Why do we buy?

Published on July 2nd, 2009

I was cleaning out my bathroom today and thought about how easy it was for me to do so.

~There is almost nothing in it.

Sometimes I think I am a bad freegan, but then sometimes I look at myself from the perspective of the ultra-clean-freak overconsumer, and I realize that I own almost none of the regular all-american cleaning products that you see in almost any household.

I will start with Shampoo.

I threw out my shampoo and conditioner bottles today. They were a year and 8 months old. I know this because I remember when they were given to me. I didn’t buy them. My mother forced me to take them when I went to the hospital to give birth. She said I would need things to wash myself with, which was not true. The hospital provided almost everything.

I used them sparingly over the course of a year, and when they ran out, they just sat there for 8 months. I have not bought any more.

Soap is enough for me.

There may be problems with my hair that I am unaware of. And perhaps I don’t get treated by some people as well as I would if I were to fix those problems with shampoo. But for me, the thought of spreading chemical waste all over my body repulses me.

Indeed many companies produce chemicals that would otherwise have no place to go if they did not so shrewdly sell their waste to beauty care companies.

And anyway, natural soap and natural shampoo is all made of the same stuff. So I see no need to have both.

But this isn’t all I don’t have.

I don’t have any chemical cleaners. I don’t have air fresheners, none of the stuff that you would see in a regular bathroom. Vinegar, baking soda and H2O2 is all I need.

I am proud of this. As far as I can see, life is nothing more than being happy, making others in your life happy, living out your purpose in life and being part of community.

I have had that in my life without the bleach, chemical hair and face washes, and whatever else people go crazy buying.

If my hair is not up to Hollywood standards, that’s fine. I still feel like a human being. I still live my life fully. And I do that much less to contribute to capitalism, class society and ecological damage.

It makes me wonder, really wonder, why, if I can go so long without hurting, without feeling any sense of struggle or inconvienience, why do people feel so strongly that they need these things to live a good life? It’s bad for so many more reasons than it is good.



22 Responses to “Why do we buy?”

  1. tonyyy Says:

    I can’t agree more. I really try and convince the mrs ll of the above but, with no success. Plastic containers full of chemicals suck and we don’t need them, we are told we need them. I could go on forever. take care

  2. yuri Says:

    it’s amazing that people around the world feel equally.

    I have friends in my home country Ukraine (former Soviet Union) who abandoned cities to live in the villages… They walk barefoot most of the year, use absolutely no chemicals in households.

    They also swim in cold water during cold winters.

    We are all freegans, there are many of us around the world. Hoping this world will become dope-free one day.

    The f*cking matrix eats us up. And many of us die prematurely. I.e. – losing hope.

  3. karen Says:

    The very first paragraph of your post is something I’ve been turning over in my head: the difference between a minimalist freegan who takes only what they need to survive plus perhaps a small stockpile for a rainy day, and a “mainstream freegan” (talk about yer oxymorons!) who hoards and seeks and forages and scavenges and winds up living in a garboid wonderland of free stuff. I think there value in rescuing all things usable from the trash heap and sharing them, but I have to wonder, how different the freegan who hoards a houseful of freebies from someone who obtains those things with legal tender. How Freeing is it to live in a house stuffed full of junk?

  4. willow Says:

    additionally, those things actually make you feel just bleached… not ‘clean’. Its crazy relearning one’s body after being abducted by capitalism.

    Try just putting some cedar or lavender in the shower, or rubbing down with them (watch out, they’ll break up and go everywhere, but it feels wonderful and makes ya smell delicious).

    Also, try cleaning one’s kitchen with herbal wash bowls. I cleaned out the nasty bottom of the spot under the sink where the waste basket goes. Like all enclosed and boxed up (um, cabineted, there we go) and shit. I cleaned it with rosemary lavender water i believe it was. Shit worked better then bleach. Plus herb bowls keep everything clean longer because their natural anti-bacterial and anti-viral. But just more anti-nasty. well those scents, residue pill up so the residue left is just lavender to the millionth time. (make sure all herbs are fresh picked though. I don’t take credit for nothin from a store. Crappy city herbs and shit from the roadside however does definately count).

    anywho, happy exploring

  5. Michelle Says:

    Hi Leia,
    I enjoyed reading your article. I use very little stuff around the house, just a damp cloth for dusting, vinegar, a little bit of grated soap etc.

    I did have a point of interest about the hair. Most people actually over wash their hair, which causes dandruff and other skin irritations.
    Unless you are putting car oil or a lot of hair products in your hair a good hair brush and brushing your hair daily will help to keep it clean.

    Also a friend of mine and I did an experiment about a year ago where we didn’t use shampoo or put styling products in our hair for 6 weeks. We just kept our hair brushed and would rinse it in warm water every couple of days if it needed it.

