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no one ever plans to sleep out in the gutter, sometimes that's jsut the most comfortable place.
June 29, 2005 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Freegans !
Because so much is trashed in our society, a freegan lifestyle can be one of great abundance -- food, books, magazines, comic books, newspapers, videos, music (CDs, cassettes, records, etc.), carpets, musical instruments, clothing, rollerblades, scooters, furniture, vitamins, electronics, pet care products, games, toys, bicycles, artwork, and just about any other type of consumer good can be found in the discards of retailers, institutions, and individuals simply by rummaging through their trash bins, dumpsters, and trash bags.
Previously mentioned here. (via memepool)

posted by es_de_bah (63 comments total)

 
i worked at the donation end of the salvation army once. we threw out more than half of what was donated despite its being perfectly useable. these people may be on to something.
posted by es_de_bah at 4:42 PM on June 29, 2005


Didn't we sort of just do this Monday?

Paging jonmc...
posted by fixedgear at 4:51 PM on June 29, 2005


oof...missed it...sorry...
posted by es_de_bah at 4:54 PM on June 29, 2005


I used to know some people who called themselves "freegans." Whenever I made the mistake of going with them to a restaurant or coffee shop, I would see them stealing the scraps off peoples' tables after they had left. F*cking embarrasing. And the worst part was that it wasn't like they were homeless or anything. Just pretentious, middle-class, white college kids.
posted by afroblanca at 4:54 PM on June 29, 2005


A decent idea with a terrible name.
posted by VanRoosta at 5:02 PM on June 29, 2005


Freegans? You mean broke college students?
posted by idiotfactory at 5:14 PM on June 29, 2005


I heard a different interpretation of the term from the members of the Lorax Co-op at the University of Oregon. They held that freegans were people who only ate meat or animal products if and when they were free.
posted by mullingitover at 5:31 PM on June 29, 2005


I missed Monday's thread, and by doing so I also missed the complete ass jonmc wasted no time making of himself.
posted by item at 5:49 PM on June 29, 2005


Vincent: So you decided to be a bum?
posted by keswick at 5:50 PM on June 29, 2005


Whenever I made the mistake of going with them to a restaurant or coffee shop, I would see them stealing the scraps off peoples' tables after they had left.

Stealing? At that point no one "owned" the food, and it was just going to be thrown out anyway. Why pay for food when you can get it for free?
posted by cmonkey at 6:01 PM on June 29, 2005


Picking through other peoples' perfectly useful junk = Practical Human

Doing the same while calling yourself a "freegan" and producing nothing yourself= Stinky (probably) Bum
posted by recurve at 6:12 PM on June 29, 2005


A friend of mine just wrote an entertaining article in some random new free magazine about the not-quite-dumpstering aspects of surviving while not so financially endowed.

My most recent dumpster story: On my way to work this morning, I passed a guy checking out the huge, ugly (but in great shape, and comfy-looking) couch currently residing in my alley. The woman with him looked at me, embarrassed, and said, "I'm NOT taking a couch from the alley!" I just laughed and said, "Yeah, I saw that yesterday, but unfortunately it wouldn't fit in my apartment." She kinda stared, but didn't look nearly as embarrassed.

I dunno, I've gotten most of my furniture from the trash, my house is nicely furnished now and any dirt is from me, not the alley finds. I've yet to manage any food finds, but mostly because I can afford food just fine and can't seem to get myself out late at night to get messy.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 6:30 PM on June 29, 2005


Freegans avoid contributing labor or wealth to an economy based on materialism, explotation, greed and waste by refusing to participate in it.

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

Of course it must only be a small thread. There has to be a lot of greedy materialists in order for these "revolutionists" to be able to survive.

parasite
n 1: an animal or plant that lives in or on a host (another
animal or plant); the parasite obtains nourishment from
the host without benefiting or killing the host [ant: host]
2: a follower who hangs around a host (without benefit to the
host) in hope of gain or advantage [syn: leech, sponge,
sponger]
posted by c13 at 6:39 PM on June 29, 2005


c13: I think the point is they don't have to work to survive.

cmonkey: not stealing, but embarassing nonetheless, I think. Anything but food, I'm ok with scrounging, though.

