Dumpster Diving in Los Angeles!

I was up in Los Angeles for a weekend hosting a Food Waste Fiasco and we dived into about 40 dumpsters on Friday and Saturday.

This was the first dumpster score. Around $300-$500 worth of delicious and nutritious food from one dumpster alone.

Dumpster Diving LA 2

I had a couple of helpers. Meet Simone and Leonardo. Their mom Susan brought them out for the day to learn about food waste in the United States.

Dumpster Diving LA 1

I think Leonardo is trying to figure out what is wrong with this grape. Nothing really. This is all perfectly good food being tossed out by grocery stores.

Dumpster Diving LA 3

We set up a display on Saturday to show people how much perfectly good food is going to waste. People were blown away. And this was actually the smallest Fiasco I have ever put together.

Dumpster Diving LA 4

I’ve dived into over 1,000 dumpsters in 25 states across the United States and found Los Angeles to be typical amongst the rest of the country. Dumpsters are filled to the brim with perfectly good food all across the United States. If you haven’t been blown away yet you’ve got to check out the photos of my other Food Waste Fiasco’s around the United States.

Dumpster Diving LA 5

We want grocery stores to donate this food instead of throwing it away. When they donate food to non-profits they are protected from lawsuits by the Good Samaritan Food Act, they get tax write offs, they spend less on dumpster fees, and most importantly they are doing what is right for their community when they donate their excess food! The most common excuse for not donating is that they fear liability but they are protected and according to a University of Arkansas study not a single lawsuit has ever been made against a grocery store that has donated food to a food rescue program.

Dumpster Diving LA 6

My message isn’t to go dumpster diving. My message is that no food should be in the dumpsters in the first place. But while all this food is being thrown away if you want to dumpster dive I support you and I’m here to help you be successful. Dumpster diving is radical. You can reduce your environmental impact, save a ton of money, and make a statement about our wasteful industrial food system.

Here’s a resource guide catered towards Los Angeles but you can look this stuff up in your city as well!

If you want to skip the dumpsters and rescue the food before it ever hits the dumpster (which is what I encourage) then you should volunteer with a food rescue program or start your own. In LA check out Food Finders which is a community-based food rescue organization that serves as a conduit for food, education, and awareness between donors, volunteers, agencies and people in need. Their mission is Our mission is to eliminate hunger and food waste while improving nutrition in the food insecure communities we serve.

You should definitely get involved with the L.A. Kitchen. L.A. Kitchen reclaims healthy, local food that would otherwise go to waste, and use it to empower, nourish, and engage the community. They believe that neither food nor people should ever go to waste.

Food Not Bombs is a radical group working against food waste and actually goes dumpster diving for food. They are an all-volunteer global movement that shares free vegan and vegetarian meals as a protest to war and poverty. Each chapter collects surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, then prepares community meals which are served for free to anyone who is hungry. Here is the Los Angeles Food Not Bombs facebook group

The Los Angeles Dumpster Diving Meetup Group is a group you should definitely get involved with if you want to go out diving with fellow Angelinos.

And the Freegan.info website is loaded with helpful information for anyone wanting to get out diving.

Falling Fruit is not actually located in Los Angeles but they have created a global map where you can add the location of free food. This includes unharvested produce, wild food, and dumpsters full of food. Check it out! Their’s also this dumpster map that I found on google which is from 2009 but still has some great info.

Start your own Food Rescue program Boulder Food Rescue has made a guidebook that walks you through the steps of starting a bike-powered food rescue. That’s right, a food rescue program powered by bicycles. You can also start a rescue program in your campus kitchen with Food Recovery Network. Both of these programs are happy to help and so am I!

For a deeper look into food waste, detailed information on the problem and solutions, how to get involved, food rescue programs, dumpster diving, and more go to Rob’s Food Waste Activism and Dumpster Diving Resource Guide.