    The hairs natural oils do wonders at healing and repairing when given the chance and my scalp has been better since the experiment. I occasionally treat my hair to olive oil and that works Fab.

  6. nilda f. Says:

    thanks for the potty-room shout out ! there are things i like to make at home that are inexpensive / food-based, in case one still wants to preen like a hen / monkey, etc. cuz sometimes preening can be fun! here is a recipe for versatile rosemary hair oil: take a clean, dry, empty jar and fill it completely with rosemary ( can be found wild / dumpstered ), then fill to the top again with olive oil, poke it with a chopstick to release the air pockets, let it sit in cool, dark place for about six weeks, then strain through a cloth ( square of old t-shirt will do ). the oil will keep 6 months to a year in a dark place / fridge. good to massage into dry scalps for dandruff, or for falling hair in the case of bacterial infections. it can add lush color to dark hair, when used over time. nice as a hair-dressing or leave-in conditioner. a peanut-butter-size jar lasts me an entire year, with some to give as little gifts to friends.

  7. Lunar Says:

    Karen, I see the very same thing.

    I also usually only use baking soda and vinegar to clean. It’s so simple.

  8. Erica Says:

    Hi, I agree with all of this. I use handmade soap for both hair and skin. Sometimes I do a vinegar rinse to change the way my hair reacts. It’s short now, but as it grows, the vinegar helps detangle. Vinegar and baking soda are my primary cleansers, too.

    I am the junk collector described above. Part of me loves rescuing stuff from the dumpster at my apartment complex; the other part hates how much “stuff” is crammed into my apt. It takes me a while to find a new home for some of it, but I usually gift it to someone in need. For example, I found a Little Tykes kids table (white with pink legs) in the dumpster the other day. Perfect condition. It’s sitting in my entry way, and my daughter thinks I’m nuts. I just hate to see it landfilled with so much use left! I have a friend who needs it for her bedroom, so voila!

  9. Kay Says:

    I just found the site well how good it is. And am supportive of your ideals. Good luck

  10. Mitch Says:

    I am studying concepts of clean and dirty at the moment. Our notion of clean is symbolic or ritual. There doesn’t have to be a hygienic reason for something to be considered dirty. Dirt is ‘matter out of place’. It is something that does not fit into our schema, so it confuses us and we conveniently put it in the category of ‘dirty’. In the middle-ages, people were obsessed with faeces. It was so useful! It was status symbol to have lots of poo piled up outside your shop. After the industrial revolution, the sanitarians took away our poo and gave us money instead.

    The question is:

    do you want your poo back?

  11. Al Says:

    Tired of Shampoo…try using baking soda with lemon as an afterrinse.. you can even add essential oils to it..

    also you can use it for teeth cleaning too..

    better than shampoo and toothpaste..

    I have been using these for years.. free of the shampoo racket

    thanks for sharing

  12. Don Says:

    I have some freegan beliefs (especially with respect to chemicals that we pour over ourselves and in the environment).

    My problem is my immune system isn’t good enough to do the more extreme (at least IMHO) activies like find food in dumpsters.

    I guess I could describe myself as a part-time freegan…

    Nice site, keep up the great work educating and communicating to the masses…

  13. Cheri Says:

    There are values to Freeganism I find attractive: de-emphasis of materialism, return to a healthy ecology with chemical-free cleaning, and community.
    Mitch had an interesting entry explaining what he’s studied about DIRT. And I would answer NO, I don’t want my poo back, but let’s rather use money more wisely–to help those with less than ourselves and to buy credit-free the essentials.
    The fascination with poo brought deadly diseases, but it’s also written that the love of money is the root to all evil.

  14. Brendan Says:

    Hi, i hope this finds you all well. i think you Freegans are amazing. Im not at Freegan level, but ive changed my life style and have become a vegetarian for 2 years after s6 years of meat eating and am also trying to consume less.

    But, if it was left to Freegans do you think the internet would of manifested. Anyways thanks for the insperation.

  15. Rebecca Judkins Says:

    I have no website but I found this one and yes I believe in none chemical cleaners and hard scrubbing I also do not buy or eat meat that the stores sell instead i process my own I grow my on vegatables and can them and I do not use chemicals or fertilizer that is chemical made I believe in natural stuff even in my garden If I could afford to buy the things needed to make my own eletricity I would but now I have to relie on the electric company So many of us have forgotten what it is like to do with out things we really dont need because it is to easy to go to the store and buy a lot of crap

  16. Annaita Says:

    Great going! In India people have been re-cycling things for centuries. There are those that still come to your home (or you can go to them), they buy anything old: newspapers; bottles; furniture etc. They are known as “Jari Puranawallas” Jari means gold thread; Purana means old and Walla is person. So from gold to all things old and rickety, they will buy, sort and resell etc. The modern throw-away culture unfortunately which originated here in the US has also permeated many countries but hopefully we can still turn back.

