The word “freegan” is distinct, strange and jarring. This reporter heard about freeganism on the news just about a year ago and has been curious about it since then.
I was thinking about what kind of story to cover for my last hurrah as a student in the Stony Brook School of Journalism, and I remembered that word: freegan. A little research quickly revealed that a) the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t recognize the noun, and b) the only commonly reported fact about freegans is that they “dumpster dive” – that is, pick through trash – for food and other items. Obscurity is always intriguing; I knew there had to be more to it. So I dug deep, garbage pun not intended, and found that freeganism is about much more than dumpster diving. Freeganism is an anti-capitalist movement that boycotts what freegans see as America’s destructive economic system. It is about mutual aid, protecting the environment and trying to live waste free.
I went on three trash tours, attended one freegan feast and took one trip to a Queens food pantry that feeds more than 1,200 families each week: three very different events that represent important elements of a freegan life. I spoke to many freegans, from first-time trash pickers to veterans who live a fully freegan lifestyle; outside observers; waste experts; and doctors to be able to tell a comprehensive story about freeganism.
I hope you enjoy learning about this dedicated group of people.