Freeganism - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Free Your Mind
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 04-26-2011, 09:58 AM   #1
Blue Crack Addict
 
MrsSpringsteen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 24,994
Local Time: 06:27 PM
Freeganism

She Lives Off What We Throw Away - Living Green - Your Life - MSN Lifestyle

They're called freegans — eco-extremists who subsist on what we toss in the trash. Are they crazy — or are we?

It's nearly closing time on a crisp Monday night at a Midtown Manhattan supermarket, when a burly crew begins tossing bulging black bags filled with the day's trash — crusty breads, salad-bar fixings, last week's fruits and vegetables — to the curb. Just then, a cadre of 15 jeans-and-sneakers-clad men and women turn the corner and quietly descend upon the heaps, gingerly opening and dissecting their contents. As they forage through the small mountains of discarded food, a 30-something woman sporting a green rain slicker calls out, "Over here, expensive Greek yogurt." Seconds later, a ponytailed guy wearing a backpack hollers, "Here's bacon and chicken for anyone who eats meat — and a perfect eggplant." Someone shouts a reminder not to tear the bags or leave litter on the ground, lest the store get fined. After less than 30 minutes, they excitedly depart the scene, each shouldering at least one tote bag filled with booty.

These urban foragers are neither homeless nor destitute. They are committed freegans, radical environmentalists (typically vegan) who reject our wasteful consumer culture by living almost entirely on what others throw away. Freegans rarely go hungry thanks to the colossal amount of food Americans dump every day — 38 million tons annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Here's another way to look at it: The United Nations says our leftovers could satisfy every single empty stomach in Africa. Those castoffs are composed, in part, of the less-than-perfect products consumers instinctively reject: bruised apples, wilted lettuce, dented cans. Who hasn't passed on an entire carton of eggs after discovering a single slight fracture among the dozen? Supermarkets can't unload the quarts of milk tagged with yesterday's use-by date — which many of us interpret as a product's expiration but in fact refers to its period of peak flavor. Meaning, there's still plenty of life left in those quarts.

Freegans, like 24-year-old Leia MonDragon, a buxom Latina with a taste for heavy eye makeup, feast on those castoffs. "It's amazing what you can find and the good condition it's in," she exclaims, holding aloft a week's worth of produce, including watermelon, summer squash, kale, tomatoes, onions, and bananas. Though technically past their prime, they look pristine. MonDragon also scored half gallons of soy milk and lemonade, both unopened and still chilled, and bagels that only an hour earlier were for sale. "I once found 200 one-pound bags of organic fair-trade coffee beans just dumped outside a store with the trash," she brags, like a woman combing the racks at a Gucci clearance sale.

Aside from the $1600 a month in rent MonDragon pays for her two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, which she shares with her boyfriend, Tate, their 1-year-old daughter, Uma, and her retired grandfather, just about everything she owns has been salvaged or handmade. She found her ivory faux-leather couch, dishes, and flatware on the street; many of Uma's clothes and toys were recovered from boxes abandoned on sidewalks and stoops, a common sight in New York, where apartment detritus — from halogen lamps to bed frames — is blithely left on the streets. MonDragon used to get around on a bicycle she and Tate cobbled together from discarded parts, but not long ago it was stolen. "So now I'm building another one," she says.


Though official figures are hard to come by, freegan ranks are believed to be in the thousands, with an estimated 500 practitioners living in New York City alone. Born of the extreme environmentalist and anti-globalization movements of the '90s, freeganism is a wholly modern crusade whose followers live off the grid while simultaneously exploiting it. Freegans gravitate toward cities — and their relentless mounds of garbage; Websites keep devotees in close contact with each other so they can plan group foraging outings, recruit new members, and spread word of upcoming events, like move-out day at a college dorm, a veritable freegan Christmas. Using a discarded computer they restored, MonDragon and her boyfriend routinely scour Craigslist for freebies. (The Web connection comes from a cable package her grandfather pays for.) "The only thing I don't have yet is a skillet. But I'll find one," MonDragon declares confidently, as she ladles dinner — tofu-and-veggie stir-fry with lime zest — from a large stockpot.

