Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan Lifestyle

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Old 02-25-2008, 03:39 PM
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Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

I just saw the advertisement and looked this up. very interesting. Real simialr to some of the things I /we all do I'm sure:




What is a Freegan?

Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

After years of trying to boycott products from unethical corporations responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse, many of us found that no matter what we bought we ended up supporting something deplorable. We came to realize that the problem isn't just a few bad corporations but the entire system itself.

Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions ensure that all the products we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able.

The word freegan is compounded from "free" and "vegan". Vegans are people who avoid products from animal sources or products tested on animals in an effort to avoid harming animals. Freegans take this a step further by recognizing that in a complex, industrial, mass-production economy driven by profit, abuses of humans, animals, and the earth abound at all levels of production (from acquisition to raw materials to production to transportation) and in just about every product we buy. Sweatshop labor, rainforest destruction, global warming, displacement of indigenous communities, air and water pollution, eradication of wildlife on farmland as "pests", the violent overthrow of popularly elected governments to maintain puppet dictators compliant to big business interests, open-pit strip mining, oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, union busting, child slavery, and payoffs to repressive regimes are just some of the many impacts of the seemingly innocuous consumer products we consume every day.

Freegans employ a range of strategies for practical living based on our principles:

Waste Reclamation
We live in an economic system where sellers only value land and commodities relative to their capacity to generate profit. Consumers are constantly being bombarded with advertising telling them to discard and replace the goods they already have because this increases sales. This practice of affluent societies produces an amount of waste so enormous that many people can be fed and supported simply on its trash. As freegans we forage instead of buying to avoid being wasteful consumers ourselves, to politically challenge the injustice of allowing vital resources to be wasted while multitudes lack basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter, and to reduce the waste going to landfills and incinerators which are disproportionately situated within poor, non-white neighborhoods, where they cause elevated levels of cancer and asthma.

Perhaps the most notorious freegan strategy is what is commonly called "urban foraging" or "dumpster diving". This technique involves rummaging through the garbage of retailers, residences, offices, and other facilities for useful goods. Despite our society's sterotypes about garbage, the goods recovered by freegans are safe, useable, clean, and in perfect or near-perfect condition, a symptom of a throwaway culture that encourages us to constantly replace our older goods with newer ones, and where retailers plan high-volume product disposal as part of their economic model. Some urban foragers go at it alone, others dive in groups, but we always share the discoveries openly with one another and with anyone along the way who wants them. Groups like Food Not Bombs recover foods that would otherwise go to waste and use them to prepare meals to share in public places with anyone who wishes to partake.

By recovering the discards of retailers, offices, schools, homes, hotels, or anywhere by rummaging through their trash bins, dumpsters, and trash bags, freegans are able to obtain food, beverages, books, toiletries magazines, comic books, newspapers, videos, kitchenware, appliances, music (CDs, cassettes, records, etc.), carpets, musical instruments, clothing, rollerblades, scooters, furniture, vitamins, electronics, animal care products, games, toys, bicycles, artwork, and just about any other type of consumer good. Rather than contributing to further waste, freegans curtail garbage and pollution, reducing the over-all volume in the waste stream.

Lots of used items can also be found for free or shared with others on websites like Freecycle and in the free section of your local Craigslist. To dispose of useful materials check out the EPA's Materials and Waste Exchanges directory. In communities around the country, people are holding events like "Really, Really, Free Markets" and "Freemeets". These events are akin to flea markets with free items. People bring items to share with others. They give and take but not a dollar is exchanged. When freegans do need to buy, we buy second-hand goods which reduces production and supports reusing and reducing what would have been wasted without providing any additional funds for new production.

Waste Minimization
Because of our frequent sojourns into the discards our throwaway society, freegans are very aware of and disgusted by the enormous amounts of waste the average US consumer generates and thus choose not to be a part of the problem. So, freegans scrupulously recycle, compost organic matter into topsoil, and repair rather than replace items whenever possible. Anything unusable by us, we redistribute to our friends, at freemarkets, or using internet services like freecycle and craigslist.