On a side note, I think this excess of waste isn't always a bad thing. If we wern't such a wasteful society, people in poverty might not have free stores to go to.
posted by absalom at 7:01 PM on June 29, 2005


Kinda wished I'd been able to do salvage runs in Tokyo when people were putting out barely used stuff.
posted by mecran01 at 7:07 PM on June 29, 2005


I've heard it called "freebietarianism", though "freegan" is certainly easier to pronounce. I think it is a measure of economic development of a society just how many free things one can legally acquire. I've met a number of retired folks who seem to practice a freegan lifestyle not so much of necessity as simply to have a social hobby, sharing the best freebie deals with their buddies as they stand in line waiting to get in to a free concert or movie showing. The better the freebies they reveal, the higher their esteem within their group.
posted by gregor-e at 7:14 PM on June 29, 2005


absalom, i don't suppose something like, i don't know, socialism, might work out better than the "over-production followed by trickle down" theory?

tho i could agree with you from the point of view that they system is already there, at least this overproduction helps some people. still, i don't think there's any justifying just how wasteful our economy is.

and c13, parasites exist because they fill a niche, no? often, they help sustain their ecosystem by keeping the host in check. for every imbalance, there's a reaction to regain equilibrium.
posted by es_de_bah at 7:15 PM on June 29, 2005


Paging jonmc...

At various jobs, I've taken advantage of free books and CD's that have come with it, but I'm also perfectly happy to pay for stuff I appreiate to support stuff I like, even if it's just a local candy store or something.

I also missed the complete ass jonmc wasted no time making of himself.

Well, your poor opinion of me wounds me to the core of my being, really.
posted by jonmc at 7:31 PM on June 29, 2005


There's a grovery store near me, and every night, they throw away "expired" sandwiches. You know, the ones with a sell-by date on the package that's that day.

I often open up their dumpster and take out the sandwiches. They are quite tasty.

IANAF, but I do enjoy free things, especially those that would only go to waste.

And the worst part was that it wasn't like they were homeless or anything. Just pretentious, middle-class, white college kids.

oh, get off it. just because somebody can afford to do something, doesn't mean they are obligated. your prejudice is clear.
posted by fake at 7:48 PM on June 29, 2005


Yes. That is precisely the point. They don't have to work to survive because they can leech off the others.
Its just that there seems to be an apparent lack of perspective. Before the tofu dog is pulled out of the garbage by one of the freegans, it has to be produced, bought, and then thrown away by normal people. And if enough of these normal people deside to switch from being productive members of a society to scavengry, there very quickly will be a hell of a lot less tofu dogs to "liberate from the jaws of a garbage compactor".
I personally don't have anything against scavenging perfectly functioning things. I do it myself. Half the furniture in my apartment is discarted lab stuff. But Freegan Manifesto? Come on. Its so sophomoric.

On preview: absalom, i don't suppose something like, i don't know, socialism, might work out better than the "over-production followed by trickle down" theory?

Certainly you've heard little experiments performed to answer just that questions in, oh I don't know, Russia, or Eastern Germany, for example, no?
Also, do you really need to drag out social theory or ecology to explain why you pick up garbage?
posted by c13 at 7:55 PM on June 29, 2005


scavenging perfectly functioning things.
Ahem, this didn't come out quite right. What I meant was more along the lines of "perfectly useful things". I fix some of them up.
posted by c13 at 7:57 PM on June 29, 2005


your prejudice is clear.


Yeah, his prejudice that those who are not destitute shouldn't horn in on those who are for bourgeois adventurism or to make some kind of dimly understood statement. If you're upset with corporatism, maybe you'd make your point better by supporting local independent merchants rather than taking food out of the mouths of the genuinely hungry.

And a lot of that stuff goes into the trash because of helath department regulations. Would you rather those were repealed? If so, by all means petition your government, but don;t feed me bullshit.
posted by jonmc at 7:59 PM on June 29, 2005


c13 - Did you know that J.P.Morgan started his fortune by scavenging ?

It's true. During the Civil War, Morgan bought 10,000 or so defective rifles and then sold them back to the Union Army as new rifles.

It was like dumpster diving but on a grand scale.

So, yes : capitalists can be leeches.
posted by troutfishing at 8:05 PM on June 29, 2005


Scavengers and leeches are not exactly the same, you know.
posted by c13 at 8:07 PM on June 29, 2005


I might've been loose with terms myself...
posted by c13 at 8:08 PM on June 29, 2005


maybe you'd make your point better by supporting local independent merchants rather than taking food out of the mouths of the genuinely hungry.

