The ex-waste divers

By Misch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Dumpster diving or "containering" is a hotly debated topic in Germany. At the last moment, people rescue edible food from supermarket bins. But the illegal rescue operations are becoming increasingly rare, at least in Luxembourg. Two ex-dumpster divers talk about their night and fog operations upside down in the bin, why they stopped – and food culture.

Lëtzebuerger Journal: Both of you have been bin raiding, that is, you fish edible food out of supermarket bins to use it. How can one imagine that?

Annick: Well, I was really "de Wapp gaangen" (nervous) every time. In the beginning, we were always out at night, which in retrospect was so stupid because you immediately look like a burglar. No one would think anything during the day. We did the same later, after closing time. The shop where we dumpster dove had its bin open to the public. So we had our tongs with us to reach the things at the bottom of the bin – after all, we didn't want to climb all the way in.

Elina: The rubbish piles up like geological layers that form over the week, with the fresh stuff at the top and the disgusting stuff at the bottom.

That doesn't sound pleasant, despite your geological approach?

Annick: Yes, every bin has the same sweet smell. And when you drove home afterwards, your whole car and flat smelled like a bin. That's why I always put everything in vinegar immediately and washed it. But the things that were on top, that had just been thrown away, were still refrigerated the whole time. We only took what we would eat ourselves. You don't want the things at the bottom anyway.

Elina: Of course, the first few times we always forgot the gloves … it's so disgusting without them. And it's generally quite unpleasant to lean into the buckets, you can get really sick very quickly. The food itself is still really good, especially because it's also very often multi-packed.

Annick: And I already had the feeling that the staff in the shops knew what we were doing and sometimes gave us little presents, so to speak. We often opened the bucket and there were cakes on top, fresh and in perfect condition. They weren't just thrown in. There was also a surveillance camera in the corner, but we never got in trouble anyway.

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