Freeganism is a movement that's helping to save the planet as people dumpster dive for food and other essentials and consume and make use of what would have been wasted.
There are those amongst us who live as freegans.
The word freegan is compounded from “free” and “vegan” and is basically people who are not only vegans but who eat for free by dumpster diving.
They believe in not wasting food and go out to the back of supermarkets, rummage through their dumpsters, and take home thrown away food that is still edible.
And many freegans take it a step further by trying to avoid buying any mass produced items sold by large corporations, who, they believe, have more to do with running the country than the government has.
They try and avoid contributing to sweatshop labour, rainforest destruction, global warming, air and water pollution and eradication of wildlife on farms as “pests.”
This movement is strong in several countries including the US, UK and Australia.
It first came to the attention of the masses via Gordon Ramsay’s TV show “The F Word” when food critic, Giles Coren, made himself a meal composed entirely of food gathered from dumpsters. Then Oprah Winfrey devoted several episodes of her talk show to the idea of living on less by making use of unnecessary waste.
And now it’s going to be in the media spotlight more than ever before as the lastest movie, “The East” is based on the two writers’ experiences of living with freegans for two months, which they did as part of their research.
They then entwined what they discovered with an action thriller movie and came up with “The East.”
Freegans rebel against waste by reusing and recycling as many things as they can while, at the same time, minimizing their spending.
They recover items discarded by retailers, offices, schools, hotels and anywhere there are dumpsters. From their scavenging they obtain food, drinks, books, toiletries, carpets, clothing, furniture, electronics, animal care products, artwork, toys and just about every other kind of consumer product.
Most of their sojourns are to supermarket dumpsters where they often come up against opposition to what they are doing.
Some stores deliberately put detergent and chemicals in the dumpsters to prevent freegans from scavenging.
Often they get harassed by the staff. They claim that it’s mostly the managers (those who don’t see the day to day waste first hand) who are the least sympathetic to their cause.
According to an article in the Courier Mail, during the aftermath of Cyclone Larry, some supermarket bins were stuffed with bananas that had been discarded when customers would not pay the inflated prices for them. The managers preferred to send them to landfill rather than discount the prices.
When freegans find perfectly good items that they have no use for, they will still collect them and share them with others on websites like Freecycle and Craigslist.
At home, freegans reuse and recycle as much of their possessions as they can and give away what they can’t. They are frugal in absolutely everything they do.
Some freegans don’t own cars. Those that do have a car, out of necessity, usually drive diesel powered cars or biodiesel and even cars that run on vegetable oil, which they unsurprisingly, obtain for free from used fryer oil from cafes and restaurants.
There is a website dedicated to this fast growing movement at http://freegan.info, and freeganism, as it’s known, seems to be an addictive way of life.
As one freegan said, “When you recognize the amount of waste that’s occurring, you can’t go back to buying products because you’re only contributing to the problem.”
And he’s not wrong when you consider that in Australia, over 17 million tonnes of solid waste is disposed of in landfill sites every year.
So if you’re a vegan and you want to go even further to help the environment, become a freegan.
Ruth Barringham is a vegan, writer and web entrepreneur from Brisbane, Australia. She runs several websites on the Internet and her main site for writers is Writeaholics.net. She also has a new vegan website, AustralianVegan.net.
- Published: 18 June 2013
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