Dumpster diving leads man to fill pantry with $1,000 of food found in trash

A Street Snapshot
Flickr | faungg's photos

On any typical day, you may find Rob Greenfield inside of a dumpster. No, the Florida resident is not homeless or even down on his luck, Greenfield is simply a man who hates food waste and has traveled the country to bring awareness to the issue.

According to recent stats, the United States leads the world in food waste. Americans reportedly throw away as much as 40 percent of our food each year—from uneaten leftovers to expired packages and spoiled produce. That added up to more than 38 million tons of food in the trash in 2014 alone.

Getty Images | Oleg Nikishin

Recently, to prove how much edible food gets thrown away on a daily basis, Greenfield set out to stock an empty refrigerator and pantry just by dumpster diving.

In just over 4 hours, the activist was able to fill his kitchen with more than $1,000 worth of food he found while sorting through garbage. He filmed a video of his haul for Upworthy that included healthy finds like tofu, cheese and tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as pantry fillers like Pop-Tarts, crackers and enough salad dressing “for months and months.” Greenfield even found bottled water, which, as he points out, never goes bad!

See Greenfield’s chronicle below.

If you’re like some people, the thought of dumpster diving may seem gross. But for Greenfield, who typically sticks to dumpsters outside of grocery store chains, it’s a way to meet his personal goal of putting an end to hunger and food waste in America. By bringing awareness to how much edible food get trashed, Greenfield hopes that someday good food won’t ever end up in a dumpster.

Greenfield is hardly alone in his discovery of how much food you can find in a grocery store dumpster. Similar to extreme couponing or using Craigslist to barter for things you need, dumpster diving attracts thrifty people who want to lower their food bills.

For example, one woman in Australia reportedly saved more than $7,000 a year by getting her food from garbage bins outside of grocery stores and bakeries. Meanwhile, a California college professor claims to have saved money for the last thirty years by dumpster diving! Meetup groups also exist for people who want to go digging in dumpsters together.


On his website, Greenfield points out that food waste is not just an issue of personal finance, but one that affects the environment and the more than 15 million of people who deal with food insecurity in this country.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency recently formed a group with the mission to reduce food loss and waste, other countries have taken more aggressive steps toward cutting down on food waste. For instance, France passed a law in 2016 to curb the amount of food that grocery stores waste by requiring them to donate edible food and fining the companies $4,500 for each infraction.

However, until the day comes that there aren’t tons of good food to be found in garbage bins, Greenfield says that dumpster diving makes sense to him.

About the Author

Margeaux Baulch Klein

Margeaux Baulch Klein is a freelance writer and digital strategist based in Los Angeles. She has written for publications like the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others. Visit Scripps News to see more of Margeaux's work. More.

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