Freegans are a close relative to the vegan movement and form their name from two words, “free” and “vegan”. Like their vegan cousins, Freegans avoid buying anything that may have contributed or promoted to the mistreatment of humans, land, and animals. However, they take the vegan concept one-step farther by avoiding consumerism, which they believe is the reason for most, if not all, of the mistreatment that has become synonymous with modern lifestyle.
In order to acquire food, Freegans generally participate in what’s called ‘dumpster diving’. They begin by studying the garbage removal habits of local restaurants and grocery stores to figure out the best times to forage for unwanted food and products deemed not fit by retailers. Then, at peak times, they will rummage through the dumpsters; taking with them food they consider still good to eat.
In larger cities, Freegans need not worry about storing the food they collect since there is an abundance of freshly disposed food ripe for dining several times a day. Some Freegans even have unofficial agreements with employees who leave food beside the dumpster rather than inside.
As admiral as these waste-not-want-not dining habits are, Freegans are not generally viewed in a positive light, particularly by businesses who claim that the food and products in their dumpsters are not fit for human consumption. Anything that is, has already been donated to local charities but Freegans argue the validity of ‘best before dates’ and stand by their beliefs.
However, Freegans do have standards in what they will consume and do not take opened packages or perishables such as fruits and vegetables that are clearly rotten.
Freeganism is not for the faint at heart, or stomach. They take their lifestyle very seriously and if they must purchase a good, they will attempt to buy it second or third hand, rather than new. They will also trade their own possessions or offer a service instead of money to obtain any items they may need.
They believe their dumpster diving is an opportunity to make a moral and political statement about the wastefulness of today’s society.
Tell a Freegan that they’re freeloading and they’re likely to agree but will quickly add that their lifestyle is the only thing that makes waste worthwhile.
Worried that you are being consumed by your consumerism? Maybe Freeganism is for you.