A 17 year old landscape, surf and aerial photographer - Luke Workman

Hey Luke, tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Luke Workman. I am currently 17 years old and living on the Gold Coast, taking landscape, surf and aerial photography.

When did you start shooting?

I started photography when I was 13 years old, and taught myself everything I have learned. My first camera was a GoPro, then saved up for a canon 1100d.

When you wake up early and the surf is pumping. Do you grab your camera first or a board?

Generally, when the surf is pumping I will grab my camera and shoot. But I always go for a surf when ever Im not shooting.

What other photographers and artists do you admire?

I still admire the photographers who I admired from when I started photography: Sean Scott, Craig Parry, Clark Little, Ted Grambeau, Mark Wilson, Chris Burkard and Corey Wilson.

A post shared by COREY WILSON (@corey_wilson) on

What is your most favourite photo you have ever taken ?

My favourite photo so far was probably a shot of Currumbin Alley on a big day with a guy in a barrel behind the rock.

 

Favourite spot (beach, landscape, location) to shoot at?

My favourite spot to shoot on the coast would have to be Currumbin. It's where I have grown up.

What’s in your camera bag?

I use a canon 80d, Salty surf housing & Dji Mavic Pro Drone.

What do you love about the Gold coast?

Just how there is so much to do and there are so many beaches and places along the whole coast.

If you had a billboard sign outside of Coolangatta airport, what would it say?

If I had a billboard sign outside of the airport, It would have one of the photos I have taken and something that would promote the Gold Coast and how it has some of the best beaches in the world.

 

Keep up to date with Luke:

@lukeworkmann

Photos13

facebook.com/lukeworkmanphotography


A chat with Gold Coast Photographer, Blaze Parsons.

My name is Blaze Parsons, born and raised here on the coast. I Love to surf, travel and take photos. The ocean has always been a part of my life. I love that it is ever-changing, with its mix of beauty and power. Each day brings a different natural work of art with new and exciting ways to capture these moments. I’m a full-time concreter which takes up most of my time. But when I’m not working, I try to be at the beach as much as possible. I’m such a kook at speaking about myself. That’s why I’m a photographer; my photos can do the talking haha.

 


 

Why did you start with photography? What was your first camera?

I think I got my first camera when I was 11, it wasn’t anything special just an old second-hand film camera, but I loved it! The last couple of years I’ve just been using GoPro’s. I love how handy and tough it was for traveling, surfing and everyday adventures. It wasn’t until the start of last year that I bought a decent camera and starting learning how to use it. A few months after that I bought my first drone, experimenting with different things and learning from there.

You wake up on your day-off and the surf is pumping. Do you grab your camera first or a board?

Both ! I always leave the house with all my camera gear and a couple of boards depending on the swell. I normally try to be up for sunrise so I don’t really know what I’m gonna get until I’m there. It’s a constant battle between paddling out first or shooting photos. Normally surfing is the priority but I almost always do both! I will take some shots, then paddle out and then take more photos after.

What other photographers and artists do you admire?

There are so many! I love Sean Scott’s ocean photography of the coast and his travels around Australia. It constantly feeds my goal to road trip around this beautiful country one day! Also one of my close friends Marc Gardner! All of his ocean and travel photography. He’s kinda been my go to support for everything photography while I’ve been learning. He definitely inspired me to want to take photography more seriously.

A post shared by Marc Gardner (@mgardz) on

What is your most favorite photo you have ever taken? 

I have so many favorites but I think my drone photo of the swirl in the surf just off Burleigh headland is my favorite. It was such an epic morning of swell and I’d been taking shots of perfect barrels for a while and then I started to see this whirlpool forming underneath the drone. I was so stoked with it, it was something you couldn’t see without that unique perspective from using a drone.

Who is your favourite surfer to watch?

Definitely Rob Machado! Dude has just got style on anything he rides. Watching him surf wooden Alaia's inspired me to make my own and he changed the way I surf.

Favourite spot to shoot at?

Burleigh headland and Tallebudgera creek. I’m at Burleigh almost every weekend for sunrise and it never gets old!  Tallebudgera creek has been my favourite spot on the coast since I was a kid.

