Revisiting “Freegans, Stamping Out Consumerism One Dumpster Dive at a Time”

NOTE: With all the financial panic and government mayhem I’ve been going through some of my early posts and find them even more pertinent today than ever.  I hope you enjoy this trip back to some of Dandilyon Fluff’s earlier offerings.  This was originally posted Nov. 14, 2010, before we ever conceived of a city calling bankruptcy or a government shutdown. 

FreeganJust when I thought you couldn’t get more eco-conscious extreme then veganism, along comes it’s super charged counter part – freeganism.  While vegans avoid all animal products, including honey and dairy, freegans avoid pretty much everything.

Freegans, and I quote from their website, “are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.”

Basically what I get from the info I’ve seen is that freegans object to modern consumerism and believe that it’s the root of almost all social and environmental problems.  One trip into Walmart, and I can’t really argue with that.

Like vegans, they adopt certain lifestyle changes to show their objection and seek to reduce their part of the problem.  They question why food is being tossed in dumpsters while people go hungry.  To object, they refuse to purchase food and dumpster dive for it instead.

Also known as “urban foraging”, one organization known as Food Not Bombs utilizes food that would be otherwise wasted by making large meals that they offer for free to anyone.  Not just for the homeless and hungry, the entire community is welcome in an effort to foster the idea of sharing.

In addition to hunting the cityscape rubbish bins for free grub, freegans also engage in wild foraging.  Parks and wildness areas become their shopping centers.  They study wild and domesticated plants in their local areas to harvest them for foods and herbal medicines.  Dandelions become salads and rose hips become tea.  It’s organic gardening at it’s purest form.

In addition to free food, freegans try to get free living accommodations as well.  Called “squatting” or “homesteading”, the freegan website has a detailed publication to explain how to properly squat in abandoned buildings.  With tips on everything from how to form your squatters group, to how big it should be and suggestions for self governing, the squatters’ guide focuses on safety and order as well as freedom from landlords and mortgages.

My favorite aspect of the freegan lifestyle are called “Free Markets”, which are basically stores where you drop off what you don’t want and take what you do.  There are usually no rules except that items be in usable condition and you may not ask for compensation in return.

Many of you are probably already familiar with Freecycle, an online free market site that I’ve personally used with great success.  Freecycle groups are all over the world, and an effective way to make friends while getting and giving everything from computers and cars to clothes and household items.

Ultimately, I like the idea of freeganism, tho I disagree with some of it.  Rather then pick thru dumpsters, to me it seems like it would make a better statement to be proactive and try to convince shop owners to give up their toss outs before they hit the ally bin.  Even better, gardening and cooking from scratch pretty much negates any consumerism at all since transportation and packaging is at a bare minimum.

I disagree with the idea of squatting in abandoned properties unless you have no other option.  Otherwise, why not contact the owner and offer to improve and fix an abandoned property in exchange for free rent?  Often people would rather have a place occupied and looked after rather then empty and falling prey to squatters which may not adhere to the freegan code of conduct.  With all the derelict properties available, I can see groups of freegans with handyman skills becoming desired assets to landowners instead of pests.

Freeganism is an interesting concept, and I’d like to see it as a chosen lifestyle rather then one fallen into due to often negative circumstances.  Freegans are urban pioneers that cross the city deserts in search of a promise of freedom, and perhaps, like the pioneers of old, they too will change the face of society.

Dandilyon Fluff contributor Angela Yuriko Smith

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Dandilyon Fluff is moving towards its five year mark and is written by those in the publishing industry. Among the regular contributors are published authors, editors, book cover designers and reviewers.
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