Friday, April 24, 2009

Zero Waste, Zero Greed, Zero Currency

"Picture a world where no children are starving, 'cuz everybody shares their bread/ picture a world without any money, where people work for love instead/ You and I, we can make it happen/ if we make today become the day/ when love becomes our philosophy" (lyrics taken from "When Love Becomes Our Philosophy", written by Fran Gonzales)

"You may say I'm a dreamer/ but I'm not the only one/ I hope someday you will join us/ and the world will live as one" -John Lennon, from the song "Imagine"

What are my goals, my hopes and dreams? They are not new, not even particularly radicial (or so I think). Many people before me have touted the same ideologies, shared the same hopes and asked the same questions as I am doing now. But that is part of what encourages me to continue on this path and to know that there is hope for change in this dark world. I don't think that the system of things will change in my lifetime, but I want to live a life that inspires people to change their own lives in little ways that make a difference, no matter how small. Once you've changed yourself, you've changed a tiny part of the world.

People ask some common questions again and again. One example is the (IMO) ignorant, "We can never change the way things are. There will always be evil, so why try to change anything? It's just not realistic."

My answer: We can make a small difference in an individual life, we can inspire others to see hope, we can reduce our consumption and waste by a fraction, so why not try to change? Would we rather live lives that are not of any use? I think we should live out what we believe, whether it's "practical" or not. There is so much we can do. I personally see my life as an experiment, a search for the best way to live my life.

Another annoying question that needs to be given its due: "You couldn't live like this if it weren't for dumpsters and friendly 'systemites'. Aren't you dependent on the very system you criticize?"

To answer that, I would rather quote the wisdom of others who address that same question.
From Suelo's
FAQ website: "
Are swallows nesting in house attics dependent upon money? Are pigeons nesting on bank skyscrapers dependent upon money? Are barnacles clinging to aircraft carriers and corals living on buried artifacts dependent upon money?"

And from the UK Freegan FAQ page: " '(v) Aren't freegans dependent on the system they criticise?'

No! It could be said that the system is dependent on freegans to slow down its own self-destruction. The system is destroying the very things we are ALL dependent on - the earth and its inhabitants.

Freegans would like to see the end of waste and dumpster-diving itself. Freegans currently make use of the waste produced by the economic system because it would be a waste not to do so. We need to realise that freeganism is a viable alternative to the current system and not a reaction to it.

If more people live simply, there is more to go around.

If more people reduce waste, there is more to go around.

If more people share what they don't need with those who do, there is more to go around.

If more people give their time helping others, there is more to go around (and we get more done!)"

My answers to some questions about Freeganism

(taken from an email interview done earlier this year)
What does freeganism mean to you?

To me, "freeganism" refers to a set of ideals related to how our actions (particularly consumption) impact the earth and its population. Implementing the best use of resources is an important aspect of a freegan lifestyle. Freeganism is practiced through such things as dumpster diving (using resources that would go to waste), voluntary work (sharing human resources, like time and skills), and finding ways to limit consumption and materialism (in our own lives and those of others).

How did you get involved in freeganism?

Before I knew of the term "freeganism", my parents taught me to be considerate of the earth and involved me in such activities as dumpster diving and gleaning firewood from construction sites. As I got older and came across the ideals of the movement we call freeganism, I remembered the things my parents tried to instill in me. Otherwise, I found out about freeganism through friends who practiced the ideals themselves.

Are you completely freegan?

It is hard to say what it means to be "completely freegan". I do try my best to be conscious of how my actions affect the world around me and I volunteer my time instead of working in a job that perpetuates the current damaging system of greed, profit and waste. But because freeganism is not an organization defined by a creed, my lifestyle may be seen as completely "freegan" by some and not so much by others. The standards are not clearly defined.

Can you tell me about some of the things you do on a day-to-day basis?

My lifestyle is quite flexible because I do not work in a job for pay, so my daily activities vary. But I do consistently bin raid for basics like food and clothing (and whatever random goodies show up in the bins). Another consistent part of my lifestyle is doing work for free, though the type of work varies, too. I have done garden jobs for people, picked up litter, cleaned houses, worked on construction sites and so on, as needs come up (for friends and for strangers). Another aspect of freeganism that is important to me is education of the
masses. My friends and I like to speak to people about the ideals and goals of the freegan movement and to make them aware of issues that we see are important, such as the waste that goes on in the name of consumerism.

Do you ever worry about any health or legal implications of being freegan?

I do not worry about my health at all. With bin raiding, it just takes common sense to know what is edible and what isn't. Most food that you find is quality product, often within date and very clean. I can confidently say that I eat better as a freegan from bins than I did when I paid for my food. I could not afford the kind of food items
that I find thrown away.

Legal issues should not be a problem because bin raiding is not stealing... we are taking from what has been thrown away. The only grey area comes when people are accused of trespassing, but I do not worry about such implications because it is not common for people to get into trouble for such a small thing as dumpster diving.

What reactions have you had from other people about being freegan?

Many people do not understand a lot about freeganism. I have been called lazy because I do not get paid for the hard work that I do. Some people say that freegans are freeloaders that do not contribute to society and the image of freegans is not always positive. Other people have been inspired by the "eco-conscious" lifestyle that my friends and I try to lead. I have started a few people dumpster diving who had never done it before and have encouraged them to waste less.

What advice would you give to someone else who is thinking of becoming a freegan?

I would advise people to work together with other freegans, because building community between people is another imortant aspect of freeganism. People should examine all aspects of their lives to see how they are affecting the world and they should be willing to change.

Anything else you would like to add on the matter?

I would like to say that freeganism is about a lot more than dumpster diving or getting things for free - it is about creating a more sustainable way of life. Recycling is good, but a change of attitude is better.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this - I like the interview on freeganism.

    You said, "I don't think that the system of things will change in my lifetime...". That's quite a statement for someone so young. I would agree that in your life time we probably wont arrive at the sustainable, peaceful world of our visions. However, I expect tremendous change in the next 50 years. Not all the change will be for the better, but considering that so many of the resources civilization is consuming are in decline, the over-consumers of the world will be forced to face the affect their ways have on the earth. People will again realize that we should give back to the earth at least as much as we take, and realize that we are both a part of nature and dependent on nature.