23.12.2007: incase you're not counting, this was our seventh food not bombs serving, and possibly me and julie's last. depending on how the next couple of weeks go.
but it was raining. and it was miserable. and no one had been in contact during the week about coming over. there was only three of us, and walking to the dollar store to get more bowls i was wishing we'd just cancelled out this week. but what kind of attitude is that? a rubbish one.
a few more people turned up to help serve and we decided to take it straight down to the shelter, no messing around. and i'm glad we did. serving outside a shelter is a very different experience, and definately more of an experience. it's hard to explain, i guess you witness a lot more interaction between the homeless people, and you serve a lot more of them as well. but it just feels wrong feeding people through bars (you have to sign in to enter and then go outside to smoke, so they have a fence installed), and i started feeling a bit uncomfortable when they started argueing with each other. but generally they're surprisingly friendly, given their situation and all. or maybe that's just me being an ass. i don't know. i'm still learning, this is all very new to me really, as much as i'd like to pretend it isn't.
halfway through some people turned up and handed us over a christmas cake and some random sliced up cakes to hand out. that was strange, but it worked well. although it was a shame no one wanted our salad. another group came to hand out socks.
oh, and also it's harder to take photos. because i deplore photographers who prey on those in unfortunate circumstances. and i respect that a lot of people just don't want to be hassled. and we're not there to make people uncomfortable. anyway, here's some shoddy photos:
what you can't see is our awesome brocolli and potato soup. and we served so much i didn't even get a bowl for myself. but that's a good thing.
16.12.2007: this week, food not bombs was always going to be a disaster. last week we had a bad turnout, this week we have a snow storm.
we cooked up, mixing half of last weeks curry with some new beets and desperately trying to mask the burnt taste (more curry powder, soy sauce, coconut cream? fuck it), and also created a whole new potato and courgette soup (rocking thanks to the rosemary and thyme). my doubt was whether we should set up in allen gardens or not, what would be the point? we debated it for a while and decided to go for it. we promised we'd be there, and we were going to stick to that. damn it.
all that effort, clearing away all the snow from around our concrete table, setting up the camping stove and heating the hot chocolate, and for what? we gave out about three bowls. but we weren't going to be defeated. kyle and tasha went off in search of people and checked out a couple of local shelters. they said they'd tell people we were up here, but since we didn't really want to drag people out into the cold, and unsure whether they'd come anyway, we decided to take the food to them.
there wasn't even time to reheat the food, a queue had formed as soon as we'd got the burner lit. it was sloppy, we had no planning, and we were making it up as we went along, but it was good. our two pans of food went in minutes.
we were scraping the bottom of the pan trying to feed people. it's supposed to make you feel good, but i just felt guilty. some guys got a full bowl, some got a cup. those at the back of the queue hardly had any. all we were offering them was frosted bread.
we lost nearly all of our bowls, but we fed a lot of people and got the word out. it's definately worth it. and we learnt a new trick, we now know what to do when we have too much food. there is never too much food.
09.12.2007: the weather shines on food not bombs, but the seasons are working against us. we should be increasing our numbers each week, but with it getting so cold there are way less people showing up. the word has not spread quick enough. do people think our food is not worth braving the cold for? possibly it's not. it's really cold.
that's our fifth serving and we've totally got it down. we are like a well oiled bike. all we need now is publicity. are we ready to start asking the shelters to let people know what we're up to? we might need to.
but i'm not going to let today's poor numbers discourage me. we had some great conversations today. and the people that did take our food were super appreciative. people were impressed with our dedication, that we're sticking it out in all weathers. and we're slowly chipping away at the bad reputation the toronto food not bombs has acquired. each week there's always someone who thought toronto fnb died long ago.
one couple who were approaching us from behind suddenly shouted "food not bombs!". they didn't know we were going to be there, and couldn't see our banner, they said we just looked like food not bombs. that's a good sign. although a large number of people asked me today what church we were with. i carefully explained how we're not affiliated with any churches or religions. and somehow people are even more impressed with that (if not a little confused), that we're doing it just because it's right. hey, you don't need a god to do good in this world. you sometimes need one to do bad.
the food today was refreshingly not pink. i praise those farmers for not giving us anymore beets. any sooner we were going to be dubbed "beets not bombs". we had turnips, carrots, brocolli, onions and bok choy. we threw in some rice and a bunch of spices too. but there was still the odd connoisseur who said it needed more flavour. honestly, that actually happened. she said more salt and garlic, and some spices were needed. she was just being helpful, and she said if we wanted she'd bring us back some chicken broth (we politely declined). but then another guy said it was like indian food. so who do you believe?
i also found out that yesterday we made it through 15 loaves. if we're going to over estimate (like the woman who said there were several thousand people there), then we could say you get ten slices in a loaf, and that's 150 people we served. sure some people took two slices, but a lot didn't take any.
so yes, i've had a busy weekend.
08.12.2007: today was the international day for climate action. here in toronto action means holding a rally and marching along one side of the street. it means chanting about how you really want something. today it was kyoto. and it's a shame because most countries are past that hurdle already. not that they're doing anything about it, but still.
today was also food not bomb's first proper publicity serving. there we were in the middle of dundas square, tables set up, our banner streched between them. a big hot pot of what everyone was calling "chilli" on one table and a sack of bread on the other. like we totally rocked.
it was slow on the start, but once the ice had been broken we had a regular stream of very grateful people. we had a queue even. it was brilliant. and it was a lot of fun. but i think there's a danger here in what we count as a success. if felt successful, more so to me than our normal servings, mostly based on the mass of people we interacted with, but what are we succceding in doing? feeding the people who really need the food?
i think it's important to keep a regular weekly serving for the homeless, and only do these servings at demos if our food supply can support it. all of the food we served today was leftovers from last weekend. the soups had been frozen, and the squash, corgettes, carrots and beets that hadn't fit into the pots topped them up. we threw in a few cups of rice for good measure. so sure it looked like chilli, but no.
and we're completely over stocked with bread, thanks to some friendly bakers at the farmers' market and some wasteful bakeries. this is lucky, because we quickly ran out of bowls (we had about twenty), even with people sharing and a lot of people not caring about reusing someone elses. the solution was serving our mush (i'd like to think of it as 'indian borscht') on slices of bread. it worked a treat.
i fucking love giving away free food. i fucking love cooking for people for free.
02.12.2007: food not bombs, the third serving. and it's starting to get cold:
this week we had a fantastic amount of food. our giant pot was filled to the brim. it was excellent. and the weather held up for us, we're still going strong. there were more people around this week, probably due to the free horse and carriage rides and the scary santa's grotto inside the botanical gardens. but we made so much food there's some left, which gives us a good chance of food not bombing the kyoto rally next saturday. if we get plenty of food on thursday again, we'll have enough for two servings in a row for sure. we just need the strength and dedication and we'll be rocking dundas square.
i also got some photos of the food and cooking, incase you were interested or anything, like:
that's kyle and henry, who also deserve a big round of applause for
the farmers into giving us so much food every week. did i tell you how much the farmers rock?
26.11.2007: food not bombs, season one part two:
me and henry had visited the farmer's market on thursday to pick up food. the farmers are such friendly and honest people, they're amazing. they're so willing to help out and totally understand what we're about. some of them, if they don't have anything they can't sell, they'll just give us some of their quality produce. local, organic and for a good cause. donations totalled:
- many big courgettes
- 6 squash
- a big bag of beets
- a big bag of radishes
- a large number of red peppers (and a few green)
- a big bag of spinach
- curly kale
- parsley (that i mistook for coriander)
and we we're only forty minutes late arriving at allan gardens. not so bad.
half way through our serving two police cars drive by, right through the middle of the park. it's a surreal scene, and it makes no sense. this isn't a road, it's a park. for a minute i become paranoid, that we've already gained too much attention and the police have come to intimidate us. but probably not, probably they're just taking a short cut. probably. probably they just got lost.
in the end, and after a slow start, we had no trouble in dishing out all of our food. i think we may even have doubled our servings this week. we didn't lose so many bowls either. next week though, we really need to tell people we're doing this every week. spread the word.
back at our apartment i spike my hot cocoa with far too good whiskey, liat puts on sleater kinney and people continue to argue politics. feeding the homeless is good, but i think my favourite part of FNB is meeting new and interesting people. corny as fuck, huh? hell yeah.
25.11.2007: since we started doing 'food not bombs' my interaction with homeless people has changed completely. rather than ignoring them or saying sorry when they ask for money, i now tell them i can't give them money but we're doing a food serving on sunday in allan gardens starting at 1pm. suddenly there's no bad feelings and everyone is a winner. maybe "winner" is going a bit too far.
or maybe i'd be walking down the street with a bag of radishes, "i haven't got any money, but you can have a few radishes if you want, courtesy of food not bombs". you'd be surprised at how well they're received, considering how everyone seems to hate radishes.
and last night, after our meeting, we went out for a quick bakery dumpster dive. it's fun going in group, with like minded people who don't think fresh free food is gross just because someone else had called it trash. we filled our bags with bread and took a few odd bits for the walk, chunks of five dollar bread and olive topped rolls, baguettes fresher and softer than what you'd find in any supermarket. and it's funny, because when we gave a homeless guy some (he was asking for money for food), he knew exactly where we'd got it from. i guess they must get bored of bread after a while.
anyway, it's food not bombs time.
22.11.2007: i was just in our local supermarket (sorry to shatter the illusion, i do have a 'local') and they had a shopping trolley full of bread. sliced and wrapped, bread at the better end of the crap everyone buys. there must have been way over twenty loaves (and that's me being conservative, shocking).
so i asked the guy working the floor if they were old and if he was going to mark them down. "nah, we don't do that anymore". so, what.. it gets thrown out? he told me that's pretty much exactly what happens. and of course, there was no way he could let me have any. but he did take me to the floor manager, but he said he couldn't let me have it either. apparently i'd have to talk to the shop manager ("vince", of course) who wouldn't be in until the next day, by which time it'd be too late.
aaaaargh, fucking bureaucracy. i told him who i was and who i represented. i told him what i could achieve with that bread. i told him exactly who would eat it and when. and i was just about to give up and ask him if he could at least tell me when it was going to be thrown out so i could go grab it, when he told me they send the bread back to the distributor and get money back for it.
gulp. is that a bare faced lie? or are supermarkets more stupid than i thought? they ship old bread back for a refund? they're not fucking magazines, this is produce. that's not how distribution works, it's ridiculous. my brain imploded and i was left with important bits of me dragging along the dirty supermarket floor, just like all the other customers.
"one of us! one of us!"
now i'm just being rude and arrogant, but i'm annoyed.
18.11.2007: we've just finished our first food not bombs serving and i'd like to class it as a roaring success:
we set up in allan gardens on a perfect stone table (which used to be a drinking water fountain), and straight away we were serving food. we were there for about an hour and all of the food was eaten. standing in our kitchen earlier, i was thinking there was no chance we'd get rid of it all, but once cooked down it looked a worryingly small amount. in the end it was just perfect. andnext week, more.
the food we'd been given at the farmer's market was fantastic. we'd collected something like:
- sweet potatoes
- an absolute ton of baby bok choy
- sweet carrots
- salad greens
- heirloom tomatoes
- green peppers
patrick and yuko had also picked up a crazy amount of hot chocolate from somewhere in guelph. like, boxes of it from a distribution centre, each containing about 90 servings (ten boxes of six packs of fifteen?). hopefully next week can serve hot cocoa too. that idea gets me super excited. if we can find mugs anyway. and have water as well, because that's what people were most asking for.
i suppose i better go and finish the washing up..
well done team!
25.10.2007: we went out on monday but came back empty handed, which is always disappointing. but especially on a monday. it wasn't all bad though, back on our street we found a large black plastic labelled "free clothes". it was mostly clean smelling junk, but i netted myself a 'new' pair of jeans and a large jacket (hey, they look practically new). i suspect the jeans might not be men's jeans exactly, but i also suspect that doesn't matter. they fit well enough for me.
(does a little wiggle)
they're diesel too, global warming ready, but hopefully no one will notice.
and then we ran out of bread, so last night we tried out luck again. our dumpster was overflowing but it was all trash, and something beneath the black plastic was weird and cold (dumpster diving tip: never open a bag because something inside feels funny and you want to find out what it is). we were just about to give up when we discovered the bread bag right at the back, aha! the moral of the story is never give up. we took two hulking feta and spinach twist breads, 360 degrees of flat poppyseed and something bread, and a number of spinach scones. we'd also bought along a friend who took a modest flatbread, and looked very pleased with it.
