In an effort to be sustainable, one Cal Poly student is going where most college students have not: the dumpster.
“It’s just like going to the grocery store, but it’s just all in the trash,” environmental management and protection senior Jamie Himler said.
Himler said she started dumpster diving in high school with her friends behind the mall in her hometown.
“I would dumpster dive more for material goods,” Himler said. “I would hear that the stores would just throw out a lot of their materials once they would get new inventory, so my friends and I sometimes would go out late … we almost felt like it was a duty of ours to dumpster dive.”
When Himler came to college, her best friend told her about people who dumpster dive for groceries after learning more than 40 percent of food produced in America goes to waste.
“We were getting really into YouTube videos of people [dumpster diving] and somehow met people at Cal Poly that knew the spots. Once we tried it for ourselves, we realized just how much food is going to waste,” Himler said.
Himler said she was at her peak of dumpster diving her junior year at Cal Poly.
During her sophomore year, Himler co-founded Feel Alive. The organization’s goal was to help solve the issue of local food waste by repurposing food that would otherwise be composted from the local farmers’ market each week.
Aside from her business, Himler said she rides her bike everywhere she goes, purchases food that does not have packaging and reuses jars for water bottles.
“As I grew up and learned about the problems with global climate change in elementary school and just progressively over my lifetime, I just continued to develop a lifestyle that would be beneficial to the planet not just in daily life, but in the long term for the planet,” Himler said.
Himler said she believes that personal life choices can make a greater impact.
“It’s really about getting behind a mission that is greater than yourself,” Himler said. “This mission really requires every person all around the world to believe that we have the power to help the planet. If every person adopted that belief that each person does make an impact, you can calculate [your impact] every day.”