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June 17, 2008

Freegan: "It's like a treasure hunt" -- if You Define "Garbage" as "Treasure"

I'm not cheap. I'm just a "frugalist."

And she gets 99 percent of her food from the Dumpster.

“It’s so easy to eat for free,” she says. “The only things I buy are butter and milk.”

[Call them] anti-consumerists, freegans, frugalists or just plain Dumpster divers. Whatever the moniker, these people delight in drastically reducing their consumer spending, finding life’s essentials at bargain prices or paying nothing at all.

“I like getting stuff free. It’s like a treasure hunt,” says Ran Prieur, 40, who lives in Washington state and whose extremely frugal life includes occasional Dumpster diving. “It’s kind of similar to what you get from gambling.”

Sure, if you go to a landfill for your casino entertainment.


Freegans — whose efforts to live outside the conventional economic system may include hitchhiking, foraging for food and eschewing regular jobs — say there is growing interest in adopting at least parts of their philosophy.

As Vincent Vega said, the philosophy consists of being a bum.

To many first-time Dumpster divers, the most surprising thing is how much good stuff is out there.

Prieur, for example, says his trash bin excursions have netted him smoked salmon, high-end bacon, olive oil, plenty of produce and other goodies. Prieur, who owns a piece of land but has no permanent home, estimates that when he’s staying with his sister in Seattle, he gets 20 to 30 percent of his groceries from garbage bins.

His habit elicits mixed responses. A favorite item at his sister’s house is “Dumpstered” apple pie. But he’ll sometimes invite people over for dinner and get the cautionary response: “Just promise not to put any Dumpster food in it.”

Says Prieur: “There’s a big emotional thing attached to not eating out of the garbage.”

Fancy that.

There's also a big emotional thing attached to not smearing poop on your face.

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posted by Ace at 03:57 PM

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