Recently I have been drawn into the world of dumpster diving, which is the increasingly popular act of rummaging through dumpsters for usable items. While many of us have a preconceived conception of dumpster diving as hungry people digging for food scraps, dumpster diving is typically people driving to grocery stores, department stores and other places to find perfectly good items stores trashed.
These "divers'' have discovered that corporate America is exceedingly wasteful and throws everything from video games, makeup and food into the dumpster. Food is the most egregious waste. The USDA estimates 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equivalent to 133 billion pounds. Dumpster divers salvage wasted goods from landfills by using, selling or donating them. Looking at photos of what they find is unbelievable - until you look in dumpsters and see just how much stores trash.
Unfortunately, it's easier for corporations to throw away millions of pounds of usable items, instead of donating them to places that need them. Food pantries, homeless shelters and non-profit organizations could all benefit greatly from items thrown away daily by stores. Even damaged or expired produce could be utilized by pig farmers or composted, instead of taking up space in a landfill.
While we must continue to individually protect the earth's finite resources, we must also hold corporations accountable for their needless waste. If one man's trash is another man's treasure, we must ask ourselves why we are allowing corporations to throw out treasure in the first place.