Faces of autonomy: Freeganism

A scavenged collection/montage/collage of texts and images, freely taken, as an apology for freeganism, the appropriation of capitalist food waste as a way to create autonomy within the belly of the beast.  There is nothing outside the system; what space/times there are, result from shifts, separations,  dissident distortions, drag.  There is no revolution in any classical sense of the term to be found here.  But then such revolution was perhaps always more illusion than reality, and never more so than today.  Freeganism is a strategy, among others, of creating an autonomy, with others, in a possible archipelago of autonomies.

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.

(From freegan.info)

Strategies of Freeganism:

Waste Reclamation, Waste Minimization, Eco-Friendly Transportation, Rent-Free Housing, Going Green, Working Less …

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.

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.

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 diesel engines converted to run on biodiesel 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.

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, banks and cities keep buildings boarded up and vacant.

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 won’t allow people to live in them, even in places where housing is vitally needed, don’t 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.

We live in a society where the foods that we eat are often grown a world away, overprocessed, 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.

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 grocery 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 isn’t an option it’s far harder to find free dental surgery than a free bookcase on the curb 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.

(From freegan.info)

Freegan Visions …

In the globalized corporate version of capitalism under which we now live, all things are reduced to commodities to be bought and sold. People, animals, and the Earth are viewed solely in economic terms, assessing their value as they relate to profit margins without appreciating their intrinsic and interdependent value.

Our society is in a collective state of denial of the fact that it is dooming itself and much of the rest of life on the planet. We laud mass over-consumption as “economic growth” and the destruction of wilderness as “progress”. As we come closer to reaching the carrying capacity of this planet, our assumption that the Earth has unlimited resources and can take unlimited pollution is choking the life out of everything. Already millions of humans die of starvation. Already countless animals die as a result of the destruction of their native ecosystems — forests cleared for timber or cattle-grazing, rivers dammed, fertile plains turned to deserts through punishing agriculture. Already Earth and her inhabitants are set ablaze as oil barons and their pawns in government wage one imperialist war after another.

Already animals are treated as machines in factory farms — not chickens, but “egg-laying units”. They are viewed little differently than the workers who handle them, usually poor people subjected to miserable conditions, poor wages, and long hours. The most miserably exploited of workers are poor people of color, reviled and scorned by the white working class who enjoy one degree more privilege than they and who are taught to blame immigrant workers and mothers of color for their economic hardship and the emptiness of their lives.

It is that very emptiness that marketing executives, military recruiters, televangelists, pornographers and teabaggers seek to exploit, offering an illusion of power and someone to blame. But this emptiness, shared even by those at the upper strata of political and economic power, is the emptiness of an animal far from home, separated from family and community, detached from a history of eons lived as part of a tapestry of life. We hear faintly the call of that which we were part of, that which we were and maybe can be again. But rather than answering it, we seek to silence it, relishing and guarding our own, often meager slice of privilege and status by applying the boot fiercely to the next one down — the Irish cop who brutalizes Latino youth, the son of a Holocaust survivor who orders the bombing of a Palestinian home, the immigrant worker who finds entertainment in cockfighting.

Freegans say enough of this. We reject it all — the drive for status, the lust for wealth, the sense of power and accomplishment from the purchase of needless commodities. We provide for our needs without feeding the monster. In a system tied to oppression, our jobs will ultimately harm others, the money we spend will be cycled into an economy that harms others. This is inevitable because it is this cutting of corners, the lack of consideration for others, this margin sliced out of equal sharing to provide for need that defines profit and that fuels this economic system.

We view the commodities being marketed to us and see them for what they are — misery and suffering with a clean coat of paint. For instance, a pair of Nike shoes is a teenage sweatshop worker who knows that standing up for basic dignity, challenging the toil and cruelty and starvation, will mean being fired into an even greater starvation and hardship.

We also look askance at the range of products sold to us as “socially responsible”. Corporations never seek to include the impact of their social and ecological cost – what they call “externalities”. For argument’s sake, let’s look at vegan Boca Burgers.

Freegans see the card stock wrapper and think of the serene forest erased from the future. They look at the bleached stock and think of the tons of carcinogenic organochlorides invading waterways. They note the inner plastic “freshness seal” and see barrels of petroleum, some as oil spills killing fish and birds, some as climate-changing carbon emissions from the fuel for shipping and factory power, some processed into plastic that will choke our rivers and seas for thousands of years after its one-time use. Freegans remember the deer shot and insects poisoned as “pests”, and the worms, voles and other creatures crushed by the enormous machinery used by modern agribusiness. They remember the farm worker, underpaid and overworked, sending funds home to a country impoverished through imperialism by a government serving the interests of the wealthy corporate elite. They realize that most industrially-produced soy is genetically modified, and that the genetic code of those plants is “owned” by a corporation. Finally, Freegans realize Kraft Foods bought Boca because it saw the huge profits it could make off people who are trying to eat more healthily and responsibly.

Freegans know this system cannot be shaken at its roots if we spend our dollars in one store or another, buy one product or the next, or vote for one corporate-backed political candidate over the other.

The sickness is as old as the idea that anything on this Earth can be owned by one rather than shared by many, as old as the idea that living beings and sections of the Earth can be owned at all.

We want to tear down the barbed wire of this system’s laws, the stone edifices of its economic precepts, and to break the chains of its ideologies.

We harken back to older ways, where people lived as participants, not masters in the continuum of life. We remember our nomadic foraging ancestors. Living in the cities and suburbs that have replaced the wild, we forage, recovering the usable goods wasted by a society that values artifice and image over substance and value, a culture that views the massive over-production of waste as another opportunity for profit through the garbage disposal business.

So freegans rescue capitalism’s castoffs from the jaws of the garbage truck compactor, defying capitalism’s definitions of what is valuable and what is worthless. Since the goods are salvaged and therefore do not support the destruction behind the market, freegans can have a clear conscience about enjoying these goods. But we need to be mindful not to be too charmed by their allure. We know the history of what we consume and always remember the ravages of the culture that produced them.

As freegans we liberate not only goods but also the moments of our lives. Hours not spent carrying out the hollow directives of bosses are instead spent free, since we don’t need to make money to acquire goods that we won’t buy. Instead, we spend our time directly acquiring, repairing and making the things we need, working to share skills and create alternatives—and just plain enjoying our time.

We believe that our consumption practices, while important and even revolutionary if practiced en masse, must be one small thread as we weave the fabric of a new society and mend the garment of the old.

We envision and strive to create a world where humans recognize that all sentient beings have the right to live their lives on their own terms in appropriate ecosystems. We work to create a world where we, as people, recognize our kinship and solidarity with all life. We envision a world where people reject the arbitrary boundaries that have been used as justifications for oppressions. Regardless of our species, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or any other constructed boundary, we are all one.

We believe another world is possible because another world is necessary — because too much suffering has transpired for too long, and more awaits unless we change course. We seek to live consistent with our beliefs of minimizing harm to others while seeking to help, heal, and enrich lives wherever we can.

In truth, freeganism is seeing beauty and value in that which is ignored, seeing horror behind the lies of the powerful, and seeing an enduring vision of hope for a world alive, flourishing, and free.

Free the trash!

(From freegan.info)


People often ask us‚ do you really thing you can change the world by recovering commodities from the garbage?

Almost without exception, freegans respond by saying that we see freeganism as merely one aspect of building a culture of resistance and liberation, of creating a new, independent self-sustaining society based around principles of mutual aid, freedom, respect for the Earth and its inhabitants, egalitarianism, and justice.

In educating others on the availability of wasted resources as a key element of a low-consumption lifestyle, sharing what we recover, turning abandoned buildings into squats, rediscovering the bountiful potential of wild food through foraging, transforming abandoned lots into community gardens, we are creating the beginnings of a real alternative to a social structure pathologically committed to infinite growth and cutthroat competiton at the expense of the environment and human and animal wellbeing.

Of equal importance, we believe in mounting an active resistance to the injustices present under the current system, campaigning against corporate globalization, war, animal exploitation, imperialism, environmental destruction, human rights abuses, economic injustice, the racist and classist prison system, and more.

(From freegan.info)


The last text is often described as the original freegan manifesto, which appeared in February 2000. The zine’s author, according to some sources, is Warren Oakes, drummer of the band, Against Me!  (For the orignal zine version)

Why Freegan?

An Attack on Consumption – In Defense of Donuts

Freeganism is essentially an anti-consumeristic ethic about eating; asking “Why freegan?” is essentially asking “Why not consumerism?” So here is a quick criticism of consumerism.

Treading lightly on the Earth – Our high impact, produce & consume society puts a very intense strain on the Earth and her resources. Rainforests are clear-cut to provide more land for food production. Food production also consumes vast quantities of fresh water, one of our fastest-depleting resources. And then there is the packaging! Go look in your trash right now and most likely it will be filled with plastic, paper, and Styrofoam packaging from food products (if not you get mad props!). Go look in any trash or landfill and you will see literally tons & tons of packaging. The act of consumption is the transformation of natural land and resources into money for corporations and acres of trash in landfills. (This is not a good thing.)

Anti-Capitalism – If you are an “anti-capitalist”, what better way to protest the economy than withdrawing from it and never using money?

Working Sucks – Where does the money you spend come from? You or your folks working long hours at a dehumanizing job, most likely. You don’t have to compromise yourself and your humanity to the evil demon of wage-slavery! Working sucks and if a little scavenging can keep you from needing a job than go jump in a dumpster! Even if you do need to work to pay your bills, think about how much less you would have to work if you didn’t have to buy food.

Privilege – We, in America, have so much and so many people all over the world have so little. Why do we have more? Because we’re number one! Other folks are literally starving so that we can have fully-stocked shelves at our supermarkets and health food stores. If this concerns you (as it should) you can protest the unbalanced distribution in America and the world by sacrificing some of your privilege and feeding yourself off of the ridiculous excess of food instead of consuming products from that supermarket shelves we are so unjustly privileged to have access to.

The Ultimate Boycott – By not consuming, you are boycotting EVERYTHING! All the corporations, all the stores, all the pesticides, all the land and resources wasted, the capitalist system, the all-oppressive dollar, the wage slavery, the whole burrito! That should help you get to sleep at night.

Your Life – Think about how your life is wrapped up in the game of consumptions: think about the job you hate, the ugly billboards in your community, the horrible waste, the stink, the fast pace and lack of compassion that surround you and understand that as you consume it, it consumes you. How much of your day is spent dealing with money? How does money affect your ideas about other people? Think abut how much more to life there is and find it, do it, go!

Criticism of Veganism:

The vegan theory is essentially a boycott of any products that injure animals in their production. The vegan consumers are flexing their monetary muscle and “voting with their dollars” for the products that don’t injure animals. These dollars are voting for coca-cola, big corporate grocery stores, greasy-fast food (we all know Taco Bell vegans), and worse. Shouldn’t truly conscientious folks seek something more? I don’t vote because no matter who I vote for, the government always wins and when you “vote with your dollars”, consumerism always wins, capitalism always wins. So…. make a list of all the unethical practices that really piss you off and make a list of all the corporations and products you want to boycott. Veganism is a good first step, but is your only concern animals? I made this list and when I was done, I couldn’t really justify buying anything, I couldn’t get behind any aspect of the corporate death consumer machine so I decided to boycott everything. I still spend money sometimes (I love going out for Thai food) but I try to be very conscientious about my consumption. Besides the concern that veganism as an ethic for eating stops short, it is also still a very high impact lifestyle. The packaging from vegan food doesn’t take up less space in the landfill or consume less resources just because the food is vegan. The whole produce and consume dynamic is still played out, but the setting is a fancy health food store instead of a supermarket. Veganism is not a threat, or a challenge to the wasteful practices of our capitalist society.

How Freegan?

Freeganism, also known as ethical eating, voluntary simplicity, monetary minimalism, the ultimate boycott, etc is fun and easy. Here are some basic tips:

Quality of Food – Freegans widely vary in their concern for health – some freegans gorge themselves on dumpstered donuts and some are still totally vegan, but get all their food for free. Most fall in the happy medium who would rather eat a load of bread with whey in it than make a $2 donation to the corporate death machine. Some freegans eat “edgy” food (on the edge of edibility) and some don’t take chances. Some folks are even “meagan” – they eat meat if they get it for free.