MonDragon first embraced freeganism five years ago as a student at a Minnesota community college, where she met Tate. "We were broke, trying to find the money for even a simple meal like rice and beans," she explains. "We saw a freegan flyer and hooked up with some people who showed us how to do it. And just like that, we had a source of free food. It was amazing." The more time the pair spent with entrenched freegans, the more exposure they got to the movement's renegade rhetoric. Since relocating to New York two years ago, they have become ardent practitioners, positioning their lifestyle as a boycott of "corporate greed" and an alternative to capitalism. "It's so wrong when people are losing their jobs, struggling to survive, that stores are throwing out such vast quantities of good food," MonDragon sighs, as Papo, her wiry gray mutt, nips the hem of her long black skirt. She tosses him a roasted chicken leg, retrieved from her last supermarket trash run.

MonDragon admits she was initially skeeved out by the prospect of eating garbage — Dumpsters are a frequent freegan haunt — but says she was reassured by the movement's common-sense safety measures. Some freegans show up for Dumpster dives armed with rubber gloves and antibacterial lotion. Produce is washed thoroughly, withered leaves discarded; baked goods bearing even a hint of mold are tossed. Everything undergoes a basic smell test. (Tate says he once scarfed down day-old sushi, despite its funky aroma, and ended up with food poisoning.) And since stores generally separate discarded food from, say, bathroom trash bins, the ickiest finds are usually just putrid meats and dairy. MonDragon decontaminates all salvaged housewares with a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide and launders all of Uma's secondhand stuffed animals and clothes. Though she draws the line at pre-owned underwear, instead buying new pairs from discount stores, MonDragon makes her own reusable sanitary napkins from cloth in much the same way women did a century ago. (Think that's hard-core? Some freegans squat in abandoned buildings and jerry-rig toilets that compost their own waste matter.) "People in this country are a lot more freaked out about dirt than they need to be. We need a little dirt in our lives for our immune systems to be strong," MonDragon says.

"Freegans have been living this way for years and are very healthy," says Dr. Ruth Kava, director of nutrition at the American Council on Science and Health. "In fact, a freegan's biggest risk may be falling headfirst into a Dumpster." That, or being slapped with a fine — or worse — for trespassing on private property to scavenge. It's not uncommon for store owners, mistaking freegans for homeless people or burglars, to call the police. Two years ago, a pair of freegans in Steamboat Springs, CO, were sentenced to six months in jail after jumping a fence and taking a couple of handfuls of fruit and vegetables from a grocery store's trash. For that reason, MonDragon confines her searches to whatever she finds on the street. She and Tate get by on less than $20,000 a year — he drives a taxi, and she clerks at a nonprofit during the summer. Their meager income is earmarked for inescapable expenses, like their tuition at a community college and rent. The couple qualifies for food stamps, which pay only for Uma's formula (MonDragon stopped breast-feeding once she started working).

Though she lives hand to mouth, MonDragon insists she wants for nothing. Her family eats three hearty meals a day; their closets are crammed with wool coats, shoes, shirts with tags still dangling from their sleeves. She's got an active social life, towing Uma to playdates with other freegan moms and fielding invitations to watch DVDs with freegan friends. A week earlier, she and Tate uncovered a hoard of unopened Chinese food inside a streetside trash can, still warm in its gleaming white containers. They took it to a friend's house for an impromptu dinner party. "We usually never take more than we need," she explains, unzipping her black Patagonia shell and tossing it onto her bed — everything from the taupe sheets to the queen-size mattress were recovered from the streets of Manhattan. "We don't need to. There will be more trash out there tomorrow."
__________________

__________________
MrsSpringsteen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 10:17 AM   #2
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
mama cass's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 5,906
Local Time: 12:27 AM
yeah this has been quite an interesting phenomenon in the UK for a while now too...

