Freeganism is an alternative living strategy practiced by people called freegans, who use unconventional ways to avoid consumerism and minimise their consumption of resources.
Freegans do not support products from unethical corporations responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse.
In an industrialized society, it is quite normal for people to work, spend money, throw away rubbish, and buy brand new goods. This is mainstream behaviour!
But, for freegans, they don’t want to participate in this kind of lifestyle and believe that they have found some legitimate ways to live off the grid and still survive.
Such ways include scavenge rather than purchase goods, volunteer rather than working, and squat instead of renting.
They are basically dumpster divers that live off other people’s trash!
Ironically, these types of people are not homeless or beggars. They are people who have made a conscious decision to live like this. They believe it is an ethical, unadulterated lifestyle and disassociate themselves from capitalism and consumerism.
The word freegan is a combination of “free” and “vegan”. The “free” part is based on their scavenging behaviour. The “vegan” part refers to strict vegetarians who boycott ALL animal products or by-products, such as eggs and milk, as they believe it is animal cruelty.
NOT ALL freegans are vegans though, because if they had found some animal products in the dumpster, they would consume it to avoid wastage.
Freegan Beliefs and Practices
Freegans don’t like wastage! They do whatever they can to minimise wastage! They are disgusted by the environmental destruction as a result of production of goods. So they forage rather than spend money on goods.
They practice recycling, reusing, repairing, swapping, and sharing. They find all kinds of “free” goods from bins or dumpsters.
They even survive on food found in the garbage of retail suppliers of food because the food is usually in good condition. The food is quite often nearing to its sell by date, or has a damaged packaging.
Freegans believe that by rescuing food from these garbage bins, the food is not wasted and does not end up in the landfills!
Freegans do not like the negative impact of automobiles to our environment, so they choose alternative forms of transport such as bike riding, walking, skating, trainhopping, and hitchhiking.
If they need to use a car for their transport, they would rather use cars with diesel engines converted to run on biodiesel or vegetable oil.
Squatters are people who occupy a building that they do not legally own. Many freegans are involved in squatting based on their belief that people should not be homeless while buildings are left vacant. The human need is more important and that squatting is a way of housing the homeless!
Less Paid Work, More Time For Other Things
The freegan lifestyle already meets most of the basic human needs like food, clothing, shelter, furniture, and transportation without spending any money. So they have less pressure on working to make ends meet. Instead, they would rather devote their time on more important things like caring for others, volunteering, joining activist groups etc.
The freegan lifestyle is not for the faint-hearted. It’s definitely not something that would suit everyone. I can’t imagine myself rummaging through stinky bins everyday just to keep myself alive and find other goods to use.
It’s an extreme form of being green. It does make a positive impact on our environment by reducing wastage and pollution, but it’s not easy for the average individual to make this choice of practicing freeganism.