What is dumpster diving? That depends on perspective. Are you the diver or the divee? (The divee is the business that fills the dumpster with ‘waste.’)
Everyone in our country should slow down for a day or two and reflect on our use and abuse of our material wealth. The size of our economy is staggering, far beyond the capacity for most people to grasp. It strikes me that the waste generated by this country is the result of economies of scale.
The waste generated is relative. The waste from the United Stated could feed entire countries – could probably save hundreds of thousands of lives in impoverished countries. Maybe even save a few lives right here in America. Is that not our Capitalistic/Christian value? Smart business decisions are made after careful cost/benefit studies are complete.
Let’s follow the life of a loaf of bread. A grocery store buys the bread at wholesale for $1.65. They sell the bread at retail for $2.50, a fifty percent markup. The bread has a shelf life of, for our example, five days. On the sixth day the bread sits on the shelf, something must be done. The local government health department says it cannot be sold. The owner’s of the grocery cannot risk a lawsuit and bad publicity over potential mold.
So the pure business decision rests in cost/benefit. There are few options. Pay an employee to get the bread and walk it to the back dock and throw it in the dumpster, or take the bread to a storage area, save it with other shelf life extinct products, then load it on a truck and deliver it to a local food kitchen or food bank for distribution to the needy. Hmmm? The Store Manager is being judged by the Corporate office, six states to the east, on bottom line numbers.
There are counter culture movements, like the Freegans, who ‘dumpster dive’ looking for waste that has not lost it’s intrinsic value. OK – go for it Freegans. But participating in the society to minimize waste is a better overall solution.
Grocery Store Managers understand the waste issue better than most – I submit that they would love to have a reasonable alternative to throwing useful products in the dumpster. Most communities have food banks and food kitchens to distribute food to needy families. Their biggest problem is in acquiring the products – there is never a problem with need.
Organized volunteer efforts to collect useful products and deliver to organized distribution centers can have a dramatic impact on the lives of many. The food banks and food kitchens are experienced at detecting fraud – yes, there are people who would take advantage of these noble organizations. These organizations are adept at maximizing benefit.
Valuable products need never get to the dumpster in the first place.
See Also: Old ladies and dumpsters