16.10.2007: happy world food day, whatever that means. i tried their website but it was rather devoid of action.
whereas we are full of action. kind of. if you include our two exciting 'food not bombs' meetings and our dumpster diving road trip around toronto last night. dumpster diving in style, but all in the name of journalism you understand. please don't think we go around condoning the use of cars. blechk.
so we started in kensington market, rummaging through and around the incredible number of green bins, along with all the other people. there were a few older guys, one of them very friendly and eager to share his bag, and a few squeegee kids (complete with back pocket squeegee) who grunted at me when i asked if they'd found any veg. their agit punk beat box was cool though. then a guy cycled over to ask what we were doing, and how he'd just heard about us (freegans) on the TV. that was pretty funny. we picked up:
- 1.5kg tomatoes (or something like that)
- 6 oranges
- 2 corn cobs
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 carrot
- 1 white peach
- 1 loaf (since we took plenty the day before)
- 2 raisin breads
- numerous buns
zip. all we found were compactors and incinerators. the last place had a large bin but just the other side of a rather high wooden fence. we spent a good few minutes trying to work out any safe way to get to the goods, but nothing. in a desperate attempt our journalist friend tried knocking on the service door but no one answered.
moral of the story? cars are bad. clearly.
15.10.2007: for completeness, we went for a quick dive after the cinema last night and nabbed ourselves four large breads (is "breads" a word i can use?), including two sourdoughs. or at least i think they are. plus whatever lorien took.
and to think i'm still eating bread that i bought (due to bad timing). but at least i gave half of the loaf away on the way home from the shop. two homeless people asked if i could spare some food, and i was more than happy to oblige. i'd stopped offering people food ages ago since it never seemed to go down well, getting eviled at and other things i never understood. it felt good to be helpful in a mutually appreciative way. if that makes any sense
07.10.2007: so yes, a group of us have taken the initiative and the toronto chapter of food not bombs has just been reactivated. hurray, etc.
unfortunately it looks like it's going to be an uphill (but rewarding) struggle. you may remember me moaning about the toronto food not bombs before, how i couldn't track them down and when i did they were just rude. well, it wasn't just me who noticed. it has a rather poor reputation and a terrible track record. maybe it's cursed, or maybe people have legitimate excuses for being unreliable. i guess we'll find out.
the only thing currently set in stone is our weekly meeting (the victory cafe on markham - 8pm saturdays), to which all enthusiasts are welcome. we also have a new website (but i'm not sure the domain is fixed yet).
we're pursuing a number of options for a kitchen and serving location, but suggests (and offers) are more than welcome, cheers.
04.10.2007: we'd been out networking with LEAF (local enhancement and appreciation of forests), which was nice, but wasn't going to get us fed. and if you're in the area, why not check out the bakeries?
approaching our dumpster, there was already someone rummaging through it. it's always fun meeting fellow divers, and this guy was especially polite. he even cleaned up the inside of the bin, and placed some bread on the other side of the carpark to distract the other scavengers. diversionary tactics, nice.
he also told us to be wary of the guy running the shop adjacent to the bakery, that he'd come out and tell us he was calling the police (although i really doubt he'd actually bother). and to think, in all our time dumpster diving we've still yet to receive any hassle from shop owners.
as for the diving, we got lucky. whoever had been scheduled for their pickup obviously hadn't come. the bin was full of every kind of bread and we could afford to be picky. we left with four loaves, all what we could carry and all that we needed.
25.09.2007: back to the market, testing out the different days. and tonight it must be, what, tuesday?
the rows of bins that held so much promise last week were now sadly absent. as was the mound of bread outside the bakery. but still, with so many grocery stores there will always be dumpster diving opportunities, even if they're not so mind boggling. one grocers had thrown out a small army of brocolli (maybe an infantry unit?) and a few bunches of celery. yes, perfect for soup. another had thrown out a sick number of garlic bulbs, in packs of three, so i indiscriminately took several handfulls. sure some of them were looking rough, but i couldn't believe all of them would be bad.
and then we retired to the pub..
22.09.2007: it's always fun taking new people dumpster diving. last night we'd been out with lorien and found ourselves stomach rumblingly close to our favourite bakery. lorien's not really new, she's practically a pro as she went diving back in copenhagen at the start of summer. but that was with julie (and she still hasn't written it up, boo), so i can still consider her 'new'.
anyway, it's fantastically simple. pull the bag from the trash, rip a neat hole (they tie the knots way too tight), inspect for anything non-edible (actual garbage) and then grab whatever takes your fancy. we took:
- 3 feta & spinach croissants
- 4 cheese & chilli twirl buns (except i ate one right there and then)
- 1 loaf
19.09.2007: since we haven't done this for ages, here's two photos of the dinner we made with the food we found on monday:
pasta with homemade tomato sauce with roasted aubergine. i made a right mess boiling down the tomatoes but it was some sweet sauce (literally). i'd made it awesome by accidentally pouring balsamic vinegar into the pan instead of olive oil (when frying the onion we'd bought, sorry).
18.09.2007: we started this blog because we wanted to be dumpster diving media superstars. this is one hundred percent true, and if you doubt it you're as foolish as people who believe in santa claus, ronald mcdonald, and all the other supernatural deities. or is it the other way round? whatever.
so to this end, last night we went for drinks with a woman working for a TV production company based here in toronto. she was researching the possibilities for a program about waste from over-consumption and the free alternatives, and she was having trouble getting into the toronto scene. no shit, so were we until we gave up.
our meeting got off to a good start with us chatting to the nice ladies in the bakery next to the bar where we met. they were about to throw out their non-donatable food, so obviously we bagged some of that (since i'd said it was my favourite bakery, aren't i the charmer?). it turns out that wasn't all they threw out, but more on that later.
we got drinks (thanks again) in the cozy bar and settled down into a fun conversation, mixed in with the gorgeous live piano playing (the keys all illuminated in fairy light colours, the perfect ambience). we discussed what there is here (freecycle, the community bike network, bike pirates, streets are for people, etc) and why there isn't much else (in the way of a dumpster diving/freegan culture). and what happened to food not bombs anyway? we explained about the excellent food banks in toronto that intercept supermarket food before it becomes waste, but also the incinerators that burn the evidence of how much slips through the net.
two hours later we left the bar and decided to demonstrate how much produce is actually thrown away. kensington market is full of small independent groceries and the tight street plans mean their 'organic waste' bins are left out in the street for easy inspection. and whilst investigating a couple of these (full of dented oranges we should have taken to make juice) we turned around to notice a couple rummaging through the garbage outside the bakery.
i couldn't believe it. we'd been told this bakery was no go, that because it was in kensington they kept their waste well out of reach, but there it was in full view of everyone. free for all. i'm guessing their charity didn't turn up to collect the (what, eight?) bags of fresh bread, but the girl we spoke to said it's always like this on mondays. thursdays too. they also told us about a good grocery up the road. "dumpster diving is easy, especially here in toronto" she says, completely contradicting everything we'd just told our new journalist friend. way to discredit us and make us look like amateurs, sigh. "there's a shoppers drug mart that always throws away chocolate soymilk and socks". i'm looking so lame right now.
