Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

December 17, 2007

Ha, we’re on the front page!

Filed under: dumpster diving — theburts @ 9:55 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

How funny is that? The article was good, I thought. Colby did a very fair job of covering as much as he could about our reasoning behind dumpster diving and our convictions of waste and excess in this society with the space that he had. It was a tough decision whether or not to let them do a story about us…for several reasons. But first, check it out and let us know what you think.


Food for free? Just hit the trash

Dumpster-diving conservationists dine on discarded but edible excess

Most likely, when you need food, you go to the grocery store.

Daniel Burt and Josh Corlew do the same thing. They just head around back.


Every week, Burt and Corlew, both employed in Nashville, head to their favorite Dumpsters, pulling out everything from broccoli to limes, mushrooms to bell peppers, all under cover of the night. They’re on the sometimes-messy edge of freeganism, a culture of reuse that extends beyond empty bottles and old newspapers.

“I really don’t go to the grocery store,” said Corlew, an AmeriCorps employee, who estimated he spends $10 per week on food.

Taken literally, “freegan” is a combination of “free” and “vegan,” meaning strict adherents don’t eat or use any sort of animal products. But the national movement is more broadly about using the old before buying the new, thereby saving space at landfills and materials that would go into new products.

“It’s about finding out where there’s excess,” said Tasha McCauley, who along with fiance Jacob Gordon co-founded Nashville Green Drinks, a networking group that meets monthly to discuss green initiatives.

Gordon says he used to dive into Dumpsters more often but now is content to simply keep an eye out for items like his desk and chair set he plucked from the trash.

The Lockeland Springs couple also use online groups such as FreeCycle — think Craigslist, with everything free — and a Google community group for east Nashville residents.

McCauley recently posted a want ad for a whiteboard on the Google group and had it by that afternoon.

“It brings back that old feeling of reliance on your neighbors,” said McCauley, 26.

Burt and Corlew also pick up items such as children’s shirts and socks to donate. Large hauls, like a find of 113 cans of peanuts, usually end up in homeless shelters.

“We feel like it’s the poor that always pay for our gross excess of consumerism in the country,” said Burt, a west Nashville optometrist. “It’s just another way to recycle.”

No problem with the law

It’s also apparently legal under the Metro charter, according to Metro police department officials. Although a charter provision outlaws interfering with trash containers, it applies only to Metro equipment within the urban services district, spokeswoman Kristin Mumford said.

“You see guys digging through trash all over downtown for aluminum cans,” said Metro attorney Tom Cross, who said private business owners might see Dumpster diving as trespassing.

No one bothered Burt and Corlew on Tuesday night as they made the rounds of their favorite sites around south Nashville, filling a car trunk with food. The find of the night was a box full of floral arrangements.

“Yes!” Burt yelled, arms raised. “My wife will love me!”




  1. Awesome!
    Take a picture of the actual paper for us foreigners will you?

    Comment by ariahfine — December 18, 2007 @ 1:23 am | Reply

  2. Cool! Though I had read about Freegans in NY, I had no idea there was anyone doing it for the same reasons here in Nashville. (Economically, yes; out of a desire to save waste, no.)

    We used to get flowers from the back of a florist’s dumpster, things that were wilted and/or salvageable for another few days. But someone else was doing it, too, and leaving a mess outside the dumpster every time.

    Eventually the store started cutting the heads off every bouquet before taking them to the dumpster. Now *that’s* waste.

    Comment by Meredith — January 12, 2008 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  3. Hey where is the picture of the actual paper?

    Comment by Ariah Fine — February 14, 2008 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

  4. […] because it appears to be legal here. See what my newspaper friend found out when researching that here. Josh has actually been stopped by the police before, and after a short discussion with said police […]

    Pingback by Why we dumpster dive and recycle, Part 1 « Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog — February 14, 2008 @ 11:58 pm | Reply

  5. Hi, my name is Darya Antonovna. I am gathering a dossier together for a documentary on freeganising, which my team and I are hoping to make once we have found good sources (currently studying Cinema, Television and Photography at the University of Leeds, UK) – and was wondering if it would be ok to ask you a few questions/ find out your views? (I have noticed that this site has been created in 2007.. a while ago now) Please get in contact with me, if you are interested – :) antonovna.freegan@live.com

    Comment by Antonovna — March 28, 2009 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

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