Why I Dumpster Dive

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the dilemma of whether to keep my Dumpster Diving Map of Pennsylvania online or to take it down. I found the answer by asking a more important question – Why do I dumpster dive?

I started dumpster diving in college as a form of protest against consumerism and how wasteful our society is (40% of food grown in this country is wasted). My protest was the act of not buying food for 3 years in college, and I publicized it by sharing dumpster food with everyone and being interviewed for articles and class projects.

Since then I have moved from State College to dumpster dived Philly and now Pittsburgh. I dumpster dive to survive, I dumpster dive to create awareness and to show people the waste our society has, I dumpster dive to fight consumption and waste. I am disgusted by the amount of food in the trash and I think everyone else should be too.

In the past I have been angrily told things like, “Keep it secret keep it safe.” And occasionally condemned by other divers who dislike the publicity. But I have found my response to those concerns:
I don’t want to live in a country that wastes 40% of it’s food when 1 out of 6 Americans lack a stable food supply.
I don’t want to exploit a system that wastes this much – I want to destroy it.
I want as many people as possible to know how much food is wasted and how good that food is.
I want more people to dive – too much food gets wasted.

I am concerned about dumpsters being shut down and police harassing divers, but I’m more concerned that this wastefulness will continue unimpeded. That our country will continue throwing away so much perfectly edible food and goods. I believe the best way to fight that is to let people see for themselves how wasteful our society is.

So I say – go out and dive! And share with others your finds and your disgust. Be courteous and clean and only dive after close and ideally after midnight. Always leave it cleaner than you found it and be quiet when you’re out there keep it good for all of us.



Coop Your House

After a hard long slow natrual struggle our house is making some of the final steps towards becoming a cooperative house. We are laying down ground rules for roommates and picking out food to communally buy. This is a far cry from our start where we didn’t cook or even know each other. But after a slow forward movement of cooking together and diving together is has finally coming to fruition.

A bunch of us had hoped to develop a cooperative housing situation, but weren’t sure where to start. I was very eager to rebirth the Casbah in Pittsburgh. After having an existential crisis I remembered what I was really looking for in the world – and started working towards that. I befriended two roommates Cha and Jamie and began cooking communal meals with them. After not much time it was almost a week and a half of communal meals.

Bad habits returned and another lull occurred, one that quickly disappeared as we began dumpster diving and stopped buying food. New roomies moved in and one that was very cooperatively minded. They began laying the groundwork and began formalizing the informal coop we had going on. It all started getting real and hopefully more organized.


Some Casbahites came and visited in the middle of this process and I was pleased to hear Mother say that the Glitter Gardens felt like the Casbah, different, she said, but similar in many ways too.

This was what I had been seeking for years. I had a huge desire to restart the Casbah, it was the nicest home I had and I wasn’t about to listen to the naysayers who say it’s hard to even make good friends after college. I pushed through and my desires and wishes were manifested in the Glitter Gardens beginning to become a cooperative. Once we formalize the buying of food the final step we’ll need is simply to get people to cook communal meals in a formal way. We have 5 excited coop-ers here. If we can get each of them to cook one meal a week that 5 days of food for one day of work.

In some ways the Glitter Gardens is beginning to eclipse the Casbah. Needn’t worry can never be replaced or forgotten. The Casbah exceeded expectations and reason in so many ways. I’m sure the Casbah will never be surpassed, though it may have a house shinning just as bright as it did – though all in the spirit of the Casbah.

Winter Solstice 2013

This isn’t the biggest or most important solstice, but this year was the solemn solstice. Due to a bit of poor planning and overlapping plans I had to voyage out on this solstice alone. I also cheated and went to a party. After walking all night, tired and exhausted, Majesty gave me my final burst of energy to help me pull through and make it until dawn.

After coming home from work I hurriedly found my candle stash and spread them all over the house and kitchen. I turned out the lights in the kitchen and one of the people visiting asked me when I started celebrating and why. I realized this was my sixth solstice. I started longing for a real holiday (disillusioned by Christmas), I tried festivus for two years and then I found the solstice. It stuck with me as I deep down knew I was and needed a good solid spiritual holiday.