What’s in your camera bag?

My bag consists of a Sony a6000 , with a 16-50mm kit lens , a 55-210mm zoom lens and a meikon waterhousing. I also use a Gopro hero 4 with a knekt trigger and dome. And finally a Dji Mavic Pro drone.

Favourite piece of gear ?

Definitely my Dji Mavic Pro. I have wanted a drone for years but they where too big , expensive and the technology just wasn’t there yet. Now I have a portable, flying, high-quality camera that’s small enough to put in a back pack and take anywhere.

What do you love about the Gold coast? What do you hate about the Gold coast?

I love the Gold Coast’s blend of city , beach and the hinterland. I hate how busy it’s getting these days though, but that’s why I start my days early! I get a few hours in at the beach before the rest of the Coast wakes up , then still have the rest of the day for whatever you want to do. 

Are avocados overrated?

Definitely not overrated but definitely overpriced , but always worth it for with  breakfast food and Mexican

Bacon and Eggs or Acai Bowl ?

Either one ! Depends if the surfs pumping I’ll have an açai bowl , it’s light so I can go back out after ! If it’s not then I’ll get bacon and eggs then have a nap on the beach


 

Check out more of Blaze's work on his Instagram and portfolio:

@blaze_parsons

rawartists.org/blazeparsons

 


 


Salty Soul Surfwear - Made for the Sea

Tell us a bit about yourself

My Name is Priscila, I am a Graphic Designer and I love surfing. Originally from Brazil, I am now, after 10 years living in this magical place, very proud to have become an Australian Citizen. My sister Luiza lives here on the coast too. She also studied Graphic Design and together we created Salty Soul first Collection. We are always in the water surfing together. The ocean is probably one of our biggest inspirations. ;)

Why did you start Salty Soul Surfwear?

I always dreamed about working for myself. I love surfing and I love swimwear. I am also very passionate about our beautiful planet and it was always very hard to find a brand that would consider better and greener alternatives to make good quality swimsuits that would last… so I decided to create my own eco-conscious surf wear line that would embrace all the qualities I have always looked for in a bikini - durability, sustainability and stylish ;)

Where is everything made?

The clothes are designed here in Australia and made in Bali. We traveled to Indonesia once we had all the designs and prints ready so we could find a place to produce the bikinis. We tried to keep it local but our budget was really small. So we found a family owned business over there and met the people involved with my bikinis. I think it’s important for every business owner to know what the work conditions are when manufacturing products overseas.

Can you tell us a bit about why you chose ECONYL, XTRALIFE LYCRA and to do the #buy1get1tree?

Econyl has a very innovative way to create products from waste. Its regeneration system can be endlessly repeated. They have different initiatives and projects to keep our oceans clean and transform all the waste collected in something that are not only entirely made of regenerated material, but are fully and endlessly regenerable. I just think it’s brilliant!

The buy 1 get 1 tree project came up from the idea of reducing our environmental impact as much as possible. I started looking for initiatives and projects around Australia and came across Carbon Neutral Charitable fund in WA. Then I learned that over the past 50 years, about half the world's original forest cover has been lost and I knew I had to do something to help change that!

 @cncfaus  /  www.cncf.com.au

Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund (CNCF) has planted over 5.4 million trees across more than 3,812 hectares and 160 sites since 2001.

Trees are the world’s single largest source of breathable oxygen and play a vital role in addressing climate change. It’s very important to do something about it now before its too late!

What are your plans for the future ?

We are planning on starting up our wetsuit range very soon. All sustainable, using the best quality neoprene and beautiful prints. I am super excited about that! I cannot wait to wear my first Salty Soul wetsuit.

What are your thoughts on the swimwear/fast-fashion industry?

Did you know that second to oil, fashion and textiles is the most polluting industry in the world? Every stage in a garment’s life threatens our planet and its resources. It can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton, equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans.

That is why consumers need to make better choices and this industry urgently needs to evolve. Fashion companies must get to know every step in their supply chains and be transparent with consumers. By being transparent with our supply chains, we start to take responsibility for them, including the safety of our workers and the impact we have on the environment.