Quantity of Food – A lot, everywhere. You have all seen that Food Not Bombs flyer about how many million pounds of food is wasted; well, it is true. The food is plentiful. The food is good.


Dumpster Diving! – The best, easiest way to get the most food. Just head to your local grocery store, produce store, bagel and donut shop, bakery, K-mart (expired shelf goodies), and open up the dumpster and take a look. Don’t be afraid to climb in and dig around! Have fun, go with your friends! If you just find a big, scary compactor behind the store (a bunch of big supermarkets have these), then you can’t get in, but you can fight back. Start a local DLF (Dumpster Liberation Front!) and stick it to those compactors: superglue them so they don’t work or hit them with a bat or pee on them or paint them up; have fun – compactors are the enemy. P.S. Food is not the only thing in dumpsters! Happy scavenging!

Give-Aways! – A lot of small, independent places and even some bigger stores will give you food they are about to throw out if you just ask them for it. Also, free lunches and soup kitchens! Make sure you aren’t taking food from someone who really needs it if you don’t, but most places have a lot of extra to go around. If you can get government food or food stamps, go for it! Go to Food Not Bombs and help out, then take some extra soup and bagels for the road… Just don’t be afraid to ask and the food will come to you.

Plate scraping/Table-Diving – Go in a restaurant and either ask a worker if you can eat plate scraps or just sit with a drink and hop up and grab plates off tables when diners leave and finish off what they left. In fast food places you can pull half-drunk sodas and half-eaten orders of French fries out of the trash. Me and my dear sweet friend Peter once sat in Denny’s for hours eating table dives. After a while, diners would intentionally leave food on their plates for us or actually bring leftovers to our table. If a waitress/waiter lets this go on, leave a tip! I have heard stories of plate-scrapers in the mall food court getting offered money to buy some food– free cash if you want to work the pity. It is possible that you will get harassed and kicked out so this method is not fool-proof.

Wild foraging/Gardening – Get a book on edible plants and start looking around; there is a lot more edible food growing all around us than we realize. Also, if you live down the street from orange and grapefruit vines, don’t buy oranges and grapefruit! If you live down in West Palm Beach, don’t buy cans of coconut milk for Thai curry. Learn what grows in your area and find it or plant it. You can start your own garden in your yard or in that empty lot up the street. You don’t need a lot of land of gourmet soil, just some dirt. Maybe your city even has a community garden and you and your friends could get a plot. For seeds, remember all those great fruits and veggies you just dumpster-dove? Plant the seeds and stick the bad parts, stems and excess in a pile outside with some dirt. As the plant matter decomposes it will be magically transformed into super-rich compost, which makes a great fertilizer. Your newly planted seeds will be thrilled.

Barter – Set up a local network that trades and/or shares goods and services. “I’ll give you my extra tend pounds of broccoli if you fix my bike.” “Hey dudes! Feast at my house! We made a great find and I love sharing the wealth of the dumpster!”

Scams/Shoplifting – There are a slew of shady ways to score free food…always let your conscience be your guide!

Shoplifting – There is some debate over how freegan this really is because you are still creating an empty shelf that must be restocked, but it is more freegan than forking over big bucks. This is a more direct attack on the store selling the goods, not the producer (unless you hyper-boycott a product: pick something you can’t stand and consistently get it off the shelves, steal it, break it, hide it, just eliminate it and the store will eventually stop selling it) so you should consider if you are putting a ma & pa organic veggie stand out of business or just chipping away at a corporate giant.

Employee Theft – Some folks believe this to be more ethical than shoplifting because it is a trade-off: they steal your time and energy and you steal their food. If you work somewhere that sucks, hook yourself up, hook up your friends, hook up strangers, hook up your local FNB! I have heard tales of a kid who feeds a three-person household of his workplace acquisitions from the health food store. They eat damn good, too! You can also get the insider scoop and may be able to intercept food headed for the dumpster.

