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Dumpster diving in Berlin is a goldmine if you know where to look! Going containern in Berlin is fairly common and even has ‘competition’ at places, however there’s always enough go to around. This guide on how to dumpster dive in Berlin will sort you out!
I got into dumpster diving when I was doing a Workaway at a farm in Denmark. My hosts asked if I had ever been diving before and I was always curious. 30 minutes later, $200 worth of food, and a blown mind – I knew I had to implement this into my life.
Where to dumpster dive in Berlin
There are a few great places to check. First hit up dumpstermap.org and see if there is anything in your area.
Next, the Facebook groups ‘containern in Berlin‘ and the likes are excellent ways to learn from others about hotspots or even meet up to do it together!
Scout out the locations in daytime before trying a new spot and make a quick mental note of anything. Just bike around, look at the alleys/bins of your local supermarkets, and see if anything good is around – you might be surprised!
Table of Contents
Is containern in Berlin legal?
It’s a grey area. By the book, I don’t think it is – however no one cares. You’re not going to get arrested, no one is going to call the police, and store workers who see you will likely turn a blind eye or even better; they’ll pack up the food nicely in bags for next time!
Don’t look suspicious, don’t be sketchy, and don’t bring bolt cutters. Those actions will likely make you look strange and actually might bring the Polizei’s attention to you.
Edit: I got reprimanded and forced to put away food I rescued from a dumpster by a very moody employee at one dumpster location. Some people are just bad humans, just try and play their game – Polizei won’t do anything/care unless you’re commiting serious trespassing or theft.
Best time to go dumpster diving
Usually I like to choose Wednesdays and Saturdays. Many food manufacturers set ‘expiry’ dates to the end of week and mid week – thus the best days to go dumpster diving!
Of course, it’s always wise to go at the evening after closing, however 30 minutes before closing also works as that’s when employees are often getting rid of stuff – you’ll get things freshly discarded that ways!
Colder months are far better obviously – the climate outside is like a natural refrigerator and increases the chances of happy food finds! I don’t go containern as much in the summertime.
What to bring
A few simple things – nothing complicated:
Garbage bags – duh to store the food in
Large backpack, duffle bag, crate, or other thing to carry the food in. Don’t use something you’ll be afraid to get dirty – you are picking food out of a garbage bin after all.
Gloves – Grab some waterproof Merino wool gloves or cheap mechanics gloves from a baumarkt (hardware store) for a few euros. They’re waterproof, cheap, reusable, and give excellent grip!
Flashlight/headlamp – Since you’re at night you’ll want to be able to see what’s in the bin and properly inspect things.
Be respectful! Don’t be cutting chains or locks, and don’t be doing some wild trespassing.
If you’re at the bins, don’t make a mess all over the place! Someone will have to clean it up at some point and that’ll increase the likelyhood of bins being locked. Leave things as you found them.
If you’re dumpster diving in Berlin (or anywhere) and encounter a store employee looking at you just say hallo! 99% chance they won’t care, turn a blind eye, or even say hi back. This isn’t the first time someone has been rummaging!
Thoroughly clean and inspect the food prior to eating. Obviously it was thrown away and some foods will be gross and moldy. This will rub off onto surrounding foods and you should clean your loot very well!
Seasonal – I only really dive in the colder months – warm days from May-October just don’t treat containern food as nicely. Of course you can still get great scores but for me I don’t trust the meats, dairy, and other produce as much during summer.
Containern in Berlin has always been an active hobby for many though hidden – if you’ve never been to the bins, you’ll likely never know it existed.
I implore you to check out other food waste initiatives like Foodsharing.de and even the paid service TooGoodToGo – there’s an unholy amount of food waste each year from supermarkets and you can save a bunch of money on top of rescuing perfectly good food from doom.
Hope this containern in Berlin guide helped you out! Dumpster diving has become fairly large in my life and about half my food comes from the bins.
If you’ve got questions about Berlin dumpster diving or other questions drop them in the comments – I’m always glad to help out 🙂
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2 thoughts on “Containern / Dumpster diving Berlin – how to start dumpster diving!”
Helloo, I´ve just read your article about diving here in Berlin – and I am suuuper curious to go myself. I´ve done it couple of times on my travels and now I just moved here to Berlin and want to explore the containers 🙂 Your dumpster-map shows some bins in Moabit – have you been dumpstering there yourself? Which stores do they belong to?
Ahh yes I lived in Moabit! I was able to collect things from the Rewe and Netto shops closer to the train station. That was about 3 years ago now so I don’t know if my information is valid though.