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Freegans. Freeganism. Living Off of What Others Throw Away.
Beyond Recycling: Living 'for free' by foraging for both the necessities and the luxuries of life on the streets.

Freegans Take Recycling to a Whole New Level, Refusing to Buy Almost Anything Because It Can Be Had For Free on the Streets of Many Big Cities.

As the article in Marie Claire states "... Freegans rarely go hungry thanks to the colossal amount of food Americans dump every day — 38 million tons annually. In fact, the excesses of our society are the very source of the Freegan's lifestyle.

According to a NY Times article "... Freegans are scavengers of the developed world, living off consumer waste in an effort to minimize their support of corporations and their impact on the planet, and to distance themselves from what they see as out-of-control consumerism. They forage through supermarket trash and eat the slightly bruised produce or just-expired canned goods that are routinely thrown out, and negotiate gifts of surplus food from sympathetic stores and restaurants. They dress in castoff clothes and furnish their homes with items found on the street...."

"Waste Not, Want Not"

The old adage "Waste not, want not" seems to be one of the goals of freeganism. But so is protesting the excesses of capitalism. However, it is the very excesses of capitalism that are providing the many necessities AND luxuries which freegans enjoy.

NYC seems to be at the epicenter of Freeganism... where everything from gourmet food, veggies, clothing, furniture, toys, household items, books, magazines, etc. show up just for the taking... providing the dedicated Freegan forager with a potentially quite lavish lifestyle.

How Freegans Work (from HowStuffWorks) "....For most people, consumerism is an ingrained and unavoidable way of life. We work, we spend, we trash and we buy again. It's a cycle that seems all but inescapable in an industrialized society. But a group of people that call themselves freegans think they've found a way out -- a way to exit the consumer cycle and live off the grid. They scavenge instead of buy, volunteer instead of work and squat instead of rent. But there's a catch -- to live off the grid, they have to eat out of the trash...."

Wikipedia's article on Freeganisim covers the movement in all of its many aspects including free markets, sharing, squatting, etc.

First Time Freegans
"...A discussion, an idea of whats out there, and a cooking show all rolled into one ..."

CBS News Video: Freegan Way of Life "...Freegans are vegetarians, preferably vegans, who scour other peoples' trash for good food that others carelessly toss away. Benno Schmidt reports on free dining the extreme, green way...."

Video: Freegans and Freeganism "... The best things in life are free - 'Freegans' challenge consumer society by eating and re-using what the rest of
us throw away. This is a short documentary film exploring the lifestyle of Freegans, i.e. people who try to live and eat off the waste created by society...."

Video: Planet Green TV on Dumpster Diving "...Get a crash course in dumpster diving with an accomplished Biology professor who demonstrates the lifestyle of a freegan...."

Video: How to Be a Freegan
"... So you recycle your newspapers and plastics. Big deal. "Freegans" are trying to save the environment by living exclusively on stuff in your trash. Here's how to join them...."

Freegan Websites

Freegan.info "strategies for sustainable living beyond capitalism" Their NYC based site offers a directory of dumpter sites in NYC and other cities, freegan activities in NYC (trash tours, feasts from rescued foods, bicycle-making workshops, sewing workshops, giveaways of free stuff, etc.)

Freecycle.org "... Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,777 groups with 7,064,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills..."

East Free... Feel Good "... Documents a freegan food run and the wastefulness of the system...."

FreeganKitchen.com "Gourmet Meals from the Dumpster... an introduction to finding and creating delicious, healthy and quite safe meals, using ingredients found by dumpster diving behind grocery stores. The concept of cooking gourmet meals from dumpster diving was developed some time in 2004 by the DoEat Collective, a group of artists who wanted to demonstrate the waste of food in our culture.... ". Not updated. Video.

Trash Tour and Dinner: Freegans in NYC

International Freeganism

The Freegan's Creed: Waste Not Want Not: As a nation we throw away millions of tonnes of food a year – a quarter of all we buy. Enter the 'freegans' – campaigners like Tristram Stuart who are tackling the scandal of global waste by digging around in supermarket bins for their weekly shop ".... Tristram Stuart likes to rummage in bins. A tall, 32-year-old with floppy hair and chiselled features, he is a connoisseur of rubbish in all its variety. He can tell you what time central London convenience stores put their binbags out on to the streets and hazard a good guess as to what will be in them. He can tell you about how the waste policies of major supermarkets differ: how much of their rubbish is diverted to landfill and how much is recycled or incinerated; which ones lock up their bins, and which leave them open. Stuart is a "freegan" – someone who subsists largely on food discarded by others. Through this practice, he has become thoroughly acquainted him with the ins and outs of rubbish and he long ago got over any squeamishness about handling it. For him, a bin full of chucked-out food is not an object of physical revulsion. Rather, it's an opportunity...."

 

 

What the Press is Saying About Freegans and Freeganism

Dumpster Diving Tips: The Freegan Way "... Dumpster diving is a practice becoming more common among financially stable people, intertwined with the growing freegan movement. Their name derived from a combination of "free" and "vegan", freegans embrace practices like dumpster diving as a way of protesting an increasingly wasteful consumerist society and unethical corporations...." Click Here for more of this Huffington Post article with 8 videos and 1/2 dozen tips.

