How To End The Food Waste Fiasco | Rob Greenfield | TEDxTeen

How To End The Food Waste Fiasco | Rob Greenfield | TEDxTeen

Translator: Elise LECAMP
Reviewer: Riaki Poništ My name is Rob Greenfield
and I am a dumpster diver. Now, at first, that might sound a little bit crazy,
maybe even a little bit gross. But there is actually
a very important message at the bottom these dumpsters. You see, I am an adventurer
and an activist on a mission to effect
positive change on Earth. And I tend to go about it
in some pretty interesting ways. This is my first bike ride
across the country. The idea was to travel across the country
on a bamboo bicycle and leave as little
of environmental impact as possible. In a 104 days of riding, I used just a 160 gallons of water,
created only two pounds of trash, plugged into just five outlets,
turned on not a single light, and learned how to live
an environmentally friendly life. Today is a monumental day for me
because it’s my first shower in 1000 days. A lot of you might assume I would
stink like some sort of swamp monster, like this guy. But I was bathing in natural bodies
of water like lakes, and rivers and waterfalls,
or in leaky sources of water, like this fire hydrant in Brooklyn. The idea was to really
get into people’s heads and get them to think about
the crazy things we do on a daily basis, the crazy amounts of water we use. Right now, I live off the grid
in a 50-square-foot tiny house in San Diego without a single bill
or debt to my name. I found the more simply I live,
the more freely I live. And last fall, I landed in Brazil
without a penny in my pocket on a mission to travel across
the continent of South America. I found that by traveling with no money,
I’m forced outside of my comfort zone and really get to see
the world as it truly is. A lot of people say
that the Earth revolves around money but I’ve seen otherwise. Now, back to the dumpster. Not only do I dive into the dumpsters
but I actually eat out of them too. This is a dumpster banana. This is one of the many bananas
that I got out of the dumpsters of London last night. Hmm! (Laughter) Who wants some? Over there. It all started with that first bike ride
across the country and this dumpster right here. I was crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains
and decided to roll around the back of a local grocery store
and see what I might find. Well, what I found was a surprising amount of what looked and tasted
like perfectly good food. From that point on, I was hooked. City after city, I would roll around
back of the grocery store to see what there would be. And I found that dumpster… after dumpster… after dumpster was filled to the bream
with perfectly good food. I was just blown away
by what I was finding. This is a dumpster score in Nebraska. And this is what I found
in one dumpster on a typical day. It was enough food to feed
about a hundred families. I was eating like a dumpster king
and managed to even gain five pounds while riding my bike every single day. So, even when I wasn’t in the dumpsters, I was thinking about
what was in the dumpster. I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. So I decided to do some research. And I found out that we waste
a ton of food in the United States. By a ton, I mean a 165 billion dollars
worth of food per year. Now, to put that
into a little bit of perspective, that’s more than the budget
for America’s national parks, public libraries, veteran’s healthcare,
all the federal prisons, the FBI, and the FDA combined. But, still, that’s just a big number
and most of us can’t really understand issues like this
through a bunch of numbers. We need to really see it to believe it. I wanted to show everybody
what I was finding but I knew I couldn’t take
everyone to the dumpsters with me. So I decided to bring it to them. This is the food waste fiasco. In cities across America,
I went out dumpster-diving and took what I found to a park nearby. Usually I just had one or two days to dive
as I was cycling across the country. This is two-days’ worth of dumpster diving
in Madison, Wisconsin. Before each city, I would use
Facebook to find a volunteer that could help me out with a car since I couldn’t carry
all the food on just my bicycle. This is Chicago, Illinois,
one or two days out of the dumpster. Before each city, I would call
a local media, the news stations, the newspapers,
letting know what I was doing, tell them “I’m diving into the dumpsters,”
and they pretty much always came out. So, when I was in Detroit, I woke up on Sunday morning
and had an event planned that night, but I was worried there was going
to be some major media there and I hadn’t even started
diving for the day and had an event to put
on at 5 o’clock that night. So when my volunteers came
and picked me up, I had a pretty big knot in my stomach. I was worried. All that worry was for nothing; this is two hours
of dumpster diving in Detroit. In Cleveland, I went out dumpster
diving for seven hours the night before the event, and this is what we took
to Cleveland Public Square. Now, it was really hot that day. Mid-July, the fruit flies were swarming;
most of the food had already been spoiled. And this is just the good stuff
that I managed to pull-out. My next stop was Lancaster, Pennsylvannia and I wasn’t sure if I was going
to be able to pull it off here; it’s kind of a more rural area
and I’ve only done big cities so far. When I rolled up in town,
