Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Freeganism In The Suburban Bush

Freegan = Someone whose diet is made up of free things

One of those funny blogging coincidences sprang up the other day, just as myself and Horsemouth were talking about how the freegan lifestyle might be both an answer to our pecuniary problems, and to the waste problem on this small island, Chad was posting on the same subject.

'Great Minds Think Alike' or 'Idiots Seldom Differ', you decide?

Sometimes I thing that this whole 'big brains and opposable thumbs' thing is a test, one we may well not pass. Modern life has brought us so many wonderful things, but looked at in it's totality, the whole sorry enterprise has been a bit of a debacle.

As America joined the second world war, within one week, just seven days, the automobile industry had been reborn as builders of the machines of war, not another car was made in the USA until the war was won.

Massive changes in perspective and direction are possible. If the will is there.

We have enough resources to end hunger today, we have enough resources to raise expectations all over the planet so people are too busy enjoying the fruits of freedom to nurse to the grievances of extremists.
Here in blighty the second world war saw a massive increase in the nations health, while slashing the nations food bill. Peoples ingenuity was focused on getting the most from every resource and finding new ones in unexpected places. Food wasn't wasted, instead of landfill, scraps became the next meal and people were healthier for it.

There's an oft quoted statistic that a third of the food bought in in the UK is thrown away. Yep, 'scared of their dinner' doesn't only mean that meat must come in a little plastic tray, it means that all foods have to have a a 'sell by' or 'use by' date. Even eggs have a 'best before' date printed on each shell and the hilarious thing is people actually think these dates are sacrosanct. I was brought up in a 'scrape the bad bit off' household. The dried out edge of a block of cheese becomes the basis for a cheese sauce, jam is fine once the furry bit is chucked and dry bread makes the best toast. Why would you need a stamp to tell you if an egg is edible? You have a nose on your face after all.

"What are we having for dinner?"
Can always be answered,
"what needs eating, today?"

Food is one of the most carbon intensive things we consume. With most calories of food costing an average of ten calories to produce and transport to the table. Every time a piece of food hermetically sealed in a little tray is thrown away its made a long carbon consuming journey to the store and then to the house. Before it makes one last diesel powered journey to the tip, where because it's sealed it wont be composted,as it beocmes yet more land-fill.

Less wasted food would be a massive step towards making our current lifestyle more sustainable. The other benifit of gathering these foodstuffs is that once in the hands of a freegan, the packaging is removed and concieniusly added to the recycleing thereby adding to the amount of traded and reccyled plasics. Good for the environment and good for the economy. In these cost conscious times more and more , sustainable isn't just a dislocated wish, it's the distance between pay cheques. Modern Life is Rubbish, we just need to be more intelligent with the rubbish.

Horsemouth is a cheapskate to rival even The Northern Monkey, and as your representative I thought I'd do a spot of Freegan Foraging too. We know we can eat for free, but what will we eat for free? What's the legal position? What tools do freegans use? All these and many more questions will be answered in part 2.

Your pal
The Bushwacker


Perkunas said...

As i have several friends in the vegan,anarchism and punk scene,theres loads of voluntarily homeless people that refuse to buy anything that cant be dug out of the dumpsters,and man,i can tel you, ihave got loads of really good food from them in their parties etc,as shops here do throw away food thats still packed up ok,and has even dating left,or its gone yesterday.Sad thing is our new laws and stupid regulations that force even the kind shopkeepers that ease out the freegan people by wrapping fresh fruits etc in bags next to dumpster,to buy there huge un-access type of garbage boxes with lethal food mangling devices that will make sure no one gets anything useful for free.As law says its shopkeepers fault if freegan gets his stomach sick by eating something suspicious.That sucks IMO,as many students,homeless men,etc do get some help from these open minded foodmarket"hand-outs".But hey,the elite running this country,what do they know about life on grass level.


Perkunas said...