This is the US-- nobody needs to scrounge in waste bins to survive. Seriously, our poor have a lot of unnecessary problems, but getting the requisite calories isn't one of them.

These kids are pretentious, to be sure. But I admire anyone who can live comfortably, completely off the scraps that the "good people" don't see fit to use.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:37 PM on June 29, 2005


fake says : oh, get off it. just because somebody can afford to do something, doesn't mean they are obligated. your prejudice is clear.

Well, it must be clear to everyone but me, because I have no idea what you're talking about. I never said that my "freegan" acquaintances were obligated to buy anything. However, they should have realized that what they were doing was inappropriate and embarrassing. If they were truly needy, I could sympathize with them. However, they were doing it because it was a "hip" part of their subculture, and I thought the whole thing was rather silly.

Now where is this prejudice that you speak of?
posted by afroblanca at 9:24 PM on June 29, 2005


So, yes : capitalists can be leeches.
troutfishing

I htink you need to take in what c13 said. Scavenging and leeching are not the same thing. A leech or parasite would take from a host without giving anything of value in return, as is the case with these "freegans". They use goods produced by the economy but don't contribute. In your example, Morgan took waste, the defective rifles, and managed to create something useful out of them in the form of capital which he then used to build his empire. This is more like a vulture who gains nourishment from a dead animal. Reprehensible? Maybe, but he wasn't leeching from the economy.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:24 PM on June 29, 2005


I think you guys really need to get a handle on the difference between scavenger and parasite. Boards of Directors and Lawyers and Marketers are parasites, these people are scavengers. If you don't believe me think about the difference between a leech and a vulture...
posted by Chuckles at 9:51 PM on June 29, 2005


c13 wrote "Certainly you've heard little experiments performed to answer just that questions in, oh I don't know, Russia, or Eastern Germany, for example, no?"

Oh come on. You can't seriously think that these totalitarian dictatorships did anything more than pay lip-service to socialism. Way to hit that strawman.
posted by oddman at 9:58 PM on June 29, 2005


No. Actually the intentions at the beginning were very noble. The totalitarian dictatorship came closer to the end of the experiment. I'm sure everyone has his own idea of some idealized socialism, but where are they in practice?
posted by c13 at 10:04 PM on June 29, 2005


Before the tofu dog is pulled out of the garbage by one of the freegans, it has to be produced, bought, and then thrown away by normal people.

Thrown away to rot and/or feed rats and maggots (for free!), all that precious tofu wasted, because your "normal" people chose not to pay money for it. What's your complaint here, that freegans are starving rats? Shouldn't you be calling a PETA hotline on those malicious maggot-robbers?

When you start paying for your sunshine and oxygen let us know, you photon-leeching air-sponging parasite.

And sangermaine said: Morgan took waste, the defective rifles, and managed to create something useful out of them [...]

Pay attention: Morgan sold defective rifles to the US Army, which issued some of them to their US soldiers -- which produced a surfeit of dead US soldiers and a deficit of dead Confederate ones. That is, Morgan treasonously endangered the lives of his country's troops just to make a buck. I can't tell from your profile if you're a US citizen or not, but if you are you can't claim to be a patriot.

he wasn't leeching from the economy.

You have that backwards. Selling the Army defective rifles is right up there with counterfeiting, economically speaking. It's "leeching" alright.

(Are you really that stupid or are you just trolling?)

I can't believe you people are so steamed at these kids for carrying away other people's trash. Your complaint seems based on envy and spite: you wish you had the guts to live free like that, instead of working at your shitty jobs that you clearly hate, and it really pisses you off that other people don't work as hard at being miserable as you do. It's not that they are parasites, it's that you are damn fools.
posted by davy at 10:11 PM on June 29, 2005


Davy, dude, read the comments before you get your panties all bunched up.
What's your complaint here, that freegans are starving rats?
Here, let me repeat it very slowly for you: I personally don't have anything against scavenging perfectly functioning things. I do it myself. Half the furniture in my apartment is discarted lab stuff. But Freegan Manifesto? Come on. Its so sophomoric.

Your complaint seems based on envy and spite: you wish you had the guts to live free like that, instead of working at your shitty jobs that you clearly hate, and it really pisses you off that other people don't work as hard at being miserable as you do. It's not that they are parasites, it's that you are damn fools.

