"I'm going to do something very strange tonight… I'm going to go
through shop waste for edible food. Freeganism or dumpster diving.
Am I weird?"
That's not your average text message, but from my friend nothing
surprises me. I didn't think it was weird; I thought it was clever
and enviable and maybe crazy but certainly not weird. To be honest
though, I didn't think much more about it until I received a
picture later that night of my friend's food finds. Two sealed
packs of breadsticks, thirteen fresh eggs, a sealed bag of four
rolls and some loose baked goods were what he strolled home
"Sickening isn't it", he texted. "I just saw my mum who asked
where I'd been. Told her I'd been to shop. Then she said it was a
strange shop not to put things in bags. Told her I didn't pay for
it and got it out of bins. She seemed kind of pleased."
I would be pleased to come home with all that for free but
what's troubling me is the fact that this was just a small
proportion of what was actually there. We checked the use-by dates
on the products and found they were all still in date. Presumably
the eggs had been thrown out due to the boxes not being full and
the breadsticks had been chucked because of damaged packaging but
that doesn't make much sense when you think about it. Why has food
got to be so perfect? Have you ever bought a wonky carrot from a
supermarket? No? That's because they don't sell them; they're not
visually appealing and get thrown away. Now THAT is a waste. Being
a nerd, I looked up the word 'waste' and favoured the definition
"fail to make full or good use of". That pretty much sums up this
scenario; we are failing to make any use on quite an epic
The Love Food Hate Waste campaign discovered that the average UK
family throws away £50 worth of good food every month. If my mental
calculation is correct, that is £600 per household per year. Now
multiple that by all the families in the UK and the numbers are
mind blowing. How can we be so wasteful, especially when our
economy demands we should save?
Now I'm no saint, I've thrown away food I could have eaten. We
all have but we need to get a grip on this. There's a lot to be
said for leftovers and, in my experience, if it smells fine then it
usually is but I'm not an expert. It would be pretty cool if we
could all save ourselves money by not being so wasteful and embrace
our inner freegan.
The idea of 'food reclamation' (dumpster diving to you and me)
may be weird to many people but it's just another form of
recycling. If the food isn't off, why not use it? There are many
websites dedicated to the free recycling of other people's goods,
so why not take this to the next level with food.
So my friend had an omelette with croissant that night and ate
like a king. For free, I might add. The next step for him is
organising a freegan dinner party, using all the edible waste he
can to feed his friends… Only revealing to them after they've eaten
what his ingredients were.
If you would like more information on freeganism,
visit freegan.info and for top
tips on making the most of your food, go to england.lovefoodhatewaste.com.
Photo credit khalid.aziz