• Germany edition
 
How I dumpster dived across Europe
Baptiste dumpster diving outside a supermarket in Berlin. Photo: Submitted

How I dumpster dived across Europe

Published: 19 Jun 2014 18:39 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Jun 2014 18:39 GMT+02:00

Baptiste, from Tours in France, said his objective was to denounce waste by only eating food thrown away by supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants. Travelling by bicycle, the 25-year-old's carbon footprint will be close to zero at the end of the trip.

 “I do not pay for any of the food I eat. The only thing I take is water,” he told The Local. If he cooks a meal from the food he finds, he only uses low temperatures and a little water to save on energy. He adds no seasoning to the food unless he has found some that has been discarded.

Baptiste left Paris on April 15th and has passed through Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. He has also cycled all over Germany, stopping at Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Berlin. His final destination is Warsaw which he aims to reach in two weeks time.

Using the website couchsurfing.org to find accommodation, his first goal when he arrives in a town is to seek out supermarkets or bakeries that might give him food that they would otherwise throw away.

“I have to find food fast because after all the cycling I am tired and I need the energy,” he said. "Is my stomach full or empty? That is the most important thing, not what I am eating."

His success rate when dumpster-diving (pulling food out of rubbish bins) varies from town to town. Only one out of every ten places where he asks for food actually offer him anything.

He said the general policy of the companies is not to give away free food because they are running a business.

He has a sign written in each country's language to explain the project, which he named La faim du monde (World Hunger), but says the signs do not always work. In Pilsen in the Czech Republic he had to ask 50 places for food before one said yes.

“The Czech Republic was the hardest, people just didn't understand the concept,” he said. “They associate taking trash with homeless people. Finally, I was given a lot of leftover bread from a bakery which I made last for five days.”

Baptiste said Berlin had been the easiest place to find food in Germany and Düsseldorf was the hardest, where he said at least 20 places said they would rather throw the food away than give it to him.

But Baptiste has found most people at the food outlets he visits extremely friendly, even though many are not allowed to give him food.

“Some people have even risked their jobs by giving me food,” he said.

One man working at a bakery in Nuremberg was told by his boss that he could not give the 25-year-old any food. “He said to come back at 9.30pm when the shop closed. When I went back he had hidden all the food in bags under his jacket. There was so much of it, I had to share it with a fellow couch surfer.”

‘They didn’t choose to be poor’

The idea for the project came to the 25-year-old when he went travelling in Colombia, as well as South East Asia and Tahiti after he finished his masters in sustainable development. He said the extensive poverty he witnessed gave him a bad conscience.

“I was rich in poor countries. I was sad these people were so poor. These people have no choice, they did not choose to be poor, so I decided to do something to show how much good food we waste,” he said.

Cycling about 60 km a day, Baptiste also visits schools to raise awareness on the issue of waste and the impact it has on the environment.

“I tell them how much non-renewable resources are consumed every day and that one day these will run out,” he said.

He also shows them how much energy is used to create just one plate of food and the effect the waste the western world has on developing countries. “We import so much food, for example rice, that it puts the prices up in the poor countries and then we just end up throwing so much of it away.” he said.

According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) Hunger Report from 2013, 842 million people in the world are starving or undernourished. Around 25,000 people die every day from starvation or hunger-related causes.

Europe against waste

Baptiste chose to undertake his mission this year to coincide with the European Year against Food Waste, which is being led by the European Parliament.

By making changes in labelling food and providing support to sustainable food production systems, the European Parliament hopes to halve food waste in the EU by 2025.

The FAO says that every year roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption - approximately 1.3 billion tonnes - gets lost or wasted.

They estimated that even if just a quarter of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.

And the philosophy of Baptiste’s trip is “less is more”. “The project has been a way for me to protest,” he said. “If we produced less, food would become more precious to us.”

READ MORE: How Germans are turning to dumpsters for dinner

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Julie Colthorpe (julie.colthorpe@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German village banks on wind, sun, pig manure
Photo: DPA

German village banks on wind, sun, pig manure

If Germany has taken a pioneering though risky role in shifting to renewable energy, then the tiny village of Feldheim -- population 150 -- is at its vanguard. READ  

UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn
Photo: DPA

UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn

Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact. READ  

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling
Italy's National Partisans' Association welcomed the court decision. Photo: DPA

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling

Italy's constitutional court has ruled that victims of Nazi-era war crimes can sue Germany in Italian courts, rejecting a UN ruling and provoking a strong reaction from Berlin on Friday. READ  

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,497
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd