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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Take Two

Life is quite different these days. I have done so many things. Things that have led me far down a path which has led me to an entirely different person. Over the last two years I have embraced new cultures and lifestyles, lived in eight+ different houses, steadily worked two part time jobs, kept super busy with school and made deans list two semesters in a row,  began beekeeping, taking dance classes and volunteering with an urban gardening project, lost some dear friends, met fabulous new ones, traveled between the east coast and Hawaii, and have lived out of my car since January. It has been an interesting time and lots of crazy stuff has happened, but in the end I have been led right back to where I started: I'm a college student, trying to scrape together enough money to eat, not to mention afford a home to live in. While there is less waste and a higher level of consciousness surrounding waste and conservation of resources, there is still plenty for the taking. You just have to work a little harder for it here. I can grow anything I want at any time of the year. I just have to find a plot, plant my food and take care of it until it's ready. There is a little more involved with going around and collecting the abundance here than there was in my old life, but there is just as much if not more natural resources available here.You just need to know the what, where, when's of the island.
Before I start rambling about stuff that doesn't make sense to anyone I want to make my point clear. It has been a long time since I started this blog and many things have changed, and I have many new insights to offer about food; growing food, eating food, wasting food, sharing food, cooking food and other food stuff. I want to start writing again and trust that you all will be patient and flexible enough to keep up with me as I begin to feel out the new direction I'm going with this.
Throughout all of these changes in my life I have learned some recurring lessons. Two of them are:
Life is too short to fuck around. Do what you love, love what you do, and share your love with others as much as you can.
The other thing is that the world is much, much smaller than any of us can possibly comprehend. Every person you have ever encountered most likely still exists somewhere, living their life just as you live yours. We make small differences in the lives of the people we encounter each day and so we make a difference in the world each day. So be kind and work hard. It makes a difference. \

Monday, April 30, 2012 has expired and has been purchased by a mysterious foreign entity. Unfortunately is currently unavailable so any references will be directed to
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Friday, April 8, 2011

I was living much more comfortably out of dumpsters back home than I do here in Hawaii. Even though I work two jobs and have been receiving money from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), I still end up scraping by at the end of each month. The cost of groceries has been going up a lot lately and even with the 20% discount I get at the grocery where I work, it is difficult to balance all of my living expenses. Gas is up to $4.35/gallon where I live, probably nearer $5.00 on the other side of the island.. This makes every other thing on the island more expensive since just about every single other thing is shipped in. Its really expensive to live here, even when you work two jobs, receive government assistance and get discounts on food.
It has been a long time since I went to the dumps. Its the rainy season now, so it rains every day, but thats not the reason I haven't been going.. Honestly, I stopped going mostly because I work in a grocery and I receive SNAP benefits. And its hot and rains a lot, but I stopped dumpster diving mostly because it is not convenient to do so here. Now that I'm paying most normal living expenses again, like rent, utilities, car insurance, etc., I feel that returning to my nocturnal back alley ways is the only way to maintain my otherwise average existence.
Fortunately for me, there is a new grocery in town, but not just any grocery, its a big supermarket; just like any one you would walk in to on the mainland. This means that they have lots of inventory, lots of production, and lots of waste. And where there is lots of waste, there is me, living off of it. I have renewed interest and motivation for dumpster diving, and I look forward to checking out the new store in town. Otherwise I might need to start looking for a third job working late shifts..

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The new site has a new e-mail address! Now you can e-mail with any questions or comments.

Monday, February 28, 2011

New Domain

Woo hoo! Finally, after much difficulty, I have managed to switch the blog to a custom domain. You can now find the blog at! Still hosted by blogger, just a fancy new address. Old bookmarks and links should still direct you here.

So, while Im working on this I guess I owe everyone an update. I have been working at a local natural food store and a small bakery for some months now. I had been somewhat transient up until February when I moved in to a house with a couple co-workers. I really like the new house and roomies, but it means having to pay rent and bills again.. So far, I don't have any furniture except for an old desk and a borrowed futon. I managed to glean a nice assortment of pots, pans, dishes, some bed sheets and blankets and a few other useful household items from one of the better spots here on the island, so Ive at least got a good start. Id like some more stuff to have in the house, but having 'stuff' is something of a burden out here. It means you need a place to keep it all, which means you have to pay a lot to keep it there. People come and go a lot, move around and change things. The less 'stuff' you have out here to be responsible for, the freer you are to go whenever and wherever you want.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to not having stuff.. I miss having a lovely kitchen with all my nice things back home.. I could host pot lucks whenever I wanted.. bake pies as I pleased.. But for now I am getting settled in to my new home. I'm confident that the things I need will come to me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I noticed the counter reached over 6,000 page views since I added it last February and shows visitors from 53 countries. I feel like I have accomplished something by sharing my unique perspective with the world, though whatever it is I  may have accomplished is unclear.
Why do you read this?
Has reading this changed anything for you?
Have you changed anything because of what you have read here?
Do you read this to learn about freeganism of dumpster diving?
I would like for readers to leave comments about where they are, why they read and what effect reading this has had, if any. Share your unique perspective with me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This is an old draft I never got around to finishing, but thought Id go ahead and post.

