Freegans and Freeganism - Viable Alternative Lifestyle?

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Freegans and Freeganism - Viable Alternative Lifestyle?

I just heard about Freeganism and was wondering what other people thought.

Apparently the freegan lifestyle has two goals: to buys as little as possible and to buy only what one needs. Freegans normally do not shop at stores or supermarkets, they look for food. clothing and other items in dumpsters, barter in exchange, forage for wild food, share or grow their own vegetables. They limit their impact on the world by using fossil fuel-friendly types of transportation and recycle and compost regularly.

What are your opinions on such a lifestyle? Or are you a freegan and do you participate in the lifestyle from time to time?

I do not think that this type of lifestyle is very realistic. It sounds pretty cool on paper, but I feel it would be quite hard to live. It would also depend greatly on where you live. Also, do you get a job with this lifestyle or do you just live off thr land? The thought of going through other peoples trash for clothes make me kind of sick. I could onlh see this lifestyle work for homeless people to be honest. Not trying to offend and people who live this way

I've never heard of this, but it's interesting to say the least. :-)

I'd have a *huge* problem with some aspects. Growing my own food wouldn't be a problem... might be kind of fun. I might raise chickens for eggs but I'm sure I couldn't kill/shoot animals for meat, so I'd have to be vegetarian. (I *do* eat meat, I'm saying I couldn't personally look an animal in the eye and shoot... or clean, etc.) :-(

Looking for food in dumpsters... well that's just wrong on so many levels. Starting with disease that the flies crawling all over it may be carrying. Ick! Clothing in dumpsters... I wouldn't do it but at least it could be cleaned.

Now bartering, that's a whole other animal... if I raise chickens for eggs and someone will trade a couple dozen eggs for something I need, absolutely I like that idea. You mentioned sharing food... that's like a co-op and they've been popular for a long time now, so nothing wrong there either.

I'm fascinated with this now that you've mentioned it and I'd love to hear stories of people doing it! (All except the germy food from the trash... shivers!)

I was wondering about the working, too... I think that would make a difference in the way I end up perceiving it. Have a job and choose this lifestyle to save for junior's college or for buying a home, *great.* Forage in dumpsters for someone's leftover pizza from last Tuesday because you don't feel like going out into the work world and it's a totally different matter.

The closest I can come to telling a story about it (although I never heard it called this) is that I have a friend in Alaska whose family has always been very self-sufficient. She makes their clothing, they camp on the beach and fish when the salmon are running every year. And then there's moose meat because there are moose everywhere. And they grow veggies.

Like you said, it sounds cool "on paper" but I see some definite problems with it. For example, I'd get REALLY bored having to eat salmon and moose so much all year long.

You guys should watch some of the dumpster diving videos on Youtube.
Dumpster divers find clean items still in their packages behind shops such Walmart and Michael's. One woman found bags and bags of craft supplies behind Michaels' and the only thing wrong with them was that they had rips in the outer packaging or small damage so they couldn't sell them as new. There are also dumpster divers who find video games and game strategy guides in Gamestop dumpsters.

The only thing that bothers me about freeganism is that my local Michael's and Gamestop lock their dumpsters, so I can't join in the fun.

It really is a great idea, but the possibility of living this kind of life really comes down to location. Not everyone lives in a place where it's possible to live the "freegan" lifestyle, I can imagine quite a few situations where it would take more to live this lifestyle than to live "normally".

I've only heard the term because there was someone on Project Runway who identified with it a few seasons back. I agree with the points that are made here, especially that it would vary greatly on location. It seems to me that the effort involved in finding good things through this lifestyle would not be worth my while. I like to take time involved into account anytime I'm investigating a new way to save money. It's important to value your time.

I have heard of this, and, like I said then, this sounds like a good idea, but would actually be quite hard to pull off in reality. It would be much easier to live a lowend job life than to dumpster dive and farm.

I really don't think it's possible; we'd run out of quality items after a while of everyone trying to live this way. I know people that dumpster dive and get great stuff! But they do not CONSISTENTLY get great stuff. If they quit their jobs, they would starve most weeks. And for clothing, it's rare that they come across scraps for sewing or outfits that actually fit them. It'd be very tough to make this work, especially if everyone wanted to do it.