Eco-Friendly Transportation
Freegans recognize the disastrous social and ecological impacts of the automobile. We all know that automobiles cause pollution created from the burning of petroleum but we usually don't think of the other destruction factors like forests being eliminated from road building in wilderness areas and collision deaths of humans and wildlife. As well, the massive oil use today creates the economic impetus for slaughter in Iraq and all over the world. Therefore, freegans choose not to use cars for the most part. Rather, we use other methods of transportation including trainhopping, hitchhiking, walking, skating, and biking. Hitchhiking fills up room in a car that would have been unused otherwise and therefore it does not add to the overall consumption of cars and gasoline.

Some freegans find at least some use of cars unavoidable so we try to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels by using cars with desiel engines converted to run on ďgreiselĒ or "veggie-oil" literally fueling our cars with used fryer oil from restaurants - another example of diverting waste for practical use. Volunteer groups are forming everywhere to assist people in converting diesel engines to run on vegetable oil.

Rent-Free Housing
Freegans believe that housing is a RIGHT, not a privilege. Just as freegans consider it an atrocity for people to starve while food is thrown away, we are also outraged that people literally freeze to death on the streets while landlords and cities keep buildings boarded up and vacant because they canít turn a profit on making them available as housing.

Squatters are people who occupy and rehabilitate abandoned, decrepit buildings. Squatters believe that real human needs are more important than abstract notions of private property, and that those who hold deed to buildings but wonít allow people to live in them, even in places where housing is vitally needed, donít deserve to own those buildings. In addition to living areas, squatters often convert abandoned buildings into community centers with programs including art activities for children, environmental education, meetings of community organizations, and more.

Going Green
We live in a society where the foods that we eat are often grown a world away, over processed, and then transported long distances to be stored for too long, all at a high ecological cost. Because of this process, we've lost appreciation for the changes in season and the cycles of life but some of us are reconnecting to the Earth through gardening and wild foraging.

Many urban ecologists have been turning garbage-filled abandoned lots into verdant community garden plots. In neighborhoods where stores are more likely to carry junk food than fresh greens, community gardens provide a health food source. Where the air is choked with asthma inducing pollutants, the trees in community gardens produce oxygen. In landscapes dominated by brick, concrete, and asphalt, community gardens provide an oasis of plants, open spaces, and places for communities to come together, work together, share food, grow together, and break down the barriers that keep people apart in a society where we have all become too isolated from one another.

Wild foragers demonstrate that we can feed ourselves without supermarkets and treat our illnesses without pharmacies by familiarizing ourselves with the edible and medicinal plants growing all around us. Even city parks can yield useful foods and medicines, giving us a renewed appreciation of the reality that our sustenance comes ultimately not from corporate food producers, but from the Earth itself. Others take the foraging lifestyle even farther, removing themselves from urban and suburban concepts and attempting to "go feral" by building communities in the wilderness based on primitive survival skills.

Working Less / Voluntary Joblessness
How much of our lives do we sacrifice to pay bills and buy more stuff? For most of us, work means sacrificing our freedom to take orders from someone else, stress, boredom, monotony, and in many cases risks to our physical and psychological well-being.

Once we realize that it's not a few bad products or a few egregious companies responsible for the social and ecological abuses in our world but rather the entire system we are working in, we begin to realize that, as workers, we are cogs in a machine of violence, death, exploitation, and destruction. Is the retail clerk who rings up a cut of veal any less responsible for the cruelty of factory farming than the farm worker? What about the ad designer who finds ways to make the product palatable? How about the accountant who does the groceryís books and allows it to stay in business? Or the worker in the factory that manufacturers refrigerator cases? And, of course, the high level managers of the corporations bear the greatest responsibility of all for they make the decisions which causes the destruction and waste. You don't have to own stock in a corporation or own a factory or chemical plant to be held to blame.

