Cordon bleugh: think you’re a keen upcycler? Always economising? Meet the ‘Freegans’ who forage for food in bins

Three men who 'freed' £33 worth of cakes, cheese and mushrooms from supermarket bins have had their case dropped by prosecutors. The case has highlighted the growing trend for 'freeganism' - the reclaiming of food from supermarket and cafe bins

Let’s face it, we all want to economise don’t we? And most of us are partial to a bit of upcycling here and there… Well, now a new ‘trend’ has emerged whereby people reclaim food that has been thrown out by coffee shops, restaurants and supermarkets.

Affectionately known as freeganism, the ‘trend’ was highlighted in a recent case where three men escaped legal action after taking food from the dustbin of their local Iceland store.

They are among a growing number of ‘skippers’ or ‘freegans’ who patrol the bins behind stores and cafes looking for thrown-away food that is good enough to eat.

The act of freeganism is nothing new – although in the past it was called ‘skipping’ or ‘bin diving’. In the US it is known as ‘dumpster
diving’ and has been going on for years.

Although it may seem a pretty grim activity, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Britain wastes 15 million tonnes of perfectly edible food every year. It’s hardly surprising then that people are so keen to get their hands on it.

But it’s not just about food – the growing interest in reclamation and salvage means that you can now find almost anything for free.

Websites such as Freecycle and Gumtree advertise people’s unwanted items, while many people find unused items on the street or in bins.

And people are keen to take it to extremes. Take enterprising Australian Cat Fletcher who was so ‘inspired by seeing so much useable stuff being discarded’ she furnished her home entirely for free using recycling websites such as Freegle.


Earlier in the year, TV personality Kirstie Allsopp also showed us how we could furnish our homes on zero cash with her Channel 4 TV show ‘Fill Your House For Free‘.

‘Forget about free love,’ said Kirstie. ‘This is about loving free.’

On the show Kirstie encouraged people to rummage around in skips in search of unwanted goodies.

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So, there you have it. If you’re feeling a bit frugal this January, try furnishing your home for free. We’d advise you to stay clear of the supermarket bins though…

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