Strategies for Low-Impact Living at Minimal Cost
(Experts on these areas indicated in parentheses)
* Urban Foraging – recovering wasted food, books, clothing, office supplies and other items from the refuse of retail stores frequently discarded in brand new condition, finding useable furniture and appliances on curbsides, discovering computers in industrial sized office building dumpsters, and more. Freegans recover goods not for profit, but to serve their own immediate needs and to share freely with others.
* Free Sharing – Sharing the wealth instead of adding to the waste. On email lists like Freecycle, websites like the free section of Craigslist, at day-long fairs like the “Really, Really Free Market‚Äù and “Freemeet,” and in permanently established “Free Stores,” people donate items they don’t want and others find things they can use– all free of charge.
* Repair Workshops – Repair bikes and mend clothes and hold workshops to teach others to do the same. Fixed-up items can be found on the street, or simply collecting dust in the back corner of a closet.
*Wild Foraging – Identifying collecting and using wild-growing plant foods and medicinals, everywhere from the deep woods to a city park. In a society where we’ve been taught to think food comes out of a box, wild foraging reconnects us with the realization that our food comes from the Earth. ( Brill)
* Squatting – Finding abandoned, decrepit buildings and restoring them info homes and community centers for low-income families without benefit of a property deed. Squatting challenges the values of an economic system where homeless people freeze to death on the streets while landlords and municipal governments sit on boarded up buildings.
* Guerilla Gardening – Converting garbage-strewn abandoned lots into beautiful garden plots amidst the asphalt and concrete of urban neighborhoods. The gardens are refuges for urban wildlife and allow communities to grow their own food in neighborhoods where supermarkets understock healthy fruits and vegetables.
* Eco-friendly Transportation ‚Äì Freegans see automobiles and the petroleum economy as a social and ecological disaster and promote more sustainable methods of travel. Bicycling is healthy, nonpolluting, and requires no fuel cost. Hitchhikers and freight train hoppers continue a time-honored vagabond tradition of traveling with minimal means in a car-obsessed nation with inadequate and prohibitively expensive passenger rail lines. Driving cars and running trains with extra space is an inefficient use of energy resources. By filling these vehicles with extra bodies, hitchers and hoppers increase their environmental efficiency, instead of putting another petroleum burning engine on the road. Freegans who find cars unavoidable avoid petroleum dependence by converting their diesel engines to run on used grease from restaurant flyers, turning a waste product into an ecologically friendly fuel. For traveling short distances, freegans are happy to simply walk.
* Avoiding Disposables – Freegans believe that the goods we used to should be designed to last and preserved for longevity. Freegans use rags over paper towels, hankerchiefs over paper tissues, and carry mugs rather than use disposable cups. In the process we save money and conserve natural resources.
* Avoiding Overconsumption and Working Less – Freegans resist manipulative advertisements that tell us we can find happiness and self-worth on retail store shelves. By buying less “stuff” and taking care of vital needs without paying money, freegans are able to work less or not at all. This is motivated not by “laziness”, but by a desire to devote their time to community service, activism, caring for family, appreciating nature, and enjoying life.
* Entertainment and Education – Freegans attend and share information about free events– parties, educational forums, free schools, nature hikes, walking tours, workshops that teach practical skills, concerts, discussion group and other activities where people can learn and have a great time without spending a dime. Freegans can find events and activities on email lists, free calendars, and websites like www.freevents.org.
* Food Not Bombs – Food Not Bombs groups in over 200 cities recover food that would otherwise go to waste and use it to prepare warm meals on the street to promote and ethic of sharing and feed hungry people, challenging a society that can always pay for war, but never seems able to ensure that all are fed.