I forgot to say that its sometimes real deal urban survival to someone,not just a way of life,for fun.No,i see homeless even here,everyday,some are drunk and junkies,but theres also nice,very nice people who dont have home,nor any nutrition unless they get some charity stuff.And they arent in their position for any selfmade reasons.Recess,getting kicked from job etc cause this many times.And society,government,town,they cant or simply wont help everyone due to stupid-ass laws that over-rule humanity.Its hammering a big wedge between rich and the poor,our system nowadays.the normal working class vanishes slowly,and its getting like in russia where some yuppie scum can drive over legless begger without judgement,due to the thick wallet as the law aint the same for the rich and the poor.

And everyone has to eat to survive.Its one of the basics.

murphyfish said...

Follow your link to Chad’s posting, interesting guy to say the least! These are interesting and valid points of view the two of you are putting up for discussion, with some thought provoking ideas. Well done on a fantastic post, I look forward to your next installment.
Best regards,

LSP said...

As a wholehearted fan of freeganomics I applaud your post. We throw away a huge amount of perfectly good stuff. I recall that the skips in Kensington were especially helpful back in the day...

All best to the frugal Horsemouth.


Chad Love said...

"Modern life is rubbish, we just need to be more intelligent with the rubbish."

That's a bumper sticker just waiting to be printed, SBW...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


The horrible thing is we have way more than enough for all of our needs, most of what we need for our greed, but we still cling to the strange idea that we can punish people for not being sufficiently socialized as an incentive to others. The wonder of global capitalism wouldn't fall down just because we made the safety net a bit more effective. By risk pooling and making it less of a distance to fall we'd actually encourage the financial and intellectual risk taking that leads to innovation.

But back to Freeganism - Who amongst us doesn't want free stuff?

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Glad you made trip - his blog is very cool

In part two...................

Well you'll have to wait and see.


The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Glad to see the ol' magik is still there.

Seriously the greatest danger we face is not terrorism or famine, global warming or pig-dog flu, it's stupidity.

If people would just stop doing dumb things many of our problems would go away.

It doesn't help that the last time clever was cool was in the early 70's. Since then 'rich' has been the prescribed way of acknowledging intelligence. And just look where 'the smartest guy's in the room' have led us.


Perkunas said...

Well i dont say no for free stuff if its something i can really use.As they do offer all sorts of freebies,like odd weight reducing pills,magazines etc,but i say no.

Youre sure right about that we do have more than we need and others dont have any.

That goes with the free food too i think.Why the hell cant some major food shop hand out to those in need if they still,in the end of the day throw it into garbage.Its just sick.

I come from very moderate background and i was raised to appreciate every meal,and it was common for us to eat leftovers from yesterday,we did not throw it into dump and just buy new stuff for every day.

Maybe this is why i was and still i am intrested about your latest writing,although,due to language barrier i dont get it all,sorry.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Ahh skip diving!

When i lived in NYC we furnished the whole apartment in stuff from the upper east-side. I bought a mattress, an air bubbler (for the free fish tank) and an air con unit but all the rest was free.

I got a half decent cleaver and the best roasting tray ever the other day.

All good

LSP said...

Good old skipendale - too bad you can't pick up useful guns that way...

Matthew Brown said...

Great post Bushwacker. Reminds me of that bloke and his wife we met in Farnborough, giving out those books. I think awareness of food wastage is slowly growing amongst the public, but I'm still shocked by the sheer amount of packaging on many supermarket products, layers of plastic casings on things that probably don't need it.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Yeah I later saw him on TV on a news segment about freegans - and i've met other member of his 'crew' prostheletising at events where members of the smelly Welshman's tribe gather. The lord, as they say, loves a trier.

Shame we didn't snaffle any roadkill on that trip (or have rod 'n' rifle with us - that farmhouse looked like bunny central)

The packaging thing is mental - todays marketers are obsessed with display space - so everything than can go in a bigger box MUST go in a bigger box.

The borough Ex Mrs SBW lives in has awesome recycling facilities - you can send almost everything - and she lives a fairly modest lifestyle. I was dragging her bins out the other day and I was amazed by just how much packaging there was.

Enough for all our need, probably enough for most of our greed but never enough for our stupidity.