Who's Matt?

Matt Homewood with a dumpster diving Christmas special.

Curious as to why I have ended up diving in thousands of supermarket dumpsters across the planet?

This page is about that very journey.

My main mission at present is to put an end to supermarket food waste in Denmark. If we can fix food waste, we can solve many of society’s most pressing social & environmental issues.

Within our industrialised, global food system, the modern supermarket possesses disproportionate power, especially when it comes to the astonishing food waste occurring from farm-to-fork. 

By helping to dismantle this model, I hope to help society transition to a fairer & more sustainable food system based on agro-ecological principles. This ought to leave a little more space for nature too, so that Earth’s wildlife can thrive once again.

I’m a sought-after sustainability speaker. Over time, I plan to write broadly on topics that I have been looking into over these last years. This includes food, cooking, home-milling & -baking, and sustainable living.

Food Waste campaigning remains the core focus of my work at present, & I’m stoked to have won a UN SDG prize in 2021. This opinion piece describes my thoughts on Supermarket Food Waste. The Danish national Food Waste campaign I have co-organised – “Modspild” – can be found here. All this work will be presented at UNFCCC’s Action Hub stage at COP26 in Glasgow.

Matt Homewood with supermarket food waste.

A Suburban Upbringing

I grew up in a west London suburb with French & English parents, my sisters & our beloved dog.

I was soccer mad & spent most of my spare time in local parks playing with friends. It was this obsession that got me delving into healthy food & nutrition from the age of 12. Ever since, food & cooking have taken ever-greater roles in my day-to-day life.

At the time, my connection to local urban wildlife was non-existent. Nevertheless, like countless British teenagers, I did watch as many BBC wildlife documentaries as I could get my hands on.

After finishing school at the French Lycée in London, I worked at Wasabi – a sushi & bento business – in the heart of London’s manic financial district. This was my first foray into the professional food industry.

Matt Homewood trekking through Malaysian Borneo, Sabah.

Zoology Adventures

Once I had saved up enough, I backpacked for nine months across Australia & South-East Asia. Seeing pygmy elephants & giant flying squirrels in Malaysian Borneo and manta rays & Komodo dragons in Indonesia were just some of the highlights in what was a life-changing year.

Encountering these wondrous, biodiverse places inspired me to study biological sciences at Edinburgh University, where I specialised in zoology.

After two years in Scotland’s capital, I spent an exciting year on exchange at Uppsala University in Sweden, with field trips taking me across the country as well as to China. In the spring of 2014, during a marine biology course on the Swedish west coast, I made my first short documentary “Marine Litter: An Unnecessary Evil”.

Before returning to Scotland, I volunteered three months as a marine biologist for the Manta Trust in the Maldives studying the world’s largest reef manta ray population, followed by working as a runner on Sir David Attenborough’s film “Natural History Museum Alive”.

During my final year, I attended the wildlife film festival Wildscreen in Bristol after winning a ROAR talent bursary. My genetics & marine conservation thesis focused on the United Kingdom’s rarest bivalve, the fan mussel, which was published by the Oxford Journal of Molluscan Studies.

Matt Homewood meeting Sir David Attenborough during the production of Sir David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Alive.
Matt Homewood scuba diving in the Maldives whilst studying manta rays.

Moving to Denmark

The climate & biodiversity crises inspired me to move back to Scandinavia to study climate change science at Copenhagen University.

A trip to Greenland where our group researched the climate change impacts on the local whale populations living off Disko Island was memorable. Amidst the ever-moving icebergs under the midnight sun, the pods of breaching humpback whales gorged themselves on the North Atlantic’s fleeting summer bounty.

Humpback whales feeding in Greenland during the Midnight Sun.

To cover my costs of living, I worked in two restaurants and a coffee & home-baked bread café, learning much more about food & cooking over the three years.

With Danish universities relaxed about sabbaticals, I cycle toured from New York City to San Francisco in the summer of 2017 alongside my friend Rob Greenfield & thirty other intrepid adventurers.

It was during this wild journey that the full scale of the western food waste epidemic set in. From the East Coast to Montana, our group lived off supermarket food waste. As a poor student, I celebrated; as an environmentalist, I was horrified.

So, for my dissertation, the global food system became my focus, highlighting existing alternatives, namely agroecology. The broad piece – “Transitioning the Food System for the Anthropocene: Shifting Agriculture and Diet toward a more holistic, more resilient, more pluralistic future” – was described by one of my examination censors as “political manifesto”. She was right; I had learnt that Food is an intensely political subject.

Matt Homewood dumpster diving at a Walmart in the USA.

An Urban Harvester

Weeks after graduating, I created “An Urban Harvester” on Instagram in January 2019, where I post my daily dumpster-dived urban harvests to expose supermarkets’ dirty secrets. By bringing these food waste statistics to the surface, my goal is to illegalise supermarket food waste in Denmark. On this 20,000 strong community, I share other urban harvesters’ dumpster hauls from across the west to emphasise the alarming scale of this epidemic.

Concurrently, I worked at Nordic Sustainability as a consultant, helping the team to research and write the 2019 Cities100 publication in collaboration with C40 Cities, Realdania & Bloomberg Philanthropies.

More recently, I worked at Greenpeace Denmark helping distribute their latest documentary “Neighbour to a Pig Factory”, which focuses on the human health impacts on those living alongside farm animal factories.

I also reviewed the current Danish energy system, with a particular focus on Denmark’s ever-increasing energy dependence on imported woody biomass, with whole trees & wood pellets being imported from Brazil, USA, the Baltics, Russia & more.

By going through some of my past, my hope is that this gives you a better sense of how & why I have ended up doing what I do today.

Matt Homewood is a food waste and environmental campaigner.