Returns – Example: we just dove a bunch of jars of mayonnaise. We don’t want to eat it, so we return it to the store, say we bought it and couldn’t use it/don’t want it and trade it in for cash or good food or store credit. Some stores throw away anything that is returned that costs less than $50, so you can find expensive stuff, in a package, with a receipt!

Extending the Ethic – Withdrawal from the consumer death culture doesn’t have to end with food:

Energy – Use solar energy, make a solar oven, hang our wash on a line, don’t use the air conditioner or heater when you can put on/take off clothes, open a window or use a fan, wash your dishes by hand – dishwashers consume a lot of energy and water, turn off lights when you aren’t using them.

Water – Don’t shower often and when you do, instead of showering, “go swimming” in the shower with a friend – it is fun, explorative, liberating, and consumes less water! Don’t flush when you pee! It won’t hurt you, pee just sits in the toilet not bothering anyone; it doesn’t warrant the 10 gallons per flush just to get rid of it. Wait until you get a good healthy poop in there and then flush it all away. If you don’t like the smell of pee stagnating in the toilet, pee outside or dilute your urine (7 water to 1 pee) and fertilize with it, or drink it (Gandhi drank a cup of his own pee every day). Also, you can make manure out of your own poop! Or… dumpster dive some adult diapers and have a party where everyone straps one on and fills it up — no water wasted.

Carlessness – Cars are gross and expensive, not to mention the gas companies, who are as evil as can be (look at Iraq, do you really want to fund the slaughter of innocent people?). Ride a bike or a bus or put a bike on the bus or hitchhike or walk or roller skate or canoe or skateboard or hop a train or if you are gonna use a car than carpool, for Pete’s sake! Or have 10 people split the cost of a community car that you all share. Or at least convert your engine to run on recycled vegetable oil. (Yes, this can be done!)

Homebrew – Don’t buy alcohol! Alcohol corporations are big and scary and perpetuate fucked up gender roles and beauty myths with their advertising. Brew your own wine and beer!

Get a Cup! – Get a big, durable plastic cup with a lid and a fork or spoon and carry it with you at all times. This will dramatically reduce the amount of disposable silverware and bowls/plates/cups/bottles you consume. Instead of buying a bottle of beverage, fill up your cup with water. Eat out of it too. If you get one that seals, you can take home restaurant leftovers in it instead of in Styrofoam!

Get a Hanky! – Carry a handkerchief with you and you won’t need tissues or paper towels and it is handy to have for spills, tears etc.

Squat – If you can live in an abandoned building for free, do it!

Stretch – Stretch what you have! Before you throw something away, ask yourself (repeatedly) “will I ever use this for anything? Do I know anyone who will?” Before you buy anything figure out if you can make it, borrow it, do without, fix the one you already have or get it for free somehow. How long will it last, how often will it get used, can you share it with others, can you recycle it or reuse it when it stops working? If it costs $5, ask yourself if it is worth an hour of your life. If not, do without it. Repair your clothes, buy second-hand, share! Fix old stuff instead of buying new stuff. Learning how to fix things yourself saves you money and brings independence and self-reliance. Free yourself from the consumer mindset – the solution to all your problems can not be found at the shopping mall!


There are two options for existence: 1) waste your life working to get money to buy things that you don’t need and help destroy the environment or 2) live a full satisfying life, occasionally scavenging or working your self-sufficiency skills to get the food and stuff you need to be content, while treading lightly on the earth, eliminating waste, and boycotting everything. Go!

(From freegan.info)


Video Documents …

Freegans: Creative Living Outside Capitalism by the thrashlab

Spoils: Extraordinary Harvest by Alex Mallis …


One of the most eloquent and elegant visual reflections on Freeganism, or on Gleaning, is Agnes Varda’s film Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse, in french …


A last meditation by Jorge Furtado, the film Ilha das Flores, with english subtitles …


For an earlier posting on freeganism/gleaning in Madrid, see:

Gleaning or the bloody joys of capitalism



This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Faces of autonomy: Freeganism

  1. Pingback: Dumpster Diving: conheça o movimento de pessoas que vivem e se alimentam do que encontram no lixo | VIVIMETALIUN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.