One man's trash is another man's treasure. That's especially true for local dumpster divers who take to the city's back alleys and parking lots at night to search for discarded food.
There's lots to go around, according to 23-year-old McGill student Matt McCormick. He's an experienced dumpster diver who says that he's always surprised by the kinds of things businesses throw away.
"I once found 20-plus bricks of Philadelphia cream cheese," he said.
McCormick is leading a dumpster diving workshop Wednesday night as part of McGill's Go Veggie Week.
While not everyone would be willing to source their food from a dumpster, McCormick says the people in his life are surprisingly open-minded.
"It's sort of taboo. Some people will just laugh it off when I tell them. But most people are interested to learn more," he said. "My parents just tell me to be safe."
Before hitting the streets with his group, McCormick shared five tips for beginner dumpster divers.
1 . Look for signs of danger
Before getting yourself into a dumpster, check to see if there are any potentially harmful objects such as nails or glass. It's a good idea to wear gloves and closed-toed shoes to protect your hands and feet.
2. Don't go alone
To maintain personal safety, you should avoid diving alone in dark or secluded areas. Going with friends is more safe and enjoyable!
3. Don't take more than you can use
Even if you find an abundance of edible food, you should only take what you can realistically eat or distribute to others. It's OK to leave items that you won't consume for someone else who may stop by the same dumpster later.
4. Leave the site in better condition than when you found it
It's important to maintain a good reputation of dumpster diving with business owners. By cleaning up after yourself, and leaving the dumpster in better condition than when you found it, food retailers will be less likely to put their dumpsters under lock and key.
5. Use common sense (don't get sick)
It's OK to eat food that has passed its "best before" date, as those are guidelines that simply tell store owners when something is no longer of marketable quality. Check if it's safe to eat using your own judgment and sense of smell and taste.