Australian dumpster diver grabs huge amount of free groceries

A savvy shopper has revealed she only spent $300 for an entire year on groceries after she started dumpster diving for free food.

Sophie, who once loved Sydney but is now in Denmark, documents her dumpster diving ‘hauls’ on her Instagram page, which features fresh fruit and veg spreads, packaged meats, crates of drinks and at pretty much anything you could ever want to buy at your local Woolies – all without spending a penny.

“I myself started dumpster diving in Sydney in October 2020… my sister sent me this video of her dumpster diving in Denmark and I was like, ‘Oh, I wonder if you could dive into the bins in Sydney? ‘” she told the news. com. on the podcast I have news for you.

“I was so amazed at everything I could find in the dumpster and it kind of shocked me.”

Sophie is part of a growing, albeit low-key, community of people who regularly frequent the industrial bins of supermarkets and grocery stores in search of food.

While living in Australia, Sophie’s dumpster sank for a year, meaning she spent a grand total of just $300 on necessities while living here vast amounts of gifts.

But if Sophie regularly dives into the dumpster, it’s not because she “has to” for financial reasons, it’s because she “wants to”.

I started doing a lot of research on the environmental part and seeing what impact all that food has,” she explained.

And especially in Australia…it’s like billions of dollars every year that are wasted. It’s a huge problem.”

Although the concept of dumpster diving may seem dangerous, even disturbing, the amount of edible and often expensive food that is thrown away due to expiry dates means that there is a surplus of “free” food in industrial bins. .

That’s why Sophie started documenting her bin dives on Instagram – both to raise awareness of Australia’s food waste problem and to encourage others to join in.

Supermarkets throw away billions of edible food

According to Food Bank Australia, 7.6 million tonnes of food are lost or wasted every year, 70% of which is still safe to eat.

Despite the existence of charities and nonprofits dedicated to redistributing expired or damaged but edible products, expiry dates and manufacturing defects remain the main causes of waste.

“I remember finding 12 chilli sauces one day because one of the (glass bottles) broke in that packaging – so they threw everything away instead of removing the broken one and selling the rest. But they threw it all away,” Sophie said.

“One day I came home with 11 kg of chewing gum. And I calculated that if a person took one chewing gum a day, it would last almost 10 years.

How much does it save?

Here’s exactly what Sophie brought to prepare for a house party in October last year:

*Prices are calculated based on the current advertised prices from where the items were purchased. Where certain products could not be purchased, their Woolworths equivalent was used.

8 x tomatoes: $1.31 (each) $10.48

4 x Avocados: $1.60 (each) $6.40

1 x Aussie Sprouts pea sprouts: $3.20

3 x yellow peppers: $3.73 (each) $11.19

3 x bunches of seedless white grapes: $15.11 (each) $45.33

1 x White washed potatoes (2kg): $5

2 x Community Co Baby Salad Leaf Mix (300g): $5.00 (each) $10

1 x Organic Pitango Minestrone Soup (600g): $6.50

3 x La Famiglia Kitchen Traditional Garlic Bread (400g): $4.50 (each) $13.50

3 x San Marino Sopressa Mild Salami (100g): $7 (each) $21

6 x Latina Fresh Spinach & Ricotta Agnolotti (625g): $9 (each) $54

2 x Primo Duos Sweet Twig & Cheddar Cheese Bites (50g): $4 (each) $8

6 x Pauls Kids Strawberry Yogurt: $1.20 (each) $7.20

1 x Pack Your Bakery Croissants 3 or 4: $2.50

1 package of 8 Woolworths Mini Banana Muffins: $3.75

1 pack of 6 Tip Top Original English muffins: $5.30

1 x Coles Bagels Plain 4 Pack (360g): $2.50

2 x wholemeal loaves and Burgen seeds: $5.20 (each) $10.40

1 x Abbott’s Bakery Farmhouse wholemeal bread (750 g): $4

3 Bundaberg ginger beers (375 ml): $2.90 (each) $8.70

3 bottles of Coca-Cola classic soft drink (385 ml): $3.75 (each) $11.25

1 x Daily Juice pulp-free orange juice (2L): $5.30

Total value: $248

How to dive in a dumpster: rules and safety

Sophie said that in her almost two years of bin diving, she had learned the vital importance of maintaining good health and hygiene practices.

And there are other rules and practices that the dumpster diving community adheres to.

Established dumpster diver ‘Big B’ explained to I have news for you that potential divers must adhere to the “code”:

1. Safety first

Dumpster diving is more than swinging up to an industrial trash can and finding a valuable item at the edge. Most likely, you will be cutting open trash bags and sifting through current trash.

“Be prepared to have the tools you need, gloves to be safe – always be safe – and use tools that will make your job easier,” Big B said.

To ensure that what you eat will not make you sick, generally do not store products with broken or damaged packaging.

When it comes to meats and dairy products, always check the smell and be wary of any potential contamination issues. With fresh fruits and vegetables, if they look good, smell good, and you’ve washed them well, you should be fine.

Sophie said that to make sure your fresh food scavenged from a dumpster is as fresh as possible, be sure to rummage through bins in the evening right after stores have dumped their produce. In Denmark, however, yesterday’s fresh produce is thrown away in the morning.

2. First in, first served

It’s no surprise that mutual respect for other divers only promotes a safer diving experience.

“If you already meet someone in the dumpster, leave them alone. Say hello and move on,” Big B said.

“If you’re asked to move on, move on, don’t cause any trouble.”

3. Leave the bins tidier than when you arrived

Nobody likes a slob – even more so when your trash cans look like a possum reaching for them.

But Big B also said cleanliness when diving through trash cans is more than just a respectful gesture — it also helps prevent stores from deliberately sabotaging edibles.

“If you want to continue to get into these dumpsters without any problems, or (without the stores) locking the bins or them destroying other goods, you have to leave them cleaner than how you found them. “, did he declare.

Once the bins are locked by stores or moved to private property, it becomes illegal to dive into the bins. Ensuring that stores leave their dumpsters accessible to the public allows dumpster divers to continue their practice safely and legally.

Sophie noted how, before leaving Australia, her local grocery store started “cutting the wrappers” and “crushing the fruit” before throwing it in the trash.

4. Don’t be greedy

Once you’ve mastered dumpster diving, it can be tempting to stash found pounds of food in one take.

But with so many products found near or expiring, carrying more food than you can consume or share can do more harm and pose more health and safety risks than simply leaving it behind, said Big B.

“If you know you can share it, then share it. Otherwise, you’re just changing the geography of the waste, if you don’t use it or do anything with it,” he added.

“I share almost 95% of what I find – my donation pile is greater than my ‘keep it for me’ pile.”

Originally published as How an Australian woman cut her grocery spending to just $300 a year