Three years ago, Sofie Juel-Anderon plunged into the world of ‘dumpster diving,’ and it’s been a rewarding journey since. What started as merely foraging fresh produce soon turned into an entire weekly grocery run.
Sofie, a restaurant manager originally hailing from Aarhus, Denmark, confesses that she’s saving thousands each year thanks to her unconventional shopping method.
She said: “Dumpster diving became like a rescue mission for me. So much good food is being wasted – and supermarkets know there are people out there who can’t afford to eat.”
Recounting her journey, she said: “When I was living in Aarhus, I knew of dumpster diving, but I’d never seen it as an option to put food on the table.
“But in 2019, I moved to Sydney, and my sister sent me a photo of some hidden treasures she’d found dumpster diving.
“I thought it was pretty wild – and I wondered if I could do this around Australia.”
Even though Sofie had the means to buy her meals, she quickly realised that dumpster diving was a more economical way to grocery shop.
She started exploring supermarket dumpsters around Sydney, noting down ones to revisit later after it got dark, but said she knew to steer clear from restaurant and private property dumpsters due to legal concerns.
She said: “I called my friend back and she came out with me in the evening. We went to look in a supermarket dumpster and we found a lot of veggies.
“As it was our first time, we didn’t take a lot – but we took the vegetables we thought looked okay to eat.”
After a few more test dives, she gained the confidence to take even more thrown out food, saying she was “blown away” by the amount of waste.
She once even found 300 cans of Diet Coke still in their boxes, she says, and would regularly find whole chickens and sweet treats.
She said: “They’d be thrown out for different reasons – we saw an entire box of kombucha bottles which had been thrown out because one of the cans was damaged.
“Wonky vegetables, goods one-day expired and damaged packaging are all reasons for things being thrown into the dumpster. Mainly, though, it’s usually food which expired one or two days ago.”
The habit gradually morphed from a ‘curious treasure hunt’ to a lifestyle for Sofie, despite her friends saying her new hobby was “gross”.
When she first started out she was spending £50 a week on groceries, but as time went on she cut that down to just £70 a year.
She said: “I don’t spend money on food at all anymore – and I feel like I don’t crave things anywhere near as much as I used to.
“The other day, I did actually go to buy some salt – and I got completely lost in the supermarket because it’d been so long since I last went!”
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