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.
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.
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.
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
To use the meet-up function of this site, click http://www.freegan.org.uk/pages/meetups.php
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!