Amsterdam

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Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is a nice city for finding free food and stuff.

<googlemap version="0.9" lat="52.377276" lon="4.88205" type="map"> 52.355482, 4.893106, Albert Cuyp Albert Cuyp market Amsterdam, North Holland 52.36595, 4.86753, Ten Katestraat Ten Katestraat market Amsterdam, Noord-Holland 52.391617, 4.792635, Bread-Factory Very good options late afternoon, early evening but in fact all day through. *Big* bread dumpster. Workers sometimes even give you more to take with you. </googlemap>

Markets

When you go to the market around its closing time you can generally find sufficient amounts of food or second hand stuff (clothes, books, etc.) vendors leave behind. You can also ask vendors if they have any leftover produce. Sometimes they leave quite some amounts of food just on the pavement or inside the containers behind their booths. At times, it is better to wait until vendors leave, although some freegan-oriented folks tend to build a special relation with certain vendors. There is always a lot of good food left behind on Mondays and Saturdays.

If you ask nicely you might be lucky and get a lot of food for free without getting your hands dirty

There are several daily markets, and two organic markets on Saturdays.

  • Albert Cuijp
    • The largest daily market. Located next to the Ferdinand Bolstraat. Vendors generally leave their produce stuffed in boxes just in the street. On Saturdays there is exceptionally a big amount of leftover produce - you can also see many folks wandering around and "shopping" for free.
  • Dappermarkt
    • In 2007 voted as the best country's market. Open every day except Sunday. Located in the east part of the city.
  • Ten Katemarkt
    • Has ~6 booths that sell vegetables. Vendors leave food in big blue containers. Good for diving, especially in the Recycling Center located in the center of the market. Be there between 17:00 and 17:30 for the best scoring options in Summer. In winter and on rainy days the market tends to close earlier. Located at the Kinkerstraat.
  • Markt Bos en Lommerplein
  • Markt Plein '40 - '45
  • Markt Ganzenhoef Bijlmer
    • Many exotic products. Only on Saturdays.
  • Waterloopleinmarkt
    • A flea market (no food). Come at/after closing time (16:00-17:00). Vendors usually leave what they don't bother to take back home in certain places in the market. It is often good for finding books, clothes, old records, etc. Predictably, not of greatest quality, as usual, although some valuable cult classics have been known to turn up in there.
  • Westermarkt
    • Organic market, only on Saturdays.
  • Nieuwmarkt biologische markt
    • Organic market, only on Saturdays.
  • Some more markets in Zuidoost (on Saturdays)

See also the addresses of Amsterdam markets.

Garbage

Picking "trash" in Amsterdam.
"Trash" in Amsterdam. Choose your furniture, for free!

Each neighborhood has a specific day when it is allowed to put discarded bulky items and other similar garbage out on the street. People put out literally everything, from huge furniture to ovens and all sorts of devices and other handy things meant for the household which means it is possible to gather enough of furniture for an appartment with some luck. Best time to search is in the evenings, especially in areas that are being renovated. You'll also find that there are people who are actually collecting stuff so that they could sell it later on in someplace elsewhere. According to some, best areas to do discarded stuff picking are Pijp and Oud-Zuid. General information about trash in Amsterdam can be found here.

Good trash days are (all maps in Dutch, although they display color-coded areas with a list of trash days below note: links need updating due to restructuring of city-councils):

  • For Pijp and Oud-Zuid, check here.
  • For Westerpark, check info here.
  • For Oost, please check info here
  • For Baarsjes, check this. Bigger trash is put on the streets after 8pm on the following days (it will be collected the next morning)
    • Jan Maijenbuurt / Admiralenbuurt nord: Monday and Wednesday (see map)
    • Does-, Tromp- en Geuzenbuurt: Tuesday and Thursday
    • Mercatorbuurt: Monday and Thursday
    • Chassébuurt: Sunday and Tuesday
    • Postjesbuurt, including Postjeskade: Sunday and Wednesday
    • Area 1 (blue): Monday (see map)
    • Area 2 (red): Tuesday
    • Area 3 (green): Wednesday

Bakeries

You can go to any bakery around closing time (5 or 6 pm) and ask if they have leftovers. If they are willing to give their bread away, you can often build relationships with them and come back every (other) day. You will find many bakeries happy that they can give the food away that they otherwise have to throw out. If they give you more than you need, share it with friends.

If your Dutch is limited, keep in mind that it is uncommon for Dutch to know the English word "leftovers". You can use the word "restjes" (sounds like "rest-juice"), which is a diminutive form of the word "remainder" (or "rest") and so translates as "remainderlings". Another practical phrase is "Oud brood" which means "old bread".

