My friend Dane and I are on a mission to show how much food we waste in the United States, and we know that we’ve got to come up with some creative ways to get people’s attention in the United States. So we decided to make a huge public display of what we uncovered in the dumpsters of Madison, Wisconsin.
In a matter of 48 hours of casual dumpster diving we managed to collect thousands of dollars worth of perfectly good food that you see here. Looking at this photo myself, it’s still hard even for me to believe that every bit of this food came from dumpsters.
It’s all clean. It all smells great. It’s all perfectly good food. I mean come on; you would never guess that any of this came from dumpsters. Our intention for the evening was to make a shocking visual display of food waste, but boy did it go even further than that!
We were joined by reporters from around the city to help us get the word out about food waste. Madison’s ABC, CBS, and Foxchannels came out to report on the story, as well as The Capital Times. They were all blown away by what we’d uncovered and their stories have been seen by Wisconsinites across the state.
Old friends and new friends came by, and we hung out for the evening, playing with all of the food and talking to passerby’s who were curious about what was going on. Not a single person ever guessed that it was dumpster food. It was just too pretty.
We had 100’s of pounds of food and we expected to have a lot of work to do at the end of the night to get rid of it, but towards the middle of the evening something beautiful started to happen. People started to take some food. Then more people came and filled up whole bags to take home with them.
Also, an eleven year-old on a bike and his mom ran around town telling people to come to the park to get free food and more people showed up.
Box by box, the food was taken and each person walked away with a smile, excited for their bounty of food. This simple act by my friends and I saved people $1,000’s of dollars, diverted 100’s of pounds of food from the landfill, inspired many people to end the waste, and proved to be a freakin’ blast!
You see, food is life, and life is too precious to waste. At a time when 1 in 7 US Americans are food insecure, it is shameful to put food into dumpsters. It’s a waste of money, precious resources such as energy, water, and fossil fuels, and it is a waste of life.
So we’re doing something about it. Because we care about our fellow US Americans, and we know that you do too. We care about everyone who lives on earth, and we know that you do too.
#WastefulUSA and #WastefulWI
We’ve started a citizen patrol to call out grocery stores and hold them accountable for their waste. We are calling on YOU to take out your smart phones and peek into the dumpsters of whatever supermarkets and restaurants you have nearby.
But you don’t even have to get in the dumpster to be a part of this movement. If you find wastefulness simply take a photo, upload it to social media with #WastefulUSA (or #WastefulWI in Wisconsin) and tweet and tag the wasteful companies. Let them know we are not ok with them wasting food when there are hungry people out there. We are not ok with them wasting our future!
What can grocery stores and supermarkets do to be a part of the solution?
1. Create less waste in the first place by managing inventory better and being ok with aesthetic imperfections in food.
2. Give away excess food. They can donate it to non-profits and food banks who can distribute it to people in need and they can also give it to their employees. This is good business practice, and they will be bettering the lives of people in their communities.
Grocery stores and restaurants are protected from legal liability by the Good Samaritan Food Actand thousands of stores all over the country are already doing this.
3. If food does need to be discarded, compost it or give it to a farmer as animal feed instead of sending it to landfills.
There isn’t any good reason that ALL that stores can’t do this. We know these are businesses and it all comes down to profitability, but we are calling on them to operate on the triple bottom line and that is people, planet, and profit. It is their responsibility, and it is now our responsibility to hold them accountable.
To lead by example and raise awareness I’ve donated the last $421 I have with me to Food Shift and I’m cycling moneyless to New York City, living solely on dumpster food for the next month and a half.
I’ll be calling out wasteful companies along the way and spreading the word via local news and media and social media. All are welcome to join me from wherever you are or you can even bike with me to NYC.
This starts with YOU!
Here are some photos and a news segment that covered the evening dumpster pile-up: