Posts tagged “refuse”

Airport Pickup

At the Munich airport I saw something I hadn’t seen before at any airport: gleaners or freegans or binners – people who moved through the pre-security part of the airport, rifling through trash cans to see if there was anything in there worth saving. In just a few minutes in one spot we saw three people come by and investigate our nearby can. The gentleman pictured above made his second pass a minute or two later. In addition to this atypical-at-an-airport behavior, these folks were all dressed – and conducted themselves – like travelers. They walked purposefully from zone to zone. Their clothes were clean and presentable while their bags for carrying whatever they scrounged were not unlike bags that we might carry on a trip. I wouldn’t have given them a second look if it hadn’t been for the act of putting a hand into a garbage can.

To what extent are they tolerated for not upsetting the real travelers by appearing “homeless?” What are the economics of factoring to- and from-the-airport travel into a day’s worth of garbage picking? On a continuum between substance-abuse/mental-illness driven homelessness and self-selected outsiders/off-the-grid types, where do these folks reside?


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