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food waste

INA WO(A)NDERS: About food waste on vacation

Have you ever bought too much groceries while on vacation? In her column, our author Ina presents a small solution for less food waste.

"Can you use any of this?" Just before we say goodbye, my best friend holds out a tote bag. In it some tea, a bit of cheese, peppers, grapes, a zucchini, a packet of rice, a bottle of water. He spent two vacation weeks with his sweetheart here in Lagos, Portugal, where I visited them with my mobile home. During their vacation, they alternately ate out or cooked comfortably in the apartment. And since there are several supermarkets in the area, the two were able to buy whatever they really needed.

But although on the last morning we had a hearty breakfast and even snacks were made for the journey home, cheese, paprika, rice and the like were simply no longer needed. Fortunately, as a private food waste mobile, I am right in front of the front door and gratefully save the completely flawless food from the garbage can. As I write these lines, the saved grapes sweeten my mind typing. But at the same time, the thought that only very few holidaymakers find buyers like me for their leftovers fills me with uneasiness.

Food waste: waste containers with vegetables and fruit that are still edible

Portugal is according to Statista Europe-wide already in 6th place among the countries with the highest food waste. In 2020, 84 kilos of food per person ended up in the garbage. With 142 kilos, the Greeks are the sad frontrunners in the statistics, in Germany we are in the lower third with 75 kilos per year and person. The tote bag in my hand weighs about 2,5 kilograms. And with that she once again symbolizes a drop-on-the-bucket moment. What's the point? It makes me think. And then to ask.

bag full of groceries

The next day I drive into a supermarket parking lot with a little more momentum than absolutely necessary. Let's see if that works. I also have a tote bag with me this time. In it a pack of rice, a pack of pasta, a glass of chickpeas and a liter of milk. 2,5 kilos. I enter the store with my treasures and look around nervously. Finally I pull myself together and speak to the cashier in a friendly manner. "May I put these items into the food donation box?" She frowns. That's not really how it works here - usually only things that have just been bought in the store end up in the boxes. Finally she nods disinterested and I happily hop over to the food donation. And from now on I know what I can advise holidaymakers if they have bought too much on their trip.

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to avoid food waste while on vacation? I am always happy to receive feedback, suggestions or questions – either as a comment or directly by e-mail [email protected].



Another article on how to counteract the garbage problem when travelling:

What's the point of beach clean-ups?

Photos: Ina Hiester, Mediamodifier / unsplash, Wikipedia (

Ina is a digital nomad and travels through Europe by land and sea. The journalist is always on the lookout for special places for Good Travel, philosophizes about travel in her column, takes photographs, makes music and writes articles on all kinds of environmental and sustainability topics.


  • Johanna Volk

    Super Ina, another great report that inspires. I always get terribly upset when my husband buys mass-produced items and then spoils all sorts of things because I don't want to eat the same cheese for weeks and we still had enough carrots.
    I say less and less does, we've never starved to death.
    But with some people the appeal is hopeless love's labor.

    Thanks for the valuable tip on where to bring back excess cotton, I'll have to research whether that's also possible here in Germany.

    Kind regards Johanna V.


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