Donating Every Last Dollar to End Food Waste
Over the last three days I’ve been Dumpster Diving Across Wisconsin to raise awareness about our massive food waste issue here in the United States. Previous to this adventure I’ve been Dumpster Diving Across the USA for a year and a half so I expected this week to be a pretty standard for me. I also expected my home state of Wisconsin to do a good job of not wasting food.
But I’ve been completely blown away by what I’ve found in the supermarket dumpsters. Every dumpster I have opened has been FULL of perfectly good food. In a front page La Crosse Tribune story I did a few days ago, I confidently said, “If there’s a dumpster, there’s food in it” and so far I have proved that to be right time and time again. In just three days of biking across Wisconsin living purely on dumpster food, I have found tens of thousands of dollars worth of food. All of this at a time when 1 in 7 Americans is food insecure. This waste of food is also a huge waste of water, fossil fuels, energy, and landfill space and is a root cause to many of the world’s most pressing issues.
I just keep saying to myself that it makes no sense for me to buy any more food when every dumpster I open is full of it, and we’re talking about good quality healthy food. I’ve eaten $50 worth of berries alone in the last few days and have hummus for days! When I do purchase food I eat a very healthy primarily plant-based diet and I have had no problem finding all the delicious and nutritious food that I need to maintain that diet. Sure it’s hard to turn down all the cookies and muffins in the dumpster but that’s a different story.
I really care about this issue and have decided I’m going to be a big part of the solution. I’m a lead-by-example activist and that’s what I know how to do best, so yesterday I decided I’m going to give up money for the rest of my tour from Madison to NYC and live solely on food that is going to waste. I am not telling everyone that they should eat from dumpsters, but I am saying that we should cut the waste and use our resources properly. I’m donating the $421 that I have on me to Food Shift, a great non-profit working to reduce food waste and build more resilient communities. I left my home in San Diego two months and 2,500 miles ago with $2,000 cash (no credit or debit card) and have eaten very comfortably at the farmers markets and co-ops, but from here on I’ll have 1,500 miles to pedal until I reach New York City on September 26th. Every mile will be fueled by the waste of the inefficient food system in the United States. You might be thinking that money can be used for a lot more than food but I’ve found as I’ve cycling across the United States that the only thing I’ve needed to spend money on is food since I live such a simple life. I’ll depend on my resourcefulness and the goodness of others to carry me on to NYC happy, healthy, and free.
I announced all of this on Wake up Wisconsin this morning as you can see in the video below, so there is no going back now. My host Dani Maxwell and I enjoyed some dumpster pomegranate juice together while we got the word out about food waste. Expect to see me on local media outlets from here to NYC raising awareness and waking up the American public to this issue.
What can you do today to reduce food waste in the United States? Go on citizen patrol!
You don’t have to dive into dumpsters but you can go look in them and see what you find. If you find a company that is being irresponsibly wasteful, just call them out via social media. Tweet a photo of their wastefulness at them with #WastefulUSA (or #WastefulWI in Wisconsin) and let them know we don’t want them wasting food anymore. Anyone in the country can do this to help fight food waste! Companies do listen and they do not want bad publicity, so this is an opportunity for us to very easily make a big dent in food waste.