however, the worst thing is certain food chains have been trying to get round this by pouring bleach on their unwanted food items to stop people taking them...
__________________

__________________
mama cass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 10:19 AM   #3
BVS
Blue Crack Supplier
 
BVS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: between my head and heart
Posts: 40,697
Local Time: 05:27 PM
To each their own... but I feel a little sorry for the kid.
__________________
BVS is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 12:49 PM   #4
Blue Crack Addict
 
Liesje's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: In the dog house
Posts: 19,557
Local Time: 06:27 PM
As if there aren't already too few hours in the day....to each his own but I just don't have time to be rummaging through garbage for my next meal. Luckily, my mom volunteers for a local place like Goodwill that accepts donations and sells them, so any time I need clothes, outdoor gear, books, furniture, I just tell her what I want and she pulls it aside when it comes in and I run over and buy it used. I can still get the stuff I want for pennies to the dollar and don't have to waste time garage sale-ing or dumpster diving.
__________________
Liesje is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 02:08 PM   #5
Rock n' Roll Doggie
ALL ACCESS
 
BluRmGrl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Leather Heaven
Posts: 7,808
Local Time: 07:27 PM
I fully support the idea - make good use of food & other items that are in usable condition - but the collection methods do skeeve me out. And as for homemade sanitary pads - can I just say HELL NO!!!!!

I do think mama cass' comment about UK businesses pouring bleach on their castoffs just to keep people from making use of it for free is disgusting. If you're that damn hard up for more profit, then sell the items at a deep discount.
__________________
BluRmGrl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 04:48 PM   #6
Forum Moderator
 
yolland's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7,471
Local Time: 12:27 AM
All the furniture and much of the kitchenware and school supplies I had as a grad student were retrieved from dumpsters. At the end of every school year, the dumpsters at all the student apartment complexes (especially the mostly-undergrad ones) would be overflowing with such items, often in almost-new condition, and a bunch of us would cram into the cars of those who had them, and drive around scavenging and divvying up our finds. I grew up poor and was utterly amazed at what many students would throw away without a thought. I still have some of that stuff. I wouldn't do it now because I know many grad students (and other locals, for that matter) are much worse off than we are, and I think they should have first crack at the stuff, which they usually do. I can always go to Goodwill, Salvation Army, flea markets etc. and find well-made, good-condition secondhand items for a modest price if we need them.

I'm a lot more squeamish about the idea of taking food from supermarket dumpsters though. Legally that can be a gray area, and I'd worry about the possibility of food poisoning, especially if you're feeding multiple people including children on a regular basis off it. And like Lies said, it'd take time that in many cases would surely be better spent working for income. And it's such a glaringly abnormal lifestyle that unless you have no choice, I'm a little uncomfortable with the implications of dragging children who have to deal with judgmental peers and all that into it. At the same time, our family volunteers on holidays at a local soup kitchen, I see how much hunger there is right here in the smalltown Midwest, and it really is awfully distressing to think how much perfectly good food gets tossed out by supermarkets at the end of every day. They always say, "liability" and I'm sure that's a genuine concern for them, but I'm also pretty sure a lot of the stuff thrown out they know to be perfectly safe.

I wonder what kinds of backgrounds people who are into this come from, if there are any predominant trends there.
__________________
yolland [at] interference.com


μελετώ αποτυγχάνειν. -- Διογένης της Σινώπης
yolland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 05:37 PM   #7
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
mama cass's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 5,906
Local Time: 12:27 AM
some UK figures from 2009:


Talking rubbish: Facts and figures

5.4 m The estimated number of tonnes of edible food British households throw away each year.

30m The number of malnourished people whose hunger could be alleviated by the bread British households bin each year.

84 The percentage of British households under the impression that they don't waste significant amounts of food.

43m The number of people at risk from food poverty in the EU.

923m The number of undernourished people in the world, according to a 2007 UN survey.

40% The estimated proportion of salad that British households throw away.

14bn The number of dollars of agricultural produce India wastes each year owing to its lack of infrastructure.

1.6m The estimated number of tonnes of food waste produced by British retailers each year.

59,625 Estimated amount in tonnes of food waste sent by Sainsbury's to landfill sites in 2007-8.

40% The estimated proportion of UK fruit and veg that supermarkets reject on cosmetic grounds.
__________________
mama cass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 05:40 PM   #8
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
mama cass's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 5,906
Local Time: 12:27 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by yolland View Post
I wonder what kinds of backgrounds people who are into this come from, if there are any predominant trends there.
i've always understood this to be an activist/campaigner kind of thing, from what i've read about it over the years...

here's an interesting link re. the politics behind it all:

liber-ate.org
__________________
mama cass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 05:46 PM   #9
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
mama cass's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 5,906
Local Time: 12:27 AM
Food waste facts

There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world, but the approximately 40 million tonnes of food wasted by US households, retailers and food services each year would be enough to satisfy the hunger of every one of them.

The irrigation water used globally to grow food that is wasted would be enough for the domestic needs (at 200 litres per person per day) of 9 billion people - the number expected on the planet by 2050.

If we planted trees on land currently used to grow unnecessary surplus and wasted food, this would offset a theoretical maximum of 100% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

10% of rich countries' greenhouse gas emissions come from growing food that is never eaten.

The UK, US and Europe have nearly twice as much food as is required by the nutritional needs of their populations. Up to half the entire food supply is wasted between the farm and the fork. If crops wastefully fed to livestock are included, European countries have more than three times more food than they need, while the US has around four times more food than is needed, and up to three-quarters of the nutritional value is lost before it reaches people's mouths.

UK Households waste 25% of all the food they buy.

All the world's nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe.

A third of the world's entire food supply could be saved by reducing waste - or enough to feed 3 billion people; and this would still leave enough surplus for countries to provide their populations with 130 per cent of their nutritional requirements.

Between 2 and 500 times more carbon dioxide can be saved by feeding food waste to pigs rather than sending it for anaerobic digestion (the UK government's preferred option). But under European laws feeding food waste to pigs is banned. In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, by contrast, it is mandatory to feed some food waste to pigs.

2.3 million tonnes of fish discarded in the North Atlantic and the North Sea each year; 40 to 60% of all fish caught in Europe are discarded - either because they are the wrong size, species, or because of the ill-governed European quota system.

An estimated 20 to 40% of UK fruit and vegetables rejected even before they reach the shops - mostly because they do not match the supermarkets' excessively strict cosmetic standards.

8.3 million hectares of land required to produce just the meat and dairy products wasted in UK homes and in US homes, shops and restaurants. That is 7 times the amount of Amazon rainforest destroyed in Brazil in one year, largely for cattle grazing and soy production to export for livestock feed.

The bread and other cereal products thrown away in UK households alone would have been enough to lift 30 million of the world's hungry people out of malnourishment

4600 kilocalories per day of food are harvested for every person on the planet; of these, only around 2000 on average are eaten - more than half of it is lost on the way.

4 million people in the UK, 43 million in the EU and around 35 million in the US suffer from food poverty.

24 to 35% of school lunches end up in the bin.

An estimated 20 million tonnes of food wasted in Britain from the plough to the plate.

