I’m all about the low-waste, minimum impact, “save the planet”, vegan lifestyle. I read a lot about it, and try to practice it as much as possible, but I was shocked when I first heard about “freeganism”.
“Freegans practice strategies for everyday living based on sharing resources, minimising the detrimental impact of our consumption, and reducing and recovering waste and independence from the profit-driven economy.”
While vegans focus on a lifestyle that eliminates animal products and tries to reduce all animal suffering, freegans take it a step further.
Freegans don’t believe in living to consume. Instead, they centre their lives on community and interdependence. They envision self-sufficient, sustainable communities which in no way exploit humans, animals or the planet.
Sounds good, right?
So, how do freegans do this?
Urban Foraging, popularly known as Dumpster Diving: The practice of recovering useable items from dumpsters that have been needlessly discarded.
They also try to recover warm meals that would otherwise be thrown away and share that with the needy.
This process is known as waste reclamation.
When it comes to waste minimisation, freegans join free markets where they swap goods, and even start free shops. They use Freecycle (where you can just pick up goods for free that another person doesn’t want) or other upcycling and recycling websites.
They try to use eco-friendly transportation by repairing and using bikes or sharing rides.
To me, one of the most fascinating (and daunting) aspects of freeganism is “living for free”. As they do not want to pay for the living space (which can outright have you working just to pay for it), they reclaim and repurpose abandoned buildings or use websites like Couchsurfing and Hospitality Club.
A lot of freegans also go green by starting community gardens, growing their own plants and medicinal herbs.
However, freeganism is not only about having less to zero impact on the environment, humans, and animals, and it’s not only about eliminating consumption, it’s also about reclaiming time.
Freegans believe that by removing the need for money, you will reduce the need to work at a meaningless and alienating job in the money economy, and have more time to give to what has been described as the “core economy”– home, family, neighbourhood and community.
That is certainly something I can relate to.
Freeganism might seem like an impossible, or to some radical, ideal, but with as much as half of all the food produced in the world ending up as waste every year, climate change, world hunger, and many of us living unfulfilling, alienated lives in jobs we do just to pay to live – we could take away a couple of learnings from freegans.
What do you think?