there was about eight people waiting to hit the dumpsters with me,
very excited, and we had two cars. This is what a night of dumpster-diving
in Lancaster brought together. This is 10 dumpsters in total. Few days later, I rolled up
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 9 o’clock pm, was out dumpster diving an hour later and was sound asleep at 1am
with this score. This is rolling up in Philadelphia, using Google Maps
to find the grocery stores that are nearby and the car
of someone that I met on Facebook. By this point, I had realized
I could roll up any day in nearly any city across america
and collect enough perfectly good food to feed hundreds of people. The only thing that really seemed
to be limiting to me was the size of my vehicle. This is New York City. In the United States, we waste
about half of all the food we produce, which means we produce enough food to feed about two entire American populations all while 50 millions American
are food insecure. And the face of food insecurity
is not lazyness. We’re talking about children at school
who are too hungry to concentrate, elders who are stuck at home
with rumbling tummies and families who are working
two jobs just to make ends meet. To me, it does not make sense
to have so much food goind to waste while so many people are hungry. Now my next stop was Burlington, Vermont. And I was very worried. We’re talking about maybe the most environmentally friendly
city in the country. Surely their dumpsters would be empty. Well, this is what me and a couple
of college students pulled together in my short visit. Los Angeles has the second largest
homeless population in the United States. This is the food that is going
to the dumpsters. This is one day out
in the dumpsters of L.A. Now during this time,
I also learned that food waste is actually one of the most pressing
environmental issues of our time. When we waste food,
we don’t just waste the food. We waste all of the land, the water, the fossil fuels, the labor
that was used to grow that food. And because we waste so much of it, it’s one of the leading causes
of rainforest deforestation, depletion of fish in the ocean,
and biodiversity loss. The grand finale
was America’s finest city: San Diego. A city where one in four children
are food insecure. This is the food
that is being sent to the landfill while those children are wondering
where their next meal is coming from. Now, at this fiascos, my intention
was never to feed this food to anyone, never to give it away. But time after time,
people would come up to me and ask, “Hey, can I eat this food?” Well, of course, I wanted to say yes. But before I even had a chance
to finish setting up the demonstrations the food was dwindeling. We’re talking about
15,000 dollars’ worth of food fed hundreds of people
out of the dumpsters between all of these fiascos. And at every single one, nearly every morsel of food
was taken home at the end. Young and old, rich and poor, people from all walks of life
were eating out of the dumpsters. Now, this, to me, was proof
enough that this food is still good. This is moments after I told people
you can eat this food in San Diego in Balboa Park. So, during this time, I learned
that what I was actually finding is the tip of the “food waste iceberg”. What I was finding pails in comparison
to what is being wasted at farms before it ever hits
the grocery stores shelves. This is Tristam Stuart,
founder of Feedback here in London. They do farm-level research investigation
of how much food is going to waste. Here he is standing with a pile,
a giant pile of bananas that are going to waste in Ecuador
because they are the wrong shape, either too much like a U or too flat,
or because they are too big or too small. Here are thousands
of cauliflowers going to waste because they are either too big or they have a slight tinge
of yellow or purple to them, not the white you’re used
to see at the grocery store. Here is a truck full of parsnips, one of many that this farm
wastes on a weekly basis. These are all being wasted because
they are the wrong shape, color and size. So, by now a lot of you
are probably wondering: Why is all this food being thrown away? Why isn’t it being donated? I was wondering that myself. For the longest time, though,
people just kept telling me, “Well, the grocery stores can’t donate it
because they’ll get sued if someone was to get sick,
and there’s actually a law preventing it.” So many people were telling me that,
that I just assumed they must be right. But then I learned that they are
actually protected from liability by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act
signed in 1996. So, they are waivered of any liability if someone was to get sick after the food
that they donated to a non-profit. The law is not against it, it actually protects them
and encourages it. But still, this is “Sue-happy America”
where you’ll get sued even if the law is on your side. Again that’s what people were telling me and for about a year,
I just kind of believed it. Then I found out
that not a single law suit has ever been made
against a grocery store – that is a University
of Arkansas School of Law study – not a single grocery store, restaurant,
food cater, not once, not anybody. And it turns out
the solution is there too. Thousands of food rescue programs
exist across America. They will actually go to the grocery store
and pick this food up. All the grocery store really has to do is set the food aside
