Have you ever dreamed of never paying for another grocery bill? How about never again spending a penny on another pair of jeans? While those ideas may be nothing more than far-fetched dreams for most, for a growing group of individuals known as freegans, nothing could be more ordinary. In fact, paying for anything at all is something most of these people eschew altogether, choosing to obtain things for free instead.
What the Heck is “Freegan”?
Freeganism is a movement that started in the 1960s, as a political protest against capitalist society. Today, those who follow a freegan lifestyle do so for a variety of different reasons, though most all of them share the same anti-consumerism philosophy in common. From a desire to be more environmentally-friendly to an attempt to remove themselves from a consumeristic cycle they perceive as destructive, freegans are one vocal group that never puts their money where their mouth is.
Freegans go to extreme lengths to obtain the things they need to survive. Grocery shopping for freegans consists of dumpster diving, in an attempt to salvage food from an impending trip to the local landfill. Garbage bins behind supermarkets and restaurants are prime real estate when it comes to searching for food, as many of these businesses throw out items that have gone unsold. While many individuals turn up their noses at such activity, freegans argue that the food they save in these dumpster dives is perfectly safe to eat. Furthermore, some freegans are also vegans, as the vegan lifestyle further extends the ideals of conscious, cruelty-free living.
The Freegan Philosophy and Lifestyle
While their food choices are certainly an important part of the freegan lifestyle, there are many other unique aspects of the freegan culture. Most freegans hold strong ideas about the importance of community development, as they perceive the modern world’s attempts to meet the needs of the less fortunate to have failed. To counteract these failures, many freegans share their food and possessions with those around them. Large-scale events where items are exchanged are common in the freegan world.
Freeganism has also given birth to a less radical movement of individuals who want to minimize their consumeristic activities, while profiting from the savings such activities provide. This sub-movement, which is known as freecycling, primarily takes place online. In forums or on websites that target such adherents, individuals post items that they no longer have any need for, and anyone is free to claim the item as their own.
True freegans take the idea of living on the cheap to an even further extreme, with many squatting in vacant buildings. Though the legality of this issue is often in question, freegans feel that as human beings they have the right to housing. Many also avoid holding permanent jobs, as the importance of money in freegan culture is miniscule. Still others participate in activities such as urban gardening, where community gardens are created with other individuals. Wild foraging is also popular amongst freegans, and consists of seeking out wild plants for medicinal and culinary purposes.