Freegan Month Challenge – Day 4

Day 4 was a mostly relaxing day spent working from home. Though I did not see much yesterday, I found it to be a productive work day and very easy to find things to eat for no cost.

Some good foods for the day consisted of hummus, matzo, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and salad from shredded cabbage, carrot, cherry tomatoes, seeds*, hummus, and crispy rice noodles.

I found a low yield as well, consisting of hummus, shekshuka (without egg), eggplant salad, and a container of cole slaw (which you might have seen I snacked on a bit shortly after finding it). No produce, but I suspect tonight will be more bountiful.

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I’ll be working on more updates regularly and post about other organizations and programs that I think will be relevant to the goals of Wasted Potential.

I’ll update you on Day 5 later tonight or tomorrow. Take care and make good choices with your trash!

*Food items bought prior to the challenge

#donatenotdump #dumpsterdiving #freeganism #30daychallenge

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Freegan Month Challenge – Day 3

Good day (and yom tov) to everyone!

The third day of the challenge passed and I decided to travel to Tel Aviv for a day. It was definitely a challenge, as there is a great place to eat at on every block of that city. Landwer’s Cafe is a great restaurant in the Florentine area that I highly recommend. This was even greater temptation, as my program’s group decided to get lunch there. Despite the obvious temptations, I packed well for the trip and ignored any sentiments I gave towards purchasing food.

Here is a “salad” that I made (mixed together on the right) All of the ingredients that I brought for the day were found entirely for free at some point in the last month (or past several days).

It was a great time to visit the city and relax by Jerusalem beach. Meeting up with friends, enjoying the ocean breeze, and eating well without cost.

Dumpster diving also proved to be lucrative at the end of the day. Cherry tomatoes, hummus, pomegranate, and some other snacks are a decent enough find to get by on.

The quote “Haste Makes Waste”, originally coined by Benjamin Franklin, is very much true even in the face of physical waste. If our resources are not properly disposed of, we will have a waste crisis in several years and then have to deal with it then. Same idea with the hunger crisis in so many countries in the world, including the United States. Why wait until it gets worse when we can fix it now?

Enjoy the rest of your days!

Freegan Month Challenge – Day 2

I hope that everyone has had (or is having) a solid Monday.

For my second full day, I decided to fulfill the prep work involved to make a delicious banana-mango jar, slightly thawed with added seeds, peanut pieces, pomegranate, corn flakes, and a touch of date syrup. Only the seeds and date syrup were bought prior to the challenge. Coffee, too, of course.

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For lunch, a crisp salad similar to yesterday’s with pomegranates, crispy rice noodles, peanut pieces, seeds, and eggs (plus a bit of communal tahini from work). Again, only the seeds came from a prior purchase.

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Snacks mainly consisted of various fruits and vegetables, granola bars, and an occasional bag of Bisli.

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Back to the topic of Monday.  In Israel, Mondays can be difficult if Sunday dumpster dives don’t have good yields. Since most stores are closed from Friday afternoon until Sunday, it’s rarer to find any decent hauls on the weekend. Tonight was fairly bountiful though. I always enjoy finding produce that is still fresh and/or usable still. Even the bagged vegetables, which can sometimes be spotty, were not bad looking.

Tonight, I tried to get a decent picture of some food that was just floating about the dumpster. I will try to get better shots, but here is an example of some food not even yet retrieved from the dumpster at this point. Some potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumber, to name a few in that shot.

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Tomorrow, I’ll be taking a day trip to Tel Aviv to meet up with a friend. Instead of eating out, I will be taking snacks and food with me. Most likely granola bars, a bag of ready-to-eat chickpeas, almonds*, tomatoes, apples, and probably a bag of shredded carrots.

As is said in Hebrew, “betayvon” (bon appetite, really).  Have a great rest of your day and a solid Tuesday!

