In protest against the throw-away mentality, some Germans go containers

In protest against the throw-away mentality, some Germans go containers. The fish food out of the tons of supermarkets – and make themselves a criminal offense. Lenny and Freja have been eating this way for half a year.

Trier (DPA) – Lenny and Freja always get their groceries in the evening. They know which dumpsters to head to at which supermarkets to find what they are looking on. Sometimes they climb over a gate, sometimes over a fence – and get food from the bins. It’s unbelievable what’s inside. Things are all packed and perfectly fine, says Lenny (20). He and his girlfriend have not spent a hundred on groceries for months; they only container. Buying food is no longer an option for me, he says. Too much food ended up in the trash: I feel responsible for consuming what throw away.

In the morning after a regular tour, as they say, the vegans’ refrigerator is full again: eight broccoli, one kilo of tomatoes, two kilos of asparagus plus blueberries, apricots. And they also fished out several bananas and six bottles of olive oil. There is also bread. And even dairy products and meat. At first, they went twice a week, says Freja (19). But now we contain so much all at once. That’s enough for a week. They are seldom alone at the bins: We meet different people every time. Often students.

Lenny and Freja are aware that so-called containers, also known as garbage dipping, is illegal. Entering the market area is trespassing, taking away food theft, even in the garbage. In January, two Bavaria students convict of theft for taking vegetables and fruit from a supermarket container. You went into revision. An attempt by Hamburg’s Justice Senator Till Steffen (Greens) to make the boxes exempt from punishment failed last week at the Justice Ministers’ Conference in Lubeck-Trave-munde.

I think that containers should be legal, Lenny says.” It is not a crime to save food that throws away. The right approach, however, is generally to throw away less. In the end, you wouldn’t have to legalize containers at all. Then you wouldn’t have this problem. Lenny does not think that he is committing a criminal offense if he takes groceries from the bins. I act according to my sense of justice. And I think what I do is very respectable. Criminals are those who throw away so much.

According to calculations by the University of Stuttgart, almost 13 million tons of food end up in the garbage every year in Germany. Consumers in private households throw away more than half of it (55 percent or just under 7 million tons). Broken down to a single person, that’s 85.2 kilos of food per year that go to waste bins. Containers are also part of everyday life for people in precarious living conditions.

France as a model


In France, supermarket chains have long required law to donate leftover food instead of throwing it away, says Freja. I think that’s a perfect way. It should be everywhere. The latest decision by the justice ministers of the countries that have put the fight against food waste at the center goes in this direction: supermarkets should be able to donate food more efficiently, for example, to food banks, without being disadvantaged.

Lenny and Freja in Germany have not yet had any problems with containers. We always take good care of the boxes, too, carefully leaving everything behind to not annoy anyone. Before that, they traveled to Greece and Italy: A shop owner once tried to force them to put the products back. We discussed with him until he let us go.

Even if they haven’t spent half a year on groceries: It’s not about the money, says Freja. They did it out of conviction: The food thrown away is a symptom of a disease afflicted by this society. A lot of energy would produce food, and some of the products would fly in over long distances. And then they just end up in the trash. I cannot support that. That’s why Lenny and Freja now want to switch completely – and grow their food. The concept is called permaculture. To this end, they are currently planning projects in Denmark, Sicily, and Trier. We only want to eat the food that grows around us, says Lenny.

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