Dumpster diver Brenden Rikihana says it’s just a modern way of hunting and gathering

By Marena Mane

Dumpster diving has a bad reputation but rummaging through dumpsters to save,  reuse, repurpose and donate to charities other people’s rubbish has made Brenden Rikihana (nō Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) a social media hero.

Living in Perth, Western Australia, he has been Dumpster Diving since moving there from his home in Tauranga Moana in the early 2000s.

Now, his Dumpster Diving channel, ‘Bin Living with Big B’ has become a social media success with subscribers and followers from all over the world.

Dumpster Diving is a modern form of hunting and gathering, according to Brenden Rikihana, also known as Big B.

“I guess I perceive it the same way I did as our tupuna did to gather and collect their kai and the things that they needed to make life easier. We're not a wasteful culture. So, I think that comes into play as well. I grew up not wanting to waste anything, or taught not to waste anything, use everything,” says Rikihana.

Rikihana's passion for Dumpster Diving began as a young boy in Tauranga, when he went to the dump with his parents and his mother insisted he dive into a bin to retrieve healthy plants that had been thrown out.

“Anything that man has ever made you can find in the dumpster, thousands of dollars of food and essential items, camping equipment, home Decor stuff, clocks, lanterns, curtains, towels, clothes, shoes.”

“It's amazing the amount of stuff that you find that is needlessly thrown away. They could still be used and just basically anything that’s saveable from the landfill pretty much because then we just do our best to protect our whenua.”

His efforts are seen by hundreds of thousands of like-minded people from countries in Asia, Scandinavia, Europe and America but Rikihana’s main focus is local.

I dive locally and I donate locally. That's my kaupapa … right now I'm donating to an organisation that runs a soup kitchen. They do two meals a day seven days a week. So how grateful is it? It is just extremely grateful and I'm transparent as well. They know exactly where everything comes from.”

Rikihana says the reason he started Bin Living with Big B was to document his passion for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren so they would always be able to hear his voice.

“The reason why I started YouTube in the first place was to create a digital footprint for my grandkids and my great-grandkids because I reached a time in my life where my grandparents have gone so long, I've forgotten the sound of their voices or their laughter so I wanted to create a digital footprint for my grandchildren. That's where social media began for me.”

His attitude that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure has helped his own whanau too. He’s not had to buy toilet paper, washing liquid or laundry detergent for seven years and, when his whānau returns to Aotearoa, he’s hoping dumpster diving will no longer be illegal. 

For more information about Bin Living with Big B, you can check out his social media platforms Facebook, TikTok and YouTube channel.