Note: the photos and most of the information for this post has been shamelessly pillaged from BirchBarkBobAnanda’s (BBB) websites, including this quote:
“When you’re one step ahead of the crowd you’re a genius. When you’re two steps ahead, you’re a crackpot.”
It didn’t take long to realise that BBB is not your average can of soup. With his homemade panniers made from advertising banners, birch bark covered bike frame, hand made windproof jacket and tires from the dumpster of a bicycle store, he is the living embodiement of the phrase ‘Reduce/Reuse/Recycle’: an everyday superhero, sent to fight waste and the insanities of the modern world.
We had been contacting each other through the online hospitality organisation CouchSurfing for a while, and finally managed to catch up in Berlin, where our two bike trips crossed paths.
First up was a trip to the local organic grocery store to pick up some food for dinner. But of course we weren’t heading into the entrance. BBB was scoping out the back and the sides of the building looking for access to the dumpsters. After some big hauls in Scandinavia he was disappointed to find the gates locked.
BBB’s current battleground is the dumpsters of Western society, overflowing with perfectly edible food. As he explains, “Often the only reason for ending up in the trash/compost bin is that for example bananas are starting to have a few brown spots, and so the greener or yellower ones are
preferred. The shop keepers, disturbingly, play along in the game and throw out the ones people leave by the side, and simply order more. Instead they could just refuse and let people pick from a shrinking pile, but no!, people are so spoiled by the abundance, and take the nicest looking stuff for their money. The shop keepers could end this, by ordering new stuff less often, but then they probably feel they would loose against other shops who simply do not feel troubled by throwing out perfectly good stuff. It’s a feedback loop that needs to be enlightened, and dissolved.”
His dumpsterdiving recently made front page news on the island of Åland (between mainland Sweden and Finland), where he showed how wasteful large supermarkets can be. When he met with reporters they found bins overflowing with food. “I even found a bouquet of tulips to give to the female journalist. It made her day… and I heard that the flowers lasted for another week.”
“In the interview I explained how the poison food most people seem to love, is cheaper than organics in the store, because the damage done by these destructive agricultural practices are only later paid for by the whole human society, their and our children’s future and health, not to speak of all the other earthlings, we share the planet with. If all the costs caused were actually accounted for, that cheap poison and genetically modified garbage, would be probably triple the cost of organic food, if that’s even enough!”
BBB’s superhero hideaway is on an off-the-grid island on the west coast of Canada where he lives a solar-powered life in a biodiesel schoolbus parked in a meadow five minutes from the beach. When he is not dumpsterdiving or travelling around by bike you might find him sewing and manufacturing his own outdoor gear, green woodworking, paddling the rivers of Alaska and northern Yukon, basketmaking, baking sourdough bread, and just generally finding stuff and reusing things. Some of his completed projects include ‘Canibal Tubs’ (DIY fire powered spas), hand crafted birchbark canoes, and a beautiful compost toilet he dubs ‘The Crapcedral’ or ‘La Shiteau’. As he says, “Choosing to live simply, really frees ones life from the yoke of slavery.”
BBB is an amazing individual with positive energy and a fascinating mind, buzzing with creativity. I look forward to seeing what he produces in the future and maybe sharing a smoothie or two.
For more inspiration check out his websites:
Free Spirit – about his ongoing bicycle trip from Switzerland to the High Tatras of Slovakia, to the Baltic Countries, to Scandinavia, and beyond…
Pippi’s Dumpsterdiving Club – uncovering the hidden waste of western consumerism
Vaccinations – The Swine Flu swindle and more…