Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Freeganism and the Spirit of Community"

Here's a useful article about an oft-forgotten aspect of Freeganism, taken from the UK Freegans Website, called "Freeganism and the Spirit of Community".

Community and relationship-building may be one of the most overlooked aspects of freeganism. While bin-raiding is recognized as a dominant trait of the ideals of the movement, other facets are easily forgotten. People do not often realize how building relationships and a spirit of community fit together with the goal of “making a better world” and reducing waste. But it is important to remember how freeganism cannot achieve its objectives without first uniting people under a common goal and inspiring them to make a difference. As they say, “two heads are better than one”. A close-knit group of global idealists working together will be far more effective than a few lone protesters scattered over the land.

What is the “Spirit of Community”?

The spirit of community is a sense of sharing and of understanding our connection to other human beings on this planet. The world today is sorely lacking the spirit of community. It has become easy to forget how our actions affect the lives of the people around us and even easier to forget the human need to be a part of each other’s lives. We are social beings, after all. But society has substituted human affection with electronic distraction. The virus of greed and materialism has sadly replaced the qualities of sharing and relationships in many areas of life.

How is Community Consistent with Freeganism?

If the general population could become more aware of the effect individual choices have on the planet and its people, waste would rapidly decrease. Sharing with each other undermines the ideals of the system, which encourages isolation through individual gain. Not only that, but sharing directly challenges greed, and greed is the number one evil of the current thinking in the world. Strong relationships and consideration for others definitely “make for a better world”. If that is not what freeganism is about, I don’t know what is.

How Can Freegans Build Community?

Creating a spirit of community is harder than foraging for food in a bin, but the result is better than the nicest food finds. Ways to encourage the spirit of community amongst freegans, and people in general, include sharing bin goodies, working to resolve differences, doing free work and using such tools as the 'meet-up' function of this site in order to find other freegans nearby!


Distributing food or goods from the bins not only helps to utilize the waste, but helps to build good relationships with people. I love it when I find people already at my favourite bin, and we get to share the loot. There is often too much for one person to use anyway.

Resolving differences

Although rarely mentioned, trying to work out problems between one another is an important aspect of the spirit of community. Whether it is just “agreeing to disagree” or sincerely listening and trying to understand someone’s opinion, resolving differences is essential to reaching goals of any kind. Without these, the movement will break into innumerable factions and will become ineffective. In other words, without encouraging unity between its members, freeganism just will not work.

Free Work.

The concept of doing work for free is another aspect of freeganism that has been largely ignored. But it is something that needs to be recognized as essential in building a new, sustainable economy, and as a bridge between us as freegans and the public. Volunteering to help people without expecting payment is a great introduction to the freegan philosophy and will inspire a spirit of community among individuals.

Ukfreegans 'meet-ups'

The meet-up function allows people to set up a time, place and purpose to get together. Cities are listed by name. It is an easy-to-use tool that will hopefully get us working
together more!

To use the meet-up function of this site, click

In Conclusion

Working in unity brings together all of the individual abilities and ideas in order to use them to reach our goals. In freeganism, that means inspiring community in order to reduce waste, improve the ecosystem and change the current materialistic way of thinking. Let us work together to build a better world!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas "Blah"gging

It's been too long since my last post, once again. I can't decide whether I should blog about my latest Freegan outings or rant about the materialism of the Christmas season. At this moment, I am waiting here in LA at my computer to video chat with my family in Oregon for their Christmas dinner. However, it's 8:30PM and they're still in a Wal-Mart, shopping. People like to say that Christmastime is about family values rather than expensive gifts, but I sure don't see that happening in the US.

As any reader should know by now, Freeganism is pretty darned opposed to the consumerist drive of the holiday season. People of religious tradition (and me just 2 years ago) would argue that point by saying that capitlaism has "taken the 'Christ' out of "Christmas", but now I would even go as far as to say that the modern American Christmas tradition was created solely for market and not in recognition of Christ at all. I am not opposed to people giving one another gifts (I have even bought [gasp] a couple for close friends this year myself), nor do I oppose the celebration of the birth of a manifestation of the Divine. But I do oppose the system's tactics of "brainwashing" through the advertising media and the destruction of the Earth through needless consumption.

