Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dumpster Diving

Patrolled the empty streets of Sulphur the other night, cruising along, seeking out any promising looking dumpsters. Dumpster Diving is an art, one that I'm new at, and like any other, there's lots to learn. Like which dumpsters are locked and which are open. Or when trash pickup is. Or which stores have a compactor instead of a dumpster. These are all things I'm learning and the best way to learn is to do.

So the other night, my Adventure Chick and I went out and jumped in. The first dumpster was behind a retail store. Some stores toss out some pretty good items. You can find all sorts of things in a dumpster. This one was full of flattened cardboard boxes. Strike one.

The next dumpster turned out to not be a dumpster at all. I was going to hit up a medium sized grocery store in an attempt to score some free produce. Entire heads of lettuce get tossed if there's not enough room. You can get for free food in such good condition and so far on the good side of the expiration date that you'd pay full price for them. The grocery store we marched behind had a compactor instead of a dumpster. All their trash gets compressed, smashed to a pulp and sealed in a large container that's impossible to access from the outside. Strike two.

Near the Dollar Store was a cop. He was sitting in his car, watching movies. Good thing dumpster diving is not baseball. Strike three.

The dumpster beside another dollar store yielded a battery-powered AM/FM radio. It was about the size of a deck of cards with a collapsable antenna. It works perfectly.

Behind another store, I score about fifteen loaves of bread, most of which have not hit their sell by date. There's also a few packs of hot dog buns, Texas toast and rolls. Some of the packs are damaged, sliced open by a careless stocker who doesn't know how to wield a box cutter. A couple have mold. Those are given to a person who owns ducks. A couple loaves were pressed a little while shipping and have a few slices that are crushed. There's nothing wrong with most of the slices. Most of the loaves are in perfect condition. There's no reason for them to be tossed out. It's more bread than we could use in months, so we give most of it away. We toss three loaves in the freezer, one in the refrigerator along with a whole loaf of Texas toast.

A few other dumpsters are either empty or have only trash. Stuff like empty fast food bags and crumbled paper. Behind a pizza joint we find a pizza box, closed, right on top of all the trash. Most of the trash is damaged boxes. Inside the closed box is an entire pepperoni, olive and mushroom pizza. The crust isn't even stale. It doesn't smell funny. It smells like pepperoni and pizza sauce. It smells like a fresh pizza should. We take it home.

Back at home, my dog is confused at why we went grocery shopping at 3 in the morning. He doesn't understand why we're sorting through dozens of loaves of bread. He can't figure out why we're eating pizza at 5 am, but he's thankful that he gets the crust.

I gave the radio to my brother. He's going to use it at work. The ducks love the bad bread and the people love the dozen plus loaves of good bread. The Adventure Dog, my Adventure Chick and I enjoyed the dumpster pizza.

Someone thought it was all trash. Someone was wrong. And out there, more perfectly good food is thrown away than what it would take to feed every hungry person in the entire world.

Once, a few buddies and I filled the entire trunk of a car with good food taken from one dumpster behind one store. It only took five minutes to find that much. More was left behind because we simply didn't have room.

Do me a favor. I won't ask you to go digging through the trash, but could you not throw away stuff that isn't trash? If it's food, give it to someone who needs it. If it's clothes, drop it off at a Goodwill or similar thrift store. If it's electronics or other items, hold a garage sale so that someone who needs that item can buy it. Don't trash what someone else needs.


1 comment:

Paula said...

If you look really close at the pizza picture there's a smiling face, like a smiling sun. It's just off center in the bottom third, next to the slice that looks like its pulled out a little.

Pizza was happy to be found and serving its purpose, to be eaten.