Freegans...I just cannot.
So, I sincerely hope this is no longer a thing. The story I relate herein happened something like 4 or 5 years ago, and that is more than long enough for some dumb fads to sputter out and die.
However, I definitely googled "is freeganism still a thing" before I embarked on this post, and I encountered freegan.info, which is still operational, so sigh, probably there are still some dummies doing this.
Anyways, check it: this one time I was walking with this tall drink of dorkiness who I was medium vibeing, and with whom I had just shared a delicious dinner at a very cute restaurant on what was either a second or third date. My arm was looped loosely in the crook of his elbow, a la Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, and we were walking unhurriedly in the direction of his apartment, into which I had still not decided whether or not I was willing to be lured.
As we are closing in on his cross streets, I am finding him smart and charming, and so when he asks me if I want to come inside to check out his antique bookshelves, in a very, wanna come up and see my etchings? kinda way, I first laugh my ass off, at him, and then tell him sure, I'd love to see your etchings.
He points an exceedingly sweet smile at me and we walk on with a new sense of purpose. We are all gross and twitterpated, until we reach the outer door to his building, where a tide of tension surges towards me from his direction. I ignore this cause I assume homeboy is just jazzed to have my feminine self inside his apartment. However, as the house tour arrives at the kitchen,I discover that there was another reason entirely.
It is...not clean. There is, in fact, quite a specific aroma emitting from some of the items sitting on his counter.
I am not sure if he could see my expression as I surveyed this...situation or not, but basically as soon as one of my toes crosses the threshold, he is already apologizing for the state of it, sputtering,
My thoughts upon hearing this went basically thus:
1. Uh huh. Sure sure. #askingforafriend.
2. I get how words work, this is almost definitely some unholy mashup of "free" and "vegan", please let it not be what I think it is.
3. I have become Hugh Grant from Notting Hill.
4. Maybe it's not as bad as I think.
So I ask him, "what's a Freegan?" and am utterly dismayed to hear it is a philosophy for life that involves "a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions zzzzzzzzzzzzzz...ahem, snort....blah blah bullshit....rejecting consumer culture." They achieve this by refusing to buy things, making use of "reclaimed waste" (i.e., dumpster diving); "rent-free housing" (i.e., squatting);" and "working less" (i.e. unemployment)
Let me take a moment to describe my many objections to this utterly asinine pseudo-revolutionary bullshit; that spurts exclusively from the mouths of naïvely privileged white people.
That you think you can tells me you have no idea what economic systems are or what total boycotts would include.
But let's pretend you can for a minute. What you are talking about doing is becoming a subsistence farmer who is magically able to produce everything she needs all by herself.
Read literally any book set in ye olden days and discover how brutally effing grueling farming is. How you gonna meld your "work less" philosophy with what is probably the most labor intensive career a person can pursue? Harvesting produce seem like NBD cause you went to the you-pick-em apple orchard that one time for like an hour and that was wicked fun? You think those tractors are so technologically advanced these days they practically drive themselves? Magical fucking Cinderella birds help you control weeds instead of eating your delicious corns?
Plus, how many crops you think you can grow in one climate? All of them? You think you can just plant seeds anywhere and a motherfucking Whole Foods sprouts up in your yard?
What about salt? Where you gonna get it? I refer you again to ye olde novels. Do you remember how goddamn GEEKED the Laura Ingalls crew were to ride a zillion hours into town on a rickety cart to buy boring ass shit? Like those little girls NEVER got candy. Wtf. But they didn't even care that much because at least this was an opportunity to see other humans they weren't blood related to. Know why? Cause a farm that yields enough food to sustain you through the year has to be FUCKING HUGE. Where's your community now, you dumb hippies? Did you even SEE Castaway? Homeboy made a best friend out of a bloody volleyball, and could not WAIT to get his ass up off that island. Living in isolation suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.
Oh, and also these bitches went to town in the first place to BUY some effing SALT (and shuttup, yes, you DO need salt, you try eating only potatoes with no salt for months on end and see what it does to your mind).
What's that? You don't need to buy this salt, you're going to barter for it, thus preserving your freegan ideals? BARTERING IS LITERALLY THE SAME AS BUYING SHIT, you dumb motherfucker, it's just that in bartering, products are assigned a value for trade, and exchanged directly based on said value, instead of using paper to represent the value assigned to all products, and exchanging the value markers instead of the products themselves, directly. Bartering is still consumer culture. Fun fact: you have to declare the value of bartered goods as income on your tax return. Seriously. The IRS is not here for your shit.
Oh, and let's don't even get started on healthcare. Did little Timmy get typhoid? Unless you figured out a way to manufacture penicillin on your weird farm, he gone die.
This....bullshit only works if the people around you continue to create the consumer culture you profess to loathe.
The main pillars of this philosophy involve you scavenging goods produced by people who choose to participate in society. You would not be able to feed yourselves if there were no waste created by others for you to "reclaim". If someone else had not spent their resources to procure ingredients, contracted to secure electricity to produce heat, and invested their effort and skill to prepare food, you would be yanking fistfuls of jack shit out of the dumpster. Someone used their resources to build the house you are squatting in. Without them you would be crouching in some strange hut fashioned from cardboard and candy wrappers, or maybe just be sleeping in a ditch, truly communing with nature and the pleasant sensation of dirt in your everywhere and bugs crawling all over you. So peaceful!
You are relying on other people to produce, so you may consume. You are asking other people to carry you so you can look down on them. What you claim to be high-minded social consciousnesses is in fact deliberate abdication of your responsibility to participate equally in society, or in the production of the resources we all require to live.
Most tellingly, it is only you, who have never had to do any of this shit against your will who can claim to choose it as some sort of superior fucking way of life. Because it sucks.
People who have actually been forced, because they have no other option, to shelter as a squatter, in an unstable housing solution from which they might be ejected at any moment generally find it to be unrelentingly stressful, and are desperate to change their circumstances. People who have truly been hungry, forced to find food amongst the trash, unsure of what, if anything they might find to sustain themselves, may feel this strips them of their dignity, which is generally unappealing, and a situation they wish to escape ASAfuckingP.
It is only your privileged ass who can sit there smugly choosing to do these things, all the while decrying the ills of a society you are fully capable of opting back into the first second shit gets hairy and you can't find any trash food to eat and you don't know where you're going to sleep, or, I dunno, you get fucking appendicitis or some shit, and actually need a gooddamn doctor because you don't actually want to die, you were just trying to prove some stupid fucking point, and your surgeon will -strangely- not accept payment in the form of Kombucha.
I mean, hey, I've dated dudes with many a foolish worldview and, depending on how hot they were and what mood I was in at the time, I either ignored their nonsense and continued smashing them, or embarked on a knowledge bomb dropping offensive to convince them of the errors of their ways.
Naw, ya'll. Once I heard the word "freegan" explained to me, as I am standing in the apartment of this cute, albeit misguided, Eggplant, my problem was this:
I look around me at the film of grime clotted in all the cracks and corners I had previously written off as your typical layer of boy-crud. I note the deflated, ramshackle, found-object nature of so many of the items in his living and bedroom. I observe the blackening bananas on the counter, the excessively crumpled cellophane surrounding a half eaten loaf of bread, the haphazard collection of weary produce lying limply in a bowl, and am unable to ignore the plain truth this kitchen, and this house, is filled with, just, garbage.
There is no way my naked body is going anywhere near that bedbug and/or lice infested blanket.