days after my marriage broke up I went to stay at a Rainbow Family of Magic and Light gathering. They were friendly and at the time and I had a fascination with hippies and the 60's. So there I was. Reeling from betrayal, deep in heartbreak, and looking for some compassion. Didn't find much there. Found out they are no different than any other group of people, they just think they are right when they are not. But anyway, the food sucked. It was free. I was broke so I had to eat it, but most of them were vegans. 3 Days into it I had to have some meat. So we were sitting by the fire, someone was beating a tamborine, someone else was chanting, it was almost serene. Then a group came over with McDonald's. I was so thankful. They were cold so we were heating them up on the fire. After I was done eating I was told that it was "McDumpster". I knew right then that I was in with a class of people that I just couldn't be with. They thought I was funny for reacting like I did. The next day the fattest nekkid chick you ever saw decided to "adopt" me. I jogged directly to my station wagon and left at full speed.

fark them dumpster diving hippies. Yuck.
2004-12-27 04:41:28 PM  
i bet they hug trees too

2004-12-27 04:42:24 PM  
Remember, too, that those people that dumpster dive right after their local college get out for summer are in a sense freegans. They are refusing to buy new computers / clothing / amenities that are used once or twice by idiot kids.

I've found three-subject notebooks with two pages used in them, perfect three-ring binders, CDs (20 or so), as well as boxes of individually wrapped granola bars, 9/10th full bags of chips, and the like.

When I can actually get my finances up to the point that I can move into a house with some like-minded individuals, I would love to make a greywater collection and recycling system for the house. How I understand it to work is that I have the used water from a shower, full of nitrogen from soaps and shampoos and the like, collect, to which I can water my plants. Plants love nitrogen, and I don't have to waste water just once with a shower or with a plant! Forgive me if my biology is wrong, but it is just something that strikes me as essential to do, and its hard to impliment right now with a very lazy family. If anyone has any good tips for that, you can find my email on the site.

My zine, full of GLBT politics, DIY projects, and the finest in independent music.
2004-12-27 04:42:24 PM  
Lots of people will jump on this bandwagon. What's cooler than rooting through dumpsters? Plus it lends itself so well to the current music video astheti. Totally, man.
2004-12-27 04:43:24 PM  
since when is Dumpster capitalized?

Someone please 'splain this...
2004-12-27 04:44:17 PM  
olddinosaur, there's a huge difference between dumpster diving and outright theft. I hope you're simply trolling.

But hey, I guess room and board is free in prison.
2004-12-27 04:44:18 PM  
I think I'm gonna HURL!!!!! The only political statement it makes is that "You're an A-hole!!!!!"
2004-12-27 04:44:48 PM  
This thread needs more pics of dirty, disgusting hippies.
2004-12-27 04:45:31 PM  

Thanks for all the visuals. Nice post
2004-12-27 04:45:37 PM  
"There is so much food out there, and you have to learn to make the best use of it now," said Saiya Miller, 15, of Wyckoff, N.J. "And we need to let people know that it's not working out and changes need to happen."

Somebody's making their momma proud! Honestly, though, I don't see the big deal. When I worked at McDonald's in high school, I used to volunteer to take out the breakfast waste. I packed it all in garbage bags, then tossed it into my buddy's truck bed as he drove through at 10:35 a.m. That's good eatin'!
2004-12-27 04:47:02 PM  
That was the most beautiful post I've read in my life. I salute you, sir.
/No sarcasm. A little jealousy, but no sarcasm.
2004-12-27 04:47:10 PM  
I love it when people feel sorry for me, and try to give me charity, I feel so wonderful telling them to go f themselves.

BTW, if I'm a bum, why do I live in a house I own, while you have to sweat and strain, and cough up a week's pay or more for monthly rent?

Why do I have money in the bank, when you have a stack of debts? Why do I own three motorcycles, when you have to struggle to make payments on one car?

How come I can live better than you do, and not have to work for a living?

