Even if you have been living under a dumpster for the past few months, you would still have heard of Rob Greenfield, the environmental activist and adventurer who has been traveling across America on a bicycle, only eating food found in dumpsters. Rob is a man on a mission to spread awareness of the food waste problem that is plaguing Americans. It is his goal to get grocery stores to simply donate, not dump (#DonateNotDump) their food in dumpsters. Budget Dumpster has been latched on to Rob’s journey from the very start and it was an easy decision to team up with him, when he eventually rode into Cleveland.
Budget Dumpster would like to deliver an in-depth view of what it is like to be Rob Greenfield. Many of us have lavish dreams, but there are very few people like Greenfield that make those dreams into realities and make an actual difference in peoples lives.
7 pm: Greenfield rides into Budget Dumpster in Westlake, Ohio shoe-less, but with a smile on his face. After some refills of his water bottle, Rob is quick to dive into his passion of food waste with the various Budget Dumpster employees. He is accompanied by Alana Semuels an L.A. Times reporter, who has been covering his trip since his last stop in Detroit. Although he spent the previous night on the stoop of a Fire Station, Rob is ready to show how much food Cleveland area grocery stores are wasting.
8 pm: We hopped in a truck and headed west towards the nearest Aldi’s. Before I knew it, Rob was already in their commercial dumpster passing me watermelons, bananas and variety of other fresh produce. Halfway through, we were joined by other area dumpster divers looking for food for their chickens. We were definitely in a hot spot, but moved on to expose other food wasters on the West Side.
9 pm: Just across the street was a CVS and we encountered our first of many locked dumpsters. During our reconnaissance, an employee approached us and instantly sympathized with Rob’s mission. She said she is forced to throw out fresh food and non-perishables on a daily basis. This was Rob’s first opportunity in Cleveland to educate someone, who can instantly make a positive change.
10 pm: Rob can’t pass a store without needing to see what they are throwing away. We made our way back to the dumpster behind the Drug Mart in North Olmsted and hit the jackpot. After only about 5 minutes, we drove away with eight 12-packs of pop, tons of makeup and even some beer. It was getting late and it was time to return to Budget Dumpster.
11 pm: It took about an hour to organize all the food. This was the first time I was truly understood wastefulness of the West Side. You would think that someone who just biked over 50 miles would need some sleep, but somehow I was the first one to pass out.
12 – 7 am: Mentally and physically preparing for the next day of dumpster diving.
8 am: Rob prepared himself a breakfast from the food gathered the night before. He was eating healthy feast of avocados, grapes, melon, while I secretly threw down a non-dumpster donut. After getting a somewhat late start, we got word that some of our targets for the day have already had their dumpsters emptied but we were still determined.
9 pm: We were joined at the Westside Market by Cleveland.com, the LA Times and more Budget Dumpster members. As expected the dumpsters were freshly dumped, so we audibled to Dave’s Market across W.25th. Unfortunately they keep their food waste on lock down and Rob needed to display his dumpster diving skills. So we went to our “go-to,” Adli’s.
10 pm: Rob was of course able to give the reporters what they needed and even found some 30 pound bag of bird seed. It was getting hot, but Rob needed more supplies for the Food Waste Fiasco, so we pushed on.
11 pm: We rolled into Nature’s Bin in Lakewood and witnessed employees in the act of wasting food. It seemed like it was just apart of their daily routine. Their presence, forced us to the nearby CVS. Luckily, this is where we uncovered a wealth of non-perishable foods, even a bottle of wine and gallons iced tea that expires in 2016. At this point, our truck was getting near capacity but of course, we were not done.
12 pm: Cleveland’s NewsNet5 met Rob and Budget Dumpster at the Save-a-Lot in Fairview Park. This was our first, and only experience of not being allowed to dumpster dive. After a quick Google search, Rob realized one of his arch enemies, GFS Food was just down the street. Rob jumped in their dumpster, found a great deal of food, got the shot, did a interview all within 30 minutes.
1 pm: It was a long, hot day at this point, but Rob wanted to check out one more Aldi’s and now I am glad we did. The dumpster was filled to the brim, with too much food to even take. I even completed my first official dumpster dive by discovering a Clay Aiken CD. Now it was time to for Rob to get ready for his Food Waste Fiasco.
2 – 3:30 pm: Rob was in desperate need of cleaning up and headed to Huntington Beach. He must have had more dumpster dirt on him than expected because we were now late for a live interview at the Food Waste Fiasco at Public Square in Downtown Cleveland.
4 pm: Thanks to some aggressive, yet tactical driving, Budget Dumpster was able to get Rob there at 4:30 for his live television appearance. It was rather hectic, but that was just the start of the craziness.
5 pm: The Food Waste Fiasco began by spreading out all the (still good) dumpster food, which really gave onlookers a shocking visual of the tremendous amount of waste. A crowd started to form, half wanting the food, the other wanting to engage with Rob about his quest. Many shared similar stories and all baffled by why area grocery stores decide to throw food that could be easily donated.
6 pm: With a storm brewing, Rob let the people take what they wanted. In less than 2 minutes about 80% of all the food was gone. 15 minutes later only a few bananas and potatoes remained. The Fiasco was proof of the desperate need for food in the Cleveland area.
7 pm: Being with Rob Greenfield for 24 hours is very exhausting and dumpster diving in 90 degree heat is just not recommended. However our efforts helped gain exposure to a much bigger issue. Grocery stores have no legitimate reason not to donate their food and it will be the actions of people like Rob that will eventually make the difference. The next morning, Rob rode away to spread more food waste awareness and educate more people to the problems going on in our own backyards.
If you are interested in following Rob on his journey as he makes his way to NYC, visit his website. Budget Dumpster is very thankful to Rob for allowing us to be apart of something that is much bigger than all of us. We are a business that promotes waste removal, but when people decide to get rid of things that could benefit others, Budget Dumpster had to take action.