we'd never bothered with kensington before, presuming there'd be less waste because the shopkeepers are cool, and also that it must be an obvious target for homeless people (we don't want to pinch food from people who really needed it). also we're not exactly local. but whatever, there is food enough for everyone. there must have been twelve green bins lined up double outside one grocery store, some of it genuine waste (onion skins etc), but some of it slightly damaged fruit and veg. dang.
getting the vegetables home (2 aubergines, 3 assorted green peppers and a mass of bruised tomatoes for sauce) it turns out they're not in as good quality as what we'd usually find back in denmark (the glory bourgeoise days), but they're good enough. the green bins are a dumpster diving nightmare (food sans packaging), but in the big alturistic scheme of things i can't complain - at least the waste is biodegradable and dealt with properly.
we also nabbed a few extra loaves and bread rolls.
so that was that. we'll see if anything comes of our media foray, and we'll see if we do actually go on an expedition trip with her to a nearby chocolate factory. that could be a lot of fun.
31.08.2007: all i got was two bags of freshly baked soft white buns (twelve in total), but that was enough to keep me company as i walked home, one hand swinging the bags up in a wide circle and the other holding a half eaten bun. bloor street can kiss my fucking ass.
and the other night i'd attempted a dive after it had become to dark to read outside my favourite cafe. unfortunately there was a chef out the back of his kitchen having a smoke and watching me mill about the alley. there was also a guy pissing right by the dumpster. lovely huh? i might just write that spot off as a lost cause.
23.08.2007: the guardian recently had another article on dumpster diving. a long one. it made me quite jealous. oh how i yearn for the good ol' days when we'd dumpster dive every other night and have a freezer constantly full of soup, sauce and bread. except i still do have a feezer full of bread.
i guess it's easy to make dumpster diving sound decadent when you can target an M&S. i miss those decadent days. all the posh things we'd find. cheese and chocolate. and going out in a big group. it's more fun when you're a posse. and you can carry more too.
19.08.2007: i pushed my fingers through the first black plastic bin bag, shiny and wet in the sodium lights, but all i found was a cold stickiness. flexible plastic. garbage. it was a stupid start. i felt the next bag, and what i felt was a danish pastry.
it was late so i wasn't going to fuck around. i hauled the bag from the bin, switched off my light and walked back onto the main road. ten seconds was all it took. i'm the guy with the full bin bag who you presumed was taking out the trash, but no. this is all fresh bread.
back in my borrowed kitchen i ripped the bag open to find:
- 5 spinach and feta croissants
- 6 spinach scones
- 1 nutty loaf
- 1 baguette
- 4 cheese whirls
- 1/2 sticky jam bread
- 1 big cheese bread
- a weird cheese star bread
the great thing about croissants is you can peel off the other layers and eat the inside, which is what i did. and this may sound weird, but i washed the scones and then baked them before eating. it seemed somehow wrong to wash bread, but it worked.
two nights later i do the same run again, this time aiming for the good stuff. to keep myself awake until the bakery employees left i sat in the future cafe with my decaf coffee (can you self-prescribe a placebo?). i cursed the pricks opposite for not leaving me any cake, but then remembered i was also about to get way more than i could eat. they were pricks though.
so i had learnt from my previous attempt, either that or being sober, but you don't need to rip open a bag to find out if it contains bread. my new problem was which bag. out of the three i chose the one with the loafiest feeling objects inside. i'd bought my own bag so i could take only what i needed, but opening the bag and rummaging around in the dark creating a big mess, it just didn't seem cool.
now i'm standing in the kitchen savouring the excitement of what i might have. and i don't care at all if you think i'm sad for getting excited about free fresh bread. so, a third of what they threw out tonight:
- 5 loaves (3 poppy seed)
- 4 half loaves (2 poppy seed)
- 9 wholemeal scone buns
- 16 raisin scones
wow, these scones contain apricots.
it's a shame there's no sourdough or croissants, but lazy people can't be choosers. i could just go back out and get some. actually, i did go back out, to get milk and give away the surplus bread. where are the homeless people when you need them?
14.08.2007: i had a tip off about a supermarket near me (thanks, btw). so since i've been all on my own with not much to do, and also don't have much food and a strong urge to not go the supermarket (if i can hold out on bread and cheese i can acquire a reasonable quantity on 'bagel wednesday') i thought i'd check it out.
is it the first time i've been dumpster diving on my own? it might be, i can't be bothered to check, but i think it is. i'd been sitting outside a cafe reading but it had got too dark for it, so i figured i may as well go do something useful with my time. i found my alley and was impressed with the number of bins, there was a lot. i lifted the lid of the first one only to find it empty, and what's worse is the lid and rim where covered in this sticky black grime. anti dumpster diving paint? whatever the fuck it was it meant my fun little adventure was over.
i did a quick survey of the area and the other bins before leaving. there was a row of wheelie bins, all open and all empty, and a large skip further down. this one was full of buldging bin bags but was too visible from the street and carpark for me to rummage through it. it didn't help that there was a cop car sitting at the end of the alley either, so i wasn't about to use my flashlight. oh yeah, and i had crap everywhere on me so i couldn't anyway.
they also had a huge compactor but i suspect it was for cardboard only. that might be wishful thinking. i'll check it out again later in the week, or weekend, and will hopefully get lucky.
07.08.2007: last friday night we found ourselves out in some small town three hours north east of toronto. we'd stopped there to hang out with a friend and eat at her parents' chinese restaurant. they were super friendly and good humoured people, they even gave us the leftovers from their buffet and a few extra eggs and a loaf for good measure.
it was reasonably late when we finished eating and went for a tour of the area, which included the local chocolate factory. you can imagine our excitement at the possibilities of dumpster diving a chocolate factory, especially one a little less posh than the godiva factory in brussels (which we clearly had zero chance of penetrating). no one else was really into it, but there was no way i wasn't going to check it out. i sprinted off around the building past what i interpreted as a "no walking" sign. one huge dumpster was completely empty so we moved on around the next corner, only to be greeted by a series of compactors and incinerators.
poor show. we would have been heroes if we'd returned with bags full of chocolate. next time.
maybe it was for the best though, whilst catching up with our group we noticed there were people still working there. having said that, being chased away from a bin full of chocolate by angry employees in the middle of the night would have made for a much better story than the one we left with.
02.08.2007: i forgot to mention that we picked up a steamer, which some crazy person had decided to throw out. and it's not just a crappy pan set, it's a posh thing you plug into the wall with a timer and everything. i've wanted a steamer for ages. and whereas i should have just bought a cheap one when we moved here, and had one for the last eleven months, at least we have one for free now.
our new steamer definately deserves a photo, but it's not going to get one because i have better things to do (even if that is a lie).