DAMN! I am sure enjoying this thread! I am going to make a point to get up early tomorrow, so I can sit by the freeway and watch the suckers go to work, and laugh at them.
2004-12-27 04:48:59 PM  
olddinosaur, I was going to say you were my hero, right up to the point where you stopped "living for free" and started "stealing things for pleasure". Good luck with the lifestyle but if you aren't bullshaiting everyone, I must say I do hope you catch a facefull of buckshot from one of those luxury boat owners.
2004-12-27 04:50:04 PM  
Ive never gotten in a dumpster but in my apartment complex people leave good furniture, appliances etc. beside the dumpster when they move out. I got a great futon, computer desk, hoover vacuum cleaner, etc. because people were to lazy to move or sell the stuff. Its like rooms to go only free. I would never take anything that was actually IN the dumpster.

\would never eat out of a dumpster thats just nasty.
2004-12-27 04:52:23 PM  

What makes you think you live better than anyone else? Lots of people get satisfaction from their work, I'm sorry you can't understand that.

BTW you scrounge around and steal your stuff, sounds like work to me.

Tell me what freeway you'll be sitting at. I got a sack of bottles I need recycled.
2004-12-27 04:53:11 PM  
I've eaten stuff from dumpsters before... best find ever was a coffee supply place, they must have changed their inventory or something, but there was a couple year's worth of coffee.

I've also found a nice NAD amp, a pair of decent speakers, a bbq. I did get picked up by the cops once, at a university, we were rummaging through their surplus dumpster picking up computers... cops pulled up and laughed when he realised we were just rummaging through the garbage.
2004-12-27 04:58:07 PM  
there is NOTHING wrong with living off the land, or from the waste that less-thoughtful folks generate.

"One man gathers what another man spills."

We're all in this together people. Wake up.
2004-12-27 04:58:45 PM  
bad olddinosaur, bad!

I support your ideas, but your means are hurtful to others. And despite the facts that "they have so much, and you have so little", or "they don't appriciate what they have" you are pulling some one back so you can get ahead. At the risk of sounding like a damned hippy: We're all in this together. If you hurt some one to help yourself, we (in a collective sense) gain nothing! Subversiveness isn't a crime, it's a virture. But stealing echoes pure greed, and unwholesome morals. Either you're trolling, or you're rationalizing. Either way, stop.
2004-12-27 04:59:21 PM  
Hey, don't you Farkers know the difference between a rant and a joke?

Evidently the noobs have fallen for my favorite trick: stirring up trouble when there's nothing better to do on a chilly afternoon.
2004-12-27 05:00:40 PM  
'Seems to me that the people on this thread who are reacting negatively to dumpster eaters are annoyed by the somewhat high-handed moral tone of the people in the article. I say if you want to scavenge, go ahead. But don't label yourself some sort of eco-hero, that's just egotistical. You're a dumpster diver. Not my thing, but hey, knock yourself out. BTW, there are legal reasons why food gets dumped like this; some are silly reasons, some aren't, but the point is compliance. Blaming the restaurants is short-sighted. Even when it's a matter of choice, it's because the market driven economy demands "freshness." If you want to make a difference, think about supporting the Slow Foods movement or encouraging people to eat at home more or buy from Co-Ops. And don't get me started on the banning of artisanal food products. Grrr...
2004-12-27 05:01:11 PM  
I notice none of those interviewed for the article were over 26 years of age, and most of them were- in fact- teenagers.

Can anyone say "cry for attention"?

Now, I have been homeless and hungry (long ago) and I never had to resort to dumpster-diving, nor would I unless I were truly desperate. The problem isn't that it's in a dumpster- The problem is that you have no idea what happened to that food before it was thrown in the dumpster.

Example: You find a perfectly good cucumber in the dumpster, wrapped in a plastic bag. It seems ripe, unbruised, and safe to eat. What you don't know is that the cucumber was 90% of the way up someone's rectum only 12 hours earlier.

