Living a “Freegan” Lifestyle

I pointed out Claire Wolfe’s criticism of “jobs” and of working for a living. Wolfe promises us some follow-up articles exploring what the alternatives are to making a living and paying the bills by holding down a “job,” and I’m very much looking forward to those.

When people hear someone sounding like they believe work and jobs ought to be eradicated like smallpox and polio, they often roll their eyes and explain patiently that you’ve got to work, since “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

Adam Weissman and his friends are trying to prove ’em wrong. Weissman has been living on a diet of free food for nine years now, by dumpster-diving, or as they like to call it: living a “freegan” lifestyle.

They’re not homeless, and they have jobs. They call themselves freegans, and though some fill their fridges with food from garbage bins to save money, many choose not to buy food for philosophical reasons.

“Freegan” comes from the term vegan — a person who does not eat meat or animal products for health or ethical reasons. Freegans take it one step further by eating food thrown away by stores and restaurants, to avoid waste and limit their impact on the environment. They say that by not buying food, they’re boycotting a capitalist consumer society that needlessly slaughters animals and harms the environment by mass-producing nonessential food, much of which ends up in landfills.

“It’s about being aware of the insane waste by our culture of overproduction and overconsumption,” says Weissman, 26, who wears oversized jeans and a baggy T-shirt he “recovered” from the trash. He is a part-time security guard and a full-time freegan. He and his friends salvage “large quantities of unsold items, not half-eaten food off someone’s plate,” Weissman says.…

[Alexis] Cole, who says she is writing a cookbook called The Decadent Dumpster, rides her bike to choice grocery store garbage bins several times a week. On each trip she can count on filling the two baskets on her 21-speed with bags of lettuce and spinach, bread, bananas, apples, kale, bagels and packaged goods. It’s more than enough for her and her two roommates, who, according to Cole, “have never eaten so well.”

And it’s not just food that’s out there for the taking. There’s all sorts of things that slide from the hands of people who don’t want or need ’em to the hands of those who do, without any money changing hands. Join one of the more than 1,500 cities that’s got a Freecycle network to find out how you can get in on the action, or see if your area has something like Craigslist’s Barter/Swap/Free bulletin board.

Myself, I’m still eating food I buy from the store for the most part, but I admire what the “freegans” are doing. The more stuff you can get without spending money for it, the less money you spend; the less money you spend, the less money you have to earn; the less money you have to earn, the less you need a “job” and the less taxes you’ll have to pay. So bully for that.

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