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Searching for food in the garbage– who does that?

Felicitas Schneider | 21.06.2022

BW Institute of Farm Economics
MA Institute of Market Analysis

Not only homeless people search for food in waste bins. Some do it out of respect for food and criticism of society.

So-called garbage divers or dumpster divers are mostly open-minded young people who do not want to accept that edible food is thrown away. They search in publicly accessible garbage bins of supermarkets or on the weekly market for discarded food for themselves or also like to share it with others.

Sometimes, it comes to confrontations with employees of outlets or market stalls. Potential paying customers rummage in the garbage and take food with them free of charge or garbage rooms are entered without authorization. They don't like to see that.

In the meantime, however, there are also cooperation between supermarkets and former garbage divers. The supermarkets make the surplus available before closing time and the former garbage divers then share it with social institutions - or with you if you take part in the so-called Fairteiler system (food sharing shelves or fridges accessable free of charge).

Employees of the Thünen Institute were able to get an impression of the Göttingen garbage divers in a short study (in german only).

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