Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scavenging and Garbage Picking

I was originally going to post on this subject yesterday, but I had a lecture series to go to and the networking that sprung out of that ate up what little free time I had. It also gave me more to share about.

I am a scavenger. I troll the curbs on the night before garbage pick up to see if there is anything that I can use. Since I don't have much space, I see far too many things that could be useful to others that I can not save. I try to give a curb alerts to a friends if I see something that fits their needs.

This past week I found a plastic storage bin/bench that was in good condition. The only issue it had was a little bit of scuff markings. It had obviously been kept in a garage. I can always use storage, so it is going to live on the back porch to hold the outdoor toys. This will really help free up some space on the inside of the house.

I also scavenge recyclables. Anytime I pass a paper recycling bin I grab a large stack. My oldest son loves origami and paper airplanes so even if the paper has print on both sides, it will find another use before it hits the recycling bin. The paper that has a blank side is our drawing paper.

I am only going to speak from my experience here, so instead of picking on developed nations I will single out the US and instead of picking on rural folks, I am going to shoot straight about my urban/ suburban peeps. If you disagree with anything I say, PLEASE comment. I am excited to have respectful, yet lively, debate! 

We (urban/suburban dwellers) throw out tons of useful stuff. It is shocking! We replace things with shinier things even when that which we are disposing is still useful. Our culture values convenience and what is more convenient than easy disposal of that which we no longer desire?  We throw away FOOD! 

I scavenge for two reasons: thrift and indignation. Why do we act this way? 

 I have been shouted at for loading up curbside items. This person thought I "had no right" to take what they desired to get rid of. Why? The result is the same...It is gone. 

The lecture I went to yesterday was titled "FEEDING THE WORLD: Dinner for 9.3 billion people in 2050." It was a giant pep rally for Alltech. I expected that. I stayed after talking to a local community activist that also attended. We were discussing the vision for poverty relief  and community building here in Lexington. The exhibit was taken down around us as we sat for over an hour sharing ideas. It was a great experience and  made attending the lectures worth the time spent. 

And then...

That is REAL FOOD! They had potatoes, oranges, apples, onions and sweet potatoes as props and when they were done they tossed them in the TRASH!!!

Yes I did ask them for a box. Yes I did pick every last bit of that food out of that trash can. 

How are we going to feed the world? Let's start by not throwing away food!  More on that later.



  1. Do you know anything about Alltech products? I always worry about GMO's in their beer...

  2. I have to admit I'm guilty of frivolous waste sometimes - no one's perfect, but tossing out perfectly good produce makes me crazy!!

    (And is that a recyclable bottle I see in the trash too? I'm not a curbside scavenger but am a trash-bin picker if people toss recyclables. Don't even get me started on office waste... why every single office in the country with a printer and/or copy machine doesn't have a HUGE recycling bin and no trash can in sight is beyond me... I may go nuts.)

  3. Holy cow, that is ridiculous! Good for you for grabbing up all that perfectly good food.

  4. I would have done the same thing! Good for you.