Freeganism


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Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies to live their lives. The theory behind it is limiting their participation in the conventional economy, and indulging in minimal consumption of resources. Freegans see themselves as embracing community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing. They are opposed to materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

For many years Freegans looked to avoid products from unethical corporations who they seemed to be responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse. Yet Freegans soon discovered that whatever they bought they ended up supporting something they classed as deplorable; realising that the problem wasn’t just a few bad corporations, but the entire system itself.

Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system.

They believe that profit driven motives have eclipsed ethical considerations. The complex systems of production guarantee that all the products we generally purchase, and don’t think much about, have detrimental impacts. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company, Freegans believed they were only lending their unconscious support to another.

Freegans now buy as little as possible!!!  

The word Freegan has it’s origins in ‘free’ and ‘vegan’. For those of you who don’t know; vegans are people who avoid products from animal sources or products tested on animals.

Freegans however take this a step further. They have come to recognise that avoiding abuses in our mass-production economy is impossible. Profit driven industries abuse humans, animals, and the earth; this is the by-product of production.

Freeganism aims to avoid supporting; sweatshop labour, rainforest destruction, global warming, displacement of indigenous communities, air and water pollution and eradication of wildlife on farmland as ‘pests’. They are against; overthrowing popularly elected governments to maintain puppet dictators, compliance to big business interests, open-pit strip mining, oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, union busting, child slavery, and pay-offs to repressive regimes. These too are stated by Freegans as impacting on the consumer products we consume every day.

****The above adapted from information at:  http://freegan.info/

**** Above image from same website

OPINIONS PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do YOU know a Freegan or ARE YOU A FREEGAN????

What do YOU think about Freeganism??????

Could YOU convert to Freeganism????

Could YOU boycott ALL the products we take for granted everyday???

Could YOU live for free????

Do YOU think Freeganism advocates a new type of UTOPIAN SOCIETY??????

OR are Freegans merely free-loading??????

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55 thoughts on “Freeganism

  1. It sounds as if freegans are self-righteous freeloaders who let others take the blame for powering big corporations and governments they disagree with. Whether you are the person who purchased a dress made in a sweatshop in India or the person who found it in a dumpster and wears it, both are guilty of perpetuating sweatshops. No one can live free without living off of those who pay their way. Change only comes through people willing to fight for change.

    • Wow. “Self-righteous freeloaders.” I’m not sure that mean-spirited generalizations do much to further the discourse, but I’m going to risk a response.

      I don’t think you can put the person who buys something new and the person who buys something used (or finds it) in the same category. Commerce is perpetuated off of that which is purchased new… not used. When populations stop buying what is new, the factories, by profit necessity, slow down and thus any exploitation that comes with. New and used are not the same beast. Also, you can’t neglect the second motivation for buying used which is not wanting to add to landfills or an overall sense that we can continue a pattern of spend and waste without further consequence to the environment.

  2. Freeganism as lifestyle politic isn’t enough. I mean, sure we can all live off the by products and waste generated by capitalism, and we can feel like proud anti-consumers…however, there’s a difference between simply “shopping right” or not shopping, and working for the overthrow of a horrifyingly exploitave system that leaves the majority of humankind basically fucked.
    I’ve lived freegan when i was young, I still practice healthy frugality to this day even in my advanced middle age, and I’ve known many, many individuals who would be called freegan by any other name-however, I’ve never known one who wasn’t involved with trying to smash capitalism and the state.
    I think you sort of posited freeganism as some sort of lifestyle choice allowable under the reigning social condition-when in fact it is the active negation of that condition. The idea of “living for free” cannot be taken out of the context of the overarching struggle for freedom and self determination against a system that presents us with a million lifestlye choices and not a one that truly challenges the Work, Consume, Obey mandate of neo-modern capitalism.
    But you wrote a great post all the same, and it’s awesome that you wrote about what you did.

    • Hi, thanks for your input into this topic. I appreciate the fact you can offer first hand experience on Freeganism.

      I also appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge that my post had some interest to offer.