All Food Waste Facts are from Tristram Stuart’s Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal (Penguin, 2009).
__________________
mama cass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 06:07 PM   #10
Forum Moderator
 
yolland's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7,471
Local Time: 12:27 AM
So how does freeganism benefit the malnourished and the starving? Does it benefit anyone except freegans themselves (insofar as they get free food and other basic goods out of it)? For them it's in part a refusal to contribute to retailers' purchasing excess product to sell, I understand that.
__________________
yolland [at] interference.com


μελετώ αποτυγχάνειν. -- Διογένης της Σινώπης
yolland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 06:10 PM   #11
Rock n' Roll Doggie
VIP PASS
 
mama cass's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 5,906
Local Time: 12:27 AM
i think they're trying to draw attention to the issue and raise awareness for a start... trying to educate people into limiting their own household waste by perhaps buying less food and throwing less away... it made an impact on my way of thinking, and i am careful about what i buy, and try to limit food wastage at home... (compost heaps and keeping chickens are great for recycling!)

also, in the UK at least, there are now organisations which collect waste food which would have otherwise ended up in landfill sites (but which is still safe and edible obviously) from supermarkets etc. and re-distribute the food to hospitals and day centres etc...

FareShare is one such organisation:

FareShare

it's a massive global problem that ultimately affects us all, and if freegans can highlight some of the problems in the food industry, then good for them i say...
__________________
mama cass is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 07:24 PM   #12
Forum Moderator
 
yolland's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7,471
Local Time: 12:27 AM
My family kept chickens off and on when I was growing up, lots of people in that area did. Where we live now, even though it's a rural area, by law you must have 5 acres to keep them, which we don't. Most states have similar limitations. From what I can tell the majority of people we know who have vegetable gardens (including us) do compost, that's not many people though. There are a couple community gardens in the area (forget what they call those in the UK, green-something I think?) and a CSA (co-op type thing where a bunch of people pay a small farmer to grow vegetables they collectively decide on) for people who want some involvement in that kind of thing without sole responsibility for it. It's funny because where I grew up, the Delta region of Mississippi, nowadays almost no one gardens, and most attempts to start community gardens there have met with indifference through to resentment from locals who see only stigma in that type of work, whereas up here it seems to be kinda an upper-middle-class sort of thing to do. It's a matter of generational and geographical bias I suppose, but to me the waste-not, want-not stuff is simply what poorer people have always done.

In major cities here, there are some organizations which collect waste food and redistribute them, but as far as I know that's only done on an occasional basis. Certainly there's no nationwide, regular system in place for doing it.
__________________
yolland [at] interference.com


μελετώ αποτυγχάνειν. -- Διογένης της Σινώπης
yolland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 07:52 PM   #13
Blue Crack Addict
 
Liesje's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: In the dog house
Posts: 19,557
Local Time: 06:27 PM
We have a compost pile behind our shed. The problem is that they attract skunks, and living in neighborhoods where you can spit inside your neighbor's house from inside your own, people are not too happy to have skunks coming around and it's pretty easy to figure out who's attracting them. Luckily here, recycling is free and the city provides a dumpster for you. If you have additional, you can pile it next to the dumpster and they will take it even though they say not to. Before the dumpsters they issued plastic bins. The house I lived in during college had five of them, lol. Now that we've moved back within the city limit and have the compost pile + free recycling, really our largest "waste" is dog waste, which I collect in a large bucket and then bury.

yolland, I used to do the same thing, dumpster dive at the end of the school year b/c the college put huge dumpsters outside each apartment. I still wear clothes I pulled out of a dumpster six years ago.

As far as diving for food though, aside from it being a huge waste of my time and something that skeeves me out, I can't bring myself to eat from a waste pile while I'm spending more money and more thought on my dogs' diets.
__________________
Liesje is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 08:47 PM   #14
Blue Crack Addict
 
deep's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: A far distance down.
Posts: 28,501
Local Time: 03:27 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
We have a compost pile behind our shed. The problem is that they attract skunks, and living in neighborhoods where you can spit inside your neighbor's house from inside your own,

"living in neighborhoods where you can spit inside your neighbor's house from inside your own"


is that a holdover ordinance from the 1800s?
__________________
deep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 09:45 PM   #15
ONE
love, blood, life
 
Jive Turkey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 13,646
Local Time: 06:27 PM
YouTube - Portlandia Dumpster Divers clip
__________________

__________________
Jive Turkey is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:27 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright © Interference.com