After learning about "freeganism" in June of 2007, Raina Kelley of Newsweek decided to spend a month as one. "For those new to the term (free + vegan), a freegan is a person who has decided to boycott capitalist society by severely curtailing consumption of resources through reusing, recycling and dumpster diving."
In an October article from 2007, Raina Kelley described her month of living as a "freegan." I found this article to be entertaining, and also shockingly similar to some of the ways in which I've been living my life in recent years.
Here's the article!
And here's my own responsorial segment: My Life as a Freegan
The crux of this article is the "waste not, want not" philosophy.
When it comes to dumpster diving, I am a champion. I have more free and cool furniture items due to finding them in the trash or on the free section of craigslist than I do new pieces I've actually purchased. I attempted to do the math with my roommate once, and I think the sum total of dollars spent on kitchen and living room furniture was not over $200 - and that includes my airlift sewing table, pair of armchairs, couch, coffee table and storage hutch. I even managed to find an old steamer trunk. And that's just furniture.
I have also begun foraging for clothes. As a seamstress, I have found ways to reuse the fabric from old clothes for handbags, heat packs, maternity pants and new clothes. I helped my roommate clean out her closet this week and walked away with 2 new shirts, a new dress and three ruined natural-fiber sweaters I plan to "felt" and turn into mittens or Christmas stockings. When my sister cleaned out her room a couple weeks ago, she threw five bags of garbage into the bin. FIVE BAGS?! I thought, looking into my parents' dumpster. I grabbed a sixth, and proceeded to sift through the wreckage of her old paint pants, tees, rescued costume loft items, and clothes from "when she was fat." I managed to walk away with one bag full of 100% cotton tees and old dresses made of adorable paisley I plan to upcycle later. And two bathrobes.
I'm also considering something my best friend told me about a year ago: forgoing shampoo entirely. Yeah. It does sound dirty. Here's his take on it. The purpose of shampoo is to strip everything off of the surface of your hair, including the oils that naturally come out of your head to keep it clean. What this does is it robs your body its ability to tell what it needs to do to keep your hair clean, shiny and healthy. That's why people get oily hair. He stopped washing with anything but eggs and olive oil last year at about this time, and his hair hasn't been silkier. I'm jealous, and it's hat season. I'm considering giving this a shot.
Before you throw me to the wolves as a garbage-loving dirty hippie, keep this in mind:
I still shop at Target for my groceries and occasionally clothes.
I still buy fabric and yarn in mass quantities at JoAnn's, Michael's and SR Harris.
The shower in my apartment is currently overflowing with shampoo and conditioner bottles, and the garbage is constantly overflowing with disposable diapers for my Tiny Roommate.
I drive a 2001 Jeep Wrangler that averages 18 mpg and, on days like today when I've got to use the four-wheel drive or end up in a ditch with passing motorists laughing at me, it's more like 16 mpg.
What it comes down to is a combination of "waste not, want not" and "everything in moderation." You won't see me behind an Italian restaurant lapping spaghetti up off a stump, but you also won't see me turn down leftover sandwiches at the office, either.