29.07.2007: it's sunday, the day our local bakery doesn't have a charity to give its bread to, but since our 'friend in a low place' isn't working tonight we've had to go dig the bread from the dumpster. it's been a while, and i'd forgotten how much i enjoy taking free food. sure it's cool having employees hand over whatever bread you want, but it bizarrely seems more dignified taking it from the bin instead.
their bin was so full a custard danish stuck the dumpster lid when i opened it up. in the glare of my bike light, every kind of bread and pastry. wonderful. it's just a shame they don't bag it all up before throwing it out. i might go in this week and request they start doing that, "in handy snatch size bags please".
- 2 posh loaves
- 2 long baguettes
- 2 bags of rolls
23.07.2007: we had a tip-off about a local bakery, how they always have plenty of bread left at the end of the day and don't always know what to do with it. so many bakeries must be like this, since they sell fresh bread throughout the day, all the way up until 9pm, there's always going to be left overs.
the bakery near us has it mostly sorted. they have a different charity designated to every day of the week who come and collect whatever bread remains. these are shelters and food banks, i'm sure food not bombs get involved sometimes too. the only problem is that the bakery isn't allowed to give away anything containing dairy, such as the cheese breads and danish pastries, and that's where we come in..
we'd learnt all this on friday when we'd had a friendly chat with a girl who works there. she'd also told us that they're currently looking for a charity to cover sunday, and until they do all the bread is just being thrown away. she totally hated wasting food too, and since she was closing up on sunday she said we should pop by then, which of course we did. it felt a bit weird entering the shop minutes after it'd had closed, it was awkward and it felt wrong somehow. all those capitalist ideals ingrained, right? but she said she'd been hoping we'd be back and said we could take whatever we wanted. what do you do? i was about to suggest she takes a bag and pour the croissants in. all 20+ of them. and i'll take those 20+ scones too, the raisin ones and the date ones. they can keep the $5 twisty breads, but the pastries are mine. give us one each of every bread and baguette. no, two. that's what i was thinking, but i didn't want to push it.
in the end we took a couple of loaves, a bag of scones, a single croissant and a danish pastry. she even wrapped and bagged it all properly for us, which made me quite embarrassed. she really needn't have done that.
and it's probably for the best we only got one croissant.
so despite their fantastic policy with charities, the best i've heard of, they still throw out good food every night. i was tempted to go back an hour later and reclaim everything we'd been too polite/shy to ask for. because she also told us they don't lock their bins. i love a good bakery. the sourdough is delicious.
14.07.2007: "i think it's great what they do in america, what's it called, dumpster diving. where they get food from the trash and cook a feast". we've found a new friend, me and julie do an imaginary high-five. or an invisible high-five. whichever you prefer. we had an interesting conversation about diving and it wasn't even us who bought it up. brilliant.
maria says she's never bought a piece of furniture. she also collects all the clothes people throw out and takes them down to goodwill, or some other charity store. julie had a good rummage and found some really decent stuff. harbord is a good area for this, people seem to throw stuff out all the time. only the other day i found some decent cds and copy of 'house of leaves'. julie found more feminist books than she could carry.
we got on so well with maria that she's asked us to house sit for her. and even more exciting is that i recieved an email from someone telling us of a few good dumpsters, and they're only two blocks down the road. so hopefully i'll have an update on that soon.
18.06.2007: an often unmentioned danger of dumpster diving seems to be the one most associated with hanging out in dark back alleys - how come no one ever talks about getting mugged? sure we all act sensibly, but sometimes you just can't help running into someone who's a little less friendly than the disgruntled store owner or the angry resident who thinks you're encouraging the rats. right?
or maybe this shit never happens, i don't know.
we'd wandered behind a supermarket, more to use their 'toilet' than raid their bins, but since we'd found a variety pack of shampoo and shower gels i'd class this as a dumpster diving story. i'd noticed a group of hooded individuals milling around at the other end of the alley, but was determined not to give into the prejudism (is it racism? is it statistics? is it just bullshit?) and worry they were out to cause trouble. i give most people the benefit of the doubt, and it hasn't led to a mugging yet, that's what i was thinking.
but of course this wouldn't be a story if they hadn't began to approach us as we walked along the alley. julie was busy trying to get a leaf off some random tree and didn't understand why i was trying to get her to hurry up. and in the end it was sedric who sorted it all out, with a little bravado i would never have dared stretch too. perhaps they did only want directions, perhaps they did only want to sell weed. but then perhaps they did have knives and guns. it's weird, cos people do get shot in this city all the time. although i think it's generally gang or bank robbery related. there was that great time recently where police chased a robber through a busy school playground. i heard about hailing bullets, luckily no one was hurt. justify that, you moronic police.
anyway, i think the main point to consider is who exactly is going to mug someone who's rummaging through bins? you think i have money? you want something from me? go check that bin over there, it's full of fantastic stuff. and apparently, if you get mugged in berlin, the best thing to do is deliberately run full speed into something big and hard. dave recommends a bus shelter, just make it funny, whatever. his muggers even bought him a beer afterwards.
22.05.2007: this is a loaf of bread we got from the bakery today:
we didn't pay for it though. the woman who put it through the slicer decided it was flawed and she couldn't give it to us. she put it aside and sliced us another. so we asked her what was wrong with it and apparently the end had collapsed, you can see it in the photo. that, and i wont even call it a minor flaw, is enough for the bakery to throw it out. they're not even allowed to give it to pigs anymore.
so we asked them where their bins were, so i could go get it myself, but she said i'd have to go all the way to northampton (about 20 miles away). why do they transport their waste that far? it just doesn't make sense. in the end she agreed to give it us for free, she saw the light and realised nothing else made sense, but it just goes shows how ridiculous bakeries can be.
15.05.2007: when bad companies get worse. looks like masterfoods have fucked up, surprise surprise. they've started putting non-vegetarian ingredients in products that used to be vege friendly, and it's completley absurd. i don't care about this because it means i can't eat mars bars anymore, i haven't been buying masterfoods products for a long time, but because it shows how little these companies care. and why should a vegan care? don't be so fucking egotistical, this doesn't suck because of how it effects a bunch of "dietary freaks" who can't eat their favourite chocolate bar anymore, but how it effects a bunch of calves.
and it's a step in the wrong direction when masterfoods should be setting an example, not that i'd expect them to set a good one, but still. this isn't a trend we want to see.
so you can cross twix off your list of dumpster diveable food.
and to show you how little they understand, and (let's not be coy) what complete assholes they are, here's a great quote from paul goalby, their corporate affairs managers - "if the customer is an extremely strict vegetarian, then we are sorry the products are no longer suitable, but a less strict vegetarian should enjoy our chocolate". what a prick, and you can tell him that here.
