Thursday, November 6, 2008

Green Term of the Week - Freegan

There's a new, hip, term for someone who picks trash, and it's not dumpster diver. That term is so last minute.

This minute's term is freegan. According to wikipedia a freegan is someone whose "lifestyle involves salvaging discarded, unspoiled food from supermarket dumpsters that have passed their display date but haven't passed their edible date. They salvage the food not because they are poor or homeless, but as a political statement." 

I suppose that is what freeganism started out as, but it has evolved to include more than just salvaging food to salvaging other useful items.

I first became aware of the freegan movement when someone who goes by @freegan started following me on Twitter. This person gives updates through Twitter on what she gets from dumpsters - mostly dumpsters behind grocery and other retail stores. Here's something she wrote yesterday
Every nite same store dumps 4 boxes fresh fruit & veg; last nite I got 102 firm bananas, 30 apples; 10 pumpkin pies I couldn't reach
She doesn't keep all this food for herself. In the past eight months she has donated over $29,000 worth of food to homeless shelters. Yes, it does sound kind of gross - taking food from dumpsters. But this isn't half eaten food. This is perfectly good food that is just past its expiration date or not even to its date yet but needs to be gotten rid of to make room for new shipments. It's at the top of the bin, and this woman, who has a blog called Secret Freegan, knows when to hit the dumpsters so the stuff is right on top.

The amount of food wasted in this country is startling. In the U.S., 30% of food produced gets wasted. That's an awful lot of food, water, and fuel  gone without ever having done any good. Secret Freegan helps to lower those statistics and the environmental impact of wasted food with her actions. I think it's pretty awesome.

She's not the only one. Freeganism is a movement. gives more information about the movement including its philosophy on waste reclamation,  waste minimization, eco-friendly transportation (including train hopping and hitchhiking), rent free housing, and going green. Check it out. It's a pretty interesting read. 

So what do you think about taking the perfectly good food from the top of dumpsters and using it? Good idea? Disgusting? Fine idea for other people, but not for you?

Image from Secret Freegan's website.
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GJK said...

Welllll, it's pretty distasteful to think about anyone eating food taken from a dumpster. I wonder if this woman can't make some arrangement with the stores to have them leave that kind of food just next to the dumpster for her to pick up. I've never understood why restaurants and grocery stores don't do more donating of that kind of food. It's absolutely obscene how much decent food gets thrown away by restaurants.

Robin Shreeves said...

I think there are all kinds of legal reasons why the stores can't knowingly give the food away - the first being it's past its freshness date. Stupid, but hey it's the government.

If you check out Secret Freegan's website, she talks about some of this.

KARLA and AMY said...

Ginger is an inspiration - great work!

We're trying to do the same thing here in Michigan. A bit more challenging, but also using resources like

We invite everyone to track our progress:

You'll also learn about how we spent January eating on just $1 a day. (January Archives)

Again..great work Ginger!


On Twitter: HopeHeals

theeducatedpantry said...

thanks for this...wondering if you could direct me to "all kinds of reasons why stores and restaurants' can't knowingly donate"...

sure there are some work arounds :-)
would like to take a more transparent route and help our local soup kitchen..