      This post was really to try and learn more from people who were or are Freegan. I had heard of Freegans, and read about it, but the info was scant and I knew of no-one who was Freegan. What I read though made me think it was a political stance that drove the movement on, perhaps an amalgamation of such motives. I wondered whether it could be a ‘new format’ of politically driven people rallying silently against what is, capitalism. I didn’t see Freegans as protesters, taking to the streets – do they????

      I also wondered whether a Freegan had to be ‘purist’ or if by adopting certain lifestyle choices, that alone could be classed as Freegan?? I have met many people who state they are socialists or communists and yet, they aren’t in reality. People tend to merely adopt some of the political leanings, but not embracing the whole ethos. Yet, in a way it matters little if they feel good about the choices they are making, they are trying to make some difference, and they are trying to live their life as they see as correct.

      Do you think Freeganism could be achieved by the masses???

      Bex 🙂

  3. Interesting conversation. Having grown up in and around hippie communes, I think Freeganism has some ideological overlap. And – it’s a challenging life choice to follow. Even those leading a monastic lifestyle require a functioning society around them for the supply of some basic needs.
    At any rate, congratulations on generating so much good discussion!

    • Hi,
      Many thanks for your comment and input; I value your input in the discussion!

      The hippy inference – yes, I think the premise of a group pulling together, and perhaps turning away from conventionally society seems similar enough to overlap.

      Thanks again for your response,
      Bex 🙂

  4. Who knew?! I’m a freegan, though, as a number have pointed out, not a purist–that’s impossible. And as a teacher who works 60-70 hours a week for darn little, I’m having to fight the urge to become angry at the freeloader comments… ignorance.

    Sometimes I spend more because buying something more expensive might mean supporting fair trade or local farming/business that doesn’t always get the corporate subsidies and so can’t keep prices down the way corporations getting hand-outs from the government can (oh, the irony). I realize the impossibility of pure freeganism, but I suspect that if a few more of us made room in our budgets and our hearts for local shopping and creative Goodwill fashion, the world might be a little better off. And lest the guru of capitalism go on the attack, I realize all those clothes at Goodwill were once on the rack and likely came from sweatshops… I GET IT!!! But better to buy what’s already been purchased and prevent another landfill discard than to continue contributing to system of abuse and disrespect. And should there come a day that more people are shopping at Goodwill than at malls, and there just isn’t enough used material to stock the shelves, I will happily serve on the committee formed to tackle the problem 🙂

    Nafees, simple IS beautiful. Thank you for the reminder. And thank you, Savvy Senorita, for your thoughtful post.

    • Ah, at last a response from a Freegan!!!! Thank you for your words and the info you have provided; I am happy to have received actual experiences of Freeganism. Oh, I’m happy you found my post, read it and also liked it too!! 🙂

      I think people misunderstand the concept of Freeganism; perhaps because such little is known in society about what being a Freegan actually means. People, I think tend to see Freegans as ‘hippies’ or society drop outs; which isn’t the case.

      Being a purist would be difficult to achieve I should imagine. Do you follow the political beliefs though??? I had a comment on this post also about how it was natural for humans to continue ‘raping’ the Earth – can I ask, what your opinion is on exploiting humans and the world????

      Yes, the fair-trade and charity clothing is something I agree most people could do if they chose to. I buy these as often as possible, and prefer to, but I am not a Freegan. I think it is responsible to at least be mindful of what we are buying, and what it supports.

      Thanks so much for your input and opinions; I appreciate it.

      Bex 🙂

      • When I was in the navy I sometimes saw the receiving end of “aid” — when Bangladesh was first invented and suffered a huge natural disaster (typhoon and floods, if I remember correctly) the RN loaded and sent an aircraft carrier of aid from Singapore — which on arrival was promptly offloaded into government warehouses under heavily armed guard for ‘distribution’ ONLY to the politically favoured and those in the club.