 

*Bought food prior to start of challenge

Freegan Month Challenge – Day 1

What have you eaten today?
I have officially kicked off my 30 day challenge to consume nothing but food that I have not purchased.  This includes not being able to shop for groceries in a store or ordering food from a restaurant. I decided it would be problematic to include food items that I had bought in the past in the category, so I will just note whenever I use an ingredient that I already had prior to my challenge. This primarily includes: Chia seeds, flax seeds, chickpeas, red beans, lentils, almonds, date syrup and coffee.
For my first day, and as long as I can remember to, I will be photo-documenting the food that I eat so that I have a form of accountability for keeping to my regiment.
For breakfast, I enjoyed slightly thawed frozen banana paste with seeds, pomegranate, some water and crushed up corn flakes.  Besides the seeds, all of these ingredients were found in the dumpster at some point.  I had not thought to photograph it at the time.


The food I consumed today consisted of a few granola bars, almonds*, a bag of raw vegetables (carrots and broccoli), bagged salads (mixed together, plus seeds*, hard-boiled egg** and pomegranates), a few more hard-boiled eggs**, and pita with mashed up chickpeas.

*In that whole list, the only ingredients that were ever bought were the flax/chia seeds and almonds.

**Just a quick heads-up, before anyone gets concerned about my consumption of  eggs from the trash, eggs in Israel (and various other countries) are perfectly safe to eat at room temperature.

How am I able to sustain myself if I can’t spend money?

Since I will will only be consuming food that is found or given freely, I will have to regularly dumpster dive.  Thankfully for my experiment, I’ve found that some of the nearby stores and markets in Haifa throw out large amounts of food on most given days (except of course for Saturdays due to Shabbat).
Tonight, I was able to procure a few bits of produce from the nearby supermarket chain store.  At another market, I ended up with cereal bars and spice packets.

Not the largest haul I’ve had while here, but it certainly is enough to get an idea of what sort of food gets thrown away.  Quite frankly, those eggs will last for a little while longer, and I can already say that I have a sliced banana and mango in the freezer for another meal. Also, it never hurts to have extra snacks and spices.

So what does that mean? Well, the markets seem to have issues with not having a resource to keep the food from going to the trash. This could be aided with some sort of reclamation or gleaning organization.

I will be aiming to keep a daily record for the challenge. Look for a video in the next few days!

New Environments, New Opportunities

It’s awhile since I’ve been on here.  I’ll just preface that by stating that several things in my life have been changing, particularly my fluctuating locale.  I’ve been continuing to dumpster dive in areas that I live or am visiting.  I even got a glimpse into working with groups that would help to resolve the issues of food waste and lessening our carbon footprint.

I found that Portland, OR has a highly organized network of groups that are actively working towards making the region as waste-free as possible.  One of the groups that works very hard to eliminate food waste and give to those in need is Urban Gleaners.

Urban Gleaners

Another organization, Crackedpots, is geared more towards picking items out of the Portland city dump and refurbishing usable furniture, tools, etc.  Crackedpots even salvages useful materials for creating works of art, and provides a valuable resource of second-hand items to the community via their store, ReClaim It!

I was able to have the great experience of volunteering a few times with these organizations while I was in the area.  It is encouraging to know that there are areas of the world that are actively trying to be more resourceful and ecologically inclined.
Right now, I am currently spending several months in Haifa, Israel.  I have found that there are groups focused towards eliminating waste that I am pending contact with.  In the mean time, I’ve been gearing towards dumpster diving for conserving on waste and cost while living abroad.  Several of the stores here throw out a surprisingly large number of produce, snacks, drinks, and various other food items.
Here are a few examples of some of the good food that I’ve reclaimed from the store dumpsters:

On October 15th, I am starting my 30-day freegan challenge. I am going to post about it tomorrow in greater detail, with a video to go along with it.

I look forward to getting more involved in the waste reduction programs involved in the city.  I’ve tailored the Facebook group Clean-Up Haifa as a resource on social media where people living in the area can find ways to clean up the city.  Our group also holds organized cleanings for those interested in making Haifa more beautiful, removing trash from nice places like Gan HaEm, Hof HaCarmel beach and Hadar HaCarmel.

 

More to come!  Check back for regular updates!

