On Dumpster Diving

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : March 22, 2007

I think every Christian should consume something out of a dumpster at one point in their life. Even better–I think every Christian should be caught for consuming something out of a dumpster at one point in their life.

The other day, Josh and I were liberating some bread from a dumpster. The manager or owner of the place saw us and started scolding us…telling us that “if we’re hungry there is a food shelf at ‘that church over there.’” I’m not upset at the guy for yelling at us. Bakeries and grocery stores and other food-related businesses may be liable if someone eats something from their dumpsters and they get sick. What I was most surprised by was the profound shame I felt upon realizing that this man thought that I was homeless and hungry. For a few seconds I felt embarassed and ashamed (not out of guilt for liberating dumpster bread, but on account of being accused of homelessness and hunger).

I’m sure some of you think it is stupid and/or silly for me to have been retrieving bread from a dumpster. After all, I can simply buy bread from a store. And I may be able to have food given to us by the bakery (day old bread donations). But we decided to dumpster dive for bread as a holy experiment. We wanted to get this perfectly good bread and eat it because there was nothing wrong with it…and because we wanted to reduce waste. In a way it was a symbolic at of simple, humble defiance.

In the future, we will be asking folks for bread (day old donations), but there are some things that we’ll probably continue to liberate from dumpsters (like Naked Juice). The other day, Josh acquired almost 150 bottles of the stuff that had just expired, or was just about to expire. In a land of extreme waste, we liberated the juice and have been distributing it. The nutrition in that juice would be better used feeding the poorly-nourished and underfed instead of feeding dumpsters.

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5 Responses to “On Dumpster Diving”

  1. Jonas Lundström on March 22nd, 2007 12:04 pm

    Wonderful. Could it be possible not to love sentences like these: “The other day, Josh and I were liberating some bread from a dumpster”? There is doubtless a lot of liberating work to do in the name of jesus in this (here I first wrote six letters beginning with f, but hesitated since I don´t know if someone would be (too) offended) system.

  2. fargo john on March 22nd, 2007 6:24 pm

    you can dive in my dumpster any time you want.

  3. Art on March 22nd, 2007 8:34 pm

    Sounds great…sounds like I should go dumpster-raiding myself…it might help us actually view the poor as they see themselves. Wouldn’t that be radical.

  4. Nate B on March 26th, 2007 1:02 pm

    Mark, that’s awesome. I am totally with you on liberating the food. Perhaps I need a new “experiment” in my life… See you at the dinner, Mr. Keynote speaker!

  5. David Robert Crews on March 26th, 2007 3:49 pm

    I have been a dumpster diver for over a decade and encourage you to do it also. My blog Duckin’ and Divin’ Techniques of A Recycle Ranger www(dot)duckndive(dot)blogspot(dot)com has many dumpster diving tips, facts, and stories.
    You can web search for ursusdave to find it if you don’t follow blind links.

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