After a candlelit shower I went to a party with my coworkers at the bike shop. I knew I was violating the rules (the house was going to have all the lights on) but I hadn’t a choice. I needed to go to the party and it wouldn’t be long before my roomies went to sleep. The party was a good time – I was the last to leave and went on my voyage home around 2 am.

After a break in my room looking at stuff on my computer and getting somewhat close to sleeping I knew I had to walk. I walked my normal dumpster route and then I made up for my cheating by walking into the cemetery and trying to find the holly bush I had found weeks before. Like many of the spiritual voyage I go on around the solstice I didn’t achieve the tangible goal and returned empty handed. I did achieve the more important goal of going on the quest and cleansing myself of my wrongs and by making it through the night without sleeping (something I’ve only done one or two times).

I made it home as dawn occurred and remembered why I enjoyed winter solstice so much. As the sun rises all of your tired and discomfort fades away and leaves you feeling refreshed and happy. My final walk home also had a steady rain to help in the act of cleansing myself of the past year and preparing me for the next year. I took 3 deep breathes, one for the painful beginning of last year, one for the awakening of last year and one for this next year.

Along this winter solstice I was ecstatic to be able to also connect with people I haven’t seen much but still love deeply. I had the pleasure of talking to Majesty the night of and just before dawn and received a call and fbook message from two roomies I had in Philadelphia and a few texts from Guaca. And finally I talked to Intern the following morning and heard about how he is also living the dream out in Colorado and is celebrating the solstice tonight.

I feel so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life doing and living such amazing live. Know is a better time than any to share with all of you my solstice card and associated text.

Edit 4

Last solstice good friends and I waited for the world to end on the edge of the Hudson river. It rained and stormed as if the world was going to end, but all that happened was a slow and steady sunrise, like every year before.

The new bakatun began, but it took me many months to break free of old habits and crutches that were holding me back. Now finally free – free as ever, I am ready to embrace this solstice and new sun with open arms excited for everything this world has to offer me.

I hope you had a good year so far and if not have a great year this coming year.
❤ Yeti

Human Being

Dumpster diving always made me feel a combination of emotions. I very much enjoy it and feel great joy gathering food and utilizing the resources available to me and getting free food. But it gets weird when others gawk at me. They make me feel umcomfortable, sleezy and dirty, it’s as though I’m scum to them. But I began to realize I’m not inhuman scum, in fact the opposite. I am truly human, they are the aliens.

Majesty first put word to what I was feeling and it just started to feel so right. The understanding first happened when I was trying to trash pick the end of 5k in Philadelphia. There were a couple of people picking at the event and the event goers were just gawking at us. Their stares were merciless at times but then I looked at my fellow pickers to see what they were doing.

They were strong in how they were and stood proud of what they were doing, unashamed and unaware of others glares. This one woman in particular stood out to me. She was a middle aged Asian woman with an accent. She had a kid’s bike with a basket on the front on the ground next to her were two big reusable grocery bags full of chips, bananas and oranges. She was in her own world as she munched on chips and enjoyed the weather.

After hanging out in the area for a while she came over to me and offered me food. I accepted and she promptly tried to give me a lot of food. She gave me 3 bags of chips a banana and an orange and pushed me to take more. This was an experience I haven’t had since dumpstering at South Weis in State College. There was a guy there with a thick Russian accent and limited English vocabulary. He went through his box of food offering me everything there was in it. Apples, meat, vegetables, yogurt. Every time he found something he offered me at least half.

It was such a profoundly human experience. Most people go day to day not worrying about food, taking it for granted. But poor people and dumpster divers think of it differently. Food is an invaluable resource one that if there is plenty it needs be shared, one that doesn’t belong to one person or another but to people.

Just as these two people did, just as the Casbah did, just as I have done time and time again whether it was with roommates or the Share-it-blanket. Sharing, breaking bread, enjoying and realizing the joy of a plentiful harvest. It is what makes us so human. Yet it is an experience that so many humans never experience.

Instead they hoard their plenty, and gawk at others struggling to survive or living upon their waste. They are trying to get ahead and all they can see on their path is themselves. They are individuals without community or alliances. They miss out on the biggest benefit of being human, being with other humans. The act of sharing food is such a wonderful feeling, it builds community and brightens your own spirit. There are countless benefits to this, but I would say most importantly the benefit is that of being human.