Also…

If you’d like to check out the organizations that I mentioned in Portland, see their links below.  Portland is a great place for conservation and waste reduction!

urbangleaners.org (Urban Gleaners)

crackedpots.org (Crackedpots)

reclaimitpdx.org (ReClaim It!)

The Start of It All

Welcome to Wasted Potential!

If you are confused about the title of the site, then let me explain.  My brother-in-law Tony and I started dumpster diving regularly back in November 2015.  Initially, Tony and I went out diving due to the intriguing possibility that there would be cool stuff that we would find in dumpsters.  There are plenty of YouTube videos that you can find of people dumpster diving and the various types of things you can find in dumpsters, such as electronics, home appliances, office supplies, toys, etc.  However, one thing out of all of this “trash” stood out to us: Food.

We were not aware of the staggering amount of food waste in our area at first.  The start of our dumpster diving campaign started in Lebanon, PA.  Soon after, we took our travels into other parts of Lebanon County (Cleona, Annville, Palmyra), Hershey, Hummelstown, and certain parts of Harrisburg. Our overall travels took us 80 miles around central PA for several hours, and we would accumulate food by the truckloads… literally!  With Tony’s pick-up truck, several large plastic containers and some sheer will and determination, we would “rescue” all sorts of food from being thrown out. At first we started out gathering non-perishable items like bagged snacks, canned foods, drinks, granola bars, and even bottles of water.

 

Tony Moyer and Sam Troyer with food from about 5 hours worth of  dumpster diving.jpeg

Just as a side note: Dumpster diving is NOT illegal in Pennsylvania!  Once an item goes into a dumpster, it becomes trash and is not private property.  However, the land that it is on may be owned by another company and/or the dumpster itself is owned by a waste company.  The main thing to remember about dumpster diving is that while it’s not illegal, trespassing on private property is.  If there’s a sign up that says not to trespass, I recommend following the rules. Most people (including police officers) don’t mind when people dumpster dive as long as divers are following the law.  That isn’t always the case though, which I will elaborate on in a second.

It was a great experience, finding all of these consumables and distributing them to friends, family and even donating bulk amounts of our findings to local food banks.  We did this regularly for about ten months, until October 5, 2016 when we got arrested dumpster diving at a CVS in Hershey, PA.  We were charged with prowling at night on a home or dwelling (lead offense) and defiant trespassing in a fenced enclosure.  Thanks to Tony’s prior research on dumpster diving and prompt letter writing following our arrest, we ended up connecting to Rob Greenfield, a San Diego based activist who actively speaks out against the atrocity that is food waste. You can find out more about him and his work here.

Rob was the driving force that got our story out about our arrest, which has since propelled us further into the public eye and turned our supposed criminal activity into a precedent for people to look at and see the flaws in our ecology.  Food waste is a very preventable disaster (yes, I said disaster) but there is very little done about it in many stores across the country.  CVS is a nationwide chain with over 9000 stores and throws out most of their unused or near-expiring consumables, as we have found over our time dumpster diving.

As it turned out, several months and one delay in our hearing later, the case was dropped.  We were found to have not been guilty of the ludicrous charges imposed upon us.  A huge victory for food waste activism and dumpster divers!

 

So now what do we do, since it’s been proven that we are not criminals? As it turns out, when our story started going viral, a common goal that we had been looking forward to working towards is setting up food rescue programs with local organizations to get all of the “wasted potential” into the hands of those that truly need it.  As it stands, $165 billion worth of food gets wasted annually, which is a staggering number when we have statistics that show 40 million people in the United States alone are food insecure. Our goal now ultimately is to make sure that the good food never hits the dumpster in the first place, and is instead responsibly handled and given to food banks, charities, rescue missions, etc.

We still dumpster dive and conduct ourselves in a civilized, respectable manner.  Supermarkets, which we initially believed not to be an option due to the nature of perishable items, are throwing out tons of fresh, intact produce, bread and other wholesome foods daily.

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However, the warmer weather eventually makes it less ideal to dumpster dive for these types of food items.  It’s up to all of us to speak out and tell grocery stores not to waste food!

#donatenotdump