This is a constant work in progress section in which I plan to post pictures and information about things related to the amazing world of recycling, often known as "dumpster diving". If this article doesn't manage to convince you to get you out on recycling rounds like some of us do constantly (and live almost exclusively out of it), at least I hope it keeps you from joining the buy and throw circus that creates this incredible amounts of trash, that if not intercepted by some of us, end up being burned, under the earth or just laying around becoming unusable or unreachable by people who know stuff is always usable.
Imagine a big, big box full with walnuts! they where all good and tasty, we still have lots and I will miss them on breakfast when they are gone... found at a regular supermarket trash, there was much more than I could carry with me.
Something that makes it hard for people new to this amazing practice, is the idea of filthy places, It is true that some places are a bit far too disgusting to hang around (at least for most people) and even less, to get food from. But this is not necessarily the case, as one can set its own boundaries and search for places that are comfortable enough. I personally have a set for recycling, consisting of clothes that act as a "dirty layer", not meaning that they are actually dirty, but that I dont mind those clothes suddenly getting smelly, stained, etc (I use these for other things as well). Also a good pair of gloves, that protect me not only from dirt but from glass or pretty much anything unwanted. A good kind are those with a layer of gum or plastic (usually the ones used by electricians or truck drivers are perfect, but almost any kind will do). Finally and most important, a head-lamp. I consider it almost essential, as most recycling happens at night and in dark places its important for me to see what im doing so that I can do it fast, safe and efficient (I can see what is worth carrying back with me and not discover later that half the stuff was in bad shape).
Regarding places where you can find food, the picture above is a great example of a good spot: a room dedicated to a supermarket´s trash, which gets cleaned often (and the tools to do so are there so you can even clean up after you are done). Also the trash is separated, a bin each for fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, chemicals, two big bins for mixed stuff and one for stuff like cheese, yougurt, rice and a long etc (mainly stuff on packages). The great thing about this is that, unlike some other places, the bag of vegetables is not next -or worse- right under the meat and/or fish bags, which may take your inspiration off (even if in most cases the vegetables remain in perfect shape and smell inside the bag) or what is worse, ruin the whole thing when a irresponsible recycler open the bags and smear the whole nasty stuff all over making it unpleasant to go trough or eat.
Places like this are very common, but dont stop there, as by experience I know that its possible to recycle directly from shop. And I dont mean shoplifting, what I mean is to ask shop workers for the stuff they will throw. Some times this might be difficult, specially if you just show up one day and ask for it, but there´s no reason not to try. In my case, I´ve been successfull at this after a couple times of being seen by workers, recycling at the bins and doing a responsible job. Some times people come full with pitty and ask how I came to that point, then I start telling them that its my choice, that I dont really need to do it, but that I not only enjoy it (I really do, its one of the greatest things I know of!) but that I do it for, say, political reasons. Then I start explaining them the harsh truths of modern day economy and how while most people think that there is not enough food for the whole world, most of it (and I really mean most of it) ends up as "trash" while its in perfect state. When explaining this things, specially in small shops and bakeries, I´ve been invited to come by at closing time to get a bag full of nice things, or even to go in and pick it as if I was a paying customer (after being told where to look for, of course). This kind of action can not only improve recycling, but can also encourage shop owners to take action as well, some shops will stop throwing the food in the trash and give it away to people like me or people who obviously need it. Also it may happen that after they realize that there is people who dont care about a tomato that doesnt look as round and red as in the magazines, such products get sold separately, usually at very low price (being that a victory in my view).
As mentioned before, not all trash is mixed up as most people are used to because of typical household trash. Most supermarkets and shops separate their trash, leaving the recycler with bags like this one full of yogurts which, by the way, are totally edible and risk free even if the so called expiracy date says its not. I might sound a bit too irresponsible here, but if there is something I can assure you is that most expiracy dates are bullshit. How do I know this? where is my proof? well, years of eating expired products with no symptoms or disease related to the food I eat. Of course im careful of some things which are obviously far off their consumption time, but for this I dont need a date printed in the product, I just need a pair of eyes (although with one you are also ok) a nose and some common sense. Im also vegetarian, which makes me stay off meat and specially fish, which I encourage people not to take from trash (except when its in cans) as those things need refrigeration, and sicknes from such things can be quite fatal. Anyways can be done, if you are careful enough, or used to feed an army of street cat and dogs.
This is a rather small ammount of vegetables that where recycled in the bins pictured above, there was much more but it was only me and my brother who would eat them, so I took just a little bit of what I like the most. I really look forward to getting a hard drive where I have pictures of serious fruit and vegetable recycling in the south of Spain (where most of it comes from), you will scream and cry if you knew the ammounts and state of stuff you can find there... several containers full each with different stuff in perfect state, just because it didnt match shape, color or because of over production.
One thing I like to do with my recycled fruits and vegetables is to have them soaked in a mix of 1 part vinager 3 parts water. This is to clean them from mold spores and any kind of dirt or smells. While you might think that this is because Im recycling, you are wrong, I would do this if I where buying vegetables too, specially when they are not ecological produce. The vinager wash makes it possible to keep stuff for much, much longer, specially if you individually wrap stuff on paper (newspaper works great and its about the easiest thing to find in massive ammounts). This way you avoid using a fridge, but there is one great advantage, the vinager mix also helps to reduce pesticides and other chemicals out of the fruit / vegetable skin, anyways I would normally peel stuff when not ecological as its not the perfect solution to keep chemicals at bay.
This is what I meant by some serious fruit and vegetable recycling mission. This was done at some woofing farm near Cabo de Gata National Park, in Almeria, Spain. Fun fact is that this area is known to be among the poorest of Europe, yet 4 people and a small car could provide enough food for other 10 people, several pigs and loads of chickens for a couple weeks. We could have gotten more, but there was no more place in the car.
Back in Oslo, I reunite withmy favorite recycling partner, The Bunny. Together we live a consumerism free lifestyle thanks to recycling. We both felt that the use of the term Recycling is more appropriate as not all we do involves dumpsters or bins. We recycle all sort of things as you will see.
Typical dairy find in some small shop on the outskirts of Oslo city, Norway. As you may notice, the bin is clean and full of expensive goods.
Here's Bunny scavenging some used spray cans at some known legal graffiti wall (Graffiti is a big deal for Norwegian government, but they have designated areas). Most of our DIY projects need some paint, recycled spray cans are great, they come in a huge diversity of colors, and what the graffiti writer considers to be not enough paint left for another wall, it is more than enough for us and our crafts.
This was some of Bunny's most awesome finds. A music shop had a water leak and got most of their vinyls wet, so Bunny went and got hundreds of them, dried the covers, press them and while not in mint condition,with this, she wants to create a vinyl library at one of the alternative minded bars in town (Taxi Take Away). I have gone trough some of them and there are some really great bands (at least for me)