        When CORSO was in full swing the NZ Army made available massive sheds at was then the Sylvia Park army stores complex. The good lady charity workers would arrive early to sort donations from the well intended all over NZ, and they’d go home after a hard day’s work — with the biggest bags stuffed over full of choice bits “That no-one would miss”.

        The Catholic church claims poverty and chastity with a poor box for the collection of ‘widow’s mites’ in every point of worship—dammit, I feel a post coming on.

        We live a life of blissful illusions …

      • Yes, I care very much about how my buying habits affect people around the world, and, very often, the cheapest goods (unless re-sale) are the worst offenders. So I think hard on how much I need something or if I can get the same thing in a used package that will work equally as well, before I buy. Still, I know I’m guilty because corporations do an amazing job of marketing to our insecurities and keeping information like how they do business out of public hands. But once I KNOW something, and I understand the human or environmental toll, I try to act on it. So that means I try to buy local as much as possible and I’m very careful about goods like chocolate, coffee, sugar, clothing and electronics (please oh please check out http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org. The electronics industry is among the worst of offenders with agriculture close behind), among a gazillion other things.

        As for the person who said “rape” is natural… Mark Twain once wrote in an essay, “You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.” So to the degree that someone is protecting their livelihood, I suspect it is true. But as the true beneficiaries of “rape” are mostly at the top of the corporate food chain, it’s not so many as your reader might think. The rest of us are just simply ignorant, and I find that, for the most part, once people understand how their actions affect people or the environment, they care enough to at least try to change some habits. And as I said before, the problems in economy that occur when people care too much, are problems I’d gladly wrap my mind and heart around when they’re upon us.

        In the meantime, I intend to resist the urge to buy cheap crap I don’t need, and potentially spend a little more on the stuff I do. If that makes me a Freegan, I’m good with that.

        • Yes, that is true – getting to the bottom of the ‘real’ business of business. People can’t make informed choices of what to buy if it is kept secret. Also, as you stated we are bombarded with appealing ads swaying our minds.
          Yes, me too!!!! Since I learnt about fair trading in Uni I am quite obsessed with it now. Thanks for the link; I’ll definitely check it out 🙂
          Yes, unfortunately I can concur that ignorance can play a part in some of the opinions relating to such things. I personally don’t agree with abusing the world en masse. I think a line has to be drawn somewhere if we are to actually have a world to live upon.
          Thanks again for your input, I am fascinated by it all and appreciate your knowledge.
          Bex 🙂

  5. “Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system.”

    If everyone suddenly became a Freegan we would return to the standard of living before the industrial revolution and most of the world’s population would be wiped out. Not a particularly good result for an ethically based system of living.

    • Hi Malcolm,
      Thanks again for your input on this topic, appreciate it as always.
      Yes, that is true – a complete move away from anything we know at the moment; tearing up willingly what standard of living most people enjoy. Freeganism isn’t something to be implemented lightly; well, not on a grand scale anyway. I do find some of their ‘political’ ideas worthy though; especially regarding child labour and so on.
      However, having read about the Freegan lifestyle, they don’t all completely boycott the economic system, though they claim to in their ‘manifest’. They do actually take free offerings, such as discarded goods/food. So, unless they are self sufficient in all things, they still rely on the economic system in place to provide for them. Still, it is an interesting thought as a possible future if society continues to reap what it sows, and I don’t just mean the corn.

      Thanks again,
      Bex

      • It’s easy to be caught up in ‘Utopian’ dreams. I was a victim of idealism too, for a long time.
        The Reality is that unless we (or a charitable someone else) produce—we starve. Our choice devolves simply to (a) produce, (b) charity, (c) steal … or starve.
        Metals can’t be produced without raping the earth and converting/expending energy; and without metals even your sewing lacks finesse (anyone still around who can make bone needles, using only natural bones (no plastics) and stone drills?).
        You can still dream to the best of your ability but let’s not close our eyes to Reality — ‘cos reality has a way of sneaking up and biting our butt.

