Recently, one Project Runway contestant’s unusual eating habits caught our attention.
“I’m Freegan,” said Fabio Costa, a Brazilian-born designer from Brooklyn, N.Y. Simply put, he’s a dedicated dumpster diver.
Freeganism has been on the rise in the U.S. over the last few years, but now the sustainable living philosophy is hitting the mainstream.
“Many freegans consider dumpster diving to be a great way to save money on groceries. Others do it because they want to live more simply,” says Investing Answer’s Michael Snyder.
What is Freeganism?
Beyond the dumpster diving stigma, Freegans take a hard line against capitalism and rally for sustainable living standards. There are dozens of Freegan groups around the country.
“As workers and potential consumers, we view participation in this economy as a form of complicity in practices like sweatshop labour, rainforest destruction, and factory farming. Freegans believe in living ethical, free, and happy lives centered around community and the notion that a healthy society must function on interdependence.”
Is it legal?
We’ve encountered our far share of dumpster divers here at Your Money. Like cave-dweller Daniel Suelo and the money-free Heidemarie Schwermer, much of the controversy Freegans encounter has to do with the legality of their lifestyle.
For the most part, yes––once food’s tossed out, it basically becomes public property––so long as shopowners don’t mind anyone digging through their trash afterhours. Residential bins are probably out, unless you ask for permission. And of course, any trespassing laws apply as well. Some grocers, as Freegan Info points out, will even tell freegans when to drop by to pick up food ready to be tossed out.
Notes Snyder: “One of the biggest issues facing dumpster divers is safety. Crawling around in back alleys and side streets in the middle of the night is not exactly the safest thing to do. But the lure of large amounts of free food is enough to keep some people coming back over and over again.”
Looking for more on the Freegan way of life? Check out these lists of Freegan “meet-up” groups around the world.