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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.

Photo: Jason DeCrow for United Nations Foundation

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