Sunday, August 23, 2009

What Would Jesus Buy?

Eric and I are getting ready to host a screening of the documentary "What Would Jesus Buy?", an entertaining look into consumerism, particularly in relation to Christmas. The video screening is going to be in conjunction with a freegan potluck, and a dumpster diving outing afterwards. I will post the pictures of the event after, and will share my thoughts about the film.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An Accepted Collective Insanity

Last night, Eric and I decided to try some new territory in our dumpster diving adventures; we went for a couple of spots that had been mentioned to us as having a tendency to be locked. It turns out that these two stores had locked fences, but open dumpsters. And thankfully, they were an easy hop, at least for an enthusiastic Freegan couple with a penchant for climbing things.

The resulting haul was huge (click the pics for a huge-er peek), and mostly from one of the two grocery retailers we checked out. The abundance was overwhelming; my first tendency is to yell, "Score!!!". But I soon realized how the whole thing was equal parts exciting and mentally devastating. The whole time we were cleaning, arranging and photographing the food, I kept saying, "This is insane."

For me, just the sheer waste was a sign of the craziness of our society and the ineffectiveness of our economic system. There was probably around 80 pounds (if not more) of perfectly edible meat (as well as a lot of of beautiful fruit and chesses): well packaged and still-cold packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fully cooked smoked salmon, thinly sliced beef sirloin and two whole chickens. Each little pack (usually around a pound or two or three of meat, my guess) was priced around $10. Their "crime"? (As my mother would say.) They were expiring that day or the next. Now, an expiration date is a suggestion, not a ticking clock on a rotting time-bomb. Why throw away perfectly good meat that could have been given away (and which will now, thankfully, be given away) ? It is likely that this particular store was overstocked and/or that meat sales are particularly down at this point in time. Meat that is close to the "suggestion date" is not likely to be bought by picky consumers and therefore, is not profitable. Better make room for fresher, more "in-demand" product!

The second insanity is the state of mind promoted by a consumer- (and profit-) driven system. A state of mind that says the locking up of and barbed-wire protection of trash (albeit perfectly edible trash) is an acceptable practice just doesn't make sense! It is such an unhealthy sign of the state of things that we have to sneak around like little kids breaking into a toy store just to liberate food that belongs to the people of this planet. I have literally had management tell me before (not anytime recently, thankfully) that I was "stealing [their] garbage". What?!? 1. You've thrown it away as an unwanted possession; 2. Food is a shared necessity that should be freely available to those with the need for it; 3. Waste is a costly, dangerous and pointless thing! We should make use of it as best we can. Try telling that to well-trained employee of a mega-corporation. You'd be better off cooperating and moving on to try your luck somewhere else. Some people don't want to change their minds.

Enjoy this well done video of my friend Ashwyn showing off the insanity to an Australian nightly news reporter.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Protest Against Nuclear Testing - August 9, 2009

Here are some pictures from the protest at Vandenburg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. This vigil took place on the 64th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

Check out for more info and more photos.

A quote by Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement.

Does such a banner even need an explanation?

I was enjoying watching the different reactions of the drivers in passing cars (we were situated on a fairly major intersection).

Click on the photo to make it larger and to see the wonderful detail on the banner.

Peace on Earth!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Perfection (For Eric)

This post (and the below poem) is dedicated with love to my dumpster diving partner and partner in life, my boyfriend Eric.

People like to ask how we met. I will post it here because, to me, it's relevant to this blog: We met through the Los Angeles Dumpster Diving Meetup! Eric hosted a meetup (a video potluck followed by dumpstering) at his house when I first got to LA, I found it through Google, and well, the rest is history.


I gazed into my own personal sky today,
two minuscule portions of that blue expanse,
holding in their depths a story of a life
and the emotions of a soul.
I gazed into those skies today
and saw a reflection - not quite perfection,
but as close as you can get to it:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Easily Amused?

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Eric and I were interviewed together about about dumpster diving for a radio program on KFI, an AM radio station. For those of you who don't know of KFI Los Angeles (whose slogan is "more stimulating talk radio"), they have a bit of a reputation for being of the conservative slant. So much so that when I mentioned the show Eric and I would be on to my friend Jeff, his loud reaction ("No way! They're gonna tear you up!") threw me off guard.

But the interview wasn't too bad, and we were not ridiculed as much as Jeff (or Eric for that matter) had expected.

You can download the program here (click on John and Ken Saturday 7/25), or just listen here. The bit about dumpster diving is around 45 minutes into the program (you can fast forward to it). It's nothing all that remarkable, but we did have at least one individual join the Los Angeles Dumpster Diving Meetup because of the show.

The one thing that stands out in my memory from the interview was that after I shared a story in response to the question about favorite dives, one of the hosts said, "It doesn't take much to amuse you guys, does it?"

At first, that response bothered me (it was obviously not a favorable comment), but after thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that it's ok. Being content with what we have is an important concept in Freeganism. I guess you could even say that we are "easily amused" and proud of it. I am going to be happy when I am surprised by an unexpected treat in the dumpster, and, well, most people wouldn't be. Their amusements come from expensive gadgets, whereas I am more entertained by the simple things in life.

In case you're wondering, the story I shared was this:
Not too long ago, Eric and I were dumpstering with a friend, and our flashlight was running out of battery. Shortly after we commented to ech other on that, I came across a new flashlight in the bin. It was empty (without batteries), and I expected that it didn't work (I mean, it was thrown away). Less than a minute later, my friend found a pack of size C batteries (tossed because of damaged packaging). They just happened to be the right size for the flashlight, and, get this, it worked! Now, for me, that's a pretty cool story. But John and Ken were not impressed. Oh well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"And it's on the Table..."

"I don't mind stealing bread /From the mouths of decadence /But I can't feed on the powerless/ When my cup's already overfilled" -Temple of the Dog, "Hunger Strike"

It's very sad to me that we can find such amazing amounts of food thrown away while our brothers and sisters in other locales are starving from lack of supplies.
Below, we have transferred eggs we found into flats that we brought. A full carton of eggs will be thrown away if even just one egg is cracked in the collection. Often these eggs are more than two weeks before their expiry date.

Next picture is of one couple's share of the haul, after it was taken home and cleaned. Thirteen people showed up to that meetup. I was taking extra food for my intentional community of twenty housemates, and another lady was taking extra to donate to a food pantry. Yet, even still, we did not take all that was in just one of the three dumpsters of that particular store. Incredible.