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Vince with food he found in a Hornchurch skip, which he donated to a homeless hostel after the photo shoot

Hornchurch man’s quest to walk length of country living only out of skips

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
11.00 AM

“A man could walk the length of the United Kingdom living off society’s waste.”

That’s one Hornchurch man’s belief, and he intends to prove it this spring.

The 45-year-old, who wished only to be known as Vince, said he had been living a sustainable, “nomadic” lifestyle for the last 12 years – including a three-month spell over Christmas at an “eco-village” in Surrey during which he lived entirely off food salvaged from skips.

It’s not quite “The Good Life” – but Vince reckons we throw away far too much food, plenty of which is still good to eat.

“We’d get ‘skipped’ food from the Co-op or Marks and Spencer, all clean and in bags, and up to 20 people could eat that for four days,” said the former Sanders Draper student.

“Shops throw out food because it’s approaching its sell-by date, not its use-by date. I haven’t had food poisoning.

“You go for certain products – sealed cakes, for example, aren’t going to go stale. Shops throw so many sandwiches and pastries out.

“We were feeding up to 20 or 30 people by ‘skipping’ twice a week. On the Sunday before Christmas I came back with a black bag full of eggs that were edible.

“With the amount of food waste we produce, we could build up food banks for the poor.

“Food prices are going up all the time, and yet I went up to a garage in Hornchurch and had a look in their bins and they were full.”

The issue of food waste hit headlines earlier this month, with a report from the UK-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers suggesting up to 50 per cent of the world’s food never reached human stomachs.

And the national “Love Food Hate Waste” campaign, which aims to minimise the amount of food we throw away from our homes, has recently come to Havering. The council is offering a series of free workshops to help people make the most of their kitchen supplies.

To hammer the point home, Vince plans to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats while living just off food salvaged from skips.

He intends to set off at the spring equinox – March 20 – and reach his destination in time for the summer solstice – June 21.

So how did he end up treading his anti-consumerist path?

“I just had a realisation,” he said. “Life isn’t about materialism. I had money in my younger years but I didn’t want to be a slave to the grind. I just wanted to enjoy life.

“I started travelling and seeing other cultures – learning how to live simply and happily.”