 

Photography credit:

Izzy Hobbs: isobellahobbs.wix.com/izzyhobbs

Olivia Nachle: www.olivianachle.com

www.saltysoulsurfwear.com.au

 @saltysoulsurfwear

 

 


Precinct Skate Shop

 

“A place to get in touch. A place to stay in ‘the loop’.”

We caught up with the founders of Precinct Skate Shop in Mermaid Beach, Trent Bonham & Julian Lee. A skate shop that isn’t about pushing sales but a hub for skaters on the Gold Coast.  We talk about the philosophy of the store, not skating schools, collabs, olympics, tunes and set-ups.

Check out the edit below made by our good friends at 98 Collections.  

“This is more than a ‘business’ to us. We live for skateboarding, and for the Gold Coast scene that has been the backdrop to our lives of rolling good times.”

Why did you decided to open Precinct Skate Shop ?

Trent:

We opened this for ourselves and the skate community to keep the fun in skating on the Gold Coast and to provide the best products to the skaters.

Julian: 

We have been skating our whole lives, it was only natural that once we had the opportunity we would open a skate shop.

We had a different vision from the other skate shops. A lot of other skate shops are more old school, whereas there were a lot of new things happening in the skateboarding, new brands coming up that we thought we could cater to; which other skate shops weren't.

 

Did you want Precinct to be more than just a skate shop to sell stuff?

Trent: 

Definitely. To us, skateboarding is a complete lifestyle. So people can come in on their way to the next skate spot, find out where new skate spots are or talk about new products. It’s not all about sales, were not forceful like that at all.

We have the ramp out the back but unfortunately it can’t be for everyone, we kinda just let people in now and then. It’s for us and the team riders to take advantage of the rainy days.

 

What type of boards do you pick for the shop?

Trent: 

Everything you see in the shop is from Julian and I picking it. We are so fussy with what we put on the wall. We never buy bulk, we hand select everything no matter what the cost. Everything you see we like for a reason and it’s usually the graphic, the shape and the brand.

 

 

What’s your favourite board in the shop?

Trent:

The freddy krueger. No doubt, best board on the wall at the moment. I got one for my collection straight away.

 

Favourite pump up music for skating?

Julian:

I don’t listen while im skating but before I go skating of course. It’s good to amp up in the car on the way there.  Definitely some motorhead, I’m into a bit of the cure at the moment and a bit of rap too.

Trent:

I don’t skate with headphones of anything. But music plays a big part in my skating. A lot of the times I’m making the clips for our team videos so it’s a lot of my music choice taste. Definitely TSOL, a lot of exodus at the moment - I like a lot of 80’s metal and punk - oh and slayer as well.

Can you tell us a bit about the Precinct Skate team ?

Trent:

Where definitely try to building up a team and if they want to have a career in skateboarding it’s their choice and we will help them with those steps, but the choice is theirs, its not easy these days, skating standard is so high, they really gotta to do stunts now compared to when I got into skating haha. The tricks are a lot bigger, the stairs are a lot bigger, the rails are a lot bigger, its a lot more full on now.

 

The Team:

ADAM PIRIHI, BRANDON KEIR, CHASE JAEGER,INDI RUSSELL, JULIAN LEE, MIKEY MENDOZA, RILEY PAVEY & TRENT BONHAM

 

@mrmikeymendoza poppin out on a nosegrind🕴🏻| 📸 @itsapirateslife

A post shared by PRECINCT SKATE SHOP (@precinctskateshop) on

 

What do you think about skating as an olympic sport ?

Julian: 

There are a lot of skaters who are against it but it’s because there are so many different genres and types of skating. If you like to compete and your a competitive person in that way, you can go down that road and you can train to improve your career. But it’s okay to not be into the olympic skating, you don’t have to watch it, it’s okay to not be into that. There is so much more to skateboarding now, you can just concentrate on what you like and find your passion for it in your own way.

 

What are your favourite schools to skate at the moment?

Trent

I wouldn't even name them haha.

I just paid a $1600 fine 2 days ago for a trespassing and wilful damage fine for skating a school.

Julian

Which is like a first though, we've never really seen that happen before.

Trent

There is something to skate at every school, put it that way.

 

Do you get in trouble a lot skating street on the Gold Coast ?

