I like to watch shows like “Secret Lives of Women” because you see just how varied we are and how all sorts of lifestyles are out there though we all, or almost all, look like everyone else. Being a woman with tattoos I can appreciate how some can question or look down on those of us that don’t fit into the definition of “normal” that some people have. But what is “normal” really? The perception that we have been convinced through television, movies and magazines of what normal should be? Or is normal more what you are used to?
I found myself questioning a lifestyle after an episode I watched today. It involved diets and the changes that these women had made to their lifestyles. One went the total raw diet which is mostly vegetarian and nothing is cooked just some things are warmed. One went with a combination of sensible diet strategies plus prayer and religion with every meal. One was a Freegan which, at least to me, was the one I don’t think I could get into as much as she is.
I realize that we waste a large portion of everything we use on a daily basis. I also realize that going “green” seems to be the new way to live and I can get on board with quite a bit of the movement like recycling and trying to not use products that aren’t biodegradable. Freegans take this concept to a whole different level.
Here is a quote from the Freegan.info website on the definition of what being a Freegan is:
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.
Now while I can agree with the fundamentals of this movement I have a difficult time with some of the practices. In an effort to cut waste, Freegans dumpster dive or as they prefer to call it, “urban grazing.”
stock photo from Freeganinfo.com
I know that tons of eatable food is tossed daily from bakeries, grocery stores and restaurants all across this country. I wish that these businesses would donate the food to homeless shelters or offer it for free to the public prior to disposing of it but the practice of people going through the garbage for food just for a cause as being questionable. I can understand people that are on the streets having to do this to survive but these are individuals that have chosen this as a way of life.
They also see nothing wrong in being squatters, train hopping or basically living off of other people’s trash. I think that the underlying principles are admirable but not some of the practices. Riding a bicycle everywhere is great if you can do it. Since the closest large town is miles away, riding a bicycle there for anything is not practical.
Some Freegans believe that housing is a RIGHT not a privilege so squatting in abandoned and decrepit housing is an acceptable practice. Uh, no. That is not a safe way to live as an individual let alone for a family. Freegans are almost against working for a living since that promotes commercialism. Yes, we work hard to have a nice home and yes, a lot of things we could live without but going to the complete opposite side of the spectrum isn’t necessarily the answer either. I feel that somewhere in the middle is more of a way to go since it would be an easier goal for most families to reach.
There was a TV show that had families not buy anything for a week and cut out television, video games and computers so they could see how much waste they had. Waste of money, time and products. For some ultra consumer families this was the most difficult week of their lives as well as a great eye opener. This is a challenge I could get behind and would recommend so all of us would waste fewer resources.
Basically, I can’t see by choice, living more like a bum or homeless person just to waste less. Homeless people for the most part are not there by choice but by circumstances that make living each day a struggle to get by. They are not necessarily striving to live in a overpriced house living a consumer’s dream of buying anything and everything you can imagine. More just wanting a safe and comfortable living situation.
Could you see yourself living a Freegan lifestyle by choice? I know I can’t. I will just strive to be less of a consumer and more waste conscious.
For more information on a Freegan lifestyle go to Freegan.info/