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The Freegan Lifestyle

It may sound ridiculous, but for the past few years, I’ve fantasized about becoming a freegan. It’s socially unacceptable so I am always hesitant to move forward with it, but there are so many things I love about the idea of freeganism.

What is Freeganism?

Let’s start with the basics – the definition of freeganism. According to Wikipedia:

Freeganism is a practice and ideology of limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources, particularly through recovering wasted goods like food.

In other words, it’s all about not buying food as an act of protest against the food system.

What is there to protest about the food system?

We all see the effect of consumerism on society. We have become a people who buy and continuously waste.

Americans produce an average of 4.4 pounds of trash every day, while the global average is still high at 2.6 pounds.

Within this waste there is plastic, cardboard, and food – all of which is acquired in supermarkets as part of our weekly food shopping.

We no longer have enough appreciation for food – how often do you throw out food that spoiled? I do it all the time, and it breaks my heart.

That means that I’m over-buying and I’m not thinking smart: there are ways to salvage food before it spoils, even by freezing for future use in soups, sauces or smoothies.

Misconceptions

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to become a literal dumpster diver to be a freegan. There is so much food waste around us, that a freegan can find perfectly good food without ever physically entering a dumpster.

  • Supermarkets will throw out food that is reaching its sell-by date, but is still completely okay to consume. When an ex-boyfriend worked at a health food supermarket, we got to take all the about-to-expire food home and it was a feast. We ate expensive food that we would have never bought ourselves for free.
  • Restaurants often throw out a lot of food and ingredients. Sometimes restaurants overcook, certain ingredients are no longer fresh enough to be up to high restaurant standards, or an order is made wrong.
  • Markets will throw out any ugly-looking, bruised vegetables and fruits that they can’t sell. You can often pick up an entire carton worth of great veggies this way. Penny from Penniless Parenting (one of my favorite frugal bloggers) is AMAZING at finding free veggies and befriending sellers to get first pick.
  • Wild foraging is another great option, although it depends on your location. I live by an area with many orange trees scattered across, so I go around and pick out a few oranges. They are delicious, organic and as fresh as can be!
Food collected from a dumpster in Sweden – this perfectly good food would have gone to waste! (Source)

Why do I want to become a freegan?

I will never be a fully-committed freegan as I don’t agree with everything about the freegan lifestyle, but there are certain aspects that really attract me.

  • Lower carbon footprint – I am often bothered by the impact I have on landfills and the environment in general. Not buying food would mean that I’m cutting back on that contribution.
  • Less money spent – It’s no secret I’m frugal. I spend over $275 on food each month only for myself. Between supermarket shopping and restaurants, it adds up. Before I know it, I’ve spent a good chunk of my salary.
  • There’s so much waste – I waste so much food and it’s a constant inner conflict. At the supermarket, we buy for the most part vegetables and fruits. We live busy lives, so we always end up with spoiled veggies that need to be thrown out.
  • The challenge – I love challenges where I can spend less money, and I love the idea of having to look through my city to find consistent wins on where I can gather food. It’s like Pokémon Go but with food instead of monsters.
Ugly vegetable and fruit that can’t be sold is thrown out by supermarkets and markets (Source)

Why I won’t become a freegan

Alas, reality is, I won’t be becoming a freegan anytime soon.

It requires a huge dedication of time – finding free, healthy, good food can only happen through constant searching. Since I work, study and blog, I currently don’t have enough time available to spend on it. I prefer to prioritize my available time on studying and blogging.

I’m also certain that it will cause a strong backlash from my partner and family. They are used to the consumerist way and anything that deviates from that will not be easy for them to accept. Given that my partner and I share our food, it would require his acceptance of my new eating habits.

And finally, freeganism is more than food, it becomes a lifestyle. I’m currently not in a position where I feel comfortable with a complete change in lifestyle.

Did you know about freeganism? Are you a freegan? I would love to hear about it!

Thanks to Freepik for the featured image.

About Ronnie E.

Ronnie is the frugal Latina of the group. Hailing from the beautiful Andes Mountains in Bolivia, she lives and breathes frugality. She loves to figure out how to spend less money and takes on the challenge of finding great deals and cheaper options every day.

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