This form of saving the world’s economy and ecology while making a living at the same time is becoming increasingly popular. It is Dumpster diving!
In its crudest form it is saving and re-using stuff that gets thrown out in dumpsters or on the streets. In Europe this has caught on enormously and gaining momentum as we speak. Well-dressed former business people and unemployed accountants are seen diving dumpsters. In Australia this dumping of superfluous goods is most noticeable during Shire-Council collection days. The much loved grassy bits in front of our suburban houses are temporarily surrendered and given over to our unwanted goods by those living adjacent to those grass strips, euphemistically called ‘nature strip.’ Dogs love them too.
Years ago, this dumping had already started in Balmain. We lived in Balmain till 1996. In the nineties this inner city working class suburb was starting to morph into respectability. Endless jackhammering and expensive renovations were normal. Television personalities were moving in with expert lawyers. Nervous estate agents roaming the streets looking for juicy deals. I rescued a fridge and TV. After dragging them home , I switched them on and they worked. I was baffled. Who would throw things out that were working?
That was just the beginning.
I have since rescued many unloved items, including a box full of TV antennas. Who would throw out TV antennas? Were they stolen? While I have no qualms about dragging some goods home or scanning charity shops for fashion items, I have yet to rescue discarded culinary delights. I have looked but not yet partaken. Next time when you are near any food outlets, go and look inside food-bins that are close by fast food outlets. It leaves me wondering if people sometimes buy take-away without feeling hungry. A few weeks ago I had a look inside a bin near a Domino Pizza place. It had a pizza still in the box with just one bite taken out. It appeared to be a meat-lover pizza as it had different kinds of sausage, salami and a slurry, perhaps a mince meat mixture. There was nothing wrong with it and still fresh. I am sure those bins get emptied each day. I wasn’t hungry, but even so… a nice slice of salami?
From living frugally with ‘waste not wont not’ still ringing in our ears from early parental upbringing, it stood the times. My parents ultimate disapproval would be reserved for those wasting food. During the war we would delight in scarce potato peelings soup dinners, dancing around the table. My parents never let up telling us how food was so scarce during the war. Over-fed toddlers now get Dr Seuss bed-time stories told. War kids got soup kitchen adventures and potato-skin soup stories re-told shivering under newspaper-made blankets.. Even now, I don’t peel potatoes and we scuff the lot instead. If plastic spoons and forks had been available during those times, I am sure they would got eaten. We never throw out food. If the bread gets mouldy we toast or, if green, put it to the worms. We are both united in this, and leftovers never wasted.
Diving in Dumpsters is now not just for derelicts or vagabonds. It has become popular by entrepreneurial people who make a living from passing on and selling what they can scour out of bins. They are to be seen early in the mornings. Some take buckets with them. The more organized have trolleys. The economic downturns and lack of adequate welfare wakens survival instincts and this industry has sprung up as a result.
There are those that predict dire economic results from the frugality phenomenon now sweeping the world. Apparently the economy depends on us spending what we don’t have. Australia is badly situated with our private debt being one of the largest in the world. An increase in interest rates or a downturn in real estate could easily spin out of control very quickly. On the other hand to keep spending what we don’t have is just as loopy.
The Domino discarded food in bins might yet come in handy.