How To - Gleaning

Soft French accents and yellow subtitles. Another late night movie on the TV. But no, it wasn't one of 'those' movies. This was the classic "The Gleaners and I". Gleaning refers to the collecting of items discarded by others. This documentary looks at the debris created by modern society and how what most might consider waste, is in reality of value to someone. Food left behind in fields after a harvest, or following street markets, through to household goods left on the street destined for landfill. Gleaners, Scavengers, Dumpster Divers: the human vultures, the carrion of our cities. And like their brethren of the savannah, what might seem like ugly, dirty work is actually an essential service. Cleaning up the places where we live. And that stuff sure does have value! Read about ...... Darren of Toronto, who makes $10K from scouring dumpsters. Or the Goddess of Garbage, a designer specialising in interiors from rescued materials. And Grist recently ran a review on two books about the subject. Dumpsterworld will give you a good insight in this field of endeavour. Extra tips can be had from The Dumpster Lady.

By some estimates 4% of all food produced each year cannot be sold. It is perfectly suitable for human consumption but may fall into the category of: "damaged inner or outer packaging, incorrectly marked packaging, out-of-date competitions, packaging changes, trial runs, end-of-line products, deleted products, close to use-by-date code products, failed new products, surplus catch, production, harvest etc". Suppliers often dump otherwise good food for such reasons. Fortunately a few dedicated organisations (known as Food Banks) have rallied to stop this senseless waste and to pass it on those who need it - the hungry and the poor.

It's difficult writing a worldwide information source, so apologies for the those places we leave off but below are Food Bank contacts for our more popular reader locales.


[by WM] who has to fess up and confide a personal interest in this topic. When not writing for TH, amongst other things, he co-manages a reuse centre

Bin photo (c)