￼Here, Julianne Brady, 63, tells the story in her own words.
Walking through the supermarket car park, I noticed a skip bin with its lid flipped up.
Peeking in, a bright red flash, glinting in the sunlight, caught my eye. It was an entire carton of Coke! What a waste! I thought. And I didn’t even drink the fizzy stuff!
Lifting it out of the bin, I gasped when I saw what was lying beneath. There were no maggots or creepy crawlies.
Instead, nestled in the trash, was a bevy of gourmet goodies – fancy cheese, jam, olives and biscuits – all in their packaging.
And truffle oil! I realised, picking up the tiny jar. Worth $12.99, it was still sealed and within the use-by date!
It’s all destined for land fill! I thought, shocked. My moped was parked nearby, so I scooped out some of the haul and put it in the milk crate I used as a basket on the back.
Zipping home to drop the first load off, I came back and did it all over again!
‘Where’d you get all that?’ my husband asked. ‘The bin!’ I said. ‘Good on you,’ he replied.
He couldn’t believe the quality and the quantity of the food I’d found.
Aged 59 and a grandma, I’d always lived a thrifty, eco-conscious life. If there is this much in just one bin, there has to be more in others! I thought. I’d never considered getting my groceries out of the garbage, but the next day I was at it again.
It became like an addiction! Searching online, I found a community of others who were ‘dumpster diving’, or as some of the Aussies called it, ‘skip dipping’!
There were countless YouTube videos too. Not only did they find food and new clothing, furniture and electronics like TVs were being tossed away too!
Over the next three months, I went around all the supermarket skips near me. I’d go out twice a week at different times, recording my findings in a notebook. I soon realised there was a pattern.
The grocery stores close to me did a clean out on Wednesday and Sunday. And it was best to go at night, just after closing, so cold produce didn’t go bad. The volume of food was unbelievable!
I’d score bars of Lindt chocolate, loads of bread and baked treats, plus fresh fruit and vegetables.
This is better than some I bought! I thought, pulling out several perfect corn cobs.
Soon, I was getting 90 per cent of our groceries out of the bin.
Around town I became known as the Dumpster Diving Granny. More like a dumpster skimmer! I grinned.
At my age, I couldn’t jump in the bin, so my hubby made me a special stick with a hook, so I could grab things that were hard to reach!
On Christmas Eve, I peered into one dumpster to find an entire skip full of hams, still wrapped in plastic.
‘This is ridiculous!’ I tutted, taking four. I don’t eat meat, so I gave them away.
If my pantry was full, I’d still go dumpster diving for a single mum-of-three I knew who was doing it tough.
Checking a supermarket’s skips one night, I couldn’t believe it. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ I gasped.
Both were full of brand new bamboo fitted sheets, sneakers, blankets and clothes - all with the tags on. Loading up my van, I drove home. There was so much, I went back the next night.
Another night, I found hundreds of blocks of cheese, yoghurt, cream and milk, which I spent two days distributing to friends, family, soup kitchens and backpackers! I’ve also rescued a new leather jacket worth $100!
As a grandma, I usually don’t attract too much attention. But I have had one grumpy old man walking his dog give me an earful. He seemed upset I was getting something for nothing!
I don’t let it get to me, though – I can’t bear the thought of so much perfectly good food going to waste.
On average, I find at least $250 worth of food a week.
Now 63, I’ve been diving for four years. In that time, I’ve fished at least $52,000 worth of stuff out of the bin!
With Christmas around the corner, I’ve got my Secret Santa gifts out of the trash.
One of my granddaughters is getting a beautiful brand new 64-piece Frozen jigsaw puzzle, that she’ll love. And it didn’t cost a cent!
Pinching pennies is great, but for me, it’s all about saving the planet.
Read more in this week's issue of that's life, on sale now.