One man’s trash is another man’s… dinner? In this week’s Close-Up, we meet Rob Greenfield, an activist who is raising awareness about food waste by rescuing discarded food from grocery store dumpsters across the country.
Rob Greenfield is Dumpster Diving for DinnerOne man’s trash is another man’s... dinner?
Dumpster diving began as a way for Greenfield to sustainably feed himself on a bike ride across America. On that first trip, Greenfield estimates that 70% of his diet, nearly 280 pounds of food, came from dumpsters.
Last year, Greenfield completed his second coast-to-coast bike ride, during which he ate exclusively from dumpsters for the 1,000-mile, seven-week stretch from Madison, Wisconsin to New York City. This time, his goal was to show the public how much food is going to waste by hosting “food waste fiascos,” demonstrations where he displayed large bounties of rescued food from dumpsters – enough to ultimately feed over 500 people.
“My goal isn’t to empty one dumpster at a time here and there. My goal is to prevent millions of pounds of food from ever ending up in the dumpsters,” said Greenfield.
The demonstrations serve as small-scale representations of the $165 billion worth of food that goes uneaten every year, all while 50 million Americans are food insecure.
Greenfield is the first to admit that some of his lifestyle choices are extreme. In addition to eating from dumpsters, he has gone a year without showering and traveled to Panama and back with nothing but a passport and the clothes on his back. In between adventures, Greenfield lives in a 50-square-foot tiny home in San Diego with just the most basic of necessities. He doesn’t expect everyone to adopt these tactics, but hopes that he can inspire people to think about small changes they can incorporate into their lives – for their own good as much as for the future of the planet.
“Take the little things that you can out of this to adapt into your own life as you see fit,” said Greenfield. “I’m eating out of dumpsters so that you can simply learn to not waste food or to shop at your local farmers market, or to compost the excess food that you do have that you can’t eat, so my message is simple: I’m the crazy guy, you don’t have to be.”