They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, at least that is what some people say about dumpster diving.
Mackenzie Grover, junior biology major, is one of many people who take part in dumpster diving in Stevens Point.
Grover was introduced to dumpster diving by her older sister. At first, she was disgusted by it and felt nothing was worth going through garbage for and could not fathom going in a dumpster for anything.
That is until Grover heard that she could find books. From there it opened a door to a new world.
“As a college student, I’m often short on money and dumpster diving is a resource for free food,” said Grover. “A lot of the stuff that stores throw out is simply tossed because it’s damaged or dented, but it’s still okay.”
Grover has multiple jobs and she can afford food, however she dumpster dives for the resource of it.
“I work as a waitress and I see whole plates of food being tossed because someone ordered a sandwich without pickles or something. It’s just torture to throw all that out when someone would be willing to eat it,” Grover said.
Some of the things others have found while diving include bread, lightly bruised fruit, packages of Easter candy, boxed cookies, boxes of unsold doughnuts, whole pizzas and so much more.
“One night we found a bunch of chicken pot pies, pizzas and brownies,” said Max Hanrd, a freshman ecosystem restoration and management major.
People hear dumpster diving and they think of homeless people scrounging for food. But it is more than that.
“It makes me cringe how much is thrown out and wasted that’s still good. There are people without food and water yet here we are throwing away packages of bottled water because it’s dented or the package is ripped” Grover said.
Though businesses do not appreciate someone taking free stuff from their garbage, most divers can get away with searching through dumpsters worry free. Grover stated that there have been times where she’s been chased away from bigger businesses.
A lot of foods that are made today and sold in stores are full of preservatives so it will last quite a while. The dates on most dry goods are sell by dates, not expiration dates. Even though it is passed a sell by date, the food has not necessarily gone bad.
“I would never be able to go in a dumpster. I just could never get past the feeling of being in garbage,” said Hannah Wiedmeyer, sophomore communication and media studies major. “Maybe if there was an animal stuck in the dumpster or free Disney movies in there I would but I’d have a hard time with dealing with the fact that I’m going into garbage.”
It is no clean job. Most divers have a specific outfit they wear for going in the dumpster, said Grover. Though, she doesn’t really care if her everyday clothes get dirty or torn.
“It’s all a part of the experience and a part of the adventure,” said Grover.
Most divers stick together and go in groups of four to five people so many hands make light work and they always have a lookout.
Though now larger groups are becoming a problem as dumpster diving is becoming more popular, large groups can easily make a mess. Some groups are not cleaning up the messes that they make.
“It’s an unspoken rule of dumpster diving that you leave the dumpster in better shape then you found it otherwise if you leave it a mess, some poor underpaid employee has to pick it up,” Grover said.
All in all, the goal of dumpster divers is to save money and score some free stuff.
Grover said, “I encourage people to challenge the stigma of getting dirty from garbage. Go dumpster diving and you will be amazed with what you’ll find.”