Well, I don't know about others here, but I'm in graduate school, and I enjoy it very much. And after I'm done with it, I think I'll go to med school, just because I don't really feel like getting a "normal job".
I also know some freegans pretty well, I've been over to their place many times. They live right here on campus, they go to college, I teach some of them. Their parents paying the tuition. They may be pulling tofu dogs out of trash, but definitely not the laptops, iPods and cars.
Speaking of the tofu dogs, some of the rats in dumpsters are rabid. Just saying. You might want to check yourself out.
posted by c13 at 10:24 PM on June 29, 2005


The concept is flawed. Drop out of the consumer culture by living off it. There are better healthier more substainable ways.
posted by stbalbach at 10:52 PM on June 29, 2005


davy,
There's no need for personal attacks. I never insulted you. You're letting the emotion of the issue tie you up. I wasn't applauding Morgan's actions, just addressing troutfishing's incorrect assertation that he was a leech. A leech as it's normally used is something that takes without providing any benefit to its host. Morgan greatly harmed the Army, but put money into the economy. Therefore, not a leech.

You have that backwards. Selling the Army defective rifles is right up there with counterfeiting, economically speaking. It's "leeching" alright.

I don't think it is, "economically speaking". Counterfeiting undermines the monetary exchange system itself, which is not really comparable.

I was just trying to counter the idea that those who don't do direct work (lawyers, CEOs) or those who do harmful things (in this case, Morgan) are leeches.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:38 PM on June 29, 2005


stbalbach: The concept is flawed. Drop out of the consumer culture by living off it. There are better healthier more sustainable ways.

Isn't this how all nature works? You find a niche and exploit it. How is that a flawed concept?

There is a certain inconsistency in condemning consumer societies excess when you are living off of it... Since it is unlikely that your statements will make a substantial difference it doesn't really effect the viability of the survival strategy.

I'm not sure davy's take is exactly right, but I feel his frustration with the attitudes expressed here.
posted by Chuckles at 12:11 AM on June 30, 2005


Sangermaine: I was just trying to counter the idea that those who don't do direct work (lawyers, CEOs) or those who do harmful things (in this case, Morgan) are leeches.

I really shouldn't have included that bit in my comment... It was just... irresistible... :)
posted by Chuckles at 12:13 AM on June 30, 2005


"in order to eat the rich ,first we must cook the rich"
found insribed at a bus stop ,my traveling companion's reply "yes cook them to kill the parasites that inhabit them"
I think dumpster diving is trancedental ;trash being anti property,stuff certain people distance themselves from. A creative person can change/transform it into some thing desirable. like music sampling, except discards are the medium.It seems every one will have their own feelings about this attracted or repeled,just like modern art for instance.
posted by hortense at 12:42 AM on June 30, 2005


I'm not quite sure why this is so upsetting - the freegan is wombling, isn't s/he? If the tofu dog were to be somehow transported into the hands of a person whose need for tofu was greater than the freegan, I could understand why the interception might be considered unacceptable. As it is, however, the food is going to be thrown away, and nobody will get to eat it at all - it has been produced too no purpose.

Accusations of lasiness seem to be somewhat missing the point as well - the doctrine is that any form of labour rewarded by cash is going to implicate the labourer in systems of capital that ultimately underpin a society they disagree with. So, by living off scraps and buying second-hand, they both reduce the amount of waste (defined as products created and not being utilised) and reduce their own living expenditures and thus their need to interact with that system.

Presumably, in an ideal system, a balance exists between people who throw things away and people who pick them up and use them/eat them. At present the sheer volume of waste being produced and disposed of in landfills suggests that that balance has not yet been reached. We need more scruffy, shiftless layabouts, stat.
posted by tannhauser at 4:40 AM on June 30, 2005


Chuckles, hortense, tannhauser,
I think the problem many have with this concept is that it's supposed to be a stand against consumer society, when what it does is make you totally dependent on it without giving anything in return.

There is a certain inconsistency in condemning consumer societies excess when you are living off of it... Since it is unlikely that your statements will make a substantial difference it doesn't really effect the viability of the survival strategy.

It's not just a "certain inconsistency", it's a core problem with the concept, which is why it's flawed. The choice a freegan has made is to allow others to do his work for him. He could not live without our work, yet he does not contribute and even looks down on what we do. That just seems wrong.

