One day this week student Harry Peters* dropped by his local Sainsbury's in Edinburgh to get his evening meal. But unlike every other shopper that evening, Peters didn't go through the supermarket's front door. Instead he went round the back of the store and salvaged some packaged sandwiches, ready meals and other essential food items from a giant bin.
Peters is a freegan. The word freegan is a blend of "free" and "vegan". Devotees of freeganism seek to make a political statement by rescuing edible food and perfectly good household items from supermarket bins and skips respectively.
Freeganism attracts all sorts — from doctors and lawyers on six-figure incomes to students and families struggling to make ends meet.
"Freeganism is a proactive movement," says Alf Montagu, a spokesman for UKfreegans. "It's not just about foraging for free food at the back of su-permarkets. It's also about giving back with our time to the wider community.
"There is reason and logic behind what we do. Landfill sites emit harmful gases and toxins into the atmosphere, such as methane, and so if you can recycle some of this you'll be reducing the environmental cost and also the cost to supermarkets, who have to pay someone to dump their waste in landfills."
Environmental studies student Peters, 21, is a regular bin raider and was pleased with his latest haul. "I got about a tenner's worth of food," he says. "There is usually much more food than you can take, but I don't like to take much because the bins are used as a source of food by homeless people."
"I've never had food poisoning from bins , so it's a fairly safe way of saving money. I'm just one of these students who looks to save as much money as possible.
"I'm also motivated by the fact that our consumer culture produces so
much waste. I'm taking that waste and making it useful."
It is reckoned that supermarkets, restaurants and the rest of the food
industry dump 17m tonnes of food in UK landfill sites...