Trent

Yeah you can do, you get kicked out a lot. The confusing thing for us, and the general citizens too, is that skateboarding is an olympic sport that is illegal.

And yes skateboarding does some damage and they will always see skaters as being destructive, causing damage, making noise and just being pests. Whereas we all see it as ‘we’re just practicing our tricks’. So Your never going to have a common ground with it.

 

@b_keir slips his truck up onto a 180 sw 5-0 | 📸 @juliancklee

A post shared by PRECINCT SKATE SHOP (@precinctskateshop) on

Tell us about the custom precinct skate decks.

Julian

We like to do collaborations with anyone we feel fits our kind of vibe and anyone that were into at the time. They have to be organic and pretty natural. We don’t like to force it.

Precincts brand direction is more aimed around art, more so than corporate branding. Like any sort of products we make, we like to put a bit of art direction into it more so than just a massive logo of our name so everyone just sees what the shops called.

Joel Rea Elevation deck

We have done a few in the past with big companies, like cliche skateboards but also we’ve done collaborations with local artists like Joel Rea, who is a quite well known painter and our most recent board with Nadeem Tiafau(@tiafau_).

 

Trent:

Every other shop does there own board but it’s usually a blatant banner advertisement. Where trying to be a bit more creative. Even the precinct logo is small, in the quickest spot that's going to get taken off the board.

The board on the wall is the second one we have done with Nadeem. He basically just walked in to the shop and introduced himself, not knowing that we already had an idea in our mind that we wanted a graphic with wavy lines. Something that we could experiment with raised print. That was 2 years ago and it just happen spontaneously. Others are from personal friends of ours who have been doing cool art for a long time. They are the things that we are the most proud of, it helps local artists, it helps us and we think they look great.

 

Collab with Alfreds Apartment

 

What is your setup?

Trent:

I ride and an 8 inch board,139 low indies and at the moment im riding 49 mm spitfires. It’s not all the time i can get 49mm so the most part i ride 50’s.  Always modus bearings with the shields off. The deck is one of our latest precinct boards, done by our friend Nadeem Tiafau(@tiafau_). That's about it.

The boards get worn out a bit differently theses days, as opposed to before I hurt myself, now its all in the middle and the tail. Whereas the nose doesn't get hit because it was my front foot that got injured.

Julian:

I pretty much ride exactly the same haha .

Do you guys surf?

Julian:

I just got a surfboard this week so Im gonna learn haha.

Trent:

Yeah, I started skating and surfing when I was 10. I love skating and surfing equal. I follow surfing as much as I do skating. There completely separate but personally I love doing them both. I definitely don't act or dress like a surfer though.

 

What is one of your favourite skate trips?

Julian:

We organised a trip ourselves, just all our mates. It was definitely a highlight just being with them for a couple weeks. Road tripping is better than flying. You don’t get as much skate time when flying, whereas when your on the road, you see a spot as your driving and you just stop, pull over and get something done.

 

 

Trent:

I haven't gone on the road for skate trips for a while. But I’ve done that many, there is no real defining moment, every trip has something epic that happens. No matter what, whether it’s a funny story, an accident or  just discovering new spots. Its hard to narrow down just one trip.

One trip that I always refer back too was a 2 weeks Etnies tour around australia just before I hurt my knee. I was on the road with Ryan sheckler and it was his first trip away without his mum. Stefan Janoski was on the trip aswell and he was telling me all about his shoe design that he wanted to submit. Now he has the best selling shoe on Nike for the last 10 years.

I got to skate with those guys, hang out with them and chat with them before they were these sensations that the world sees now. There where a lot of other people on that trip as well and seeing Bastien Salabanzi just make everyone seem irrelevant.  We’d go to demos and he’d just destroy it. We would all sit down cause everything we did didn’t matter, this kid was just the best, and just seeing that is pretty humbling haha.


If you need some new some new gear or just feel like having a skate chat, head on down to Precinct Skate Shop in Mermaid Beach. If you can't get down to the store, don't stress,  you can grab all of their products online here.

Keep up to date with all things Precinct on Instagram (@precinctskateshop ) and Youtube.

