When I was in my early teens, being punk and loving trash went hand in hand. Dumpsters cut out the middle man, providing my friends and me with all the snacks and random trinkets we desired -- without us ever having to enter a store. At punk shows and potlucks, we came equipped with crates of Odwalla juice scavenged from a suburban dumpster, where whole cases were thrown away if one bottle was defective. The same went for wine, beer, and anything else that came in a pack. There were dumpsters for everything -- a chip dumpster, a bagel dumpster, a pizza dumpster, and even a toy dumpster. And we're not talking small quantities either. On a good night, we'd score enough bagels to feed a punk house for a month (and yes, the amount of carbohydrates I consumed was slightly appalling).
Wilder Burnham navigates a dumpster
But dumpster diving isn't reserved for smelly teenaged punk kids. Anyone can search for treasures in the trash, whether they do so for anti-consumerist, ecological, profit-driven, or survival purposes. All it takes is a willingness to move past the stigma and get a little dirty.
"It's kind of like going to vintage stores but for food," said diver Greg Baker. "Instead of looking through a box of records, you're looking through a bag of lettuce or something."More »