• 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
Kidnapped German 'rescued' in Nigeria
Photo: DPA

Kidnapped German 'rescued' in Nigeria

UPDATE: A German national who was kidnapped by gunmen last Friday in southwest Nigeria has been released, police said on Thursday. READ  

Fall of the Wall - 25 years
See how Berlin has changed since Wall fell
The East Side gallery in Friedrichshain. Photo: DPA

See how Berlin has changed since Wall fell

Germany is gearing up to celebrate 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989. The city has changed more than any other in Europe in that time, as these 11 photos of scenes from then and now show. READ  

Conservatives agree on foreigner road toll
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt. Photo: DPA

Conservatives agree on foreigner road toll

UPDATE: Germany's conservative alliance has finally agreed to charge foreign motorway users a toll and hopes to raise €500 million a year, but critics say their plan isn't roadworthy. READ  

Court gives Autobahn shooter ten years' jail
The Autobahn shooter faces judges at the beginning of his trial in August. Photo: DPA

Court gives Autobahn shooter ten years' jail

A trucker who fired hundreds of bullets at vehicles and drivers on German motorways for years was sentenced to ten and a half years in prison on Thursday. READ  

Soldiers get more cash and flexi-time
The Bundeswehr hopes the reforms will make it a more attractive employer. Photo: DPA

Soldiers get more cash and flexi-time

Germany's military hopes to become the most attractive employer in the country with better pay and more part-time work in a series of reforms agreed by ministers on Wednesday. READ  

Strikes cost Lufthansa €170 million
A passenger waits at Düsseldorf Airport which was hit by a Lufthansa strike last Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Strikes cost Lufthansa €170 million

Lufthansa, Europe's biggest airline, cut its profit forecast for 2015 on Thursday and said a series of pilot strikes in Germany this year had cost it €170 million. READ  

Fall of the Wall - 25 years
'Little Berlin' remembers fall of its wall
Tractors not tanks at Mödlareuth on the Bavaria-Thuringia border. Photo: DPA

'Little Berlin' remembers fall of its wall

Germany, November 1989: Snow falls as an excited crowd breaks through the Wall and people tearfully embrace loved ones after decades of living apart. But this is Mödlareuth - population 50 - not Berlin. READ  

Police in manslaughter trial over woman's death
The two policemen (pixelated) and their lawyers in court. Photo: DPA

Police in manslaughter trial over woman's death

Two policemen in western Germany are on trial for manslaughter for allegedly standing by as a woman was gunned down by her husband. READ  

German jets scrambled to face Russian planes
A German Eurofighter. Photo: DPA

German jets scrambled to face Russian planes

German Eurofighters were scrambled on Tuesday to intercept seven Russian planes flying over the Baltic Sea in international airspace. READ  

States sign Berlin deal to fight tax evasion
Finance ministers from 50 countries pose for a photo in Berlin after signing the agreement. Photo: DPA

States sign Berlin deal to fight tax evasion

More than 80 countries signed an agreement in Berlin on Wednesday that could end banking secrecy in the global battle against tax evasion and fraud, even though critics pointed to shortcomings in the deal. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Society
Germans are wide of the mark on immigration
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Want to study in Germany? These are the subjects to choose
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
Photo: DPA
Society
Halloween: Where are the spookiest spots?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Who wants to work in Germany? A third of the world
Photo: DPA
Society
'We can't allow a proxy war on German streets'
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: How well do you know Germany?
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

3,520
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd