Could you be a freegan?

Photo: iStockphoto.com/ftwitty
Great finds and delicious meals await dedicated urban scavengers.

Could you adopt a lifestyle where you bought nothing and lived off the discards of other people? Not realistic? Consider it differently: do you want to lead a lifestyle that aims to reduce consumption, work less, save money and build a community where generosity and sharing is the main focus? If yes, then the freegan lifestyle may be for you! Freegans practice environmentalism that actively promotes "reclaiming, recovering, repairing and recycling." This approach to sustainable living rejects consumerism in favour of a philosophy that wants to divert everything from bikes to furniture to clothing and even food from the landfill. Read on to find out ways to get foraging and save.

Cutting food waste

Adam Weissman, one of the founders of Freegan.info has not bought anything for 10 We have been trained to be suspicious of garbage but our obsession with cheap, fresh and flawless has resulted in incredible amounts of food getting thrown out. Freegans scavenge for perfectly edible food items thrown out by restaurants or retailers and will “dumpster dive” to go through kitchen remnants. Perfectly edible food is often found in abundance - Weissman has led New York freegans on Trash Tours where participants collect food to use in a Freegan Feast open to anyone with an appetite.


The trend has received major media attention (check out the coverage on freegans by CBS News reporter Benno Schmidt and Oprah) whose reports on freegans left the interviewers pleasantly surprised at the high quality produce they recovered from the garbage and rethinking the ease with which edible food gets discarded.

Other freegan activities

If dumpster diving doesn’t appeal, there are still plenty of other ways to participate in the freegan lifestyle:

- Freecycle: Swap or give your items away for free. The Freecycle Network and the Craigslist Free Section are Internet swap sites where you can or give away items.

- Freestores: Also known as give-away shops, freestores are shops where you bring items you don't want and leave with something you need. No money changes hands. First established in the Netherlands in 1997, give-aways are firmly established in most of Northern Europe. The Really, Really Free Market is the North American equivalent. Start your own and stop paying for stuff.

- Share Gas. Heading out of town? Need a drive or want help paying for the gas? eRideshare and Craigslist Ride Share let you hook up with people going your way.

- Community Gardens. Grow your own food to create a no-buy, zero-mile diet. Condo dwellers can get a community garden plot. An offshoot is Guerrilla Gardening, where unused urban space is reclaimed for gardens (look for community gardens near you) .

- Ride a bicycle/use public transportation. Get peddling and save money – follow these tips to stay safe.