Day 31: “Dumpster Diving” Saving Wasted Food
Last night I did a little bit of of “dumpster diving” and saved some food from being sent to the landfill. Ok, it wasn’t really a dumpster dive. It was more like picking through trash. The store that I went to keeps their garbage in bags on the sidewalk.
My goal isn’t to be some radical hippie that’s sticking it to the system.
The purpose of the dive wasn’t to just get some free food, though that was a perk. I did get almost 2 dozen usable bananas.
What I really wanted to do was expose the massive amount of food waste that’s generated on a daily basis, the effects of it and what we can do about it.
There were about a dozen or so fully packed garbage bags on the sidewalk. I went through 2-3 of them and walked away with 2 (reusable) shopping bags filled with produce, mostly bananas because they were the most usable.
The other fruits and vegetables were slightly blemished, but could be salvaged for consumption or used in some way. They definitely didn’t need to be sent to the landfills.
The bananas were imported from Peru, sat on a shelf for a few days, tossed into the trash, then are going to sit in the landfill for years. Think about the environmental impact of the shipping and then sitting in the landfill.
One of the biggest misconceptions about food is that it composts in landfills. Not true. Food does not breakdown in landfills. It winds up producing harmful CO2 and methane gases. Also if it does biodegrade in the landfill, it’s not useful compost. (Courtesy of Planet Green).
Here’s some facts about food waste in the United States from a CNN post “All About: Food waste”
- 5 percent of American’s leftovers could feed 4 million people for 1 day
- Disposing of food waste costs the U.S. $1 billion a year
- Rotting food releases methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2
- Methane can be harnessed to create clean energy for heat, light and fuel
Ok, I’ve pointed out a bunch of problems and one “solution”, but don’t want to or expect any of you to regularly pick through trash.
So here’s what can be done. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a PDF titled, “Putting Surplus Food To Good Use: A How-to Guide for Food Service Providers.”
It helps to outline a food waste reduction and recovery program for food service providers, highlighting the economical and environmental benefits.
Talk to your local food service provider and see if they are aware of these benefits. Bring a printout of the sheet to give to them.
If they still generate all the food waste, I’d find a new place to buy my food from because I don’t want to support such a business.
What did I do with the food that I saved? I made a bunch of banana fruit leathers, banana cream and banana frozen yogurt. Also took two big bags of food scraps to the local compost.