        • Hi,
          Ah, so you you are accusing me of being idealistic, thanks, nothing wrong with a little idealism!!!!! After all it is that which pushes the boundaries, help’s people to think out of the box and confines; from this, actual reality springs forth and manifests!!! What if nobody had ever thought, ‘Ummm I wonder what could be’???

          I do think though that you might be misreading my responses, jumping the gun a little.

          If you didn’t know already, I am well aware of the pros and cons of Freeganism; and also I know what I think about this political ideal. I am aware too of this ‘necessity’ we hold onto as far as the “rape” (your word) and pillage of the world we hold on loan (because we are here for a mere moment in the greater scale of things).
          The world isn’t a never ending pit, a resource to be ever depleted. To not at least treat the world with a modicum of respect; give back after we take (replenish what we can and how we can); is a big mistake.
          If we continue to keep on taking, then there won’t be a world left to take from. It is a fine balance – humans and nature.
          To put it simply if we think it is OK to “rape” the world then why look to protect species and reintroduce them, protect land and seas and so on??? Why look at reducing intensive fishing, whale hunting, killing of Tigers, Elephants and so on. Why introduce human rights, why introduce other such measures to help the world we live flourish, and not die because it is being torn to shreds.
          Whatever our needs, and I don’t doubt we have them, we need to take care of this world as well as take from it. So a lesson from the Freegans might not go amiss for some of us in this world.

          Oh, as far as “my sewing” goes, don’t presume I do sew!!!!

          Bex 🙂

      • What if—

        What if Atlas were, rather than shrugging off the torturous heavy load he bears, quite simply set it down and walked away, and left us to carry it ourselves? Methinks Ayn Rand made a few good points in her otherwise overlong works …

        Let’s reduce Atlas’s load yes; blow our feet off—no.

        That sewing comment was an illustrative generalisation. I imagine that you do use metal, so remove ‘needle’ and insert … (say) motor-vehicle, in the spirit intended?

  6. Freeganism sounds exhausting. I think I would just go full on judgmental and call them freaks, not freegans. Not because what they are doing is not from good intentions, but how on EARTH could you ever give them a bday gift or go shopping w/ them or just try to operate w/in the parameters of this world and still try to hear them while they shout down from their soap box? On one hand, I don’t like the thought of child labor. On the other hand, I love $7 shirts.

    • Hi kerbey,

      Thanks for your comment on this topic. I appreciate the candour you have expressed. I think most people share your feelings on Freeganism. It is such a ‘radical’ way of life, that it would be difficult to conceive of following in their footsteps.

      There is a bind in society. Knowing that child labour is abhorrent, yet if people are honest, they still enjoy purchasing cheap products as a result of this. It seems quite inescapable for society.

      Having read about Freeganism, they don’t seem to shout their beliefs from the rooftops. Though they seen to have a ‘political’ agenda which motivates their choices to abstain, they don’t try to force this upon others.

      Thanks again for your input.
      Bex 🙂

  7. Oops. “Union busting” … I’m all for a Free Market (doesn’t exist anywhere that I can think of. Could, but doesn’t) in which every (r) every exchange is made without any form of coercion.
    Unions are coercive blackmailers.

    One must ask: who does this job belong to? And (in accordance with your other post) be honest. If I’m (say) working for a farmer turning peat bog into blueberries as a GD (General Dogsbody)—is it my job or his?

    If you said ‘his’, top marks. If you said ‘my’ … oops. The job belongs to the guy who created and sustains it, to no-one else. Certainly not to the government, nor to the union.

    To see how relevant the parties are to ‘my’ job, try:
    a. getting rid of the union, or
    b. getting rid of the incumbent (me), or
    c. getting rid of the farmer (employer)

    And it really is that simple.

    • Don;t you think unions can help a person to overcome certain work issues?? I know they have a reputation for being corrupt, and also, often being in the pockets of the employer, but they can help some employees on the end of a bad deal, sometimes, anyway.

      I wonder what your opinions are of employee rights??? Without unions who would adhere to these as they are after all just words until they are put into practice????

