Dumpster Diving As Politics
The astute will immediately see the word Freegan is a combination of "free" and "vegan," a hint that we're onto something weird and intense here. A haphazard visit, brought about by StumbleUpon, led me to Freegan.info, where I learned that Freegans:
- Freegans are far more out there than mere Vegans:
"Freegans take [veganism] a step further by recognizing that in a complex, industrial, mass-production economy driven by profit, abuses of humans, animals, and the earth abound at all levels of production (from acquisition to raw materials to production to transportation) and in just about every product we buy. Sweatshop labor, rainforest destruction, global warming, displacement of indigenous communities, air and water pollution, eradication of wildlife on farmland as "pests", the violent overthrow of popularly elected governments to maintain puppet dictators compliant to big business interests, open-pit strip mining, oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, union busting, child slavery, and payoffs to repressive regimes are just some of the many impacts of the seemingly innocuous consumer products we consume every day."
Not a cheerful bunch, it seems.
- Dumpster diving, also known as "waste reclamation" is their primary source of livelihood. It too is a political statement:
"As freegans we forage instead of buying to avoid being wasteful consumers ourselves, to politically challenge the injustice of allowing vital resources to be wasted while multitudes lack basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter, and to reduce the waste going to landfills and incinerators which are disproportionately situated within poor, non-white neighborhoods, where they cause elevated levels of cancer and asthma."
Wow, from waste to environmentalism to social justice, all in one dumpster dive.
- Don't count on Freegans to enjoy a Sunday spin, because they aren't really all that fond of automobiles:
"We all know that automobiles cause pollution created from the burning of petroleum but we usually don't think of the other destruction factors like forests being eliminated from road building in wilderness areas and collision deaths of humans and wildlife. As well, the massive oil use today creates the economic impetus for slaughter in Iraq and all over the world."
I guess driving a Prius won't even do for these guys.
- Freegans don't believe in property rights, but they do believe in housing rights, and exert that right through squatting:
"Squatters believe that real human needs are more important than abstract notions of private property, and that those who hold deed to buildings but won’t allow people to live in them, even in places where housing is vitally needed, don’t deserve to own those buildings."
If you have no job and smell like a dumpster, it's a good idea to come up with a way to idealize living illegally on someone else's property.
- Freegans, you're probably not surprised to learn, are not to keen on working for a living. In fact, they rebel against the concept:
"Once we realize that it's not a few bad products or a few egregious companies responsible for the social and ecological abuses in our world but rather the entire system we are working in, we begin to realize that, as workers, we are cogs in a machine of violence, death, exploitation, and destruction. Is the retail clerk who rings up a cut of veal any less responsible for the cruelty of factory farming than the farm worker? What about the ad designer who finds ways to make the product palatable? How about the accountant who does the grocery’s books and allows it to stay in business?"
A good test of a social/political movement is to ask the question: Could we survive if everyone became a _______? With Freeganism, the answer is most assuredly "No."
Freeloaders need something to freeload off of, so they are as utterly dependent on the machines and systems and corporations that they so despise; they just prefer not to pay for their sustenance.
A nation of Freegans would quickly pick all the dumpsters clean; would have no hated automobiles to wait for, thumb up; would find no market for the materials they recycle among a population which, like them, has no need for material goods.
Demographics on Freegans are, to my knowledge, as rare as money clips in Freegans' pockets, but if the pictures on their Web site are any indication, they are all white college kids who got caught up in the big extreme green machine; you know, the one where Big Green merges with Big Red.
Pity their distraught parents, worried not just that their beloved children are on the street, but also that they've become so hateful of society, so crazed by progress.