Free the Flowers: Dumpster Diving for Sustainability

dumpster food

I recently found out that a rose picked out of the dumpster smells just as sweet as the one picked from your mom’s garden. To me it even smells better because it is saved from an ugly fate, reclaimed beauty almost lost to the sad depths of a landfill. FIlled with disposable diapers, plastic bags, produce, packaged meat that is not expired , enough plastic to sustain the ball in the middle of the ocean, and more. We need to start refusing the refuse.

After Valentine’s day a group of my diver friends came across a giant bag of flowers thrown in the dump. The next day we handed them out to people, only asking for a hug in return. Free hugs and flowers! Pure beauty, simple acts of kindness. We spread joy and love with no expectations.

Flowers are the universal sign of affection. Everyone smiled, most people hugged us, all and all it was a completely beautiful experience. It is important to make genuine connections with strangers. We are all bonded due to our own imperfect humanity, all just walking around this earth trying to make a difference. We all get hungry and need love to survive.

Many people took the free flowers, and it was always for someone else. These are for my mother, daughther, husband, or friend in the hospital. They acted liked it needed to be justified for them to take a flower. It’s not charity, it’s solidarity. Everyone deserves to be spoiled with a rose to the nose.

smell the roses

People are more likely to take a flower or a thing from the garbage than food due to the misconception that everything in there is gross and unsanitary. In fact most things are fully packaged, safe, and fresh enough to eat.

The other day I was sitting in a nature preserve watching deer eating grass, living their happy lives. Just to my right was a crazy highway, cars speeding, filled with miserable folks in rush hour traffic, driving to and from monotony, hell with a paycheck. Industrial decay and a face for our greed.

We live on a planet that needs a little love. The deer were so beautiful and kind to each other. They take only what they need. We have to learn to be like animals, stop it already with the unnecessary waste. If we were all environmentally conscious vegans who coexisted people would live longer healthier lives.

We build things and abandon them, skeletons from a past industrial boom, now rotting corpses of buildings riddle our waterfronts. Food deserts and barren lots make the idea of urban farming so lovely. I want to live in sprawling green fields and lush forests with the prettiest streams and trees, woodland creatures frolicking. There we will let the flowers grow, we will nourish them and never cut them and tie them into plastic bags.

At the same time I adore the culture and fastness of a city. I can’t decide if I am a city girl who yearns to drop off the grid and move to the country or if I want to start and urban farm in a post industrial wasteland ghetto. People need to take pride in their communities and get their hands dirty to transform the space we all inhabit.

Last week I went dumpster diving for the first time. Well, I didn’t actually go in but I assisted, so technically my dumpster cherry has not been popped yet. I need a step ladder, hopefully one will magically appear in the dumpster.

They jumped right in with head lamps on like ninjas with a mission, in and out, moving quick. Nobody stopped us. Eventually the goal is to dress up like raccoons wearing speedos (get it dumpster “diving”) and jump on in.

It was hard to see first hand all of the terrible waste that happens on a daily basis. It makes me sick to think of all the stuff that nobody saves. We live in a world where people are starving and so much food is thrown out that it’s fucking disgusting.

I am baffled, none of this logic makes sense. Starving children with dumpsters full of food. Good food deemed trash, there is something wrong there. Each store needs to have an ugly produce section for dinged up, mutant, perfectly ripe produce at a discount price.

Instead some stores pour bleach on their dumpsters to prevent people from going in them. Just let us take the abandoned food and flowers, don’t be a heartless. There was so much more too, slippers, toys, and household wares. The abundance needs distribution.

volunteers for food not bombs
None of us are homeless, we don’t “look like people who need help,” but the sad fact is that we all need help. Hunger is silent and needs to end. There is more than enough for all of us.

The group feasted with a pot luck made entirely of reclaimed food. I ate the things I grabbed for a whole week. It really makes your eyes open to see the rainbow bounty: piles of apples, bananas, crates of oranges, containers of hummus, day old bread, potatoes, cartons of eggs (with maybe one broken and the rest fine), purple onions, green peppers, bbq chips, coconut oil, and so much more.

Any hang ups are all in your head. I know people who survive solely on salvaged free food and that’s fucking awesome!

vegan feast
Be a Freegan! Reduce waste, only take what you need and share the rest, reject consumerism, be ethical, and fight for food justice. I am part of a group called Food Not Bombs, we cook and serve donated food that would have headed to the dumpster. There are pay what you can cafes and free restaurants all over the world that are on the forefront of food revolution.

Waste not want not. Spread joy and give people beautiful flowers. Cook them food. Share your love. Be part of the change.

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