 

Photography credit to:

 📸@precinctskateshop, 📸@wade_mclaughlin, 📸 @tamas_keefer  & 📸@juliancklee


The Undercurrent

 

Shirts emblazoned with illustrations from local artists with postcode pride.

Carly Snodgrass, the founder of The Undercurrent, has had her fair share of travelling. Trying to bring home some sort of souvenir, whether a piece of art or a keepsake from each trip. But it’s hard to find a souvenir that depicts the city you love that isn’t a keychain or an ‘I <3 ….’ t-shirt.

Which is why Carly started The Undercurrent. A souvenir that combines art, creative locals, postcode pride and t-shirts. A Gold Coast shirt made here, detailed with an illustration from a local artist, depicting your favourite postcode with it’s history printed on the tag. A souvenir t-shirt that isn’t lame.

After moving away for a long period of time, moving back to the Gold Coast might make you cringe at first, but you learn to appreciate it more. It has become a metropolis of creative people, artists, entrepreneurs and change-makers. So it’s nice to have a souvenir that represents the Gold Coast for what it really is, instead of Cavill ave and theme parks.

Undercurrent

 'a hidden opinion, feeling, or tendency often contrary to the one publicly shown' or 'a current of water below the surface and moving in a different direction from any surface current'

Check out the range below with the artist and postcode behind each design.

 

 

Miami

Shop Here

 

Design by Sarah Huston

Sarah Huston is a Creative Director/Designer hailing from the Gold Coast but working around the globe. Sarah wears many hats (her mint green one is her favourite) and works across graphic, digitaland product design; photography, illustration and copywriting.

@thesarahhuston

 

Palm Beach

Shop Here

Design by Ashley Nixon

Ashley’s art practice is a mixed bag of graphic design, sign-writing and healthy adoration of Australiana. Via mouse, paintbrush or pencil; his work has to have passed through my hand at some point of the design process.

@ashleyjnixon

 

Nobby's Beach

Shop Here

Design by Laura Strange

Laura is a multidisciplinary designer living and working on the sunny Gold Coast. Her creative journey started working as a broadcast designer for Channel Seven and undertaking a Bachelor of Design at Griffith University’s College of Art where she scored Best Portfolio upon graduation.

@strangemade_

Broadbeach

Shop Here

Design by Hayley O’Connor

Hayley O’Connor is a Melbourne born Gold coast based Illustrator and Graphic designer. Hayley is the creator of unique artworks, textile prints and typography.

@hayley_o_creative

 

Gold Coast

Shop Here

Design by Matt English

Since moving to the Gold Coast from Sydney in 2008, Matt’s artistic focus has developed towards the love of minimalism. Inspired by everyday life and the beauty of the female form.

@crooked_wonderland

 

Surfers Paradise

Shop Here

Design by Sarah Beetson

Sarah Beetson is a colourful character with an equally colourful array of career notches under her sparkly belt. Hailing from the UK, Sarah is an illustrator and artist whose portfolio spans from prestigious fashion houses to international magazines.

@sarahbeetson

 

Mermaid Beach

Shop Here

 

Design by Claudio Kirac

Claudio’s career spans more than 20 years working in a multi-disciplinary nature across photography, painting, design and illustration, transcending the boundaries between analogue and digital processes and outcomes.

@claudiokirac

 

Burleigh Heads

Shop Here

Design by Eric Koo

Eric Koo is a man of the world. Born in Mauritius, he moved to France at 18 to study fine art in the town of Lyon and upon completion was drawn to the Gold Coast’s salty lifestyle in 2000.

 

Currumbin

Shop Here

Design by Kiel Tillman

A curator of the cool and the kooky, Kiel Tillman is a man of many talents. Most notably of course, his design and illustration skills. Kiel’s murals grace the walls of some of the coolest cafes across the Coast and his illustrative designs have been picked up by both local and international brands.

@kieltillman

Coolangatta

Design by Byron Coathup

A long time participant in Coolangatta’s laidback surfing scene, Byron’s art and design is the epitome of the southern Gold Coast suburb he calls home.

