food waste, dumpster diving

A dumpster-diving TikTok user is taking stores to task for what they throw away.

Do you ever think about how we live in a world that is perfectly capable of producing enough food and basic necessities for every human on the planet, and yet there are still millions upon millions who don't have enough?

We do. It's weird and inhumane, but it's reality. There are multiple, somewhat complex reasons for this, of course, which don't justify but do explain it. However, the economics and logistics of making sure everyone has what they need don't need to be understood to recognize extreme, blatant, inexcusable waste.

A TikTok user who goes by @dumpsterdivingfreegan shares videos of what she finds in the dumpsters of grocery stores, and it's completely mind-blowing. Even if you already know that stores waste a lot of food, wait until you see what she finds. It's not just food that's at or near its expiration date, though there is a lot of that. She finds toiletries and household items—sometimes by the case, all brand new—just thrown into the dumpster.

Watch:


@dumpsterdivingfreegan

Reply to @celester The same WF that throws out enough each night to feed a community😔. #dumpsterdiving #freegan #usa #dumpsterdiver #AEHolidayForever

Many of us would question pulling perishables from a dumpster, but if it's cold enough outside and you knew they'd been tossed recently, why not? In a logical world, these foods would only be thrown out because there was something wrong with them, but that does not seem to be the case.

In another video, she said she hasn't bought groceries in two years because she's able to get so much from dumpster diving.

@dumpsterdivingfreegan

Reply to @littlesquish18 yes, and it got SO much worse from there. #dumpsterdiving #freegan #dumpster #capitalism #usa #foodwaste #donatedontdump #fyp

She also says she donates far more than she keeps, and she does leave things behind for other people or homeless people to find. There is always plenty to go around.

She wipes down what she can with disinfectant and hasn't run into any issues with food being bad or anyone in her household getting sick from eating it.

When you see what and how much stores are tossing—perfectly good food that's not even at its best by date yet—it's understandable that she hasn't had to buy groceries. According to Business Insider, grocery stores are responsible for about 10% of the food waste in the United States.

@dumpsterdivingfreegan

Reply to @esotericaa the more I do this the more I don’t trust the system. #dumpsterdiving #freegan #MunchiesWithTubi #capitalism #usa #dobetter #fyp

But it's not just food.

Stores throw away all kinds of merchandise. According to this dumpster diver, many stores have a policy that they throw away cases of product if one item in the case gets broken. She has found cases of wine where just one bottle was broken. And check out this case of perfectly good plants that some people paid good money for:

@dumpsterdivingfreegan

Reply to @neo.spazzy I have found literally hindreds of plants in local store dumpsters🙃 #dumpsterdiving #planttok #paperwhite #freegan #dumpsterdive

And if perfectly good plants being tossed isn't enough to move you, how about toilet paper? That's right. The precious commodity that people were waiting in ridiculous lines for and rationing due to hoarding-induced-scarcity. But not just any toilet paper! The environmentally friendly bamboo kind that costs far more than toilet paper should, tossed into a dumpster for reasons none of us can guess.

@dumpsterdivingfreegan

Reply to @jobare007 yes! & I haven’t paid for to since BEFORE the pandemic for this reason🧍‍♀️#dumpsterdiving #part2 #MakeItCinematic #wholefoods #f

The irony of a store that sells all kinds of eco-friendly items throwing so much into landfills unnecessarily is enough to make your brain explode.

Why don't they donate this stuff instead of throwing it away? Yes. That is the million-dollar question.

Some stores do donate some or most of their overstocked or close-to-due-date items. But as we see here, the habit is not universal, it might vary from location to location, and some stores actually have policies against it for whatever reason. It seems reasonable in the modern world to expect perfectly good items to not end up in landfills when people are in need of them and when our Earth is already dealing with too much trash. It makes no sense.

You probably have dozens of questions for @dumpsterdivingfreegan and she answers tons of them in her videos and comments. I highly recommend perusing her TikTok channel, where she's really an open book about money and dumpster diving. While it's seriously shocking what she finds, it's equally interesting how she lives her life and organizes her finances.

And it will definitely motivate you to find out if stores in your area throw out merchandise and to encourage them to find a more humane and environmentally conscious way to process excess, because the waste in these videos is simply obscene.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Freya from Maya Higa's YouTube video.

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Thanks to one YouTube poster with a passion for animals and an endearing sense of humor, all questions shall be answered. Well, maybe not all questions. But at the very least, you’ll have eight minutes of insanely cute footage.

In a series titled “Tiny Mic Interviews,” Maya Higa approaches little beasties with a microphone so small she has to hold it with just her thumb and forefinger. And yes, 99% of the animals try to eat it.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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Photo via Jonna Roslund, used with permission.

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