rather than throwing it in the dumpster. Again, I ask myself, why aren’t
the grocery store donating this food? Why is all this food being wasted? To me, it comes down to two main things: either there is a lack of knowledge;
the grocery stores don’t know they are protected
and that no one has ever been sued, or there is a lack of care. Most of these grocery stores
are in the business of making money. They practice one bottom line
and that is “Profit”, not the triple-bottom line,
which is “People”, “Planet” and “Profit”. The good news
is that thousands of grocery stores across America are donating
food to non-profits. There is actually a huge network of it. However, it’s only 13 percent of all
the excess food that’s being donated. I’m certain
that it does’t have to be this way. I’m certain the grocery stores
can stop wasting food and we can feed people in need. So, what can grocery stores do? It basically comes down to the three R’s:
“Reduce”, “Reuse”, “Recycle”. First, comes “Reduce”. Now, the thing is, as I said, we produce enough food to feed
almost two entire American populations. So, they can’t just donate it all, because then those programs
would just have to be throwing food away. There are so much of it. So what they have to do
is reduce the excess in the first place. The biggest way they can do that
is by relaxing their cosmetic standards. Basically, putting those crooked carrots,
those oblong apples, those big fat potatoes in the aisles
rather than wasting them. By doing this, we can drastically
reduce food waste. Another thing to reduce is they can
mark down products in the store. Now, here is something: “sell-by dates”,
“suggested sell-by dates”, “best-by dates”, expiration dates –
a lot of mystery around them. A lot of people assume
that these dates were made by some sort of regulatory agency
like the EPA. These dates are made by the manufacturers and they are really about
peak freshness not about safety. They are more about protecting the brand
than keeping anybody safe. The FDA even has on their website
the number of days, weeks, months or even years food is still good for
after those dates. “Suggested sell-by date” is a suggestion and “best-by date”
does not say “bad after”. After “Reduce” comes “Reuse”. To reuse they can repurpose food
within the store so if there is fruits that are little overripe,
they can make juices out of them. If there are veggies
that are a little bit wilted they can turn that into soup in the deli. And then, really importantly,
donate the food to non-profits. This really comes down to just calling
a local food rescue program, a food bank, soup kitchen
and setting it up. I believe where there is a will,
there is a way. And lastly, after “Reduce” and “Reuse”,
comes “Recycle”. They can feed the food to animals
to make more food recycling it, or as the very last resort, compost. Now, a lot of people assume:
you compost it, it’s fine. But, composting only recovers
about one percent, a tiny fraction of all the energy that was used to make
that food in the first place. A very minuscule amount. By doing this basic things, grocery stores can have dumpsters
that are completely void of food. My days as a dumpster diver
would be long gone but I would be very, very happy because my message is not
to go out dumpster-diving; it’s to not put food
in the dumpsters in the first place. So, what can you do? We can’t put all the blame
on the grocery stores because after all,
a lot of what they are doing is just trying to meet consumer demands. So it takes us, the conscious consumers,
the conscious buyers, the conscius people to demand
the grocery stores to do the right thing,
to do the ethical thing. One huge thing you can do
is demand ugly produce. Tell the grocery stores
you want to see those crazy carrots or those weird-shaped apples, or those peaches that look
like a heart in the aisles. And then, if it’s there,
buy the weird-looking ones. Another thing you could do is you can ask your grocery stores
to #Donatenotdump. You can tweet them,
facebook them, email them or go in and talk to your manager. One conversation could literaly lead to hundreds of people
being fed week after week. Imagine how good it would feel
knowing that you made that happen. Now, the thing is before you go out
and tell anybody else like the grocery stores what to do, it’s really important to self-reflect
and make sure you’re leading by example. Check your garbage can
and make sure there is not food in there and lead by example. Another thing you can do
is you can grow your own food. Because when you grow it yourself,
you’re a lot more likely to appreciate it. When you pick this tomato
of a vine or an apple out of the tree, you’re a lot more likely to eat it because it didn’t just cost you
50 cents or a dollar. You grew it. And with that,
you can support local farmers, because local farmers
are connected to their food; they don’t see it as a couple of dollars
or cents on a spreadsheet. They want people to eat their food,
not for it to be wasted. And then you can also feed it
to animals or compost it, and turn it back into more food. I believe we are at the tipping point
for ending food waste and with citizen action,
we can solve this. The excitment inside of me tells me
that our generation is going to drastically reduce
food waste and hunger in our time. Join me in reducing foodwaste and hunger by telling grocery stores
to #DonateNotDump. (Applause)