Its been nearly two months since I posted anything, so Ive been feeling a bit negligent. I guess I haven't been going to the dumps much lately, but I have not returned to the consumer lifestyle... Summer is generally unfavorable for dumpster diving with the random thunderstorms and sweltering heat during the day, but it also brings the option of growing your own food. I was thinking about it as I picked blackbrries from a patch next to a stream across the street from my house. I can't always count on going to the dumpster and finding fresh potatoes or cheese, but I can walk out to the garden and pick fresh squash and peppers or go across the street for peaches and blackberries. Growing food seems to be the other half of this freegan lifestyle that, so far, I have failed to acknowledge.
This will be my second summer since starting the Grand Experiment. I guess that my focus last summer was less on the growing food, but the transition of the plentiful winter and spring to the sparse summer.


I have been going to the dumps lately and have been pretty successful in finding good things. Most of the good stuff is at the grocery store. I like it here because they separate the compostable produce form the rest of the garbage for farmers to pick up. This means not having to dig through the yucky to get good veggies. Since we are heading in to the rainy season all winter, it rains pretty much every night. These less favorable conditions don't always last the whole evening, but I've grown accustomed to getting caught in the rain.
Here is what we found some time last week. There was lots to share with friends and everyone else who has been helping me out since I got here.

We found tons of waffles, couscous, phyllo dough, pizza, olives, raw acai cacao bars, melona bars and lots of sprouts. We also stopped and picked a few papayas on the way home to make green papaya salad.. mmmmm....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What a long, strange trip it's been

Wow. So much has happened since March I don't know where to begin. So ill start with the last thing I remember: getting ready to move to Hawai'i. Leading up to the move I was in super saver mode. From January to August, I was able to save more money than I have ever had before; all because my cost of living was close to nothing. 
In May and June I went to Missouri for a family reunion, which was sort of cool. It was good to see everyone again since it will be a while before it happens again. I also saved enough money to afford plane tickets for my sister and myself to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit my aunt before my move. That was an amazing, magical week! I was a little unsure about it, thinking it might put a dent in my moving funds and get me off track for getting moved, but I immediately found that it is exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Life has a funny way of working out just how it ought to. This was my first experience with the desert and I hope to go back again soon, but thats another story. I hoped to do some dumpster diving in Albuquerque, but never really got a good opportunity to do it.. Next time. 
So, after returning home to North Carolina from Albuquerque, I had two weeks to wrap up my life on the east coast and gather what I needed to start a new life in the Pacific. Those were two very fast paced weeks. Every day I worked towards tying up loose ends with friends, finishing up work, closing accounts, packing and getting rid of everything I wasn't taking with me, which was everything that didn't fit in my suitcase. I had a yard sale in the last week, which turned out to be a give away. I invited everyone from my dumpster diving group and potluck club on to come take what they wanted and a few lucky people came and cleaned me out.  One woman had several children from her two marriages and had more than thirty grandchildren! She loaded up her pickup truck with everything I had left when she arrived. It felt really good to be free of everything and even better to know that it all went to people who needed it.
So now I live in Hawai'i. I have been staying with a friend but am looking for other options, since I have overstayed my welcome. There are lots of places to camp, so I spent nights at a park and on the beach. Im looking for a work trade situation, but it is proving to be a little more difficult than I imagined.. In the mean time, I have done the most amazing things I never imagined I'd do: climbed a lychee tree to harvest the biggest most delicious lychee Ive ever had, hiked out to watch new earth being birthed from a volcano, swam with sea turtles, jumped from waterfalls in to crystal pools and reached new pinnacles of culinary achievement with foods I have never seen or heard of. Every day is the best day of my life. I love the path that I have chosen, and none of these things would have been possible for me if I did not live out of dumpsters for the last two years. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I just found this NPR story on homelessness in Hawaii and thought it was really interesting. I don't plan on being homeless when I arrive in Hawai'i, but it does seem like an alluring idea, although I don't think that the residents of the state should be responsible for paying for services for mainlanders to come be homeless on their island. It's something interesting to talk about. Thoughts?