Well, I just got a call from my family, saying that I won't be able to chat with them tonight, even though we had made this apointmet over the weekend. And all because they got stuck in Wal-Mart. ARGGH!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Photos - "No Peace, No Prize"

I'm the second in line, with the "Afaganistan" sign

The six who were arrested (including Ernie, our camera guy on the right)

in support

Catherine and Jeff arrested. 40 years of resistance and service!

Catherine being led away. The group was released within two hours with a "disorderly conduct" charge each.

No Peace, No Prize

I wrote this poem this morning, inspired by the signs my friends were holding and the chant we voiced as they were being arrested for merely standing on federal property. 

No Peace, No Prize

Last week you vowed to send more troops in our name
No peace, no prize
We can see through your "hope and change" game
No peace, no prize
Acting is not enough, though the world be a stage
No peace, no prize
A prize called "peace", while two wars yet rage?
No peace, no prize
You may be a diplomat, but you're no hero
No peace, no prize
Next to King and Theresa, your numbers mean zero!
No peace, no prize
Do us a favor and be "humbled" indeed
No peace, no prize
Detach yourself from these wars led by greed!
No peace, no prize

No peace, no prize
End the lies
No peace, no prize
open your eyes
No peace, No prize
lose the guise
No peace, no prize
hear the cries
No peace, no prize
while people die

No peace.
No prize.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pictures from Dumpster Ride #4

Eric and "the trailer"

Cyclists boxing food, and a yummy pecan pie

My once-nervous friend happily selecting her "shopping"

More photos here.

Dumpster Ride #4 and "Dive!"

Last night Eric and I hosted/attended another freegan event in Pasadena (actually two events). First, we saw, for the first time, a screening of the new low-budget documentary "Dive!". It was a fantastic piece about dumpster diving and waste, in Los Angeles in particular. We picked up a copy, so you can bet there will be a video potluck screening of it coming from us through the LA Dumpster Diving Meetup. This event we attended last night was not our own, but a nice coincidence that we learned about through a friend of ours who knows the filmmaker. He noticed that we had a dumpster ride planned that night and said, "Hey, did you know that "Dive!" is being screened at my church that same night?" It turned out to be a great union of related events. In fact, two of the dumpster spots we toured on the bike ride were in the film.

After the movie screening and discussion, we led a tour of our favorite Pasadena dumpsters. The first stop was a bit dramatic, as we were stopped by a security guard toward the end of our foraging. Eric and I were surprised by this turn of events, because it used to be that the security personnel of this particular store knew and were friendly to us. But it turns out that this guy was a new and zealous employee. He told us to put the "stolen trash" back in the dumpster and threatened to call the police. We had already secured a sizable haul in our various carrying capacities (Eric's bike trailer, a couple of our friends' cars). The best thing to do in that situation is to be amicable and obedient. I was a bit annoyed, and so avoided talking directly to the guard myself.

I was a little nervous about the encounter, only because of the impression I was afraid it would give to our "newbies". But the first-time divers among us were not phased by the experience. I suppose seeing our friend Paul being incredibly polite to authorities in the "Dive!" movie before our own diving was an inspiration?

One friend, whom I had met through the healthcare protest arrest in October, has a job in which she needs a good reputation to maintain it. She was very nervous before the ride about "getting in trouble". But once we started in on the action, she got very excited about the food and fun. She really got into it, and it seemed that the security guard incident was no problem for her. The evening was really great, despite the chilly air and riding without gloves.

We scored a ton of great food. It was enough for the roughly twenty of us to each have our own selection of food, at least a plastic shopping bag each. Eric and I got the leftovers, as usual, which included a medium box of bananas and 6 or 7 dozen eggs. And we did have our own box of selections, too, of course. The "shopping" part at the end is one of my favorite aspects of group dumpster diving. It represents the sharing aspect of freeganism, as we divide the food evenly between us. I love how everyone involved is often quite humble about their preferences, offering their prizes to everyone before actually claiming them. I must admit that I become quite greedy at times for certain items. It's a learning experience.

I will post the very smiley pictures from the ride as soon as I get them out of the camera. Peace out.