Some profess that the best things in life are free. But what if you have to search through a dumpster to find them? That doesn’t deter a handful of Harvard students.
When the Bow Street Dunkin’ Donuts closes every night, the shelves are cleared and dozens of perfectly good pastries end up in bulging trash bags down a nearby alley.
Juliana Fauza, manager of the store, says, “We have to throw everything away because of health issues. We cannot donate or give to anybody because of the expiration date the food has.”
Little does Fauza know that not all of those discarded donuts go to waste. According to Michael J. Murray ’10, the art of “dumpster diving” was passed down on the lightweight crew team. When these rowers don’t have to weigh in any time soon—like the day after a race—they celebrate by stuffing their faces at a free feast.
“You go to these dumpsters and tear open the black bags and there’s a variety of donuts and muffins, maybe some munchkins,” Murray says, “and then occasionally there’s a spilled coffee and you’re like ‘Oh, shoot!’”
Robert J. Ross ’09, Samantha G. Barnard ’09, and Amary K. Wiggin ’09 are also habitual dumpster divers (about once a week), but their motivation is entirely different: these three blockmates are all vegans who have joined an underground movement known as “freeganism.”
“The idea is that if something has already been thrown out and is going to waste, then it’s okay to eat even if you normally wouldn’t feel morally permissible to do so,” says Barnard. “It just seems so ridiculous that there would be so much food out there in a dumpster when people are begging on the streets.”
Whether you want to support the freegan cause or are simply stingy and starving, there’s an alternative to spending that 60 cents if you’re willing to depart from sanitary norms.