@byron_c

 


 

"The Undercurrent was born from a desire to flaunt the Gold Coast through the eyes of locals. Featuring only local Gold Coast artists who share in a passion for this city’s unique culture, and offer them the opportunity to create projects on their home turf."

Shop Online Here

Follow on instagram @theundercurrentofficial


 


Gold Coast 420 Rally

rarlo magazine weed 420 rally gold coast

420 Rally

 

On July 18th, the Australian Sex Party hosted their annual 420 rally on the Gold Coast. The event drew supporters who are in favour of the legalisation of marijuana for both medical and recreational uses.

Queensland Sex Party Senate Candidate Robin Bristow, President of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Sex Party Dr Mark McGovern and members of the Sex and Hemp parties engaged with attendees and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of The 420 Rally. Offering a chance for the Australian public to be reminded that the Sex and HEMP parties are engaged in a joint effort (excuse the pun) to see the legalisation of medicinal and recreational marijuana become a reality. The rally also offered the chance for participants to make a civil act of defiance to the law and smoke marijuana publically. As a result, it showed members of the public and members of the Queensland Police Service that watched over the event, that those who wish to be under the influence of marijuana still remain a respectable class of citizen. QPS chose not to arrest those who attended but instead chose to only lookout for the attendees’ safety.


The seriousness of this peaceful protest against marijuana laws was highlighted by the attendance of epilepsy suffer, Joseph and his parents. Joseph, who is sadly confined to a wheel chair as a result of his serious epileptic seizures, emphasised the urgency for a legalised medical marijuana bill to be passed in Queensland as soon as possible. Joseph’s parents provide him with illegal cannabis oil to relieve the harsh symptoms he has to endure. It was divulged that he had broken a number of bones, multiple times, due to his seizures. The use of cannabis oil has proven to be beneficial on both his mental and physical conditions. But, regrettably, due to the current legality of marijuana in Queensland, his parents are in breach of criminal law - just for looking after their son. A law that, if elected, Candidate Robin Bristow would fight to change.

Josephs attendance at The 420 rally highlighted a very real and frequent problem that many law abiding families go through in the effort to look after a loved one. It’s not a choice that these families would make willingly, and in many cases would not be their first choice. But the option of medical marijuana is an option that has proven to work. And it’s an option that Queenslanders, and Australians nationwide, need to have access to.

Having members of the Australian Sex and HEMP parties in the Senate will instil the argument for change. An argument that has been brewing for over 80 years. However, when it comes to the conversation of using marijuana for recreational purposes, the stigma of who a “stoner” is, clouds the way to change. People who smoke marijuana is anyone on any level of society. All users understand that marijuana is a substance of leisure and is to be used with responsibility and maturity.

Speaking to both Robin and Mark about their thoughts on marijuana usage and legalisation throughout the event, it was found that their responses provided the common sense mentality that is needed on the topic of Marijuana use.


Robin told me that the legalisation of marijuana was a “Double win situation.”

“Legalised Hemp takes the money out of criminals and the underground black market and puts that money back into the hands of the government. Which then can be focused on things such as healthcare. It needs to be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue,” Robin said.

Robin’s approach to an issue that has been scrutinized for years, conveys his utmost seriousness in his reasons for wanting marijuana legalised. He then commented on what the purpose of The 420 Rally was. Stating that,

“The event is a starting point. And the fact that people are using marijuana in front of the police is an act of civil defiance against marijuana laws and this creates a snowball effect. Because they [the police] either choose to arrest everyone who is smoking or they “turn a blind eye.”

The 420 Rally is indeed the start and has a very real potential of creating the snowball effect needed to entice political change when it comes to marijuana laws. Mark’s comments follow the same common sense approach. Stating that if marijuana were to be legalised that it would then be a matter of maturity and that

“Adults should be able to be free and do what they want and know the consequences.”

Further saying that if marijuana were to be legalised, he feels that people should be free to grow it, as well as purchase it from a legitimate vendor. Stating that,

“If pot was legalised, growers could set up a shop and be subject to tax regulations for selling. And even possibly be subject to tobacco taxes. But most importantly these businesses would be contributing to the state/countries economy.”

