Skipping is the practice of scavenging food or other useful items from skips that other people, organisations or businesses have thrown away. People who skip food voluntarily (rather than out of necessity) are sometimes known as “freegans”.

I try to do it at least once a week – that’s how long it takes me to run out of bread. I go to a local supermarket at night – round the back they have a number of skips, often with large quantities of fresh food. Much of the food is even well within its use-by date. Fresh fruit that is completely under-ripe; puddings that have months to go but presumably the 3-pack was damaged; anything that it is more profitable to throw away and replace with the new stock.

Reasons you should go skipping:

  1. It requires only time and energy. And a bag. No money is necessary.

  2. It is an act of defiance against the colossal and ridiculous amount of waste produced by industrial capitalism.

  3. It represents a moment of true freedom. When you realise that everything you do must be in line with your job description; when every day you go under cover, defining yourself only by your position; when you are doing not for its own sake, but because you have to earn money to live in this world –
    reaching down into a skip to take a bunch of beautiful bananas that would otherwise go to landfill, because you can, because you want to, because it is right, overturns these stultifying mind-prisons you have created for yourself. If you get good enough, perhaps all your moments can be like this.

  4. Because it strikes a blow against the cop in your head. By which I mean, it will provoke you to think about things that maybe you didn’t before, because it is illegal.

    But don’t worry, you won’t get caught!

PS. Some supermarkets have taken to putting padlocks on their skips; there are even rumours that bleach has been poured on food to prevent scavenging. If it doesn’t pay, it might as well be thrown away – this is the logic of total commodification.

It’s nothing new – I picture the Californian Fruit Growers Association dumping oranges in the sea during the depression, soaking them in kerosene so that the starving people diving after them could not eat them.

Take from that what you will.

And from skips, too.


In North America skips are known as dumpsters - the US equivalent of skipping is Dumpster Diving. Please see that node as well as this one and this one for more info.

I must admit though that "dumpster-diving" sounds much less appealing than to me... it sounds more scummy. But call it what you like.

(thanks to hapax for alerting me to this)

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