Everything You Thought Was a Lie

So you thought dumpster diving is sustainable? Think again.

People tend to never have enough and hunt for such enormous amounts that we can't eat it all. We sometimes have to throw out twice as much as what we can eat.

This must end. Not only because we hurt our backs so much when having to bring all that food up the stairs and down again into the bin. But more importantly: we are wasting so much energy!

Throwing away food is not that bad actually. Of course, people are starving in the world. But the food is here in the West, and not where the needy are. And in this country at least, food that gets thrown away at the market goes straight into green sustainable energy centers.

Yes, that's correct: they produce green power from the food that gets thrown out at the markets. Biomass to heat up houses and giving you warm showers, and green gasses to help you cooking your food. That's what could have been made out of all that food we dumpster and throw away ourselves.

So why would we be taking all that food away from the market dumpsters if most of our not-eaten food goes into unsustainable bins in front of the house anyway, from where all the trash-food just ends up in landfills rotting away for nothing. That's just waste being wasted.

We feel guilty and so should you.

Therefore we decided to stop this. Some pro-active positive action is always good we think. Why wait to change our world?

So here comes the bad news: Since the Thursday night dinner has always been a main catalyst for all this dumpster diving, we deciced to pull the plug out of Thursday's.

The dinners go back a long time, almost 16 months now and we've welcomed over a 1000 mouths, sharing wonderful moments. We can now joyfully archive those dinners into our sweet memories of cosy evenings, wonderful food, great company and late night talks.

But as per now: No more dumpster dived open dinners.

So long and thanks for all the trash!


valentina's picture

Unless... organizing it

Unless... organizing it involving the neighbors and the community center below the balcony...? Most people when I speak about compost are concerned with rats... There is the need to information and to do it properly.

I'm surprised that a so advanced society that uses trash for bio-fuel doesn't have a compost recycle plan in action...

In Cardiff, they used to give a special bag that was gonna be collected separately... for the few ones who didn't have their own compost bin in the backyard... However it is true that the trash collecting system is completely different...

dcarpano's picture

What about the roof?

Why don't you guys just start a huge compost pile on the roof? That is hygienic, and a all around good solution to food going in the trash. Maybe the cave will begin to stink a bit, but, hey, it is a cave after all! And if you share your fertile soil with the neighbors then they obviously would be totally cool with having decomposing vegetables on the roof. Just make sure to balance you green and brown compost well!

Jass's picture

We have WAY too much to make

We have WAY too much to make a compost with, and climbing up through the cave everyday is impossible with all of it.
Too, it needs someone who's going to take that responsibility everyday, for months on end. It seems like the history of composts here has been..whaaa, one week, fantastic! and then..beeeeeeeeep.

dcarpano's picture


I mean, it was more of a joke. Although a company called NatureMill makes great compost machines made for people living in small spaces, it is too small to fit all the stuff we have, but it is a good start, and with the soil some great tomatoes could be planted. My aunt has one here in San Diego, and it is way cool. You put vegetable scraps, and after two days it is practically dirt, then after a week it is ready to be emptied.

I mean, there is no way it would be big enough for allll of the extra food, but it is a good experiment, it think, for how urban sustainability can work. But, yeah, i think that the first step is to dumpster dive less, much less. I mean, I remember how much we would break out backs coming home with those huge bags, only to heat 1/3 of the stuff, and watch the rest rot!!!

Jass's picture

Mmmm, rot.

Mmmm, rot.

dcarpano's picture



valentina's picture

I like this compost idea. You

I like this compost idea. You guys could also help the compost process with worms. I even saw a special system in NY where you keep a closed bin with worms in your kitchen. some more info (but I'm sure you have plenty already : http://www.wormswrangler.com/articles/overview_of_worm_growing.html )

valentina's picture

I like this compost idea. You

I like this compost idea. You guys could also help the compost process with worms. I even saw a special system in NY where you keep a closed bin with worms in your kitchen. some more info (but I'm sure you have plenty already : http://www.wormswrangler.com/articles/overview_of_worm_growing.html )

shaun-treehuggingfool's picture

stop throwing it in the trash and we can still dive way too much

so really it seems the problem with throwing away what we dumpsterdive is easy to figure out, it will still happen if we dumpsterdive less. i guess all that has to be done if we want the rotten food to be used as green fuel is to bring it back to the recycling center. it will actually be easire then when we bring the food from there to here as it will be at least half eaten. we can even bring things we didnt dumpsterdive, like egg shells.
so just stop throwing it in the trash!

sarah's picture

No more help

This is so true, Robin.

And one other thing I realized: being nice to people and helping them is basically just a selfish way of feeling better about oneself. Besides, it makes them become lazy and prevent them from developing their autonomy.

Today I decided to stop smiling and to start fostering aggressiveness so as to people to be trained and be able to react by themselves when experiencing a hard time.

Selfish sweetness must end, too.

Zuphit's picture

April Fools?

I thought it was a bit extreme and could be easily solved with RSVPing to Thursday night's dinner, but then I looked at the calendar :)

Wrenaqua's picture

explore different solutions when u have a problem

I agree totally that there's too much rotten food around the casa, but there are different solutions to this problem ;) :
1 use tags on food in casa, take oldest first and keep the youngest

2 since some casa people get more involved in squat scene, ask around squats and voku's where they can need some extra's

3 when u see other DD-ers, ask them their email and if they would like to pick up something in the future (form Dumpster-Diving Community)

4 clean it and give evrything raw eatable to the homeless

5 ask a Dutch organisation called "Voedselbank" if they could use some fresh extra's

6 quit with the thursday's and create a monday/wednesday/friday voku with suggested donations (yum, yum for the donation box)

7 create some strange DD snacks and sell them low price on the Dam, while reminding people where it came from (make them aware of the huge trash pile's in the Western society)

8 futuristic idea: when more lightfoot boxes appear, aks other nomadbases and try if u can lightfoot it there :)

Hopefully this DD-material from my brains will cook some lovely meals of spicy discussions, greetz and a big hug,
Wrenaqua, a flower child

PS: sometimes A'dam can be rly good for ur DD-morale ;)

Jaap's picture

too much

hi Robino,

I do agree that I see rotting fruit & vegetables lying around the Casa far too many times.
I do not subscribe to the notion that we heat homes a lot on a few crops of salad ;) I doubt garbage-pickup really cares about that. besides, biomass fuel is far less efficient than say oil or coal (the lionshare of biomass fuel is trees cut off and put below the stove!) bad idea!

conclusion: a little more dumpster-management would be great. with the long experience the Casa has with dumpstering & using the stuff, maybe too much enthusiasm can be contained. not all the food dumpstered goes straight into the bin. our 'competition' at the dumpster should not be left empty-handed if it only rots away at the Casa.

see you tonight!

Wrenaqua's picture

another lovely idea ;)

Here another lovely idea

Make a biomass pile, catch the gas, make sustainable biomass balloons, attach a gsp transmittor, wait till u have a strong wind to the south, fill their baskets with the freshest stuff, eventually a bit in ice(up there it's cold enough to let it not rot) and try to get them to Africa with a nice schedule of catchable windstreams), kill the balloon above target and open the parachute........... ;)