97 thoughts on “How To End The Food Waste Fiasco | Rob Greenfield | TEDxTeen

  1. Funny, The solution of donating to a non-profit just delays the food waste. One of the dumpsters I dive belongs to a local food-bank. They throw away what they think they can't give away… and they try to scare me away by telling me they will call the police! I feed people then animals with this food!

  2. Great talk. I remember you at the San Diego Earth Fair last summer. I was volunteering so I didn't have time to grab some food, but my friend Kara did and she gave me some broccoli from your dumpster dive. 🙂 Gracias.

  3. Super inspiring and informative! Great talk. Keep up the good work Sir I share your message with as many people as I can. Cheers!

  4. Rob, my man! Love it! I'll be in San Diego sometime soon, I'll shoot you an email. Lets see if we could meet up! I'd love to interview you or go dumpster diving with you for one of my videos!

  5. +Rob Greenfield, I'm from Costa Rica, I could see a pattern that USA citizens waste most of their fruit, vegetales, when, actually they are the healthiest, USA is well know for unhealthy food production, processed food, what the fuck happens with their minds?

  6. Probably the best Ted talk I've ever seen, of hundreds…thanks Rob!
    I'll take action here in the Midwest in your name. Thank you.

  7. Nice work Rob! It was great to hear your talk live in San Diego during your dry run and the TEDx turned out great.

  8. The US sucks. A bloody capitalist mumbo jumbo of only-for-profit people ruled by their corporates and their Federal Reserve. The waste is appalling. Wonder how many years before this was found and how many more before it is close-to-solved. A few sane people like Rob Greenfield is a relief but may be of no use. While their private arms industry continues to manufacture conflict abroad to stay profitable and the US govt can't do anything about them, I wonder what these sane people can do for any noble cause which doesn't produce profit or comes in the way of the corporates. I was surprised to hear that the Fed was not always a private consortium of money makers. I now understand the Cold War was one between corporate dictatorship of capitalism vs the single party rule of communism – which is very much the same. But Americans will never understand. They will continue to hide behind their glossy sense of patriotism.

  9. These videos should be shown at school and in the public…or at least the society should be better inform about food waste..

  10. Shame on us!! We have to change laws so stores Can leave their good food waste out for homeless! Here were I live, it's against the law to dumpster dive. It's considered retail theft. 🙁 Some stores even put a padlock on their dumpsters. There are people who would and should be able to eat it if they need to. This video will not be shown where it needs to be seen because Corporations don't want people to get FREE food!! grrrrr

  11. Rob do you know much about food wastage in other Western countries? I live in NZ and I want to find out about it here.

  12. please take a minute to review and sign my petition to end food waste by supermarkets in america.