      Bex 🙂

  8. You know, in the US, we have a society of people who live this way. We know them as Amish. Their reasons are different but the results should be the same. To be truly free of modern society, you would need to enter a self-sustaining community. You would need to farm your own food, make your own clothes and build your own houses.

    I believe in as people we should do more in the way of having our own gardens or at least support local farmers. A bit off topic, but in my head, a farmer is one of the noblest professions and one that I could never do.

    Looking at what you posted on your blog, I admire their goals, but I don’t see anything of what they actually are doing to accomplish them.

    In History, they say, “We study history to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.” I don’t believe that. We are doomed to repeat history so long as the nature of man remains centered on his self.

    Could I live this way? To be honest, no. I couldn’t give up all the products I use. That doesn’t stop me admiring what they are trying to accomplish.

    • Sadly, no matter how self-sustaining etc etc a society is some enterprising lout always comes along with a big gun, wanting ‘his’ cut.

      We call these louts ‘government’.

      Having gobbled oodles of sauerkraut at an Amish café I still don’t know much about them but I would guess that they, too, pay taxes?

    • Thanks for your input on this, and your opinions.

      I think most people would feel as you do about living the Freegan lifestyle. Consumerism is so entrenched in our societies and linked to everything we do. It is normal life for us to buy things. To suddenly not buy goods, well, manly people couldn’t even conceive of the idea. Yet, the Freegan ideals are something interesting, as you have stated.

      They don’t actually do anything that could be constituted as physically implementing their ideals, their beliefs; other than merely abstaining from the ‘norm’. That is their stand, a silent stand against what is. This is unusual, and yet, perhaps refreshing????

      I do think to fully be successful it would have to be a self sustaining group, as you have said. Currently this isn’t always the case – they actually do still rely somewhat on the wastage of consumerism. Food discarded, and they often recycle goods or swap items for others. So, maybe an ‘Amish’ based community – not the same beliefs as Amish, but incorporating a similar lifestyle, is something that could evolve in the future of Freeganism.

      Thanks again for your comments.
      Bex 🙂

  9. Tut! You trivialise matters of great import. Ergo, as the Fairy Godmother says to the King in ‘Shrek 2′ … “We need to sit down and have a little chat.” (No wonder he got all twitchy).

    Yes! By those definitions I’m a Freegan (sort of). But … … but the only just system IS in pursuit of the profit motive. I mean freely in pursuit of the … you know, that ol’ Free Market thing? No politicians, no political interferences, no coercions, no controls?

    There’s profits and there’s ‘profits!’. Profit is just reward for time-talent-investment-effort. The bad sort is where—and this can only happen in a controlled society—regulations favour the favoured few at the expense of the sound-asleep-on-their-feet many (no need to explain, you know what I’m about).

    From what I’ve seen of your blogs I’m hoping that you are indicative of an upcoming Wave Of Change … aaah, grounds for optimism, at last~!

    • Thank you for your comment, and I appreciate the compliment of my blogs 🙂 That is kind of you!

      Yes, this is why I wondered if Freeganism could be a ‘new world order’; an escape from what is currently seen as ‘blighting’ the world. Yet, it is an abdication, a silent retreat rather than a fight with placards in the street or guns. No one is trying to forcefully ‘convert’ us all. Which is in itself intriguing. A change by peaceful means – just by saying “NO” to the ‘norm’ the Freegans make a stand.

      Not all profit is bad. There is a need for it within society to an extent. The ideals the Freegans live by – how they view commercialism, consumerism and so on for me holds great sense. We do line the pockets of the ‘higher echelons’ in a society, one way or another, we are controlled to accept being deprived in one way or another. This is troublesome; a few controlling the many.

      In a way the Freegans have no deferential concern for the ‘controlling’ parties in the world – it is about being free to chose. The controlling guys/gals are seen as the rot in the system. Freegans don’t invest in these ‘bad investments’, and in that choice they are turning their backs on the control that has seeped into society as a whole. The control that often directs our choices to line the pockets of the bad guys/gals.

      I feel I maybe now rambling, but hopefully you see what I mean and that I understand your comment?????

      Thanks again for your input on this topic, appreciate it as always.

      Bex 🙂

    • Thank you Faye!!

      There is a definite element of responsibility in this for sure; making informed choices and not just accepting what is. I do like the premise of Freeganism, and the morales also attached.

      Perhaps living this way will become ever more common for more people in the future.

      Bex
      Xxx

  10. I think it’s an awesome idea and if I had the time to put into it I certainly wouldn’t have any issues giving it a try. But, I think time is money and when you consider a lifestyle such as this you have to think about the time and effort involved.

    • Hi Michele,
      Thanks for your opinion on this topic. I appreciate your input.

      Freeganism definitely has an element of inspiring intrigue.

      Yet, to abandon a life we have all become quite accustomed to would take some time and effort. A culture shock for most! I think anyone planning to do this would have to consider what was involved, and think it through thoroughly before committing. I don’t think it is the type of lifestyle anyone could do half heartedly.

      Thanks again,
      Bex 🙂

  11. Why invent new terms for old ideas? You could just be a ‘pagan’. We’re full of people that have rebelled against modernity in almost all of its forms.

    • Hi, thanks for your comment on this topic, I appreciate your input.
      Interesting point that you have raised. It could be said that Freeganism is nothing new; derived from other ideas and beliefs that are sociological, philosophical, spiritual, religious and political.
      As capitalism, and the damage it does, is mentioned within their rhetoric, they have borrowed some of their ideals for certain.
      Thanks again,
      Bex 🙂

      • For some of us, there is no need to “convert” to this as it is already in our lifestyle. Sometimes I feel like people are trying to reinvent the wheel over and over again. It’s like the idea that one must be a socialist in order to reject capitalism. I reject them both.

        • I agree that people do often “reinvent the wheel”; maybe to make it feel more relevant for them in that specific moment though.
          People also do tend to view one another via labels/stereotypes or groups. If you reject something or follow a certain lifestyle, then automatically people make judgements about who you are and what you are. Not everyone can think or function outside of what society tells them is the truth or the ‘norm’.
          I feel we are all individuals with our own way of being, and thinking; being one thing, and thinking one thing doesn’t automatically categorise us.

          Thanks,
          Bex

  12. I’m not a freegan. But I don’t think they are simply freeloaders, either. Maybe some are, I find it unlikely that any Group of humans doesn’t have those, but that is a different issue altogether.

    Imagine Bhuddism. There are millions of Bhuddists, but by no means are they all without property, nor are they all vegetarians. That only applies to Bhuddist Monks and Hipsters. Mind you, I don’t have a problem with Hipsters either, but I digress.

    What I do is I limit myself to useful things. If I can buy buttermilk for 29 cents, why buy it for 90 cents? It’s the same product, but buying the expensive brand just supports human stupidity. Luxury is also useful, but I don’t allow myself much, mainly because I don’t have much moiney to start with – but instead of going to the Supermarket and buying Whiskey from the shelve, I go to my local distillery shop and buy it out of the Barrel, usually for €60 per bottle (the bottle lasts for approx 3 months).

    Anyway, living completely without buying anything truly is a feat, and People should be commended for standing up to the corporations

    • Hi,
      Yes there are always the ‘free-loaders’ who abuse the principles for their own benefit in any group. They can ruin it for those who truly follow, and practice what they preach. I don’t think they advocate free-loading, but on UK TV recently a couple of ‘Freegans’ were interviewed and it seemed they just used this as an excuse to merely drop out of society.
      I think living a life free of consumerism would be great, but for me a little difficult as I like to have comfort in my life, although not necessarily extravagance. Of course making the most of what you have is also key.

      Thanks,
      Bex 🙂

    • That sounds like the beginning of Freeganism to me Nafees.
      Most people would find a simple life difficult, everyone is so used to the ‘luxuries’ available en masse.
      Bex 🙂

      • Bex, i think its so easy to live simple life if you live with like minded people. Otherwise people try to start happiness in other things but true happiness is living your life with your own way without hurting your self respect.

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