By accounting for the basic necessities of food, clothing, housing, furniture, and transportation without spending a dime, freegans are able to greatly reduce or altogether eliminate the need to constantly be employed. We can instead devote our time to caring for our families, volunteering in our communities, and joining activist groups to fight the practices of the corporations who would otherwise be bossing us around at work. For some, total unemployment isnít an option ó itís far harder to find free dental surgery than a free bookcase on the curb ó but by limiting our financial needs, even those of us who need to work can place conscious limits on how much we work, take control of our lives, and escape the constant pressure to make ends meet. But even if we must work, we need not cede total control to the bosses. The freegan spirit of cooperative empowerment can be extended into the workplace as part of worker-led unions like the Industrial Workers of the World.
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Old 02-25-2008, 03:52 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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This sounds more extreme than just couponing and pinching pennies. My 19yo son used to live with a bunch of folks that lived this way to the EXTREME - Dumpster diving for food, growing all their own foods, picking up furniture off the side of the road, shopping ONLY at thrift stores, and refusing to work for any "companies" at all. He still doesn't want to work, unfortunately. I think being frugal is great, but I think as with anything, you can go overboard. These people that he lived with (he was 18) had small children, as well, and this really worried me a lot - being without insurance, eating food out of the trash, etc.. Fine for adults if they choose that, but notsomuch for children who can't choose. Just my opinion.

I'll def. watch the show, though!
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Old 02-25-2008, 04:10 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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There were freegans once on wife swap- it was very extreme. But I still chuckle at the thing they said about the bathroom and when you go...If its yellow-let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down....! BTW I am no where even close to a freegan-and truthfully proud of it. I can not see dumster diving- I will shop thrift stores and find it fun but shop elsewhere - and never go dumster diving for food,
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Old 02-25-2008, 08:50 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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These people do NOT sound fun to live with. I do agree there is too much waste and I am a big fan of re-using, but dangit I want new furniture and clothes even if I have to save up for it.
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Old 02-25-2008, 08:51 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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Oh, I DO have some second hand clothes and several pieces of second hand furniture...

so nobody gets their feelin's hurt!
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Old 02-25-2008, 09:08 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I had never heard of the term Freegan so I had to look it up. I am ALL for yard sales, thrift stores, picking food when I find it, and Freecycle. So I do indeed want to watch Oprah that day. It obviously is taken to the extreme.

Oh, I do get all of my furniture free. I absolutely REFUSE to pay for a couch or anything else I can get give to me. Probably won't be eating out of a dumpster though....
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Old 02-26-2008, 09:36 AM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I read this post last night right before going dumpster diving in the recycle bins for news papers. We had never heard the term freegan before. We were laughing so hard as we were picking up other peoples trash saying things like, "this is freegan fabulous" "this is a freegan paradise" "five papers, wow freegan wonderful"! Thanks for laugh, can't wait to watch.
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Old 02-26-2008, 09:50 AM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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Originally Posted by Holli0303 View Post
I read this post last night right before going dumpster diving in the recycle bins for news papers. We had never heard the term freegan before. We were laughing so hard as we were picking up other peoples trash saying things like, "this is freegan fabulous" "this is a freegan paradise" "five papers, wow freegan wonderful"! Thanks for laugh, can't wait to watch.
thats too freegan funny
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:26 AM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I'm still laughing at all you freegan people out there!
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:55 AM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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LOL I agree, freegan hillarious
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:57 AM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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Wow, that's pretty extreme. I do agree with a lot of the reasons that they are doing what they are doing, however, I can't help but to think that there is a better way to go about it. For example, i would much rather grow my own food than to dumpster dive and subject myself to all sorts of illnesses. I am vegetarian for a few different reasons and I try to buy earth friendly products that are not only safer for my family, but that also have not been tested on animals. For example....Instead of buying harsh chemicals, you can use vinegar for many of your cleaning jobs. I do agree that we should all do our part to ensure that the environment remains safe for our children and their children, etc...however, there is nothing safe about living in filth or diving in a dumpster for food and I agree with mpayne who said that you should never subject small children to this lifestyle. There ways to save money and try to be environmentally conscious without going to that extreme. It is really a group effort and if we all just made a few small changes, it makes a huge diffence!!
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:59 AM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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wow, that sounded like a greenpeace commercial!
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Old 02-26-2008, 11:11 AM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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Ha ha......yes very good commercial indeed!
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:08 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I don't see how they can not buy products due to their protesting the company's that make them. Yet they have no problem plucking the same stuff out of a dumpster and using it.
Looks to me like they are using a bogus protest to justify a nasty lifestyle.
If they truely beleived in not supporting companys that do bad things then they would find alternate ways like making their own company's or growing their own food like what was already mentioned.
I see nothing wrong with second hand textiles and goods. But when it comes to food they are putting themselves and their children at great risk of illness.
I think these people are about as phoney as a vegan that wears leather shoes.