A creative person can change/transform it into some thing desirable.
This is true, but freegans are not taking something people think is worthless and transforming it into something useful. They are taking food and using it for...food. You may call this carving a niche, but it is parasatism. The work of society supports their lifestyle. It's not jealousy at their freedom as davy says, but resentment of the fact that they are mooching off of the work of others. Even if it's taking the food that society would not be using anyway, it's still using society's efforts for their gain. Someone had to make that food, someone had to transport it, someone had to prepare it, and now thanks to them a freegan can eat it without giving back at all in any way. If they want to reduce waste, why not do something productive like help discover new techniques for reducing or reusing waste?

Accusations of lasiness seem to be somewhat missing the point as well - the doctrine is that any form of labour rewarded by cash is going to implicate the labourer in systems of capital that ultimately underpin a society they disagree with.
The accusations of laziness stem from what I was talking about above. They've decided not to work, but expect others to support them by continuing to work and produce waste for them to live on. The concept is not applicable on a wide scale, as someone always has to be there working to produce the waste they live off of.

So, by living off scraps and buying second-hand, they both reduce the amount of waste (defined as products created and not being utilised) and reduce their own living expenditures and thus their need to interact with that system.
They have done the exact opposite. Their need to interac with the "system" is now 100%. They cannot live without it. How is this independence from the system, when without it they'd starve?
posted by Sangermaine at 5:31 AM on June 30, 2005


So, hang on.. you're resentful that they are eating food that nobody else wants and whhich would otherwise be eaten by nobody? That's... impressive.

More generally, I think Freegans are not expecting other people to work, to buy new things and to throw out old things while they are still usable (or edible). That's just what other people are doing. The freegans have observed that this is the case, and have concluded that they can reduce their own need to buy new things by using these old things. So, if nobody produced waste, then freeganism would indeed not work, but it would also not need to work, because the society would have changed to the point where everyone was behaving frugally - thrift is the enemy of free stuff. If you choose not to be thrifty, you generate free stuff as a waste product of your consumption. Short of defecating on all unwanted food, furniture or books, I'm not sure how effectively that can be prevented, or indeed whether the making unreusable of the waste is a better plan to foil the dirty freegans than not generating so much waste in the first place, which would certainly stymie their social critique.

So:

The concept is not applicable on a wide scale, as someone always has to be there working to produce the waste they live off of.

Doesn't really work for me as a criticism. If there were lots of macrobes and no corpses, the macrobes would have nothing to live on and would die. If there were lots of corpses and no macrobes, the dead would pile up. Or, to be more prosaic, and since parasitism seems to be a bit of a dirty word around here, if I dump a sofa in the street it really doesn't matter to me whether it is collected by the local authorities and thrown in a landfill site or taken home by somebody else and used as a sofa. I have abandoned it, and I don't really get to decide what happens to it next unless I make the effort to find it a new home or drive it to the dump. If somebody else uses it, it frees up space in a landfill site. If everybody starts buying second-hand, it creates new economic conditions and alters the structure of how people do business. Ebay might be seen as a response to this - technology allowing people to convert possessions they no longer want into cash, and other people to get possessions they do want without demanding that a new object is made, with the consumption of energy and resources that entails.

How is this independence from the system, when without it they'd starve?

Doesn't really work for me either. Without the system, if you mean the system of capitalist exchange, you would probably starve. I certainly would, unless something else was put in its place which fulfilled a similar function - rewarding my non-survival-oriented skills with the things I need or want to have or the means to get them. However, you seem to be confused about what a system of capital exchange is. It is a system whereby labour is exchanged for money, which can then in turn be exchanged for goods and services. A freegan is clearly reducing their need to interact with this system, because they are not exchanging their labour for capital - they are exchanging their labour (looking, lugging) directly for goods which have been judged worthless by those who have exchanged money for them. The idea of being "without the system" in the sense of being utterly unconnected with any process that takes place within it would indeed lead to starvation, but it would for almsot anyone who relies on the concept of exchange - that's hardly a fault unique to dumpster-divers.

If they want to reduce waste, why not do something productive like help discover new techniques for reducing or reusing waste?

You mean... like reusing other people's unwanted possessions? Eating food that has been thrown out? Something along those lines?
posted by tannhauser at 6:49 AM on June 30, 2005


You cannot live in the world and escape "The System." Freegans incorrectly think that they have "opted out." Quite the contrary, Freegans optimize our current Capitalist system. They reduce waste. This disconnect comes from acknowledging their personal responsibility while attempting to abdicate their social responsibility.

