Junior natural resource major Jacob Cerminar has been dumpster diving since his last year of high school when he was inspired by his environmental science class. “Don’t be afraid of what people will think,” Cerminar said.
With each successive dive, his level of comfort increased. Fast forward three years and Cerminar is a seasoned diver.
On a trip to Target his sophomore year, Cerminar recounts a successful night. “At least 20 untouched angel food cakes loads of baked goods, and more loaves of bread than we could carry,” Cerminar said.
He shared all the loot with hungry peers back on campus who were studying for finals.
“We handed it out and told them it was dumpster food, but they still ate it,” Cerminar said.
One busy night at Target provided free snacks for a few lucky residents, and others, were taking advantage of businesses waste as well.
During one excursion a man, who had been dumpster diving for over ten years was already on site. He was a farmer who would take what he could to feed his pigs, and he remarked how he used to bring back entire truckloads of perfectly good food every night.
During the same trip, another dumpster provided an ample amount of food. Over 50 granola bars, five boxes of off-brand Oreo cookies and two boxes of cereal were salvaged from a dumpster that had already been picked over.
While satisfying a late night craving for “dumpster dessert” may not be of interest to all, it speaks to a greater issue. These were findings from a small set of dumpsters on a short number of days. There are dumpsters across the world which have much more waste.
Dumpster diving is a small but powerful way that community members can resist a wasteful system while saving money in the process.
“If stores are going to throw away edible food or merchandise, people should be able to take that food or those items,” said Sheri Faust, junior English major.
Faust does not dumpster dive herself, but understands why people do it.
Although the restriction of dumpster diving is for liability reasons, it is a relatively harmless act. As the adage goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.