What is freeganism and why do I do it?


Hi! You’ve probably heard of freeganism, and it’s something I’m really passionate about.

What is freeganism? It’s a way of living (especially eating) which is based on ‘rescuing’ food from dumpsters and trying to limit how much you participate in commercial transactions.

I think of myself as a half-freegan, because I buy things sometimes, but aim to use products that have been discarded most of the time!

Many people live in poverty and don’t get the choice to live in a freegan way. They’re forced to do so by terrible circumstances. I’m privileged enough to not be in that position, so why do I do it?

What is freeganism to me?

  1. It’s a way to boycott an economic system in which profit often takes precedence to ethics in production, distribution and manufacturing.
  2. It’s a way to retaliate against mindless consumerism which detracts us from what’s really important in life. People are being blinded by false needs. Some of us treat freeganism as a part (or extension) of an anarchist lifestyle.
  3. It’s a way to draw attention to food wastage and social divisions. Tonnes of good products are thrown away every day instead of being properly distributed and used – and it’s all down to money, naturally. There are companies out there who would rather dispose of some products and  keep them at higher prices than give them away to those in need.
  4. I think that freeganism shows respect to food itself. We should not be careless about the resources we have.
  5. They say that every little helps, and each person who tries to include freegan activity to some degree in their lives helps to reduce pollution of the environment.

Apart from looking for food in containers, freeganism is about recycling practices, sharing and helping others. There are so many ways to get involved. There’s freecycling, or giving away things you don’t want or need to others instead of throwing them away to add to landfill. There’s food rescue, or picking up stuff from places like restaurants and grocery stores after they’ve passed their sell-by date (check to see if there was a recall if lots of one type of supermarket food is thrown out at once).

You can talk to your local health food shop to see when they discard food (it’s often on set days and set times of day) so you know when the best times are to pick up food they don’t want anymore.

If you see a chain food store or supermarket, talk to them or write them a letter to see how they handle discarded food. Maybe you can encourage food shops in your area to donate food to emergency food programmes or charities. In 2015, France voted to pass a law which says supermarkets cannot spoil discarded food to make sure it can’t be used by others. This is sometimes done by pouring bleach into supermarket dustbins. Instead, French supermarkets will have to donate their discarded food to charities or for animal feed! This is freeganism done to scale and it shows what can be done when big steps are taken. But little steps make a difference, too.

Freegan communities tend to share resources, so see if there’s a community or organisation who can help you to help yourself and others. For example, Falling Fruit is a collaborative worldwide map of urban harvests, with hundreds of thousands of hotspots all over the globe.

Finally, I’d like to mention the Food Not Bombs action organised in many cities around the world.  It is aimed against war and poverty. While giving away free vegetarian/ vegan food, people are protesting against spending money on weapons and unfair distribution of resources. Food used for this action (at least in some places like my home city) is, to a large extent, “freegan” food.