She Lives Off of What We Throw Away "... They're called freegans — eco-extremists who subsist on what we toss in the trash. Are they crazy — or are we?... committed freegans, radical environmentalists (typically vegan) who reject our wasteful consumer culture by living almost entirely on what others throw away. Freegans rarely go hungry thanks to the colossal amount of food Americans dump every day — 38 million tons annually.... just about everything she owns has been salvaged or handmade. She found her ivory faux-leather couch, dishes, and flatware on the street; many of Uma's clothes and toys were recovered from boxes abandoned on sidewalks and stoops, a common sight in New York, where apartment detritus — from halogen lamps to bed frames — is blithely left on the streets...." CLICK HERE for the rest of this fascinating story in Marie Claire.

Dumpster Diving/Freeganism:
CNN-Anderson Cooper 360

Dining Out on New York's Rubbish
"... Known as "Freegans", some people in the US are trying to live off what the argue are the tons of food thrown out by Americans each day. Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from New York on a movement that is, by choice, eating from the city's rubbish bins...."

Freegans and FreeCycling Gain Fans "... Josh Corlew's grocery bill is zero. The furniture in his Nashville home didn't cost him anything, either. His fridge, TV, and microwave—all free. It's been two years now since he last bought the ingredients for his signature sausage dish. Corlew, a 26-year-old nonprofit manager, has effectively dropped out of Consumer Nation. He goes shopping in the disposable culture's garbage instead. Corlew is part of a growing number of Americans for whom getting stuff for free is next to godliness. Yes, most everyone is cutting back. But these folks take frugality to its extreme. In cities like New York and wealthy suburbs like Grosse Pointe, Mich., and Plano, Tex., it is possible to live like a king (well, a duke anyway) out of a dumpster. Sushi, cashmere sweaters, even Apple (AAPL) computers—all for the taking...." CLICK HERE for the rest of this Business Week story.

A Shout Out to Eating Garbage: Dumpster Diving on CBC "... A CBC news team followed along on a dumpster diving run with me and a friend...."

Not Buying It (NY Times) "... ON a Friday evening last month, the day after New York University’s class of 2007 graduated, about 15 men and women assembled in front of Third Avenue North, an N.Y.U. dormitory on Third Avenue and 12th Street. They had come to take advantage of the university’s end-of-the-year move-out, when students’ discarded items are loaded into big green trash bins by the curb..... N.Y.U.’s affluent student body makes for unusually profitable Dumpster diving. So perhaps it wasn’t surprising that the gathering at the Third Avenue North trash bin quickly took on a giddy shopping-spree air, as members of the group came up with one first-class find after another...."

Life and Style: Adam Weissman: Freegan
"... Adam Weissman, freegan and activist, who has been getting most all of his means for survival in the trash for 10 years, talks to the girls from Life and Style on Freeganism..."

Revolutionary Dining: From Garbage to Gourmet? A Journalistic Essay on Freeganism's Prospects for Saving the World "... 'My husband can never know I do this. It would be over if he did,' explained a college professor wheeling a laundry cart, asking me not to reveal her name or where she taught....'I mean, they are just going to throw it away,' she shrugged as put the sorted items in her cart. We were on the East Side of Manhattan, participating in a 'trash tour,' a weekly gathering in which a group of self-identified “Freegans” scour the city for usable food items disposed by grocers and retailers. The regular participants in this tour do not share a uniform lifestyle or ideology. One fresh-faced young man told me he never paid for food, while a professionally dressed woman (seemingly in her 40s who also asked not be named) was mainly averse to purchasing spices.... Yet the most committed adherents of Freeganism are not only attempting to make a statement but also spearhead a revolutionary transformation of the world order...."

Freegans Find Free Feasts "... The lucky ones invited to Madeline’s two-bedroom West Village apartment were served carrot ginger soup, followed by ratatouille (onions, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes sautéed in olive oil), organic salad with spinach, roasted baby potatoes and whole wheat bread. Homemade lemonade was the drink and the dessert, frozen banana whipped into sherbet. The ingredients came from New York’s bountiful streets, actually from trash bags on the sidewalks in front of grocery stores where an hour earlier the food would have sold at full price. The fruits and vegetables, and whatever packaged foods that had reached their expiration date, had been discarded at the end of the stores’ working day. The food is free for the picking during the two-hour magical period, usually from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. — between closing time and trash pickup time...."

What is Freedom? Reclaiming the Debris of America's Appetite for Consumption "... Dumpster diving isn’t just for the homeless or cash-strapped college students looking for textbooks to submit to book buy-back stores for cash. The can has been reclaimed by those known as “freegans.” The name is an amalgamation of “free” and “vegan,” and although the term “vegan” denotes a diet free of animal protein, including dairy—a lifestyle that some freegans embrace—there are no hard-and-fast rules about consuming meat culled from garbage. In fact, the freegan philosophy extends not just to one’s diet, but to every aspect of daily life, including avoiding making an impact on the economy by choosing not to hold a job and occupying unused spaces for living—more commonly known as squatting...." CLICK HERE for the rest of this quite lengthy and excellent article.

NYU students sift through trash for free food "...'People have learned that they can get exotic, valuable and expensive food for free," said Kalish, a Spanish teacher at Cardozo High School in Bayside. "It's hard to imagine why some of the stuff is in the garbage. ... You can literally eat 100 percent found-food.' The concept of freeganism is much more than a way to stock up on free food - it's an alternative way of living that strives to exist outside of the economy. While many think of them as nothing more than dumpster divers looking for food, appliances or furniture, many freegans live in abandoned shelters, hitchhike or walk to avoid transportation, recycle materials whenever possible and even forego employment...."

See also

Art and Artists Materials from Recycled Materials

Dumpster Diving for Fun and Profit

 


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