  13. good talk!  good speaker!  good ideas!  the fast food industry wastes food too.  I saw two steak burritos thrown in the trash because somebody got the order wrong.  ive heard mcdonalds is bad about throwing food out too

  14. Good points. I had some questions. Why were you not going to let people eat the food you sourced from dumpsters? Why not start a homeless food program with all the food you sourced or continue to source?Also why hasn't anyone thought of a liability waiver relieving anyone of the ability to sue if one did get food poisoning? I think you have great points, continue fighting the good fight

  15. A great talk! He is really doing a great work.
    If we tell the grocery stores to donate the food, wont it perish by the time it reaches the end consumer after being donated? If they refrigerate, it would be additional costs to the grocery store. Whats the solution?

  16. It disgusts me that so much food is being THROWN AWAY while tons of people are STARVING!! I highly support #DonateNotDump!

  17. I work for a food bank and we pick up food from supermarkets, bakeries, butchers.
    Sadly we see that they bin a whole lot more food than they give us! Lots of the dumpsters are full of still good food!

  18. I love this video and its message! However, I am someone who likes to fact check things and what I found on the FDA's website contradicts what Rob said about sell-by and best-by dates. Could someone maybe link what he was referring to to me?

  19. I think that shops refuse to cooperate 'coz they think they will sell less if they give away more…
    Simple as that… Not because they are afraid of being sued. Just a simple minded idea 😉

  20. B+. Most people who are "food insecure" would not eat any of this stuff, especially since it can't be sold for drugs. Yes we need better systems, but to benefit working people, not the already overserved failures.

  21. Awesome talk! I just posted on One of my local grocery stores Facebook homepage is requesting that they watch this Ted talk and asking them if they would be willing to be part of the solution. I’m going to do that with a few other grocery stores in my area. If enough people do it it will make a difference!

  22. Not having money worries will be such a blessing for me. Money is necessary for protection, but it can become a burden to the mind.


  24. You are a pure human, a human of future, great man god bless you, may each and every human should be like you.

  25. Why are children hungry in school or home with so many food programs. Just lazy parents who don’t get food ready for their kids

  26. At 10:00 is a man in Equador with plantains! being rejected for sale…..NOT bananas! We are talking about 10 X's the cost !

  27. I graciously tip my hat to both Rob Greenfield and Selina Juul for CARING about Earth's natural environment and the future survival of our civilization.

  28. Phenomenal!! Genious! I hope this ripple starts a tidal wave to eliminate world hunger and encourage everyone on the planet to elevate their goal this year starting NOW to reach zero waste. What is sad to me is I have actually taken fresh produce to our local shelter (at Thanksgiving) and they turned it all away because they said it had to be packaged or they could not accept it. But I will try again. And if anyone is there who needs it, I will teach them how to dumpster dive too. I see many around my small town who suffer and it breaks my heart. This is a way I can give and help those in need where I live. . I can't wait to start the ripple~

  29. wow i saw a clear bag of tomatoes and other produce thrown out by this school near me. Was tempted to grab some but didn't want to get sick

  30. Thank you so much for your speech, for spreading awareness, for believing and acting in alignment, for the inspiration and the motivation you give!😊

  31. I think the main problem is for people to actually live out of a dumpster. People will judge and talk about you and that's something we have to fight first. Not that people will talk but not to give a damn about these people.

  32. our local SPAR marks down yesterday's rolls less than half price and I always end up buying them. They are still good food and I save a ton. Sometimes they also do that with yesterdays pies and sweet bakes as well. waste not want not….

  33. Don't get me wrong, I'm on your side, but I think this is somewhat naive because it would put a good part of the third world out of work, if they suddenly had to produce a lot less food. The whole chain of production you mention would collapse and all these workers would be on the street. This would lead to an increase of poverty, criminality and possibly war.

    The problem is, that the world economy has to overproduce in order to keep people busy. What are the people producing the excess food for 1x American population going to do? Do you have a solution for this problem? I hope so… Keep up the inspiring work though!

  34. 💛🧡❤️shaped 🍑🍑🍑YAY my Favorite 😻 you are so So SOOOO OFF THE CHARTS AMAZING ROB GREENFIELD

  35. millions of viewers watching someone else play a video game and a fraction watching meaningful messages like this.

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