Hotels

Hotels frequently have buffets, leftovers of which they're legally required to toss out at the end of the day. Employees, luckily, are usually amenable to give some food away.

Freeshops

Freeshops are places where you can find stuff for free, or leave what you don't use anymore. Here is the list of freeshops in Amsterdam:

  • Joes Garage at Pretoriusstraat 43 has a give-away shop open every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00, see map here. (Last checked: April 2010)
  • You can find one freeshop in Buurtboerderij which in itself is already worth a visit (see map).
  • There is one store which is not really a freeshop but it serves "bijstandsgerechtigen" and other people with minimum income (address: Jan Evertsestraat 10). Recently visited this one, following the new squatting laws in the Netherlands, this store seems to have been closed although the clothes and other items still remain inside the shop.
  • A freeshop is located in a squat at Admiraal de Ruijterweg and is open on Tuesday's from 13:00 till 17:00.
  • Bajesdorp has a Freebox outside with a small quantity of items.

Freecycle

  • There's a fairly active mailing list for freecycling items in Amsterdam area. You can post on the list if you have items to give away for free, or request something specific you need. Sometimes even full flat contents are being donated, and otherwise it could be just about anything - books, children's clothers, computer screens, bicycles, beds... The list appears to be filtered so it might take some time before your post is sent out to list subscribers. And remember: First come first served!

Other free things

  • Albert Heijn supermarkets often have free samples in their shops, from cheese to cupcakes to ice cream.
  • Some Vodafone shops have machines where you can get free coffee, hot chocolate, tea. There is one in the town center where this definitely exists.
  • There is a cheese shop in the town center which offers many free cheese samples, as well as chocolate and other things.

Supermarkets

Supermarkets are generally good for dumpster diving, although many - such as "Albert Heijn" - are actually sending most of the unsold food back with their trucks, so there isn't much to dive there.

There are reports of dumpsters found on the street on specific days at specific times. If you have a supermarket in your area, go and check at random times to find out. The trick is that twice a week all the shops in a specific area put their dumpsters outside to get emptied by the garbage collection trucks. The days vary by area in the city. As a guideline you can check the maps in the Garbage section of this page to see how the areas are split. For example, in Bos en Lommer they are Tuesday and Friday. On those days before 12 mid-day you can find dumpsters outside on the streets. Also shops such as the Blokker throw (very useful) stuff away.

Smaller supermarkets also have dumpsters, such as Turkish neighborhood shops. Many of these dumpsters can be found out on the street after closure times. Some days they are full while other days they remain empty.

If you go to the KvK (Kamer van Koophandel (Chamber of commerce)) behind Centraal Station, you say you want to open your own business, they give you a number and you have access to the lobby, with free coffee machine and computers with internet. Conveniently located and with a nice view of the IJ River!

Pharmacies

Pharmacies are worth checking out during garbage days. A medium sized pharmacy right at the corner of bestevaerstraat and Jan Van Galenstraat yielded a constant flow of cosmetics, toiletries and even some food and over the counter medicine.

Voedselbank

The Voedselbank gets leftovers from supermarkets and distributes them to people with who are officially under a local poverty level limit. Curiously enough, even Voedselbank itself have leftovers - that leaves you a possibility to go there and ask for leftover food (just go to their shop on Friday and ask them very politely).

Transport

If you want to carry a lot of things in one go, a Bakfiets comes in handy.

Urban foraging

Started up by the group FoAM, the Urban Edibles site maps out wild food sources in Amsterdam.

The ethics of urban foraging:

  • Be Friendly: Ask permission when ownership is unclear.
  • Be Generous: How much do you really need? Only pick what you will eat, leave the rest for others (wildlife).
  • Be Alert: Beware of toxicity and don't tread on other plants when picking.
  • Be Careful: Don't put any rare or protected species on the map.

Feel free to add your own discoveries as well!

Another directory and portable application is Boskoi.

Urban farming

Free State SWOMP is an ecological squatted garden in De Pijp area of Amsterdam. They experiment with permaculture practices, while growing herbs, vegetables and fruits. They also hold various workshops in composting (which every conscious dumpster diver is aware of), arts and crafts, Transition Towns and vertical gardening to mention a few. Check Free State SWOMP in English but bare in mind that it is updated less often. And visit them to get your own plot of land to cultivate.

Links


Netherlands

Amsterdam | Arnhem | Den Haag | Deventer | Eindhoven | Enschede | Groningen | Leiden | Maastricht | Nijmegen | Rotterdam | Tilburg | Utrecht | Wageningen | Zeist

add a new place in Netherlands?