In summary, it’s time for the Queensland government to have a mature debate about Marijuana. Robin Bristow, and members from the HEMP party, will provide that much needed maturity. The time for politics and rhetoric is over, and it’s now time for the country to set itself up for success and path the way to a better future.

Robin or the Australian Sex Party are more than eligible for your number 1 vote in the senate. Give it to them to see the change you’ve been looking for.


Dumpster Diving on the Gold Coast

Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia rarlo magazine

What I learned from a year of

dumpster diving on the Gold Coast

by Larissa Milo-Dale

“She’s been stealin’!” That’s what my house mate Derek would playfully yell out every evening when I came home with my rucksack (that’s “backpack” in Australian) bursting at the seams. Passing by the bins of the three grocery stores that were on my bicycle commute home from work was, by this time, a daily habit. I rarely came home empty handed.

Like all good college kids doing environmental studies, I’d gone dumpster diving (or “skip dipping” as I’d seen it named in one Australian blog) a couple of times before, but it had been more about making a direct connection with that aspect of our broken global food system than to take on a new lifestyle element. The lessons about food waste that this early dumpster diving experience gave me absolutely influenced my choices as a consumer, but that’s about as far as things went. Work, travel and life brought me around the world from Canada to Japan, and then to Australia. Then, one day in Melbourne at the maker-space where my partner and I were building our campervan, Emily, the warehouse caretaker, bombarded my workspace with chocolates. “It’s Easter at the bins!” she cried as sachets of Maltesers, whole chocolate bunnies still in their boxes, and a range of other colourfully packaged goodies tumbled like confetti around me.

By the time that my partner and I were travelling along Australia’s famous coastline a few weeks later, “Let’s check the bins before we go in” had become a mantra as we would pull up to supermarkets. Suddenly, we weren’t paying AUD$9 (~USD $7) per kilo of red capsicum and we never bought eggs, milk or bread. Once we moved to Brisbane, we spent a couple of weeks exploring a few bins regularly to see if they consistently had a good selection available and found our ‘regulars’. Here are a few lessons I learned from my year of dumpster diving in Australia:

fruit Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia

 

1. It’s hard to find bad food

Never mind food that’s actually gone bad, let’s talk about food that’s bad for your health (a.k.a. the cheap stuff) — it is rarely in the bins. Processed foods like sodas or snacks? Scarcely, if ever. Fruits and vegetables? Almost always. This is the stuff that gets immediately chucked if it’s got a bruise, is too ripe or is a bit disfigured — or, is still perfectly fine, but the newest shipment has arrived so the old stuff gets taken off the shelves. Truly, we never brought home anything that had actually gone bad, and we brought home a lot.

vegetables Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia

This brings me to my next point:

 

2. People are stupid

Here is a selection of our best finds demonstrating this point :

  • A perfectly clean and intact box of six jars of caviar. Why? The best before date was the day before. I have a seriously hard time believing that no one would have bought this item if the store had marked it at a discount in the days before this date. Because, caviar!
  • More red peppers than we could have ever known what to do with, never mind taken with us. There was absolutely nothing wrong with any of them. I can’t fathom a reason to justify throwing so much good (and expensive!) fresh food away, but all I can think is that a new truckload had been delivered so what was already on the shelves “had” to go.
  • Two boxes full of vanilla ice cream tubs (probably 15 tubs of ice cream per box). We were to be travelling in a van and thus without a freezer, and without friends to whom we could deliver such a treasure! The boxes had clearly been dropped during unloading from the truck, and one tub in the bottom corner of each box had burst. While each broken tub had made a mess, all of the other tubs were perfectly sealed and none near the tops of the boxes were dirty at all. An easy sort and rinse job. Instead, all of them were thrown out.
  • A case of beer. One bottle had broken so they threw the whole set away. Sacrilege!

Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia

3. When it rains, it pours

Similar to the red capsicum and ice cream story from above, more often than not, when you find one tomato, there are a dozen more right under it. This was consistently the case for bread, eggs, and milk. Either it’s a case of best before dates or one item in a case breaking, and so the whole set is thrown away. We didn’t buy any of these three staples for most of the year. One of our more luxurious finds of this category was passion fruit — about 40, all perfectly intact and ripe — which we made cordial with; it was excellent paired with vodka.

Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia

4.This isn’t just food waste

We didn’t buy shampoo or laundry detergent for nine months (you’ll see some lurking in the photos above). Cracked caps were usually the cause for these items’ presence in the bins, even if they still closed perfectly fine — it was all aesthetic issues. We also found brand new clothes and household items following the end of promotion periods at stores that have sales like these. This was the stuff that hurt our hearts a lot. Fine, not everyone wants to bring home over-ripe bananas, but how anyone can justify throwing away brand new children’s clothing or kitchen items in a country (and a world) with serious socio-economic disparityfamine, and a significant refugee resettlement crisis is absolutely unacceptable.

 Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia

5.I’d rather open the lid to a bin and find nothing at all

There is a serious thrill to lifting a lid, looking inside a bin, and realising that you’re about to bring home chocolate bars, avocados, a child’s weight of butternut squash, loaves of bread fresh from that morning, and everything you’d need for a week’s worth of fruit salad — all for free. There is also a very sombre shadow once it sinks in that this is one grocery store in one neighbourhood of one city in one of the most developed countries in the world. So much is wasted that shouldn’t be, and so many people go hungry that needn’t. If our global and “modern” food system wasn’t so disjointed, this injustice wouldn’t be hiding behind every grocery and corner store in countries like Australia, Canada, and plenty more. As far as I’m concerned, it mustn’t any longer.

Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia


Please keep the conversation about food waste going to help bring change to how your local grocery stores and markets approach food excess and the question of waste. The easiest places to start donation programmes are with churches and community centres that have meal programmes for the underprivileged, the homeless, and refugees.


How to Dumpster Dive

To accompany the above, I’ll share some best-practices for dumpster diving that we followed. I’ll add that my partner and I never got sick from any of the food we ate, nor did anyone we shared our food with.

  • Don’t leave a mess at the bins and don’t take more than what you can realistically eat /use. This helps ensure that businesses don’t have another reason to lock their bins, while also leaving enough for the next skip dipper without making it difficult for them to find things.
  • Thoroughly wash everything you bring home with warm soapy water. You don’t know what else was in the bin earlier that day or earlier that week.
  • For foods like bread that come in packaging that is hard to clean without risking water getting in and causing damage, select the cleanest package(s) to take and repackage the food into clean sandwich bags as soon as you get home. When in doubt, leave it behind.
  • Don’t take any dairy or meat products without first checking the expiry date (sometimes things are in the bin for a good reason) and don’t take any of these if they aren’t cold. Our rule was, “If I had bought this in the store, put it in my bag, taken a 20 minute bicycle ride home in the middle of a summer day, and then taken it out of my bag when I got home, would it be at least this cold?” Again, when in doubt, leave it behind. If you bring meat home, cook all of it immediately and freeze whatever you can’t eat that day.
  • If you’re going to offer food you’ve gotten from the bins to friends and family, you have a decision to make. We chose to tell them where the food had come from in order to let them make an informed choice. Others argue that the food they’re serving is safe (or else why would they serve it?), so there’s no need to announce where it came from. By sharing the food’s source, we used the opportunity to explain why we dumpster dive, what we’ve seen and learned, and to keep the conversation about food waste and food security going.
  • Meat can be a scary topic when it comes in the same sentence as “from the bin”, but if you’re careful, smart, and find a good recipe once you’re back home, you can taste wonders that you might not otherwise have ever enjoyed.
Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia

One day, Derek said to me;

“You should really stop taking food out of the bins, mate.”

Without hesitating, I responded,

“Why would I give up doing something that helps diminish food waste and permits me to eat the healthiest food available for free?”

This led to a very interesting conversation with my partner about not only how much money we had been saving on groceries and the small impact we were making to alleviate food waste, but also how much healthier we had been eating. By dumpster diving, we had been consuming fruits, veggies, cuts of meat, and artisanal breads that we would have never bought on our budget. Safe and happy skip dipping, mates!

Dumpster diving on the gold coast, Brisbane, Australia
Me in the Gold Coast, washing our big bucket (found in a bin) full of fruits and veggies (from a bin), in my brand new pencil skirt and sweater (found in their original sealed packaging… in a bin)