The Food Waste Fiasco: Dumpster Diving for Change

Rob Greenfield is on a mission. A mission to create and inspire a healthier, happier world. His most recent method? Biking across the country eating nothing but food he finds in dumpsters, to raise awareness about food waste.

Rob and volunteers gathered this food over a 7-hour period in Cleveland, Ohio (Courtesy of Rob Greenfield)

Food waste is an issue across the entirety of the developed world. While all too many places around the globe face crises of famine and starvation, others face the opposite problem: Food uneaten. Food unsold. Food unwanted.

Food wasted.

The figures are truly staggering. According to the World Food Organization, around 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption in the world is wasted. That’s around 1.3 billion tons of comestibles, provisions, victuals gone – disposed of, dumped into incinerators and landfills.

In America alone we throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food every year. That’s more than the budgets for America’s national parks, public libraries, federal prisons, veteran’s health care, the FBI, and the FDA combined.

About 50 million of our 317 million Americans are food insecure, yet we produce enough food to feed over 500 million people.

Courtesy of the Washington Post

Courtesy of the Washington Post

To create just the amount of food that ends up in the landfills we waste enough water to meet the domestic water needs of every American citizen.

In Europe, some have taken steps to combat this situation. France, for instance, has proposed requiring supermarkets to donate unsold food to charity. Belgium has already passed a similar law.

In this country, however, little has been done to stem or stop the squander of such a precious commodity.

That’s where Rob Greenfield comes in.

Rob and one friend gathered this food by dumpster diving for two days in Madison, Wisconsin (Courtesy of Rob Greenfield)

Rob and one friend gathered this food by dumpster diving for two days in Madison, Wisconsin (Courtesy of Rob Greenfield)

An American adventurer, environmental activist, and entrepreneur, Rob aspires to “entertain, educate, inspire, and give back to the world.”

He purposefully lives a minimalist lifestyle, traveling the country to teach through example about food, energy, waste, transportation, health, happiness, and freedom.

It took Rob and a couple volunteers two hours to gather all this food in Detroit, Michigan (Courtesy of Rob Greenfield)

It took Rob and a couple volunteers two hours to gather all this food in Detroit, Michigan (Courtesy of Rob Greenfield)

In his latest venture, he set out to bring awareness to food waste by biking across the country living off the food found in supermarket dumpsters. As he describes:

 “In eight cities along the tour I went out dumpster diving, usually just for one night, and set up my find in a public park the next day. Many people were shocked by what I showed them and even more were angry, not at me, but at the waste of our society when millions of Americans are hungry.”

City after city, Rob’s public displays amazed, astonished, and angered people who had previously been unaware of the waste.

Four hours of dumpster diving in Philadelphia produced this haul (Courtesy of Rob Greenfield)

Four hours of dumpster diving in Philadelphia produced this haul (Courtesy of Rob Greenfield)

Rob rode from California all the way to New York. Over the course of his demonstrations, over $10,000 worth of food was given away, and well over 500 people were well fed by it.

The Food Waste Fiasco is a major issue. No question. But Rob’s example goes to show that we can all find our own creative ways to do our part to improve the world.

If you’d like to get involved with Rob’s campaign, see and share more on social media using #DonateNotDump.

Learn more about Rob Greenfield and his journey on his website here. You can also learn more about food waste in America here.

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