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For free and sweet vinegar: who are freegans and how do they get everything for free in the USA

Recently, an unusual movement called freeganism has been gaining popularity in the United States and around the world. What is hidden behind the unusual name, the author told blog "Americano / Americano" on "Yandex.Zen".

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“During these few years of my life in the United States, I have seen many strange things, but the States never cease to amaze me. Recently I learned about the local movement, which has recently become popular among the local youth. And it is called freeganism - this is when people eat and dress in trash cans and garbage dumps, - the blogger writes. - The movement, which will be discussed below, originated in the United States around the late 1990s - early 2000s, but began to gain popularity a little later. It has grown especially in recent years, appeared in many European countries, perhaps even in Russia, although not on such a scale. "

The author of the blog is not a representative of freeganism, but learned about it from a friend.

“His daughter became a member of this movement. At first she practiced vegetarianism, now she switched to freeganism, - says the blogger. "Its essence is simple, it will be easier to explain using the example of the United States."

Everyone knows that the United States is considered to be a consumer country. There is an opinion that people living there irrationally approach resources - they throw away clothes in which they can still walk, usable food and much more.

“Therefore, freegans abandon the consumer needle of large companies, minimize their expenses on essential items for life and simply take them to landfills,” explains the blogger. - Why buy clothes if people throw away good things, or why pay for food if companies themselves take out still suitable products to trash cans and dumps. They are not limited to clothing and food. According to activists, you can find absolutely everything you need for a comfortable life there, and without paying a cent for it. So they give up the consumer life of the majority of citizens ”.

The author believes that such an extreme is not entirely appropriate.

“As for me, this is another manifestation of maximalism, because people always need a global goal to justify an unusual occupation: vegans, diggers, hitchhikers, rooftops climbers - all this is a hobby with a far-fetched“ global ”meaning,” the author believes blog.

But do not confuse freeganism and the urgent need for the necessary when a person has no choice. These are completely different concepts.

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“Freeganism cannot be attributed to want. Many members of the movement are wealthy people, take, for example, the daughter of my friend - she is from a well-to-do family, but she chose such a hobby for herself, - the blogger shares. "Even after several years in the United States, this country never ceases to amaze."

Why do people become freegans

Since they never buy anything, it is clear that Freegans spend a lot less than other Americans. However, for most supporters of this movement, the money saved is only a secondary benefit, and not the main goal. Money crashes.

Adherents of this trend name many reasons why they prefer to live this way and not otherwise. Among others, these are:

Taking care of animals. Many Freegans reject all farm produce and prefer to eat food grown in small gardens.

Human rights. Freegans argue that the production of almost all the products sold in stores hurt someone, including farm workers. They believe that even ethically produced products such as Fair Trade products still help support a disruptive store system. The best solution, in their opinion, is to shop as little as possible.

Environmental Protection. They are opposed to industrial pollution, production waste, as well as the intensive use of oil at all stages of the technological process - from production to delivery and disposal of waste. Therefore, the less a person makes purchases, the less harm he does to the environment.

A simpler lifestyle. These people reject the idea that life should be an endless cycle of work and expense. They prefer to make fewer purchases so that they can afford to work less. This gives them more free time for family, community, social activities and entertainment. Many Freegans see living off discarded items as a more natural way of life - as our ancestors did.

Principles of Freegan Life

They use all kinds of strategies to get things for free, not buy them. Experienced Freegans know how to find food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and entertainment without spending a penny.

Representatives of the community living in rural areas are often settlers, they are completely self-sufficient, because they grow their own food, sew clothes for themselves, raise livestock, use natural resources, heat their homes with wood or other alternative fuels. Thus, they can completely stay away from modern society.

However, most freegans are city dwellers, so they have to use different strategies: they collect and reuse items that would otherwise be wasted, share with other people who have extra space in their houses and cars; sometimes, instead of paying in cash, they use barter - they exchange their goods with others or provide them with services.

Freegan Principles

1. Reuse and recycling

They are overwhelmed by the amount of waste generated by the economy. To avoid contributing to this, freegans try to use things as long as possible. Whenever possible, they repair broken items rather than replace them, recycle containers and compost food waste.

Freegans are patrons of free shops and free markets, where people can drop unnecessary items and pick up items that are usable. They rely on these markets to only “buy” when needed.

These people exchange goods with others online. They make extensive use of Freecycle, a network of local groups where users give out unnecessary but useful items, and use the "free" section of Craigslist.

2. Gathering in cities

There is another way freegans get rid of waste. They collect the garbage that others throw away, a practice known as urban gathering. Many people consider the phrase a euphemism for "dumpster diving," but there are milder forms of urban search for funds to support their lives.

For example, freegans collect waste at construction sites and walk around curbs in search of useful items abandoned on the sidelines.

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In dumpsters, they usually find clothes, food, books, videos and DVDs, lumber, toys, tools - all in excellent condition. Even large items such as furniture, appliances, computers and bicycles can be found there.

3. Growing food

In addition to getting food, some Freegans grow their own vegetables and fruits. For example, those living in rural areas often have their own land, but even urban freegans can grow vegetables in public gardens. These shared plots give townspeople the opportunity to produce food while enjoying the fresh air, exercise and the company of their neighbors. Some use the harvested crop to produce compost for their garden plots.

In the absence of accessible public garden plots, adventurous urban freegans can occupy vacant lots to grow food and flowers. This practice is called "guerrilla gardening" because, like guerrilla warfare, it is often based on stealth. Many guerrilla gardeners enter empty plots late at night to plant and tend their crops.

Although there are those among them who do not hide their activities and boldly march to abandoned areas to openly dig and plant-sow. This type of guerrilla gardening is a form of activism that draws attention to the problems of ugly, neglected and underutilized urban land.

4. Eco-friendly transport

Most freegans do not own cars because they have a detrimental effect on the environment, which is polluted not only by gas emissions, but also by their production. These people are against the destruction caused by oil drilling, against the wars that often arise over oil. And since buses and trains usually run on fossil fuels, many Freegans don't use these modes of transport with tickets.

Instead, they rely on their own legs, ridesharing, a hare on a freight train or, if necessary, their own biofuel cars.

5. Housing

Unlike food and clothing, a home cannot be simply hauled out of the trash can. However, most freegans view abandoned buildings as just another form of trash that should be used profitably. For them, squatting (moving to unused buildings) is a kind of protest against owners who leave buildings empty in areas where housing is urgently needed.

Others work in exchange for providing free housing. Such an opportunity exists for those involved in the farm, in the management of apartments, childcare, as well as as a companion or housekeeper for an elderly person.

6. Work less

Freegans not only refuse to spend their money on goods and services, but also do not want to waste their time in paid work. For them, having a job of any kind contributes to the overall damage that companies do to the world. Refusing to work for money is part of their protest against the economic system and its injustices.

However, this does not mean that freegans never work. Among them there are those who find it too difficult to meet their needs without a salary, for example, in the health sector. But because these people consume very little, they can get by with the minimum. That is, spending fewer hours at work, doing more other things that worry them.

And some do not work for money, but exchange their skills for what they need. There are even advocates among them outside the dollar economy known as the "time bank." Under this system, you donate an hour of your work in order to get an hour of work from someone else in return.

Finally, many freegans volunteer time to do important things: they run free shops and distribute food to those in need.

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