While this would be "neat" to try out if you're adventurous, I don't think it'd stay fun for very long. If supermarket managers weren't so stingy about not giving away their end of day, or reject food items this would be a great way to live. But personally I'd rather see that food to people that CANT afford it, rather than those who CHOOSE not to buy it.

Most of it sounds pretty good. Living off the land and only buying what you need. Today many people are so fond of their material possessions that they could never even dream of living this way. If you choose this as a lifestyle choice, then more power to you. More people should try to be more self sufficient. The one thing I could not do is look for food in dumpsters, other things maybe, but not food.

It might work for others, but it doesn't for me. I think if you were to put that much effort into finding food and various other needs, then it's better to just put it towards a job or something that would afford you a little more convenience and comfort. But like I said, to some people, this might be comfort, so I have no problem with their ways, even if it does sound a little unsanitary.

Interesting comments. There are a couple of documentaries on dumspster diving (that's the term freegans use as well, so I guess it is the "correct" one. Some people say that freegans, due to not actually participating in the capitalist lifestyle that is the norm nowadays, contribute nothing to society as they neither spend money nor work (in general) and thus do not become teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers, waiters, managers, receptionists etc. In other words, they are scavengers (some even call them social parasites) because they contribute nothing to human society.

I could probably adopt some of their ideas like being frugal as well as environmentally conscious but to become a full-fledged freegan is a little extreme!

Interesting comments. There are a couple of documentaries on dumspster diving (that's the term freegans use as well, so I guess it is the "correct" one. Some people say that freegans, due to not actually participating in the capitalist lifestyle that is the norm nowadays, contribute nothing to society as they neither spend money nor work (in general) and thus do not become teachers, doctors, nurses, police officers, waiters, managers, receptionists etc. In other words, they are scavengers (some even call them social parasites) because they contribute nothing to human society.

I could probably adopt some of their ideas like being frugal as well as environmentally conscious but to become a full-fledged freegan is a little extreme!

I don't know where you get the idea that Freegans don't work. If they didn't work, they would be homeless. All the Youtube videos I see about dumpster diving are posted by people that have houses, cars to drive to the dumpster and digital cameras to film the dumpster diving.

On Extreme Cheapskates, Kate Hashimoto dumpster dives and she lives in an expensive New York apartment that is completely paid off, and she works as a professional financial advisor in a fancy office.

Freegans are not scavengers, they are frugal environmentalists that fight waste.
On Youtube yesterday, I saw a teen pull a copy of Call of Duty Black Ops from a Gamestop dumpster, along with boxes of video game strategy guides, controllers, posters, etc. which he then sold on eBay. He's not a parasite, he's a smart kid.

Agreed, it looks like other states have nicer dumpsters than Florida.
I think it would be risky for people to grab food from Florida dumpsters because the heat would make things spoil faster.

Ohhhhhh! I'm laughing now... I had another whole scenario in mind when "dumpster" was mentioned... like in the back alley of an apartment building where I might reach into a needle while digging for yesterday's leftover meatloaf. :-)

Well now this is different with store dumpsters, sure. Do the food places do that, too? I thought they donated that stuff to charity! And when the dumpsters aren't locked like yours are, they actually allow people to go digging in there? If they're going to throw things out just because a package is torn, they certainly *should!* Why wouldn't they put it on clearance instead of trashing it?

Seeing how much food restaurants and stores throw away makes me tempted to try out this lifestyle. Much of the food is perfectly fine, but close to its 'sell-by' date. I think it's unfortunate that it's wasted instead of donated to needy people. I think it would be harder to find clothing in store dumpsters, though, because a lot of retailers damage items before throwing them out so people won't take them for free.
I guess it's kind of understandable why people would want to be 'freegans' when seeing how much is wasted as a result of capitalism.

Some freegans work and some don't and some volunteer. Apparently the documentary I was watching (the first time I heard about freeganism) highlighted only the more "extreme" version of the freegan lifestyle. By incorporating some aspects of this into our daily lives, we generate less wastage and eventually save more! Some freegans own homes while others chose not to and instead squat on abandoned property.

I read somewhere that Americans waste 96 billion pounds of food a year. Perhaps the freegan lifestyle isn't so bad after all.

