Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Freeganism: More than a trip to the dumpster

Mwaha stolen wifi at last! This past weekend I moved into a new apartment with my three best friends and my puppy. Can life get better? I submit that it cannot! Anyways, the internet folk can't come install our stuff until THURSDAY. Which, if I hadn't gone into stealth mode to jack our neighbors internets, would mean that I would have TWO Thursday Tea posts in a row. Obscene, really. Last night I learned about something I had no idea even existed. An anti-consumerist lifestyle called Freeganism.

Many freegans get free food by pulling it out of the trash, a practice
commonly nicknamed
dumpster diving in North America and skipping or
bin diving in the UK, as well as bin raiding. Freegans find food in the garbage of
grocery stores, and other food related industries, which they claim allows
them to avoid spending money on products that exploit the world's resources,
urban sprawl, treat workers unfairly, or disregard animal rights. By foraging, they
they are keeping perfectly edible food from adding to landfill clutter and that can
feed people and
animals who might otherwise go hungry.[2]

Our roomate agreed to take us on a tour of the regularly hit places where you can get good quality food and beverages that have been thrown out due to nearing expiration dates or lack of sales. Bakeries, for example, bake fresh product every day so their dumpsters are potentially heaping with bread from the same day that's rarely even stale. We made away with three flour bags full of breads, scones, brioche, and dinner rolls most of which we were able to freeze for later or leave out to use for bread pudding.

(Our refrigerator after our first nights' run)
Other places like distribution centers are pretty much the jackpot. Products a day or two (and sometimes even weeks) from their expiration date can be found. In most cases, this is because there would not be enough time for them to ship the product for sales by the expiration date, and it's more expensive to hold a product that will never sell than it is to throw it out. Some grocery stores do the same thing, but the quantities are less, and they don't always leave out their dumpsters.

Don't get me wrong, dumpster diving is not the only way freegans get their food:

Instead of buying industrially grown foods, wild foragers[7] find and harvest food and medicinal plants growing in their own communities. Some freegans participate in "guerrilla" or "community" gardens, with the stated aim of rebuilding community and reclaiming the capacity to grow one's own food. In order to fertilize those guerrilla gardens, food obtained from dumpster diving[8] is sometimes also reused. In many urban guerrilla gardens, vermiculture is used instead of ordinary composting techniques in order to keep the required infrastructure/room small.[9][10] Guerrilla gardeners claim to seek an alternative to dependence and participation in what they perceive as an exploitative and ecologically destructive system of global, industrialized corporate food production .

In addition, a lot of freegans are also vegans, avoiding the consumption of products like meat, milk, eggs, gelatin
that come from animals, and wearing things like wool and down. There are a lot of ways to find out more info about this "underground community" including a show called Bin Appetit and a number of websites contributing an extreme amount of information for freegans and people who would just like to know more. Just keep in mind, the concept of this is not to just get as much cool free shit as you can, it is a lifestyle. Now, me? I'm just in dumpster diving for the free shit.


  1. The woman I most idolize and aim to be like is a Freegan Goddess. She rescues and distributes 700,000 lbs of food annually. She is my inspiration for going back to school and becoming a social worker. My emphasis will be on the concept of Freeganism on a large scale and using collection and distribution to aid families that can't afford to eat properly, as well as education about "backyard sustainability" . I've augmented our family's pantry w/ Freeganism for a long time. It started when I went thru a period of time being broke and starving (literally...I dropped down to 88 lbs because I was making sure my son ate whatever food there was and not eating myself).So, then I HAD to scrounge for food. Now in better time, it's not necessary but it does fit completely in line w/ my lifestyle ethics & really, it only puts our family ahead :)

  2. By now it should just be expected, but it still astounds me how fucking rad you are. I think its great that she inspired you to go back to school not only for yourself but for others as well; she sounds completely inspirational. Although the overall lifestyle is not necessarilly for me, I have always been interested in sustainable agriculture, and utiliizing what is around me. I am just astounded that i had never heard of this before.

  3. Who are you? And from where were you spawned?
    ~your mother

  4. Awww, it that really your Anonymom? :) Hi,Kelly's Mom!

    Well, thank you for saying I'm fucking rad.that's one of the nicest compliments ever LOL. Now hopefully I can make it as a Student/Mom person though . Then we'll see how rad i am :P

  5. haha she is indeed! Speaking of anonymom, she also went back to school, but for nursing. Student/Mom/employee and she was still totally rad. I'm sure you will be too :)