Lastly here is a list of most of the dumpsters I dove into in Los Angeles to help you be more efficient with your time at the dumpsters:

Hollywood/Beverly Hills area and then towards Culvers City

Ralphs – 260 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

In gated area; unlocked, easy to access, no food this time but could be a good spot

Trader Joe’s – 263 La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Locked tight, I think

CVS – 303 S. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Gated area; unlocked; no food this time but could be a good spot

Whole Foods (Ogden) 6350 W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90036

Easy access dumpsters – probably a good place to go, Went during the day and there were too many employees around

CVS 6360 W 3rd St Los Angeles, CA 90036

Locked tight

Trader Joe’s – 175 S Fairfax Ave, Gilmore Station, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Accessible- no food this time but could be a good spot

CVS – 8490 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

No access

Bristol Farms – 9039 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

Huge score of fresh produce! $300-$500 worth of food. The photo in the back of the van above is from here.

Ralphs – 9040 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

Good score of rice, bread, pasta. Definitely a good spot. Easy to access

Whole Foods – 7871 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

In locked and gated area; no go

Gelsons – 8330 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Trash compactor

Bristol Farms – 7880 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Dumpsters accessible, but near the employee area — you’ll most likely have to go at night. The other Bristol Farms was great, so I’d check this for sure!

99 Cents Only – 6121 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Open, easy access, no food this time but could be a good spot

Ralphs – 5601 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Compactor

Smart and Final – 5555 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Locked in chain link fence and couldn’t get in, but I could see the dumpster had a big box of good food in it

Smart and Final – 1835 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

Open but messy; no food this time

CVS – 1843 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

Open, easy access; had a bunch of packaged salads and sandwiches from The Cofee Bean next door in the dumpster

Fresh and Easy – 1788 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

Locked, but you could climb over; no food this time

Vons – 9860 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

Open, easy access but no food this time

Rite Aid – 9864 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

Locked

Ralphs – 3827 Culver Ctr, Culver Center, Culver City, CA 90232

Open but no food this time

Rite aid – 3802 Culver Center St, Culver City, CA 90232

No dumpster found

Smart and Final Extra – 10113 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

Easy access to dumpsters, probably nighttime only though — it was just too busy during the day

Haggen’s – 8985 Venice Blvd, Suite B, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Locked tight

CVS – 8985 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

Locked tight

Pasadena area. Good area with most of the dumpsters being easy to access

Bristol Farms – 606 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Accessible but no food this time; just a couple cookies. This could be a really good dumpster

Trader Joe’s – 610 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105

Doubly locked; no go

Whole Foods – 465 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105

Accessible but just emptied. No food this time but could be a good spot.

Pavilions – 845 E California St, Pasadena, CA 91106

Unlocked and easy to access but just emptied

Fresh and Easy / Einstein Bagels – 603 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106

Just emptied, but easily accessible

Ralphs – 160 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

Easy to access; found a big garbage bag full of bread from the bakery

Trader Joe’s – 345 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

Compactor

Walgreens – 310 S Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

Locked tight

Walgreens – 670 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

Need to hop over the gate, and it says no trespassing, but got a couple of bags of stuff of good stuff like Naked Juice, and bread.

CVS – 900 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

Easy to access dumpster- Nine loaves of bread

Food 4 Less – 1329 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

Compactor

Rite Aid – 1421 East Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

Locked in barbed wire cage

Vons – 1390 N. Allen Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

Unlocked, easy access; full of trash no food

Trader Joe’s – 467 N Rosemead Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Easy to access in enclosed area; unlocked; about 30 or 40 tubs of hummus. I definitely recommend this spot.

Ralphs – 3601 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Easy access; full of trash; no food

Panera Bread – 3521 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Easy access; no food this time. Panera does donate in many locations but I’ve found many locations to have huge bags full of perfectly good bread

Whole Foods – 3751 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Easy access; pretty good score of boxed cheesecakes, and sweets. This is a great dumpster at times I would imagine. Dump truck came at 10:30 on Saturday.

Rite Aid – 3745 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Locked tight, may be pry-able

Sprouts – 39 N Rosemead Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Compactor. Sprouts are always really good if you can get in the dumpster

World Market – 3655 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Open, easy access; some food and home goods but the slashed the food packages

Smart and Final – 3299 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

In gated area; no go

Walgreens – 2376 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Compactor behind locked gate

Vons – 2355 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Forty bags of chips. This could be a good spot to go to.

CVS – 451 S Sierra Madre Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Easy access; no food today