I think it would be wise for the Freegans to shift their focus from "opting out" to demanding sustainable production. Otherwise, they're just riding the wake of the Titanic.
posted by elderling at 7:38 AM on June 30, 2005


Sangermaine: You may call this carving a niche, but it is parasatism.

Wrong! It is scavenging.

resentment of the fact that they are mooching off of the work of others

Who are you (or whoever) to resent it? It isn't your work they are mooching... Anyway, the word mooching is still wrong. They are surviving on waste, they are not skimming 'surplus' resources.

Understand, I wouldn't care if people were parasites. More power to them! However, I think the mischaracterization of this particular group must say something about why people are so offended by it.

They have done the exact opposite. Their need to interac with the "system" is now 100%. They cannot live without it. How is this independence from the system, when without it they'd starve?

This is an argument used to marginalize activist groups all the time. People accuse special interest groups of searching for causes to justify their existence. (I'm sure it happens - why that should marginalize an otherwise reasonable argument is beyond me)

What makes you think they couldn't just drop the strategy in a heart beat and start doing something else? Perhaps it is resentment after all. People who are trying to build careers have very little flexibility in their lives, these people have lots.

In fact I think the problem is a need to reinforce cultural myths. Anytime myths are questioned people get really upset.
posted by Chuckles at 7:46 AM on June 30, 2005


tannhauser: Without the system, if you mean the system of capitalist exchange, you would probably starve. I certainly would, unless something else was put in its place which fulfilled a similar function - rewarding my non-survival-oriented skills with the things I need or want to have or the means to get them.

Yes... In fact the freegans are busy developing skills that are more survival oriented than the average desk job. In this way they are preparing for the end of the system at the same time as criticizing it and acting to disrupt it... Well, they aren't really disrupting anything except the myth of 'strong work ethic', but lots of people see that as disrupting 'the system'.
posted by Chuckles at 7:55 AM on June 30, 2005


metafilter: we need more scruffy, shiftless layabouts, stat!
posted by es_de_bah at 9:20 AM on June 30, 2005


Let me propose a middle ground, picking furniture off the curb: acceptable. Picking furniture off the curb and writing manifestos about it, or pretending your changing the world by doing it: overly self-important.
posted by drezdn at 9:31 AM on June 30, 2005


Okay.
I don't think anyone here is objecting to the fact that Freegans are utilizing waste. In fact, I'm almost certain that everyone would say that this is a Good Thing, and most commentators have mentioned that they do much the same thing.
However, I think the real objection here is not to Freeganism as an activity, but Freeganism as a "philosophy" or "way of life." The Freegans believe that they have found a way of opting out of what they see as an unethical way of life. However, simply by its very nature, Freeganism is not a philosophy that can be embraced by the majority of humanity, or anything more than a small fraction. Most people, for whatever reason (kids, infirmity, location, etc.), cannot be Freegans because of situations in their lives, and even if they could be, could not be because of the nature of Freeganism. However, the Freegan manifesto holds that Freeganism, which is exclusive, is morally better than the system already in place. I think people are objecting to the characterization of Freeganism as a better alternative, while it is not actually an alternative at all for many.
Jeez, people, calm down. Remember, it's only the internet.
On preview- Exactly, drezdn.
posted by 235w103 at 9:46 AM on June 30, 2005


Possible taglines -

Freeganism: You gonna eat that?

or if you're not into the whole brevity thing

Freeganism: Your material goods are produced through oppression and are destroying humanity but can I have them when you're done with them?
posted by shinji_ikari at 9:57 AM on June 30, 2005


Yeah, like,when the Rapture happens can I have your car?
I don't have a manifesto but I have assembled much of my life
with discards, almost everything in this room including this computer, and am on my way to a thrift store to see what has washed up on the beach overnight .
posted by hortense at 10:20 AM on June 30, 2005


Whoa... I was wondering why there was such an absurd reaction to a site about picking shit out of the trash...but then I read the manifesto. I still don't really get what the problem is. It just seems to me there's a lot more things to save my energy for than getting all riled up because some people think it's a good idea to use the waste produced by society. Yes, they're still depending on the effects capitalism for their sustenance while simultaneously decrying the m - thankfully, however, they're dumpster divers and not economic theorists so it doesn't make much of a difference. As far as the actions of the overzealous go, I can think of a lot worse ways people could be trying to make the world a better place than eating out of garbage cans.

on preview: Those taglines are hilarious.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:24 AM on June 30, 2005


thanks for posting this es de bah, because if you hadn't i wouldn't have gone back and read jonmc telling me to "get a job" and calling me a "dirty hippie" and "clueless."

i'm so very hurt.