The gawkers and onlookers who don’t understand aren’t human they are aliens. They don’t feel this so human of emotion, they don’t understand and can’t relate to what we are doing. Instead they look down on us as though we aren’t human – but it is they who aren’t human. They pridefully detach themselves from all it is to be human and instead become aliens.

These are the aliens from the movie They Live. They are the aliens who control the corporations and the government. They make the rules they make the decisions for all the humans, but they aren’t even human.

So don’t be an alien. Realize the importance of food, community, and sharing your plentiful bounty.

Dumpster Dive Pittsburgh

That’s right I’ve finally gotten off my butt and checked out some of the local dumpster with my heterosexual-lifemate and former bike mechanic at Keswick Cycle, Moustache. We biked around where we live and eventually made our way to a bunch of dumpsters, getting a decent amount of stuff for my frist night exploring Pittsburgh’s dumpster scene.

We fetched ourselves two pairs of fenders, both had dynamos (wheel generated light system), a couple of Domino’s pizzas, 7 blocks of cheese, some fancy chocolates, a white board, a stapler, post-it note pads, a small scale, 30 dvds, some white-out, and some Panera cookies.

Here’s a picture of some of what we found:

This has led me to expand my map called, “Dumpster Dive Philly” to “Dumpster Dive Pennsylvania.” I’m excited to continue dumpstering and hope to live off of the dumspter much more than I did in Philly, and without nearly as much of a trek to get to them.

Living off the dumpster again is such a relieving feeling. Riding bikes in the night, feeling a bit like a hunter/gatherer as I roam around filling my bags and stomach with food. Hopefully avoiding the perils of grocery shopping more and more as time progresses and my map becomes more complete.


Dumpster Dive Philly

I have made it a goal of mine this winter to touch most dumpster in the Philadelphia area. To travel to suburbs like ardmore and media and explore their dumpsters. So since I’m doing this and I needed a way to keep track of how good dumpster were I decided to create a map marking these dumpsters and ranking them from inaccessible to great dumpster.


I only have 30 markers down so far and most of them are for inaccessible dumpster, but I’m adding dumpster almost daily. I hope to fill in a bunch of dumpster in the city, Ardmore and Media in the coming month. I’m pretty sure I’m also going to broaden the map to include State College, and any other dumpster I find along the way. Adding of markers is welcome!


If you dig deep enough

There’s a legend among us that, if you dig deep enough, you’ll always find a bottle of juice.

Following work in Glenside I push myself to bike a mile up the road to Aldi’s grocery store. I’ve just started recently after an hiatus that was far to long. I get to the top and find Aldi’s dumpster over flowing with sliced bread.

Hurricane Sandy did strange things to their dumpster. I went on Saturday and found the dumpster overflowing with eggs, hundreds of dozens of them. There were a few bags of bread and bagels to go with it. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the rolling shelving unit that held another hundred cartons of eggs waiting for the dumpster to be emptied so that they can be thrown out. What do you do in a hurricane but buy bread, milk, eggs and water. And what do you do after the hurricane is over but throw out all of that food when people don’t buy it. Because those first 3 foods are highly perishable.

The dumpster is so full that I struggle to dig down into it. I choose the bottom left corner and begin digging. I fight away the landslides of food and trash to find a Naked mango drink about 3 feet below the bottom.

I’m immediately brought back to the days of veins of pom juice, boathouse juice and all sorts of delicious fruit juices. I hold the Naked drink and jump around with glee. This is what my life has been missing, this is why I’ve been depressed recently. What gets blood pumping more than the excitement of biking do a dumpster and pulling out juice!

I dig further in this vein to find pizza, cheese, cream cheese, whipped cream and pie dough. I grab as much as I can carry, which sadly isn’t much. I have to shove it all onto my trike which has my work clothing and shoes in one of my panniers. But I manage to take a few things.

When I get home my roommate spies my food and gets excited, “That’s awesome. That would cost like $50.”

It’s getting cold in Philadelphia, and my ride home was a chilly one. Also the closest dumpster with any potential is about 10 miles away. But now is the time to dive, outside is like a refrigerator, it’s so cold you could almost pull ice cream out and eat it.

So I’m going to suit myself up and make that journey to the nearby dumpster. Wish me luck, I’ve got a lot of exploring of this area to do, because I am once again going to dive.