Everyone at Olin has come into the dorm lounges only to find themselves surrounded by piles of bread, post-Valentine’s day candy, pizza, and other miscellaneous foods. There exists a small group of Oliners who regularly collect these treasures from local stores that run low on shelf space, find packaging imperfections, or dispose of food nearing its sell-by date. However, there is much more to this practice than happily collecting a dumpster’s contents.
The main unwritten rule of dumpster diving is to respect the dumpster. Stewardship allows dumpstering to remain a sustainable practice, so the same dumpsters may be visited regularly. An emphasis is placed on cleanliness, honesty, and judgment. If all bags are not tied back up and placed inside the containers, there can be unwanted consequences, such as raccoons, suspicious store owners with hefty locks, and police officers. (Trust us on all accounts.) Late at night, Trader Joe’s sometimes uses police officers or managers as watchmen. Here, honesty and transparency are essential, as people have a great deal more respect if they get a reasonable explanation. Oliners are not the only individuals who visit these dumpsters, so arousing suspicion with poorly timed visits can impact others’ resources. Dumpstering provides us with a valuable resource of sharable goodies, but to make it a sustainable and safe practice, respecting the dumpster is essential. And as a side note, though it is not an official rule, never eat the soggy bagels.