In Praise of the Dumpster Divers

Or, no one should have to dumpster dive to survive, because we shouldn’t be wasting so much stuff.

I’m Kitty Stryker, and I’ve been a dumpster diver.

Yes, I’ve been that pair of shoes sticking out of the bin that every article uses as an image for dumpster diving because that image puts the focus on the person instead of how incredibly and destructively wasteful our society is… especially corporations.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because it’s the holidays and during the holidays the push to donate to much needed charities increases drastically. At the same time, I also see the strain on my friends who work low-wage jobs as they struggle to get enough hours and also to participate in the present buying capitalism insists from us.

a pile of coats and blankets outside Eddie Bauer — they’ve all been sliced up to prevent them being useful to anyone, while houseless folks freeze to death for lack of shelters to sleep in. photo via Dakotah Lilly

Why is it that corporations are so comfortable throwing away useful shit, things that are the difference between survival and death for so many? I mean, I ask the question, but I know the answer. Capitalism. It’s because we believe, on some fundamental level, that some people are incapable of survival and therefore deserve to die — even though we are totally comfortable throwing away the things they need to live.

I have so many friends who have been shamed out of taking food out of the dumpster — food that no one was going to buy, food that was ultimately going to go to the dump. But corporations are so determined that if you don’t pay, you get nothing. They lock their dumpsters. They have security patrolling to make sure that starving people don’t eat the tossed scraps. They would rather it go to waste than give it to people who need it.

Ah, charity, the American way.

Tossed in a dumpster that then was locked.

It kills me to see how much we waste. In a day, a week, a month, the food and clothes the companies we work for throw into the garbage and then prevent anyone from using had value as long as we can prevent the houseless from having it.

This is some bullshit. I’ve eaten food from the food pantry, crawling with insects and barely able to make half a meal with the canned and boxed goods I received that had sat in a pantry for longer than they should have. Why do we prevent people who need sustenance from getting it from Trader Joe’s or Safeway or any number of other businesses? Who does it serve to protect food we’d rather send to a junkyard than a hungry belly?

When we talk about charity, and the holidays, please, let’s hold these companies accountable for their waste. They have the capability to be saving real lives, and instead they’re choosing the financial bottom line. Humanity deserves better than that. We all do.

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Professional Bleeding Heart. Sick & Tired. Patronize me: Image by @mayakern

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