I agree for the most part, nic... it's very unfortunate when food is tossed out instead of giving it to the needy. I do know that many supermarkets and restaurants *do* give those things to soup kitchens and for free meals to the needy.. at least in my area. I realize that it may not be the same everywhere.

As for damaging items instead of giving them to a charity... isn't there a tax write-off for giving to charity? I won't pretend to know a lot about that, but there are better choices than cutting up merchandise so that no one gets to use it! I'll never get that.

I've heard of this! There was even an episode of "Extreme Cheapskates" on TLC that focused on a "freegan" couple. I find the lifestyle to be pretty interesting, HOWEVER...I'd never be able to partake in it myself. I cant wrap my head around eating food that other people threw away.

In the US states of West Virginia and Illinois salvaging roadkill for food is legal! In Alaska, state troopers remove the dead animals animal, and, if still fresh, will take it to volunteers who butcher and process the meat so that it can be used by food charities. Freeganism builds around a similar idea - waste not, want not.

In France, vegetable markets frequently donate unsold produce to soup kitchens to prepare food for various charity organizations. I believe freeganism is an extension of that. The idea of using unwanted produce as food is nothing new. What turns most people off is how some freegans obtain their unwanted produce, from dumpsters!

The part about video games sounds tempting. I might even go for that since it's not something you ingest anyway. I wonder why they would throw away games though, since they don't get spoiled and they would presumably still be useable even if the packaging were damaged. I'll try to look into it further and I'll check out some Youtube videos as you've suggested. Thanks!

We actually waste so much stuff here in America, and as was mentioned, perfectly useable items are thrown into the dumpster because they are ripped or blemished, maybe only on the package, and not even the item, but they can't sell them due to company rules, and they can't send them back either, so they trash them. I see nothing wrong with people reclaiming some of these items.
I think if we can find something either free or cheap in a thrift store, there is nothing wrong with using it. For years, actually centuries, that is how things were done, everything was passed down to someone , as long as there was any use left in it. When the rich could not use it, they gave it to the servants, and so on. It was hard to make things in those days, and it just was not wasted like we are used to seeing nowadays.
I think that living as cheaply as we can, and in harmony with nature, is a good idea.

Anyone thinking of trying this should be aware that it is illegal in some places to dumpster dive. You can be fined for it. I would only do it if I were homeless, because what have you got to lose in that case? That said, I live in a college town and one of the best ways to find used furniture is to drive around when the semester is over and look near the dumpsters, not necessarily into them. It's not illegal to take the stuff that is littered around the dumpster. But, people have been arrested for trespassing for going into the dumpsters in apartment complexes and behind stores, so be aware that you may be breaking laws.

In general, I think the anti-capitalistic lifestyle is parasitic. Hence, my name on this forum. I want to be productive not just live off of other peoples waste. If people want to barter, that's fine, its a form of trade and is productive behavior. It's sad that people in some of the richest countries would turn to this retrograde lifestyle. It does not help the poor for you to live like they do.

I have never done this and I would never try! It is quite disgusting and dangerous. I'm not too sure it is legal either, searching through trash and etc may be illegal in a couple of countries. However if they find the lifestyle useful/the best way to live then I would just go about on my own life and let them be. :)


Dr.Ripley, here are some Youtube videos of guys dumpster diving behind Gamestop and finding interesting stuff. The third video has a bunch of games in the yellow Gamestop sleeves that I guess didn't sell in the store. The first 2 videos are mega haul videos where he found a lot of stuff.

Mariposa, look at all the craft stuff that was found in this craft store dumpster.
I also agree that it should be on clearance. The amount of waste is crazy.

Holy cow, look at the art sets this store threw in the garbage.
People pay good money for those art sets.

It's not anti-Captalistic, it's anti-waste and pro-environment. It's bad for the environment for a bunch of brand new art supplies to be thrown in a landfill where they don't biodegrade.

A lot of dumpster divers are capitalists and have jobs, and cars and homes but they are disgusted to see waste and perfectly good products thrown out as trash.

People who pick unsold used games out of the Gamestop dumpsters still spend $500 on a game console and pay for internet access and a TV, they just hate to see games that are playable end up in a landfill. One kid on Youtube is smart enough to sell the stuff he finds in Gamestop dumpsters on eBay and make himself a tidy profit.