(/sarcasm)
but it does take me back, so thanks for the flashback to the grindingly repetitive retorts of those who encounter activists on the street. it blows my mind how "dirty hippie" "commie" and "get a job" seem to be the only possible options for insult. you can probably do better than that, jonmc! (BTW, i'm really more of an anarchist, which is why i chose my screen name. i thought it was rather obvious.)

tannhauser said everything i would have wanted to say. i'm always amazed at the resentment the unhappily employed have for kids or others who are enjoying their lives rather thoroughly, living frugally and surviving just fine. and as far as their contributions to society, most of them are activists, artists and/or musicians, working for the betterment of our world in a society that doesn't value that work. choosing the life of an artist often means having to survive on the scraps of the consumerist world. why on earth would anybody get so angry about that?

like the dewy-eyed people who say, "you should have children" to people who have no interest in the activity, people who participate in the workaholic life sound eerily like cultists to me.

reminds me of the story Utah Phillips tells: he's sitting on his front porch about noon, playing his guitar, and his enraged "retired banker fella" neighbor "cannonballs his rotundity" across the street, publicly berating him for his "sloth and indolence."

"Whyncha get a job?" he says.
so Utah responds, "Why?" (being hip to the socratic method, he says).
"Well, if you get a job, you can make 4 or 5 dollars an hour!"
Utah: "Why?"
"Well, if you make 4 or 5 dollars an hour, you can have a savings account!"
"Why?"
"Well, if you save up your money, pretty soon you'll never have to work another day in your life!"
"Hell, that's what I'm doing right now!"

also, in my town, i worked for a couple years with the Catholic Workers on their "food runs", a system wherein they arranged with groceries and other shops to cull anything decent (before the dumpster) and we'd cart it over for distribution to the soup kitchen and the shelters. it works well, and there's at least a station-wagon load of food saved from the garbage every day. and believe me, they only hit a fraction of the places in town.
posted by RedEmma at 11:04 AM on June 30, 2005


i was referencing Monday's thread, BTW. i should have been more clear.
posted by RedEmma at 11:16 AM on June 30, 2005


i worked for a couple years

You worked? What are you, a fascist?
posted by Snyder at 3:24 PM on June 30, 2005


don't worry, it wasn't for money.
posted by RedEmma at 4:11 PM on June 30, 2005


Whew! Good thing you maintained your purity. Would hate to see you give up on being smug, excuse me, being a Revolutionary.
posted by Snyder at 4:39 PM on June 30, 2005


sounds like someone's being plagued by the green-eyed monster. you poor dear.
posted by RedEmma at 4:42 PM on June 30, 2005


I heard a different interpretation of the term from the members of the Lorax Co-op at the University of Oregon. They held that freegans were people who only ate meat or animal products if and when they were free.

That's a good one. I resemble that remark. It also reminds me of Buddhist monks.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:47 PM on June 30, 2005


Yes, that must be it. Everybody just wants to be as great as you. I don't care either way for people who choose to consume without buying direct, no skin of my back. It's people like you and the Freegans who act as if they're sticking it to the man, and smugly assert their superiorty over the jealous fools who work for a living, and enable your lifestyle.

But of course, anyone who thinks your just another molly-coddled kid with who thinks slumming gives them relevance and cred is obviously jealous. It couldn't possibly be your attitude towards them. They couldn't possibly be happy in any way shape or form, because if they are, it gives lie to your whole identity!
posted by Snyder at 5:52 PM on June 30, 2005


Wow. I have serious qualms (more like a nasty, nagging subconscious block) about "participating" in the huge cycle of commmerce/business/waste/human stupidity. It's cool to see others have the same feeling and have turned it into a philosophy and lifestyle.

