Freegans practice environmentalism that actively promotes "reclaiming, recovering, repairing and recycling."
Picture by peppergrasss, creative commons
What is a Freegan?
Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Everyday practical living is based on different principles, among which waste reclamation and minimisation stand first.
The Freegan Movement was born in the mid 90's and is based on a community developing strategies for more sustainable living beyond capitalism. Among the strategies employed is the controversial " dumpster diving" or "urban foraging", which involves looking into the garbage of retailers, residences, offices, and other facilities for a range of useful goods from bikes to furniture to clothing and perfectly edible food.
Many freegans extend their beliefs beyond the food they eat or items they find useful. In addition to Dumpster diving, some freegans squat on abandoned property or grow gardens on empty lots. Some choose not to hold jobs and instead volunteer or teach repair workshops for other freegans.
Although freeganism is not an official organisation, the website, freegan.info, serves as the movement's hub. To help freegans in other parts of the US and the world to find each other and organise, freegan.info also:
- Maintains a worldwide discussion group, freeganworld, hosted by riseup.net;
- Posts links to other freegan sites and useful info for freegans;
- Adds web content such as translations and dumpster directory entries it receives;
- Has developed chapter guidelines for those who would like to start their own freegan group locally, doing some of the things it does in NYC; freegan.info is also creating “how-to”s for the kind of events it organises and will post them on the website;
- Has led New York freegans on Trash Tours where participants collect food to use in a Freegan Feast open to anyone with an appetite; and
- Would be happy to mentor anyone wanting to use Meetup to organise local events.
Examples of Freegan activites
If dumpster diving doesn’t appeal, there are still plenty of other ways to participate in the freegan lifestyle:
- Freecycle: Swap or give your items away for free. The Freecycle Network is one of many Internet swap sites where you can exchange or give away items.
- Freeshops: Shops where you bring items you don't want and leave with something you need. No money changes hands. Start your own and stop paying for stuff.
- Share Gas. Heading out of town? Need a drive or want help paying for the gas? Blablacar lets you connect with people going your way.
- Community Gardens. An offshoot is Guerrilla Gardening, where unused urban space is reclaimed for gardens.
- Ride a bicycle/use public transportation. Get peddling and save money.
- In this article, learn more about the freegan philosophy, freegan techniques and the historical precedent of gleaning.
Links and other sources
- Discosoupe: Inspired by Slow Food Youth Movement's "Schnippel Disko" in Germany, Disco Soupe is a non-profit based in France that addresses issues of food waste through festive community events. The Disco Soupe collective sets up gatherings for people to peel, cut and prepare discarded fruits and vegetables ... with music! "We turn the produce into soups and salads, then redistribute them for free".
- Feeding the 5000: "Fill Bellies, Not Bins. Solving the Global Food Waste Scandal." Tristram Stuart, founder of Feeding the 5000 and author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal (2009) has started this global campaign by organising massive outdoor meals for 5000 members of the public all made from fresh food that would otherwise have gone to waste.
- List of Food waste facts. All statistics are fully referenced in Tristram Stuart, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal (Penguin, 2009).