Spring has sprung

I have been lacking motivation lately.. but school is finally out. With some free time on my hands and good stories from the dorms, Ive gotten a little motivation to post some stuff from recent dives. Here are a few pictures from my latest excursions:

We found tons of Roma tomatoes, green peppers and some hydrangeas that night. Yay, plants! Its been weeks now and I really need to plant them; they perked right up and are about to bloom.

My first night at the dorms. Lots of food and bags as well as several other wonderful miscellaneous items that I never usually find.

The second night was more fruitful. I finally found a big desk calendar! Ive  been looking for a while.. Other things of interest, a bag of potting soil, loads of microwave popcorn, a really cool backpack and some cute girls clothes. I also went to the grocery that night and found lots of yummy produce.

Another night at the grocery with my friend. She didn't wear the most appropriate foot wear, but we made sure to be careful to stand on the boxes and still had lots of fun! I've been known to climb in wearing flip flops.. not always the best idea, unless theres something really good inside!

Another friend checkin some stuff out at the dorms.

Last night I went with Laura and we found lots of girl's clothes, a rug, some boots, swiss army knife and lots of other random stuff. The TV has a DVD player in it and works fine.. I think it came from the dorm where the international students stay, but there is still no reason for something like that to be in the dumpster.. 

I am going back to the dorms tonight with my friend Maria. I am hoping for an ipod, another new pair of shoes, a full length mirror and some clothes. We'll see how it goes.. I suppose Ill be posting more regularly now that I'm done with school for the semester. Now I've got to start sorting out all the details for moving to Hawai'i in less than three months. That makes me a little nervous!

Have any of you had success diving at your local colleges? I would love to hear your stories!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Yesterday I sent my friends home with several boxes of stuff and I was looking for some bags to put it all in when I had a break through. I had gotten my sewing machine out earlier, which must have reminded me of an idea for making bags out of old tee shirts that I had a while ago. I grabbed an old shirt and had one whipped up in about a minute! I was really surprised at how easy and effective it is. Here's a step by step guide to making your own shopping bag from an old shirt.

I started with an old black shirt and turned it inside out. I guess it doesn't really matter what side you start on with solid colors, but if it had a print on the front you would want to start by turning it inside out. This way, the seam on the bottom is inside the bag and the print shows on the outside. 

I ran it through the machine along the bottom of the shirt. I just ran it through a couple times with a straight stitch but depending on how strong the bag needs to be, you may want to choose a different stitch.

I then folded the shirt in half and cut along the lines shown above.

When you open it up it looks like this.

To test it out, I turned it right side out and got all this stuff from the other night to put inside it.

It worked nicely. The knit fabric will naturally curl in on the handles and along the raw edges. The creative possibilities for this are many. You could put a seam on the edges or handles, cut it in to any shape, use any crazy print, add pockets on the sides, zippers or buttons on the top.. 

After making a few, I found that longer medium-large tee shirts make the best ones(for my purposes). You could make them of any size, depending on what you need it for. You can take in the side seams that go from the arm pit to the bottom on a larger shirt, but you must use a zig zag stitch or something else on these vertical seams that will be able to stretch with the fabric when its full of stuff. I also found that the handles will stretch out a lot if you put lots of heavy stuff in it. This can be solved by just sewing the handles together at a shorter point to make them the desired length. If they are long enough, you can put them over your shoulders like a back pack, and if the contents isn't too heavy you can even stack several on top of each other on your back. I'm not sure about their longevity. The thin cotton fabric suggests that they may tear at the handles or rip easily if treated roughly, but part of the appeal of these bags is that they're easily replaced. Bags that are made from shirts that are made from natural fibers(cotton, hemp, etc.) are compostable. You can cut it up and throw it right in the compost pile with the scrapings from last night's dinner or in my case, the peppers and cabbage from the other week that I never got around to cooking.

It literally took me about one minute to cut along the lines and sew the bottom shut. It is so easy, anyone could do it. You could even make one sewing by hand in just a couple minutes. This will be a long term solution to the problem I have of never having enough bags at the dumps or not wanting to send people home with my good bags. There are plenty of places to get old tee shirts for free(or for less than a dollar at any thrift store if you don't dumpster dive or just prefer to buy things). These will be wonderful tools in coming weeks when school lets out. I can easily carry six or ten empty bags with me and fill one or two at each dumpster, putting filled bags in my car as needed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some other stuff..

Wow. I keep saying it, but school is keeping me  really really busy.. And now that we are entering wedding season Ive been working a lot more too. I hardly have time to dive, take pictures, write posts or anything. As always, I find time to go diving when I really need to, but haven't been keeping records of my findings.
There are several buildings being gutted in a shopping center that I frequent and I've found some pretty interesting things in their dumps. Here are some more pictures of the cool stuff Ive been finding lately.

