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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Dumpster diving: a way of life

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Tyla and Ruth are freegans who who live in a local inorganic community and dumpster dive at various spots around Byron Shire to collect food for themselves, their community and their animals. Photo Aslan Stand.

Many of us don’t think about what it is we throw in the bins and whether or not it might be useful to someone else. But as the old saying goes ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ and that is certainly the case for the many people who are salvaging food from bins around Byron Shire to feed themselves, their community and animals.

’We live in an inorganic community which is a bunch of people coming together and helping each other out,’ said Ruth after she had been dumpster diving in Mullumbimby.

Ruth and her friend Tyla had found some chicken for the dogs and a few other bits of food to take back to their bush community.

Friendly and cheerful we had a laugh as we talked about their nomadic lifestyle and how much waste there is in first world countries like Australia and they highlighted how easy it was to live with no money.

‘Australia is abundant as. You see it in the bins,’ emphasised Tyla.

‘I used not to eat meat but my values changed as there is so much meat and so I became a freegan.’

As opposed to a vegan or vegetarian a freegan eats food that they gather that others have thrown away and it has become a lifestyle choice for many around the world as they rebel against the excessive waste they see everyday.

‘I haven’t gone hungry and especially through Christmas and New Year there was so much food,’ pointed out Ruth.

‘There is so much waste in the community,’ said Tyla.

‘And unlike the city they don’t lock the bins or crush the food down so you can’t use it. This area is really good you can easily live here for free.’

Not everyone lives ‘off grid’ in the community but many do like Azur who joined Ruth and Tyla as we finished our conversation.

‘I live off the grid – I took my birth certificate and all my other documentation and destroyed it,’ said Azur as he floated around us in his sarong.

‘There is so much food it is really easy to live with no money.’

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  1. I generally treasure the Echo’s reporting but this trash story is straight out of the Murdoch guidelines for any story that makes a good story.
    There are no redeeming features to this story and it does not consider the health of those involved. Instead it would seem to encourage those embarking on this lifestyle – with potentially devastating results in many ways.
    No effort is apparent that contact was made with any type of health professionals or others with knowledge of the situation to counter, balance or further explain the comments presented.
    Can the Echo please justify why this story was presented in this way.

    Peter Caton

  2. Consumerism and waste are becoming an ever-growing problem in the word. I am beginning to wonder if a nomadic lifestyle is a better way to exist?
    I would do away with greed and hoarding as we would be forced to only carry what we need and share the rest.

  3. Used to work in Woolies night fill, so would start my shift seeing at least one trolley of cakes, bread and anything else the bakery would throw out. Back then, the manager would say we couldn’t give it away in case people got sick eating it. Probably happening in most Woolies. If we add Coles plus the fast food outlets, I think we would have enough food to feed the people going without that day.

  4. Jitesh j: The manager either believed in what they were saying, or was wickedly lying again, to control you and make you trust their bad behaviour. The truth is that charities cannot sue businesses after being given food. The law was changed in 2005 by Ms Kahn of OzHarvest: http://www.ozharvest.org/what-we-do/


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