You are here

Could you live a freegan life-style?

I was just watching Oprah and she did a show on "freegans."  It was really interesting how people get food, household and clothing items from dumpsters, although many of these people were professionals and could afford to buy their own food.  This is a  statement against the consumerism of the North American life-style.  So what do you think about this?  Could you live like this?

I know I'd starve to death if we tried that where I live but could probably get enough clothing and possibly household items free or second-hand from goodwill centers.  I do often use hand-me-down clothing, especially since I'm retired.

It'd be harder to freecycle food.  There's enough stuff that falls off of trucks where I live that I think I could find clothes, cookware, and furniture.  It's kind of sad when society throws away enough still-edible food that people can live off of it.

0 likes

No, I dont think I could.  I have a hard time dealing with my own home grown veggies and herbs.  I must scrub them with soap and water cus they are 'dirty' as I can see the dirt in the pots.  (Yes, I know I am crazy!)  I could not pull food out of a dumpster and eat it.  Nope. 

0 likes

I'd be wary about dumpster food myself, but I was amazed at the quality of the fresh produce and baked goods that were dug out on the Oprah show.  Some of the packaged foods still had good best before dates.  According to the stats quoted  3% of all food in grocery stores is thrown out which translates into $30 billion dollars of food per year! (I believe it was for the United States alone but I'm sure it's probably the same for most 1st world countries.) I'd like to know if this food is good enough to eat why isn't it given to food banks, missions, or soup kitchens and the like?  Why are people starving all over the world and we are throwing out food.  It's enough to make you want to be a freegan.

0 likes

I'd like to know if this food is good enough to eat why isn't it given to food banks, missions, or soup kitchens and the like?  Why are people starving all over the world and we are throwing out food.  It's enough to make you want to be a freegan.

Unfortunately the reason is because if the good may be contaminated, the donating store would be held responsible.  This issue has been raised so many times at my college.  Everyone wonders why the food isn't donated to a food bank.  Basically, the college is legally responsible for the safety of the food and they don't want to take on that risk by donating the leftover food.  It's actually sad how you could get sued for trying to do something good....

0 likes

i could totally be a freegan and do as much as i can to reduce my spending on everything as it is. i will buy close to nothing that i don't absolutely need, i am always foraging around for stuff, i work at the organic farm for most of my veggies, and i would love to start dumpster diving for food but just haven't begun yet.  ::)

ETA: i grew up on a lot of 'trashed' food because my grandfather is big on that kind of stuf (you should see his house and yard... full of junk!), so it's really nothing to me... but yeah, it'd have to be vegan, that's the only line i draw.

0 likes

Everyone wonders why the food isn't donated to a food bank.  Basically, the college is legally responsible for the safety of the food and they don't want to take on that risk by donating the leftover food.  It's actually sad how you could get sued for trying to do something good....

Sadly we have become a highly litigious society and we are not our brothers' keepers.

0 likes

I agree about the food - I don't know if I'd be able to manage that. but as for the other stuff - clothes, household items, etc. - I'd give it a try if I knew where to look. but I buy most of my stuff from thrift stores anyways...

0 likes

i've eaten dumpstered food, its just like the food you get in stores, you just have to work a bit harder for it.  unfortunately, a lot of big grocery stores use compactors in the back (from what i've seen) and you just cant get into those.

food not bombs uses all dumpstered or donated food.  its awesome! 

i remember going to shows and someone would bring a HUGE trash bag full of dumpstered bagels or popcorn, it was a free feast!  what fun!  of course they had to broil the bagles to get all the water/soda off.... i thought that was kind of gross.  ohwell.

0 likes

i dumpster a lot of household/clothing items when the students move out of my hood. i don't find food a lot and when i do it isnt something i would want to eat (hamburger helper or the big bag of packaged, frozen chicken (unopened!)). but if i found a bunch of vegan goods, i would totally chow.

i think the ability to freegan is also largely dependent on living somewhere where you have constant, reliable, and safe places to dive from. the shows always show them doing it in large cities. here, at least the one grocery store sends all their "day old" produce to the store in the low income 'hood and puts it on "sale". half the time, it is rotten to the point i wouldn't touch it.

0 likes

I think I could do it to a certain extent.  I don't think I could straight dumpster dive for food though.  If I knew a restaurant was gonna throw out a bag full of bread or something like that, I could do it, but not just going through the trash and eating leftovers.  I draw the line there.

I have been known to pick things up from the street, but I try not too b/c I don't need to stuff anything else into my apt.  I just hate to see good stuff on the curb going to waste.  I don't like to buy stuff though.  Mainly, I buy gas and food.  Occasionally, when I need new "teacher clothes" I go to the Goodwill down the street. 

0 likes

There's a discount food store 2 seconds from my apartment that gets donated food from stores when packaging is damaged or food is near expiration date.  We've gone there for bread/buns a few times because they sell it for like 10 cents a loaf!  It's seriously still good bread; you just have to eat it quicker or put it in the fridge/freezer.  A friend of mine got a half gallon of still good organic milk there for like a buck.  Sometimes they'll have bananas for like 5 cents a piece.  I'm OK with a few bumps and bruises--they usually just end up in my mushy oatmeal anyway :)

I don't think I could dumpster dive for food, but I think more places like the discount food place should be in operation.  There is a fairly large homeless population in Phoenix because the weather is livable pretty much year-round, so it's nice that there are places offering decent food at really cheap prices--just enough to cover operating costs of the building.  I think the place is run by church volunteers or something.

