Sunday, October 4, 2009

Urban Foraging in the News

Urban foraging is what you call garbage picking if you're of a high enough social class to have a choice in the matter. Liberating waste, which is one of the topics covered in the forthcoming Broke is Beautiful, is featured in an article in The Guardian with the attention getting title America is a Toxic Dump.

Sadhbh Walshe begins her article by saying some languages have no word for garbage. If you actually follow the link that supports this claim though, it takes you to a blog which features the sentence "it is said that the Tagalog language had no word for garbage." A writer rarely writes "it is said" unless they have no proof to back something up. So it's a fact that ought to be true, even if it is probably not.

Freeganism, another new-fangled term for the age old practice of liberating perfectly usable stuff from dumpsters, is big these days. You know it is mainstream when Oprah does a feature. Walshe briefly discusses her adventures on an organized foraging tour in New York.

I had intended only to be a casual observer, but when I saw the range of goodies on offer – organic still fresh fruits and vegetables, fancy olive breads, cured meats, bagels, donuts and other delectables, still sealed in non-biodegradable packaging, it seemed an awful shame to let it go to waste. Another dumpster dive led me to more durable goods like books, clothes, toys, furniture and electronic items in near perfect condition. Nothing, it appears, is too good to be discarded here.Unfortunately only a tiny percentage of the city's refuse is reclaimed by foragers. The rest (which amounts to about 4,385,000 tons a year) is gathered by collection trucks which instantly crush it into compact piles, eliminating the possibility of further salvaging.