Refrigerators vs. Dumpsters: You Decide

Your favorite restaurant or grocer's dumpster may be serving as a "dive-through" grocery store for Freegans - dumpster diners who choose to consume food and other items that most people consider unusable.


Freegan finds piece of artwork for her home
Freegan finds tonight's supper in a dumpster


Freegans are an extension of the vegan movement and take their name from two words, "free" and "vegan". Like their vegan cousins, Freegans try to abstain from buying anything that may have contributed to the mistreatment of animals. They do, however, take the concept one big step further by doing their best to avoid the consumerism they believe is responsible for most, if not all, of the mistreatment of people and misuse of land that characterizes modern life.

Freegans study the disposal habits of restaurants and grocery stores, noting the best times to forage for food and other products deemed not fit for sale by retailers and local health authority guidelines. In large cities, many Freegans don't even use refrigerators because their dive-through grocery shopping schedule keeps them in dumpster delights for at least a day or two at a time. Some Freegans even have unofficial agreements with sympathetic employees who leave food and products for them beside the dumpster rather than inside the dumpster.

The dumpster dining habits of Freegans, though admired by the fringe of the waste-not-want-not set, aren't viewed favorably by businesses who claim that the food and other products in their dumpsters are not fit for human consumption or use. Anything that is, has already been donated to local charities. Freegans dispute the "best before dates" touted by business owners and continue their foraging ways. Freegans are, however, a discerning bunch and will not consume foods from packages that have been opened, nor will they eat vegetables or fruits that are clearly not fit for consumption.

Being a Freegan is not for the faint of heart, or stomach for that matter. They take their lifestyle very seriously and if they have to purchase something, they will most often buy it second or third-hand instead of new, trade their possessions or offer a service instead of money. They see their dumpster dining habits as an opportunity to make political and moral statements about the wastefulness of modern society.

Tell a Freegan that they're freeloading and they're likely to agree but will quickly add that their lifestyle is the only thing that makes waste worthwhile.

Worried that you are being consumed by your consumerism? Maybe Freeganism is for you.

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