Practical Tips for Freegans
The following guide originally comes from the legendary GeOb collective. GeOb stands for Gemüse und Obst, German for vegetables and fruit. The guide has been extended and modified by the "freegan.at" team.
- GeOb locations
- For security reasons it is not possible to publicize actual locations, which would lead to companies blocking or restricting access. Generally speaking, good locations are markets, shops and supermarkets. Don't be shy, just have a look round your area!
- Other GeOb contacts
- MA 59 Marktamt (Council office responsible for markets) 1031 Vienna, Am Modenpark 1-2, Tel. 71116/87399
"The garbage man is here!"
"Well, tell him we don't want any"Chico to Groucho Marx
Tips for freegans
At fruit and vegetable markets there are usually places behind the stalls where the stallholders put the fruit and veg that is not considered good enough to sell. Stallholders are often happy to let you take what you like if you speak to them just before the market opens or closes. There are almost always containers at markets where you can find fruit and veg that has been thrown away. The better-quality fruit and veg can be found in the morning rather than later in the day.
Supermarkets in modern residential areas are good freegan sources. Usually there is a large refuse area shared between households and the supermarket. Ideally there is something like a doctor's surgery or a fitness studio there which ensures access to the refuse area day and night.
Out-of-town supermarkets are also good freegan locations. The containers are often in the car park, behind the supermarket building. But watch out: some supermarkets install motion detectors to alert the police to burglars.
It is best not to stand out too much at supermarkets. It is clear that dumpster-diving is not in the supermarket's interest and therefore they may not hesitate to block or restrict access to containers if they become aware of dumpster-diving going on. Be fair and leave no traces – that way others also have the chance to try it out.
We shouldn't forget, at least in Austria, that separating rubbish is obligatory. Freegans know that supermarkets do not always comply so it can be useful to refer to this in negotiations with supermarket staff.
Ensure that the items you take are to be thrown away and not returned to suppliers. This can often be the case with bread. Such items are often labelled. Taking these items is considered theft.
A discussion on the legality of dumpster-diving with advice from legal experts can be found at "at.gesellschaft.recht" subject: "GeOb-Kollektiv/Besitzstörung?/Diebstahl?". The discussion was started on 1.8.99.
The conclusion of the discussion so far is that legal experts are unsure of who the discarded items actually belong to and whether taking a discarded item counts as stealing.
Supermarkets that sell organic produce (in Austria, Billa, Merkur etc.) are particularly attractive.
With an online telephone directory or CD-ROM it is possible to list all the supermarket outlets belonging to a particular chain.
If you find yourself with more freegan food than you can manage, there is always the option of organizing an event to swap or give away what you have found. Or you could invest in a dehydrator for drying fruit and veg to use at a later date. Alternatively you could bring the food to a "Food not Bombs" kitchen or a similar initiative near you, or even start your own!
If the freegan community continues to develop then it will become easier to cooperate with canteens, organic shops, airlines and industrial kitchens and organize regular collections so that initiatives can be begun that can feed people who cannot afford or who do not wish to support the consumer madness that results in so much food being thrown away in the first place!
A Word about Mould
Mould is suspected of causing cancer. We recommend that you don't take mouldy food. If you do use food with mould on it then make sure that you cut out not only the area with mould on it but also area around the mould.
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