We found some of everything that night; candles, clothes, candy, produce, drinks, medicne, toys, cosmetics, cleaning supplies..
Lots and lots of milk. I heard that you can freeze milk. Since most of this didn't expire for a couple more weeks, I tried freezing some. It turned yellowish and gross and the chocolate milk looked black when it froze, but they turned back to normal milk upon thawing out. Success!
Lots of cookies and crackers and stuff from a pharmacy. This is what was left over after I took a bag full of stuff to share at work and gave another bag of stuff to a friend.
All the boxes of shrimp had been sliced with a razor so that the box and bag inside containing the shrimp were opened, but everything was still frozen solid when I found it, so I just tossed it all back in the freezer. I have no worries about any of it being unsafe to eat. I had just run out of sugar and needed more, so I was glad to find 10lbs that night. The razors were also a good find.
This is the kind of gross stuff you run in to on occasion.. a whole cow tongue. This is also why I always wear gloves and keep an assortment of sanitizing products in my car at all times. When I was in Japan I ate raw cow tongue, which was actually really delicious, but I had no desire to give this slimy one a try.. I don't recall finding anything of value that particular time.
Tons of really expensive imported cheese. Yum.
I had to visit the bank one Saturday morning and the only one open was inside a big ass super market. I had to bring my camera along. These carts full of easter or spring themed stuff have most likely long since been stuffed in their compactor.
I found this beautiful wooden full length mirror in the bin behind the shops that are being re-modeled. I expected the glass to be shattered when I dug it out, but was thrilled to find it intact! I also found those awesome speakers long ago.
Apparently one of the shops was a wig shop; besides the mirror, there were several styrofoam heads that will make a rad art project or something, as well as a brand new wig.
This is gonna be fun..
This was also behind the shops. You can't see that well, but it is illuminated from behind.
I re-framed one of my works in the light board and was shocked to see the amazing different images that show through when the light is on. One might think I planned it that way if they didn't know any better.. Unfortunately, the details are hard to see in these images.

On a side note, my friend informed me that the pr rating of the blog has gone from 1 to 3 on a scale from 0-10. Im not entirely sure what it all means, but apparently it means that lots of people like to read about what I do! So thank you, loyal readers. Thank you for your time and interest. I hope that you all can learn something form my misadventures and that you are inspired to explore the boundaries and rules for how to function in society. 
I learned an important life lesson this semester. It can't be applied to everything, but is a very important rule of thumb(for me).

Don't ever do anything just because you are told you need to or you should. Do things because you want to do them. Do things the way you want to do them. Live your life the way you see fit, not the way anyone else tells you it has to be or should be done.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Im sorry for being so bad about posting the last few weeks.. I have been swamped with school, work and nice weather and have hardly had time to go diving; however, now that our hour of effortless plenty is coming to an end I want get out and enjoy these last few weeks of pleasant conditions. Today was a bit of a scare, being around 90°F in the middle of a beautiful spring week. I hope its not a glimpse of what the long summer ahead will be like.. Anyway, Ive been super busy but have had lots of success lately and have been taking pictures pretty regularly. I have also had a huge increase in the number of people wanting to go with me. I guess the change from bitter cold and gusty to the more recent gorgeous spring weather has sparked their interest. 
 Now I know just how long it will take to get to location X and Y, maybe Z too if there's not a lot at the first ones, get back home,sort stuff out, take inventory and put everything away, so I haven't really been keeping lists; it all becomes really time consuming..   I just been so consumed with school lately and haven't had the motivation to go all the way.. So, I guess what Ill do is show you all of the good pictures of dives since the last list was posted. Here we go!
We had fun that night. I was super excited to whip out the jumbo calculator in the middle of math class.
Yea, thats 6 cases of baby food back there.. My mom took them to the clinic with some diapers I had and said the woman working there was almost in tears when she brought it all in because they were so desperate for supplies.
Chocolates! Mangoes! We made a pineapple pie that night:
Baxter and Ollie were almost excited as I was.
I rode to the store along with a friend for some wine and decided to go inside to check things out. Its not often that I go in; it felt like a weird dream or something.
I went ahead and bought a couple things.. I have only found one stick of rhubarb once last year, so I'm okay with buying it. Besides, pie is always worth it! As for the chips, I bought them and Laura got the wine.
This was a really fun night a few weeks ago when a friend was visiting from out of town. We found lots of food, pharmacy stuff and the rolling shelf. and beer! A great night, indeed!

A good first night out with a friend. We found some plants and about 10 or 12 packages of strawberries that I cut up and put in the freezer for a future pie or something.
Excellent score of various non-food items from a couple places just a few nights ago.
And another excellent score the very next while at a meetup.
The crate I brought home after we split our loot.


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