‘The first time we went off on our own we hit the jackpot at a craft store where we found hundreds of pounds’ worth of Christmas merchandise, all new with tags. We were hooked.
‘I’d say since I’ve started planning our meals around the food we find, we’ve cut our monthly food shopping bill in half, easy.
‘We keep a lot of items we find, such as toothpaste and other personal hygiene items. We give away a lot of the food to friends and family.
‘Our local food banks are picky about what they take sadly, but we give whatever they’ll accept, and we keep the rest.
‘I was posting my make-up finds online and people kept asking if I’d sell them, so I recently started using an app to sell the makeup. I’ve made $200 (£150) from only two dumpster dives at Ulta.
‘I have always been very frugal. We budget and spend our money wisely. Dumpster diving saves us and sometimes even earns us money. We hardly ever have to buy shampoo or toothpaste.
‘We live right next to a supermarket that throws away good produce every morning. I enjoy cooking our meals based around what we find, because it encourages me to try new things.
‘Not long ago I found a jar of pickled beetroot, something I would never pick up at the store. I tossed it in a salad made from spinach, cucumber, feta cheese, walnuts and balsamic vinegar (all of which were rescued from a dumpster). It was delicious, and free.
‘We have an established route and we go a few times a week to look for food, makeup, home goods, whatever we can get our hands on.
‘When I dive in the daytime, I get funny looks from people, but that is only a con if you feel embarrassed, which is a feeling I only recently got over.
‘It certainly requires a bit of shamelessness. We live frugally and while others may see us as cheap, we look at it as resourceful.’
Chelsey now wants to promote the lifestyle to help save the environment and save good food that goes to waste for nothing.
‘With all the pros of diving, there are a few cons; there’s a risk of running into employees or the law. I have had a couple of run ins with the police,’ she said.
‘The first time it happened was our second time diving. We were on the wealthier side of town and Johnny was digging around while I sat in the car (I was super pregnant at the time).
‘A police car parked next to me and Johnny popped his head out from the dumpster. The police officer asked him what the heck he was doing. Johnny simply said he was digging through the trash looking for stuff. He was cool about it and just asked us to carry on elsewhere.
‘It was embarrassing but funny because I’m sure we looked ridiculous and Johnny was acting like a small child that just got caught reaching for the cookie jar.
‘The second time was recently; I was by myself driving away from the bin when I got pulled over. He asked what I was doing behind the store and I showed him my trunk full of rescued produce and offered him some. He was pretty cool about it.
‘Digging through the trash may seem gross to some, but what is truly disgusting is the amount of food going to waste.
‘No one in America should be going hungry with all the food that gets thrown out from big companies and even from our own homes.
‘Every now and then I’ll have some distant relative say something like “well it was probably thrown out for a reason”.
‘To which I reply, “it could be a number of reasons; it could be past the sell by date, damaged packaging, a return item, or they could just be making room for new inventory”.
‘Some people act snooty about the way we live, but Johnny and I have a lot to show for it. We are homeowners with no debt, and we got here by penny pinching.
‘The people that turn their noses up at us usually can’t say the same for themselves. What really shocked me though is the amount of support I’ve been receiving from doing this; a lot of people seem to be inspired by it.
‘I want more people to try doing this. Not only for their own benefit but for others and for the environment we live in.
‘Forty million Americans struggle with hunger, while food waste is estimated to be about thirty to forty percent of the food supply. That’s billions of pounds of food going straight to landfills.
‘While a few dumpster divers saving a little bit won’t put any kind of dent in those numbers, it’s the raising of awareness that really counts.’
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The daily lifestyle email from Metro.co.uk.
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