"Hey, this bread is just fine!" Hanna exclaims, and she's right about that. It looks appetising and has been sealed properly in plastic wrap. Nothing is apparent that makes it any different from the other loaves on the supermarket shelves, except that the 21-year-old has just fished it out of the rubbish. It's been quite a while since Hanna bought her food at supermarkets: She does her food shopping at the dumpsters behind them instead.
"Dumpster diving" is the term these self-appointed recyclers of the left-over and discarded have given to their way of refusing to participate in the consumption cycle propagated by today's throwaway society. Not out of need, out of personal conviction.
Concrete figures on just how much food is thrown away in Germany do not exist. At the wholesale market in Cologne alone, up to 10 tonnes accumulate on any normal market day. There are various reasons for this: Sometimes the printing on the label is sloppy, other times the refrigeration during transport didn't comply with the standards. And yet, frequently it's simply cheaper for wholesalers and retailers to toss out the food and purchase it new than to rent warehouses. "Then all that stuff, and I mean cases of it, lands in the bin," is a fact that Jens from Cologne knows only too well. His time spent "diving" has meanwhile completely cut him from the ties that bound him to what was once a bourgeois existence. "I don't have to bend over backwards for anybody, but freedom like this can get to be pretty tough."
We accompany these recyclers of the left-over and discarded on their forays into "for-free land". What kinds of freedom has their chosen lives brought them? What types of limits are they confronted with in terms of health, socially or even politically?