13.05.2007: so i just got back from spain and thought i'd do a quick dumpster diving orientated review. i never actually got my hands dirty, but i was keeping my eyes open.
we started in madrid and there were just too many police around to attempt any side-street funny business, infact they were blocking most of the streets around our hostel. we arrived on mayday (missing all of the 'celebrations') but managed to find ourselves right in the middle of a huge street party in honour of may 2nd, something to do with the french, an arch and a girl. it was fun until the authorities tried to break it up and it descended into running battles with the police (that did actually involve a lot of running, and throwing). there was a lot of skip/dumpster action, but they were too engaged in their barricades to be raided. this was all far more exciting than diving anyway.
valencia was the hardest city to find decent food in. they made being vegetarian a nightmare. luckily there's a huge food market that sells fantastic food at non-supermarket prices, but unluckily it was closed when we really needed it. the building work around it also made it difficult to scout out their bins. as for the rest of the city, i didn't see a single supermarket the whole time i was there. there's plenty of bakeries but i never had the chance to check them out.
then we were in barcelona, that awesome city. given the number of squats there the dumpster diving scene must be fantastic, but we never got the chance to find out. we did find a few squats but there was no one around to talk to, not that i would have if there had, with me being chicken shit and all. but y'know, i could have shouted "ungeren blir" and ran away or something.
so to make up for the lack of effort during the holiday we tested out the new sainsbury's trolleys for left-handing suitability. they scored an interesting 12 pints of milk and 16 toilet rolls, on a scale that's only limited by your imagination. the idea of designing in a rack to store wine bottles below the main trolley compartment must have seemed clever at the time. i wonder how long it'll take them to realise that bottles of vodka and 15 year old whiskey fit down there just as inconspicuously. i thought 12 pints might have been pushing it, but apparently not.
27.04.2007: i mentioned a while ago that we we're meeting with a journalist, but i never followed it up. i wanted to wait until i could link to the article and all that, and now i can, so here it is. i'm happy how we were represented, although being referred to by our last names is strange. also julie doesn't really shoot me looks that turn me instantly subservient. if i lol'd on this site i'd lol, but nevermind.
i especially liked the comments from mustafa koc (it makes you wonder right?). obviously we don't make an actual difference by making small personal choices (that's why we all still fly around the world, and why kalle lasn drives a car to work every day). this is why we created the blog and shout about it to as many people as possible, it's all about trying to let people know what's going on (oh, and the free food of course). his comments about food being a commodity are spot on, and also about wasting grain on livestock. i found the best quote in the make poverty history book (the one thing it was good for) - the food that's fed to livestock could feed the whole world fifteen times over. the meat industry is the single most ineffecient thing about our society, and if only we'd all turn vegetarian we'd be okay.
well, it'd be a good start anyway.
julie is currently in berlin and has a few dumpster diving stories to tell, but you're going to have to wait for them i'm afraid (hey, i want to hear them too).
09.04.2007: getting back in the mood y'know, wanting to get out there and get dirty. get full of free food. get active..
so we walked all the way down danforth to the big carrot. have you heard about this place? it sounds amazing. they do all flavours of local and organic and healthy food. it's one of those places, and it's huge. i was wondering why we don't do our shopping there, or at least i was until we'd been walking over half an hour and still hadn't found it. plus i hear it's super expensive. if you pay for food anyway. you could just head around the bag and grab your lunch from the blue bins they've got lined up there. pick a fruit, any fruit.
well, kind of. i make it sound great because i want it to sound great. there sure is a lot of food to be had back there, but unfortunately most of it's from the juice bar. it's a big cocktail of pith and peel and fruit on the verge of spoiling. it's all thrown in together and left to go bad. if you're lucky you may be able to take some unfresh fruit from the top layer, but you're not going to want to go digging, and definately not in the summer. we didn't take anything, but it sure was interesting and a definate possibility.
we went for a coffee at a nearby cafe, i'd tell you which but i'd have to kill you, and we sat around insulting the stupid women who'd written the article about people living 100% sustainable zero-impact lives in the globe and mail. she was just patronising them and making them sound like freaks. look at these weird people, aren't they cooky? ew, they don't use toilet roll, mock them. she ended the article with a comment about how us normal people just offset our carbon, like a right fuck.
so that annoyed me and julie wanted to leave, only the guy sitting next to us was clearly not eating his muffin and i wanted it. luckily we didn't have to wait for him to leave (he was quite engrossed in his paper), the second he moved his plate onto an adjacent table i asked if he wasn't going to eat it and if i could have it. almost a whole muffin, and at least the best bit. you get bonus points for this when the person you asked doesn't give you a dirty look. he was more than happy to pass it my way. score two for my belly.
06.04.2007: what to do when you're bored, have an empty fridge and it's still day out? it must be time to go scout out some supermarkets, and thanks to jenny i have a new list of supermarkets in downtown toronto.
it may seem redundant, but there's some good reasons for investigating potential dumpsters during the day:
- you look less suspicious nosing around when it's light
- you can see much easier where everything is (or isn't)
- if you can discover all the good supermarkets in one go you'll save yourself a lot of time wandering around in the dark (but then i guess some of us like that kind of thing anyway)
so down to business, the place we checked out first was the bakery on mccaul st, just north of baldwin. it smells good but there's no bins. it was most disappointing. then nearer yonge we spent a while try to find dumpsters behind various hasty markets and rabbas, but nothing. also behind the sobeys express, nothing. where do they put all their rubbish anyway?
the dominion on front st, right by the flatiron building, is the first place i actually find a dumpster. unfortunately they also have a compactor, a barbed wire fence, security cameras and a security guard. and the shop isn't even open today. i don't think the dumpster even had any food in it anyway, as there were plenty of birds around and none of them were paying it any attention. i scared the shit of them when i jumped up to look in another nearby dumpster. they scared the shit out of me too, squawking and going all crazy, and stopped me from actually seeing what it was they were so interested in. probably for the best, it smelt like dead raccoon.
nearer the harbour front is a big ugly loblaws, also known as queens quay market. to get there you have to dice with death trying to cross the roads beneath the gardiner expressway, and what's worse is that it's not even worth it. i stalked through the car park trying to look like i wasn't out to steal their garden equipment, which i wasn't, and found nothing. then i noticed the ramp leading up around the side and the storage containers and huge truck trailers. for a minute i thought i'd got lucky. i put on my best "i'm just passing through" face, prepared my excuse ("er, doesn't this lead back to the expressway?"), and walked up the ramp passing a four man cleaning crew. they didn't question me, but they didn't ignore me either. am i really so insultable? if it was my job to sweep shit i'd be an asshole too. but get how posh loblaws is, they have a compactor and an incinerator. just so they can really fuck shit up.