0 likes

I went dumpster diving in seattle for the first time last week. We picked a bad day and most of the dumpsters were empty. We did however find a ton of good boxes of organic lettuce at whole foods and some fresh fruit and veggies at other dumpsters. We were going for some juice dumpsters and a field roast dumpster (vegan "meat"), but two we couldn't get into, and the other we couldn't find. It helps to go with someone who knows their way around the area's dumpsters.

If you go on a good day and to the right places, you will find an abundance of (usually expensive but now free!) healthy vegan non-expired foods, some fresh, some packaged.

I don't live completely freegan, but I have no problems taking what would otherwise go to waste.

0 likes

I feel bad, but I'm waay too squeamish. "broiling bagels to get off the soda and water"? I'll stick with being a consumer, I think..although I do dream of growing all my own food someday. I buy secondhand clothes...I admire you guys for dumpster diving, though  ;)b

0 likes

I went dumpster diving in seattle for the first time last week. We picked a bad day and most of the dumpsters were empty. We did however find a ton of good boxes of organic lettuce at whole foods and some fresh fruit and veggies at other dumpsters. We were going for some juice dumpsters and a field roast dumpster (vegan "meat"), but two we couldn't get into, and the other we couldn't find. It helps to go with someone who knows their way around the area's dumpsters.

If you go on a good day and to the right places, you will find an abundance of (usually expensive but now free!) healthy vegan non-expired foods, some fresh, some packaged.

I don't live completely freegan, but I have no problems taking what would otherwise go to waste.

staples is a good place to go!  someone that worked there told my friend that they throw out computers if the box is damaged.  we dumpstered 300 blank cds and 50 blank dvds once.  it was awesome.  also computer chairs for everyone in our house.

0 likes

I'm afraid I couldn't live this way (especially where food is concerned).  I'm the person that leaves stuff beside the dumpster instead of in it so that people who do "dumpster dive" can see it and pick it up easily.  I sometimes even leave notes on it to point out if there is a flaw somewhere.

0 likes

I sometimes even leave notes on it to point out if there is a flaw somewhere.

That's a very nice thing to do. (Throwing a bouquet of flowers your way.)

0 likes

When I lived in Sydney, AU for three years, it was most peculiar when we first saw great piles of junk and garbage piling up on the sides of the streets. But this was merely the yearly junk collection week (I don't know what they officially called it  ;D). We got our first set of sofas there from the side of the road, a few blocks hike from our house. There were all sorts of things to find, and some people drove around hunting for free useful junk. Freegan paradise! The best thing we found was a double-bed spring mattress - complete with its plastic wrapping! It had a stain on it, but was otherwise fine - not smelly or nuthin'. It's still in use on our spare bed, going on 7-8 years now. Oh, if only more cities had Junk Weeks!

0 likes

We have a spring clean-up week where I live and there are lots of good things thrown away.  I know that people do get stuff that week.  Where my son lives there are people who are always looking through household trash.  When my son was renovating his home he had mountains of garbage (treasures) out on the curb and I was amazed how much disappeared before the garbage truck arrived.  Sometimes there would be a knock on the door and someone would ask permission to take a "treasured' article but most often it was just taken.  We didn't mind at all.  My son also got a good bed and mattress from his neighbor's garbage pile.

0 likes

When I lived in Sydney, AU for three years, it was most peculiar when we first saw great piles of junk and garbage piling up on the sides of the streets. But this was merely the yearly junk collection week (I don't know what they officially called it  ;D). We got our first set of sofas there from the side of the road, a few blocks hike from our house. There were all sorts of things to find, and some people drove around hunting for free useful junk. Freegan paradise! The best thing we found was a double-bed spring mattress - complete with its plastic wrapping! It had a stain on it, but was otherwise fine - not smelly or nuthin'. It's still in use on our spare bed, going on 7-8 years now. Oh, if only more cities had Junk Weeks!

There was a folk singer from Australia at the Woody Guthrie Festival in 2002 who talked about doing that.  She said that the people of her little improverished neighborhood would go over to the rich side of town and score big time on all the perfectly good stuff (couches and dining tables) thrown away, most of the time simply because the rich wanted something new!  I wish I could remember her name.  She had a beautiful voice and had just won some big music award in Australia.  The emcee joked that if they hadn't booked her way in advance, they wouldn't have been able to afford her!

0 likes

I live a freegan lifestyle and it is completely do-able. Dumpster-diving, table-diving (eating half eaten meals on tables) and things like that are really easy to do and a lot less gross than you think.
I think the age-old thought that "bin/garbage=bad and dirty" is what mostly stops us.
In Australia, they have a thing called Hard Rubbish, once a year in every area residents put old unwanted "hard" rubbish -household things mostly- on the pavement and the council collects it some time later. This stuff is open season for the professional freegan. I have gotten so much furniture, electrical stuff and bikes from this that I could open a second hand store (but that would of course defeat the purpose).
I think the staple morals of freeganism is lessening waste, doing what you need to stay alive and sharing what you got.

0 likes

Pages

Log in or register to post comments