July 3, 2007

Lesson Five: Become a Freegan

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I came across an interesting article while reading the New York Times last week. It dealt with the grassroots movement known as freeganism. The word “freegan” is derived from vegan, you see, so right off the bat you know freeganism is going to involve some “interesting” ideologies. The main tenet of a freegan is simple in concept and difficult in execution: don’t buy anything.

I’m going to let that sink in for a second while you think of all of the stuff that you buy. Electronics, transportation, electricity, clothing, food, the list is virtually endless. Freegans do their best to buy nothing. Before you cry foul, let it be known that this is merely a goal. Freegans end up consuming some things, especially those that enjoy some of life’s finer offerings like shelter and indoor plumbing.

It goes on. The most advanced form of transportation for many freegans is a bicycle. Dumpster diving is not only a way to furnish their houses, but also a way for freegans to find dinner. Becoming a freegan is essentially making the conscious choice to come as close to homelessness as you feel comfortable.

There are some advanced tools that freegans can use as well. For example, freecycle.org is a website where people post items that they wish to get rid of, but don’t want to sell. It’s an alternative to throwing something out. The Facebook marketplace and Craigslist also have places to post free stuff. Finding things at one of those sites is a good way to get fantastic junk minus the not-so-alluring garbage odor that tends to set in when said junk comes from a dumpster.

Personally I have no problem dumpster diving to find furniture. I’m not germ phobic, and anything that looks dirty could likely be cleaned. However, I draw the line at picking food out of the trash. Of course, most freegans aren’t simply rooting through indiscriminate garbage to find a meal. Rather they target places like fresh food markets or bakeries that are likely to throw out items at the end of the day. Still, I prefer to eat something that has never touched the inside of a trash bag.

After all that explication, I come to my point. I think someone who reads this should convert to freeganism. Why? Well, because I really don’t want to, but I’m very curious at the same time. It’s the kind of lifestyle that has to appeal to many poor college kids. Your living expenses will virtually disappear, depending on how devoutly you stick to the ideology. After you convert, I would ask that you contact me so we can have discussions about the difficulties you face and how your life has changed. Like any true writer, I would probably then exploit your story to write a book, which, if successful, would launch me into literary superstardom. So what do you say? Sign up in the comments section below.