I see nothing wrong with dumpster diving for stuff that is still usable but to say you do it because the company that made the product needs a spanking is a joke. If you are protesting a company you don't buy or use the product period.
I would have more respect for these people if they were honest about it and said they did it for finacial reasons so that they could live the kind of lifestyle they wanted without having to be in a 9-5 routine.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:05 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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Ok, so who watched??? I dvr'd it and DH and I watched today. I have to admit, I was looking at all that perfectly good food they dug out of the trash and thinking "Hmm, what's better than doubles or triples?? FREE FOOD!" LOL DH must have read my mind because he said "I am NOT eating out of a dumpster."

Seriously though, they got some GOOD STUFF!! I felt much better about my son having lived in the Collective House last year and being a "freegan" (before we knew the term). I went to visit him one day and he proudly showed me their big bags of bagels in the deep freezer, just like on Oprah!

I asked him the other night if he knew what "freegan" meant, and he said that in his circles that term referred to people who would only eat meat if it was free (free + vegan = "freegan"). In other words, they wouldn't participate in the slaughter by purchasing meat, but if it were given to them vs. being thrown away, they weren't opposed (morally) to eating it.

I thought the show was interesting...not nearly as disgusting as I'd imagined.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:14 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I watched some of it and I was just wondering, what will all of the bums do when all of the doctors/ professionals start taking their "loot" ? I think they will be pretty freegan angry!!!!
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:17 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I thought the same thing, but I imagine there is enough to go around.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:26 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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From what I understand about feegans (what I saw on Oprah and read online) their lifestyle isnt so much about being frugal and saving money its more about saving our planet and not giving into all this commercialism. Which when you think about it isn't that bad of a thing. I should also say the people on Oprah's show by no means where low income. One husband and wife both had good jobs she was an engineer and he was an optometrist. The other lady left a 6 figure job and is now living this lifestyle. I don't think I could pick through trash for food unless I really had to but hey if you can do it I'm not one to judge. Another way to look at this is how many of us have seen something put out in someones garbage and stopped and picked it up (I'm guilty of that, I've got great toys, plastic containers etc all in great condition) Think about it the only difference is that a freegan would not only pick up that but they pick up food also.
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Old 02-29-2008, 07:29 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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You're right angie - about the reason they do it. It's very commendable, and made me think about how wasteful we are at my house all the time. Even things I never think twice about, like buying new clothes now and then - I don't really NEED them. I'm going to be thinking a lot more about need vs. want this year. I already made a "resolution" of sorts in January to live simpler...this will just help hammer that home.

BTW, I don't really think I could eat food out of the trash. If I did, you'd know something was terribly wrong - because I'm a very picky eater! LOL
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  #20  
Old 02-29-2008, 07:35 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I watched the show and to be honest I got ill. I could never eat food from a dumpster, I mean do they realize how many maggots and bacteria are in there....yeuck.

I am no one to judge, but for me...ah no. To each their own....
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  #21  
Old 02-29-2008, 07:40 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I think they were hitting the trash cans up immediately after the stores closed and threw out the stuff. It wasn't sitting in there opened for days or anything. Yeah, it's still a little gross, but not quite *as* gross, I guess. LOL
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Old 02-29-2008, 08:56 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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Originally Posted by therbel View Post
I watched some of it and I was just wondering, what will all of the bums do when all of the doctors/ professionals start taking their "loot" ? I think they will be pretty freegan angry!!!!
That's what I kept thinking the whole time! This was NYC people! Lots of homeless people who really need the food and these people with lots of money are taking it all. The homeless have been freegans for years, not because it's cool or a fad, but out of necessity.
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Old 02-29-2008, 09:00 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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I saw parts of the show and thought the variety and condition of the food they got was incredible. This could be due, in part, because they were in NYC.

However, I will not be dumpster diving for food anytime in the near future.
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Old 02-29-2008, 09:03 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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@ soccermmama.

I agree...I will keep my head out of the dumpster and in the CVS store, where free is free...
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  #25  
Old 02-29-2008, 09:21 PM

RE: Watch Oprah Wednesday- Freegan lifestyle

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If I found out that a Doctor in my city was a "Freegan" I think I would NOT want to see him.
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