Dumpster diving in Gothenburg

My first dumpster diving experience happened in a town nearby Oslo. It turned out to be extremely successful from an urban forager’s point of view and quite shocking from all the other perspectives: the food that we got out of the bins of the supermarkets was better than the food I had been buying my entire student life. It wasn’t hard to do it, the containers were accessible, clean and there was no smell – all it took was a bit of courage, knowledge and a company of a few experienced dumpster divers.

After such experience, I was sure I will try this out in Gothenburg. However, I gave up after two or three weeks trying to find a supermarket that is relatively close to my home and has accessible food containers. Everything was very closed-up and advanced: most big supermarkets had food compressors and huge locked containers; others had built extremely high, locked fences around their trash. And so I left this idea until it found me again in November 2016.

Now, this has become a part of my design project that hopefully will serve as a master thesis project by the end of this study semester. I have been keeping a diary from my very first dumpster diving experience in November 2nd to the very last one two days ago. The very first success was possible only because I discovered a Facebook group called Dumpstring Göteborg: its members share practical information such as locations of accessible supermarket bins and photos of the food they’ve got out. There was also some information on trashwiki.org but it turned out to be outdated and thus quite unhelpful. Dumpstring Göteborg led me to Solidarity Fridge (Solidariskt Kylskåp), an initiative for saving the food waste and sharing it by setting up public fridges around the city. After meeting the people who are running it, I was sure I had found something I want to work with. I found myself gaining more motivation on the way through meeting like minded people, advocates of sharing economy and food waste elimination.

Currently I am dumpster diving one, two times per week and visiting my closest Solidarity Fridge once a week to bring the food that I don’t need. We are still very few volunteers, and we also are trying to talk with the supermarkets and restaurants directly so that people in need could receive the leftover food in safer, more convenient and humane way. It seems that there are a lot of dumpster divers in the city – the Facebook group alone currently has 4449 members. I meet them regularly on my own dumpster diving journeys, and vast majority of them are young, Swedish speaking people. Only twice I have met people that might be close to retirement age. Most are friendly and we usually have a brief chat, and most of them even have heard about Solidarity Fridge. It seems that there is a great potential in these people making a change in the food waste system maintained by the local businesses. But how to turn the awareness, the knowledge into action? This is a question I am asking myself every day now.

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