If you steer your career into something non-wasteful, non-manufacturing, maybe charity-oriented, then spend as little of your profits as possible, are you semi-Freegan? I'd like to be.
posted by Shane at 6:01 AM on July 1, 2005


Wait a moment! Should we not, as hard-working wage-earners, also express our gratitude to those who do not work as hard as us nor purchase so much as us, be they freegan, unemployeds or just, you know, poor, for their deflationary effect? By slowing the gradual decadence of the buying heft of a dollar, these hardy men and women are helping to keep my purchasing power mighty. Mind you, the cost of living in London is still way too high. We need more shiftless layabouts over here, stater.

(And yes, I know that stat is an abbreviation of statim, and so stater is not a valid comparative. It is, however, a unit of currency, and therefore we coin-deserving Stakhanovites should embrace it.)
posted by tannhauser at 8:03 AM on July 1, 2005


Snyder, seriously now, have i once said anything about "sticking it to the man"? since i've somehow become the token "hippie" (which i think the hippies i know would laugh at), i guess i have to make some disclosure...

what i said was that i worked with a group of people once for free. it just so happens that i've been happily employed for my entire adult life (now 38). i was laughing at jonmc because he slung the same old tired saws my way and thought they were insults. the "get a job" thing is hilarious to me, because it's the typical thing idiots say to demonstrators on the street, which seems to imply that only the unemployed have time to care about what's happening in the world or volunteer for anything. which is of course completely untrue. i have traveled in activist and volunteer circles since i graduated college at 20, and eventually ended up leaving my "big career" as a teacher to become a writer. this is the sort of job that requires voluntarily poverty, if you happen to be the sort who cannot imagine doing anything you don't want to do (i.e., me). i have worked some jobs that i'm sure you wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole, and made peanuts. i did this because writers ought to know something about the world they live in. i have never taken a penny from the state, and never taken unemployment, despite being entitled to it at least once.

i am now a perfect example of what you would hate, i guess, because i am now only a writer, which means i sit around all day, contemplate the world around me and write poetry. i certainly don't think of myself as "revolutionary,"--i simply aspire to being the best person and citizen of the world i can be. to do that requires participation and self-education, which i have done my best at. if that makes me "smug"--well, fine. i am certainly happy, and unless i find facts that trump mine, i am secure in my opinions, so perhaps "smug" is apt.

for 10 years, i've lived on less than $10,000 a year. what i've never understood, and probably never will, is how that sort of chosen lifestyle leads some people to such rage. my suspicion, which has been borne out by hundreds of barroom conversations, is that many people have had artistic aspirations that they left behind because it was "impractical"--meaning, their lifestyles wouldn't match up to or better their parents. i do feel sorry for people who wait to live their dreams until retirement. i find it sad, because it is usually fear and an attachment to their stuff that keeps them from doing what they want. (and sometimes children, which is another ball of wax.)

poverty sucks, for those who haven't chosen it. sometimes, though, people do choose it. that usually doesn't mean they're trying to be "pure," it means they're taking advantage of the luxury given them to live their lives the way they choose. (freegans are aspiring to a buddhist sort of purity, which i do find admirable, as i do anyone who attempts to live their principles.) when i quit my career years ago, i said there were two paths to freedom: getting rich, or being poor. i chose the easier path, and over the years i've met hundreds who've done the same--working little jobs here and there to enable their lives of ease and/or art.

i'm truly sorry that people's efforts to be happy piss you off so much. i jokingly said it must be jealousy because i can't imagine what else could get you so hot about it.
posted by RedEmma at 8:14 AM on July 1, 2005


RedEmma: poverty sucks, for those who haven't chosen it. sometimes, though, people do choose it.

This is a very important point... I think the reason is that the working poor have a lot of expenses the layabouts (for lack of a better term) don't. Cars or bus tickets for example, and they don't have as much time to look in trash for free stuff, of course. Living with minimal income is a bit of a career in itself, or at least a part time job.
posted by Chuckles at 8:29 AM on July 1, 2005


what i didn't understand for a long time (coming from a privileged background) was how the richer you are, the more free stuff you get... award show gift baskets are an extreme example, but even an upper middle class guy like my dad is inundated with stuff from other companies at Christmastime, trying to woo his favor.

frequent flyer miles, company cars and golf club memberships, free gym memberships, reward vacations--all examples of how the rich spend less, on some things, than others. i understand that these are actually incentives to spend more, or a reward for having already spent--but i think the disparity is really shitty. Here's a (PDF!) study of the high cost of being poor.
posted by RedEmma at 9:03 AM on July 1, 2005


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