Yummy! Enjoy your asscumber!

I'd rather scavenge for cans and use the money to buy food that I'm certain wasn't in someone's mouth, butt, vagina, ear, or any other orifice. I'd rather have food that wasn't possibly exposed to hazzardous chemicals, radiation, or storage conditions.

I've thrown out bags of fruit that were accidentally exposed to pesticide, but hey- By all means, enjoy your potentially poisoned free food! When you get violently ill, make sure to blame it on consumerism or capitalist pigs. It would never be YOUR fault that you're too stupid to make sure your food is safe to eat, right?

In the USA, even a homeless, jobless, poor person can find reasonably-priced food and the funds to pay for it. We have plenty of fresh water, plenty of plants, plenty of animals, and plenty of fast food joints that sell burgers for under a dollar. We have canned food, we have supermarkets that have ridiculous sales, and we have soup kitchens.

When a bunch of pretentious gits start eating out of dumpsters to protest the system, I can't say I feel sorry for them if they keel over dead from it.

And I'm a left-wing nut! I can only imagine what the right-wing nuts think of this!
2004-12-27 05:02:30 PM  
[image from too old to be available]

boobs x food!
2004-12-27 05:03:52 PM  


"You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means."

/a real joke: john Kerry goes into a bar and the bartender says, "why the long face?"
2004-12-27 05:04:15 PM  
I stopped reading the article half way through because I just can't stand hippies.

Get a job you free-loaders!
2004-12-27 05:04:46 PM  
olddinosaur: you got me. Congratz.

Dr_4_Bob: I don't blame the grocers, I blame those laws. I know I scavenge, I'm cool with that title. I also know that if those restaurants and grocers would donate the food, then we'd have far less hungry people on the streets.
2004-12-27 05:05:09 PM  
Important news: A kyocera 120 solar panel is available at $454 from Arizona Wind & Sun, down from $600 last year.

By failing to pay for electricity, you not only save the money from your own pocket; you also prevent the outflow of money to foreign countries, many of whom hate us.
2004-12-27 05:08:28 PM  
WilderKWight- yeah, no kiddin'; one of my friends is a sous-chef at a very well-known restaurant here in NYC. If "oh look, perfectly good food" winds up in the dumpster, sometimes there's a VERY VERY good reason it's there! Just because something doesn't make you immediately ill doesn't mean it's "okay."
2004-12-27 05:09:13 PM  
isn't olddinosaur the guy who was talking the other day about how to find what he called "VERY VERY NICE" pictures of topless 12-16 year old girls and enlightening us as to what companies sold videos of underage girls at nude and topless beaches?
2004-12-27 05:10:20 PM  
olddinosaur's house that he owns is free. Just move in when he's not there, and when he gets back, knock him out and roll him down the hill into the river. It's easy! Same with his motorcycle: Just knock him off and speed away on it! Make sure you grab his bank card before you do, though, because otherwise you won't have access to his money, which is also free!

See? Everything's free! Hooray! All you have to do is count on others to leave their belongings unattended for a few minutes! Nevermind what would happen if we all tried to do it-- just be happy and take what you want, because we're all five f*cking years old and the world is one big playground!

/Fight Club?
2004-12-27 05:11:54 PM  
link for the Kyocera 120 is

BTW, I bought a 3750 Coleman generator at Pep Boys last minth for $399, and as soon as I did, 3500-watt generators went on sale for $299; it about figures.
2004-12-27 05:12:38 PM  
I'd be happy eating scraps and leftovers for the rest of my life. I'm one of those people who can actually taste freeness.
2004-12-27 05:13:12 PM  
Did they ever consider talking to the stores throwing food out? Maybe they can donate the day old baked goods to homeless shelters...

I used to work at a coffee shop that did that. Makes more sense than chucking a perfectly good (but day-old) muffin in the garbage.

I guess we were an exception to the rule, but it makes no sense to just toss food in the dumpster when it's still OK.
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