while i was down there i also had a good look around the st.lawrence market. they must throw away plenty of damaged fruit and vege, but there are zero bins to drool over. i'm presuming they keep them locked up behind the huge delivery doors. that's where i'd put them anyway, if i wanted to be an ass and waste food.
and they'll be no dumpster diving at the tate & lyle factory, that's for sure.
then there's the dominion on bloor and spadina. they had a few dumpsters in the car park, but clearly not for food. another grocery store further east on bloor is equally worth avoiding. infact, the only place i found anything worthwhile was the superfresh grocery store on bloor, just west of spadina. they have a dumpster beside the shop, in clear view from bloor and it actually had fruit it in. grapes, kiwi and tomatos. i had a quick rummage, but then noticed a guy in a rent-a-cop car was staring at me in a way that suggested he was trying to make me feel crushed and worthless. it didn't work, but i did decide to leave. the only problem with this dumpster is it's so visible from the main road it's not even funny.
and that was my little adventure for the day. all without using any flashlight batteries.
26.03.2007: not so much 'living the dream', more like dreaming the life. last night, from the warmth and safety of my bed, i did some awesome dumpster diving.
the sun was bright and the neighbourhood shining in primary greens and blues, a full-on housing estate and nightmare suburbia. but no nightmare tonight. i happened to be behind the local supermarket, and despite my dream logic telling me they never throw out food, i was feeling lucky and dived straight into their bins. just below the bin bag line i scored. the first produce to meet my eyes were two perfect florets of broccoli, sealed nicely in a clear plastic bag. then out came a box of apples and two cartons of 1% milk. i dug into the second dumpster (inside which it was night, strange) and found cans of fruit and beans and soup, which i proceeded to toss onto the day-glo grass beside the bins.
it was brilliant, only i'd made the mistake of diving alone and without bags. so i gathered together the vegetables in my arms and picked up a couple of cans, promising the remaining ones i'd be back for them soon, telling them to enjoy the sun while it lasted. down the street i dropped a pear, like the sock you drop while carrying the clean laundry back to your room, i couldn't bend down so i left it for the squirrels.
it probably isn't my first dumpster diving dream, but i can't remember having any previously.
we're meeting a journalist tonight, exciting huh? it's about time someone contacted us to interview us, rather than asking if we know anyone more convenient for them. there's still been no news on the swedish tv people who emil's been talking to. perhaps the riots in copenhagen scared them away? more likely the police detained them at the border and sent them packing.
06.03.2007: in kensington market a dude throws a whole pineapple into the bin and i want to cry. my arms are already full and i have to leave it to the dogs.
i have a guy from ITV (no less) looking for dumpster divers around the bristol area. anyone interested should email me straight away and i'll hook you up.
22.02.2007: found clothing is a bizarre and fantastic blog dedicated to the discovery of lost and discarded clothes. i say bizarre because i have no idea how such good quality clothes are so readily available on the streets, but then i used to think the same about food. i tend to think about food quite a lot actually. is that surprising?
and hello to all the jeep people, you do realise you're destroying the planet right? okay, i'll get off my horsie and shut the fuck up. oh, and hi to the people from actnow too, whoever you are (i'm sure you're way cooler than the jeep guys).
also yes, i'm very happy i can now make banana milkshake. hurray!
20.02.2007: on the radio they're talking about the impact of the clothing industry on the environment, the number of clothes that are thrown away each week. i ignored the number because it's not important, what is important is that there are many places in this city to take your unwanted clothes. infact, your unwanted anything. you could start at goodwill at go on from there.
there's a goodwill store just up the road from us, not even five minutes walk, but still someone had decided to throw out half an apartments worth of the good stuff onto the pavement. we ignored the chez lounge, we're not quite that bourgeois (not yet), but got plenty excited at the deluge of pots and pans. plates, glasses, mugs and computer monitors. my favourite find was one of those big round wicker chairs, complete with base. you normally find them in pieces or without the cushion, but this one was complete and barely even damp.
- a comfortable round wicker uber chair
- a set of three posh saucepans
- a set of nice bowls (none of your ikea crap)
- several glasses (not made in china)
- a blender (which i nearly forgot about)
now to take our cheap pans down to the community charity store, right?
but back on the subject of clothes, one of our friends used to work in a clothing shop and said when she had to throw out old stock (yes, they threw out last season's unsold) she was instructed to cut it up to make it unwearable. you wouldn't want homeless people looking fashionable now, would you? and you wouldn't want people finding the jacket they bought last week in the charity shop for a fraction of the price. nor would you want photos surfacing of poor children in other countries wearing your designer label chic.
i do really miss rummaging for food. sigh.
30.01.2007: happy new year! although by now it already feels like an old year. with england increasing the size of its airports, bush doing everything to keep up consumption whilst babbling meaningless crap about the environment, and canada dropping out of kyoto like a whinging toddler (we eat out of bins? that asshole eats babies), so where's your revoltion now? c'mon, let's spread the fucking love.
but by now you might have guessed that our dumpster activity isn't what it used to be. you can call us slack, which might be partly true, but this city's trash cans aren't what we'd crossed our fingers and hoped they'd be. a seemingly decent foodbank program mixed with a horrendous homeless problem have created an undumpsterable downtown. even the padlocked bins aren't hiding anything worth having, and as for the compactors, well the less i think about them the happier i am. plus i hear the police force is 60% overweight, maybe that's where all the food's going.
so we might be failing dumpster diving, but the media sure aren't. it seems there's been a huge increase in coverage since this time last year. the globe and mail (canada's second largest daily and apparently "the voice of the upper canada elite", ack) published a story two weeks ago, 'consumed with not buying food', and whilst i was in england i picked up an intersting article in the guardian, 'when is your food really past its best?'. last week we were contacted by a swedish television company interested in filming us for a documentary (lucky emil gets to deal with that one) and also the other day we were contacting by a university radio programme.
it's all glamour in the world of dumpster diving, you bet.
a few facts and quotes from the guardian.. did you know that sell-by-dates were introduced in 1979? and dr slim dinsdale (personally i wouldn't trust a man with that name, but apparently he's an expert witness in food related court cases) admits that they probably have more to do with "preventing customer complaints" than our own safety. i think all divers know that already. he goes on to say "people don't make their own judgements, i see that as a retrograde step". just to show how ridiculous it is (actually i doubt that was their motive), prudential did a survey that showed a third of adults regularly throw away food, worth an average of £424 per person (per year? i don't know, it doesn't say). there's your retrograde.
