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Socially Responsible Dumpster Diving


Have you heard of Freegans? This could be the latest craze in social responsibility.  What is a Freegan?  The name is derived from a combination of free and vegan.  What does a Freegan practice, and how is it socially responsible?  If you are a Freegan, you’re into dumpster diving.  Yes, dumpster diving, I did say it was a craze.  Freegans embrace practices like dumpster diving as a way of protesting an increasingly wasteful consumerist society and unethical corporations.  According to Freegan.info, “Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.”  Dumpster diving is no longer the domain for the homeless.  Even the professorial Illuminati have jumped on the Freegan bandwagon.  University of California San Diego biology professor, Dr. Milton Saier, a self-proclaimed Freegan of 30 years takes his students on dumpster diving outings.  He shares his insights on freeganisim and provides his students with dumpster diving lessons.   I’ve written about the notion of freecycling; a phenomenon that enables people to give unneeded but usable items to others at no cost. Whether you call it ethical shopping, sustainable giving, or just plain giving stuff away for free, freecycling is a growing movement in the U.S.  The amazing thing about dumpster diving is that there are You Tube videos out there on how to do it.  I’m a little surprised that a vegan would dumpster dive for wilted lettuce.  But, the notion of reclaiming good consumer items that are discarded has plenty of merit.  Dumpster diving sometimes isn’t necessarily free.  There are communities out there that have laws against dumpster diving.  So I guess if this is your thing, or you’re planning on giving it a whirl, make sure you’re doing it legally.  No need to get thrown into the can for diving into a dumpster.


  1. The freegan movement does involve more than casual investigation. Personally I can’t get beyond the idea of eating garbage. May I deviate back to homeless dumpster diving? I still think it is pertinent and not entirely off topic. It may be old news but now it has become a hot topic in my neighborhood. To the point of public discussion of making it illegal in residential neighborhoods. Tenants are angry throughout my neighborhood. It contains dumpsters ALWAYS filled with UNSORTED redeemable cans, bottles in trash bags. My experience is that most tenants ignore the special blue plastic waste containers for recyclables in my neighborhood. These redeemables are fast cash for people who appear to be mostly homeless and/or indigent. The frequency at which this unsorted trash is being harvested for the redeemables was becoming an extreme nuisance for my apartment and others adjacent to the alley. I could hear nothing but crashing metal noise and pounding every half hour at high decibel levels. Quiet enjoyment & sleep in my apartment was nearly impossible. Attempts to padlock the dumpsster failed. Building management wisely surrendered by installing quieter plastic 24-hour accessible City waste cans for the unsorted trash. The noise of the rattling shopping carts trailing through the alley echoes loudly and is still a nuisance but at a lower, more acceptable decibel level. I have a small white noise device (Sharper Image Travel Soother) in my bedroom in order to use in the evening. I also try to get other tenants to sort redeemables for quick & easy collection. It’s hard to get every tenant to cooperate but why punish people who are desperate for survival & supplemental cash who also serve a need to recycle without any high-minded values. When I see people ripping through trash bags with bare hands it makes me concerned about their exposure to sharp objects and toxics. (Lids from cans are sharp objects and omnipresent in every neighborhood trash bag). It would be wise to provide these people with protective gloves as they are provide an unpaid service of collecting unsorted redeemables.


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