    We certainly do not need new things all the time, but I guess that is something people needed to do. But times are certainly changing and with it, Consciousness. Simplifying our lives, buying & using what we need rather than just for greed is an essential part of this. Also, most often we grow out of things before they are really old, why not have someone else or even someone less fortunate use it? I think it’s great.

    Life for me has been down-sizing and now I live with only what fits into a few suitcases. Much better this way.

    I too use natural products whenever I can. Some tips:

    1 tsp of freshly ground flax-seed, 1 tsp oatmeal, 1 tsp wheat flour ( all approximate measures) mixed with a little honey & water to make a paste makes a very good face scrub. Flax has omega 3.

    Alum is a mineral antiseptic. We used it in India to purify drinking water after boiling. Barbers there will wet it and rub it on a cut if they nik you while cutting your hair! I have used it as a deodorant instead of the outrageously expensive mineral rocks you get here.

    I stumbled on this site while doing a search for dumpster divers near middletown. Actually I am hoping to find people who will help in re-distributing food that grocery stores throw out and give it to the poor. is anything like that going on? Let me know. It would be good to get the stores involved too. There is sadly too much waste of everything in America.

  17. Caroline Says:

    Thank you for the information!
    We are not freegans, but we try as much as possible to avoid “kapitalst traps” that are everywhere. When you live in a family with children, it is verry hard to live like this.
    Children are so easy under influenceof commercials or friends!
    We never use or buy chemical deodorisers for our home, or things like that. When I see the commercials for these things, I allways think what big bussiness this must be!!!! If you see the amount off brands who sell those things in supermarkets, it becomes even clearer!!!! whats wrong with opening your window to refresh your home?
    For cleaning we use, traditional green soap, this smells fresh and natural, and it’s much cheaper than all these chemical products.
    Those chemical smells, irritate my nose, so I think it’s the same for everybody.
    I confess, i use shampoo to wash my hair…But I never use styling products or haircolor, I like my hair the natural way, I use a brush made out of pigshair (sorry for the pig) but I had it for 25 year now and it is still in the same condition, and it doesn’t damage my hair like a plastic brush!
    Maybe I will try my mothers beauty secret, washing your hair with rainwater and natural soap, our water from the tap is to hard to use with soap.

  18. ennui Says:

    Regarding the hoarders–have you thought of freecycling? That too keeps things out of the landfills.

  19. DialAnAthiestLarry Says:

    Leia and all Freegans/wannabees:
    I am so proud of you all. My Iowa grandparents made their own soap, candles, quilts, dresses from “patterns” dolls and toys. …. Here in Charleston, SC there is no such thing as “soil.” …. Real veggies just won’t grow in this river sand stuff of the low country.
    For the past 6 years I’ve been composting, mulching and trying to make our dirt fertile like the sustainable earth of Iowa. Our cat uses corn “nippets” for kitty litter.
    It’s better than Halliburton Colony, Wyoming clay millings.
    I walk or bicycle to work. I recycle there while most of my co-workers throw most material into the landfill system.
    Too many of them are obsessed with religion instead of reverence for our earth.
    Plastic alleged baby gods more precious than our lungs, kidneys and brains. We are fighting thought pollution as much as water and air pollution.
    Everyone speak out against the vain bellicose religions.
    If only Jesu, Jehovah, Mohammed, Moses, Krishna, Buddah and animists were all like Cain, our vegan hero of fruits, nuts grains and no more blood thirsty religions 843-926-1750
    Peace Recruiter Larry

  20. Emily Says:

    hey, just a tip, tear old newspaper into strips and use it for cat litter, also, restaurants throw away many 5 gallon food grade buckets, (score!) can be used for about anything. Also in my city columbus ohio, (arawak) we do food not bombs, so everyone can share the extra stuff they get during the week. Also bagels, slice them really thin, throw on some oil or seasoning and pop them in the oven, bagel chips. Do not forget about bike shops! Also PLEASE look up Bio Char, you can use extra (esp. spoiled) dumpster findings and compost to make a carbon sequestering fertilizer. (they did this in ancient amazonia) Possibilities are endless! I try to always get extra and share with friends! found extra sqaush? make squash pasta less filling, more nutrients. peace and companionship to all

  21. Rebecca Says:

    I wash my hair with baking soda and rinse with vinegar. Still working on making my own vinegar for this process… it’s much less drying than soap.

  22. jill Says:

    Re shampoo bottles. I hope you mean that you RECYCLED the bottles versus “threw them out”; otherwise, I am not enamoured of such a lifestyle that is not about environmental stewardship.

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