the globe and mail article is mostly a lifestyle piece, and often points out that freegans (a word that seems to be gaining popularity, but i've never muched liked it, sorry) are not poor, but dumpster dive as a choice. some of us, sure. "if it's already there, why not use it? why buy more?" is one of the more sensible comments. one of the least sensible comments, and this is where it becomes truly laughable, is from elke sengmueller, apparently a clinical dietitian who's clearly never dived. she calls it "righteous eating" and claims that it can "contribute to the development of anxiety-type problems, fear about adequate food security and guilt if food actually has to be purchased". imagine if she was talking about vegetarianism, another dangerous righteous eater behaviour (incidentally, here are two articles on the environmental destruction caused by eating meat, one is slightly dodgy but with good stats whilst the other is not). heaven forbid people would actually be concerned about where their food comes from and where their money goes (or doesn't go). she also says "it could also take on an obsessive nature, as much of the fregan's time would need to be spent foraging for adequate, acceptable food". i've personally never spent more than a few hours a week diving, and that's mostly because it was fun fun fun. having said that, in this city you do need to spend the time, at least only until you've found your few dumpsters, which we haven't. not to repeat myself.
anyway, mentally keeping up the good fight. honest.
06.12.2006: in response to phil_h, who can't seriously comment on what he wouldn't admit to until he's tried it, rather than our blog being a confession, it's intended to show people an alternative view of our consumerist culture. our lifestyles are unsustainable (which i'm sure your aware of, if the 'ultimate fiesta site' is anything to go by) and highlighting the gross amount of food we waste, whilst other people are starving, is our way of demonstrating this.
LYAO all you want, but we're the ones who are eating for free ;] ..would you really turn down these tomatoes? or this dessert? or all this food?
anyway, and above all, thank you for the link. it is much appreciated.
in actual news, i'm going to be in england over the festive period. anyone in london or brighton want to meet up and go diving?
24.11.2006: anyone fancy designating tomorrow (november 25th) as international dumpster diving day? it'll provide a good healthy option to those people with too little imagination to survive buy nothing day without an alternative to consumerism. consume as much as you want! it's all free!
just don't forget to clean it first
y'know though, if buy nothing day actually manages to become significant, the more cunning of the shops will simply subvert it by having a day of free give-aways. what better way to advertise than give things away for nothing, and they get the bonus of sucking up "counter culture" (ack, spit) too. maybe i should keep my mouth shut.
06.11.2006: as the distance between posts gets wider i get more and more worried.
so, finally some more action. last friday we went out on a mission. this was our best chance yet, a supermarket with an unpronouncable name just across the bridge in danforth. it's big and well lit up and must have a dumpster bursting with food, else what would all that space behind the shop be for? only the biggest trash compactor/incinerator i've ever seen.
defeated again. downtown dumpster diving is no fun. i didn't get offered a position at the food bank, despite me ticking all boxes and being 100% available (turn down free labour?) and nor have i managed to get incontact with the toronto food not bombs. sigh.
i'm trying, i really i am.
21.10.2006: the newest and brightest idea is track down the local food not bombs group. this should be easy, especially since they were featured in now magazine last week, but it's proving rather difficult. scouring the web i've found a few mentions of them but they all seem outdated, no email or meeting times or anything. so i went down to alexandra park (the place mentioned in the now article) just after sundown but it was devoid of any activity. i didn't even see any racoons. it's all very disappointing (he thought while munching his giant pizza slice for only $4).
so here's me pleaing for info on toronto's food not bombs. does anyone have any current emails or contact info? meeting times or hang outs? anything?
11.10.2006: are there any uk dumpster divers who are interested in talking to a "small independent production company" who are currently developing a programme regarding "alternative lifestyles and worlds created by individuals or communities, whether it be for necessity or fun"? if so just drop me an email and i'll hook you guys up.
are those stars i see in your eyes? probably not.
meanwhile i'm still trying and failing to find a supermarket within walking distance with accesible bins. i'm trying, and i'm sorry. i will not let this city defeat me.
23.09.2006: you talk to people, you hear the stories. you see it on the street. around here people go through rubbish bins all the time. household rubbish. you'd think it'd be for the bottles but in our province you don't even get a reward for returning them. general household waste is just nasty, so it saddens me that people rummage through it so much. and not just for their sake, and not because there's more competition (who are more in need and deserving of dumpstered food), but because if it's a 'problem' that people generally know about then the supermarkets do too. padlocks and chains and compressors. this is all conjecture though, just something to chat about, because until we've actually been out (and sorry for procrastinating on it) we'll never know.
20.09.2006: i picked up on this one a little too late, all very embaressing, but two americans were recently sentence to six months in jail for dumpster diving. i was about to write about all the petitions you can sign and letters you can write, but they've already been released after serving ten days incarceration (big word).
the whole story is ridiculous, you can read about it here (goes mainly into legal details) and here (is generally just very confusing).
i think the issue here is fence jumping, which a lot of divers strongly recommend against (i've often seen it written as one of the 'dumpster diving rules'), although we've done it ourselves and probably will again. having said that, i believe trespassing laws are very different in america to england (possibly the whole of europe). as far as i can remember, in england trespassing is not something you can get done for, the crime is "breaking and entering". so if you don't cut those padlocks you're okay. in theory.
anyway, an absurd and depressing story with a happy ending.
12.09.2006: well here we are in canada, in the lovely city of toronto. to say it's been hectic would be selling our time here short (if you're interested in our non-dumpster activity then it's here) and we're yet to go out on a proper dive. i've been keeping my eyes open though, and the few dumpsters i've seen have been locked, but that isn't to say that's where the good shit is. just give us a few weeks and we'll pick the slack, no worries.
but it's depressing me how much furniture is being tossed onto the sidewalk (that's what they call it round here). sofas without cushions, a dirty matress, a bed base that looks like it's been thrown from a 22nd floor window. tvs and monitors and bits of crap that might have been useful if only they'd been collected before it rained. all this stuff, soggy and stained or wee'd on by some drunk bum. if only there was a place for recycling large items, or a way for people to have them collected before they ruin. seriously, i've only seen a few pieces of furniture i'd gladly allow into my home, and those were all on some distant street. without a ride we've no hope.
and sorry for the lack of updates, and even worse the lack of uploading of updates that had actually been written. these are all below, featuring our 'fantastic' research of the supermarkets and dumpsters across europe, when and where we found them.