Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Do You Get Happiness from Things?

Several months ago I wrote the post How Frugal are You about Freeganism. Well, the topic has come into the media again as it was covered today on Oprah. Here's the show link: Living on the Edge. To quote:'s likely you've never seen anything like "freegans." This growing grassroots subculture is made of people who have decided to live outside consumer society. Freegans say our culture's emphasis on buying the newest products—and throwing away perfectly fine older things—is a waste of the world's resources. Instead, they focus on buying less and use only what they need. One of the main ways freegans do this is by salvaging food and other goods from the trash.

I really recommend you check out the "trash tour" video on her site. It is sickening how much good food is thrown away, much of it in perfect condition. I do my own trash tour by visiting my parents refrigerator. I get so mad at them because they refuse to eat left overs. It's to the point that my mother will call me up and say, "I have left over xxxx no one will eat, do you want it?" There will usually be enough food for Jake, James, and I to eat dinner with left overs of our own. I then reuse those for lunches or recook them another way for another meal until they are gone. If I don't take the food from them, it will inevitably get thrown out. There are so many people who don't have food and you're going to throw away half a pot roast and fixings? In my mom's defense, she will eat leftovers-it's my siblings and dad who are the food snobs.

Previously I had said:
I'm all about making the most of what we've got and not wasting food, but I don't think I could do it. And the sad part is, it isn't because I think the food is no good-I totally agree with the statistics in the article about how the US wastes billions of dollars and much of it in food-it's just the idea of digging around in the trash or dumpster diving while other people watch me. I think if I saw someone doing it I would think that they must be poor, or hungry, or desperate but I would not believe that they were doing it for political reasons. I think it takes a certain kind of person, and I'm not it.
But this time, after watching, and hearing again, and after seeing the huge group of people on the trash tour and what they found, I feel like I could be in that group. I'd take a walk with them.

One couple interviewed said "We'd much rather be known as people that dig in trash than people that buy needless things," And also "You have to learn to not get your happiness from things. It's a pretty easy thing to learn once you try it." It makes me think about James. He has plenty of toys but he has the most fun when you pretend to chase him, crawl on the floor tickling him, and playing with stuff like empty boxes from food or items. Where do you find your happiness? Freeganism isn't just about food. Do you need to buy all the latest and greatest when what you already own is working great? BTW-That couple has good professional paying jobs and can afford to buy whatever they want.

While I've never dug through the garbage for food, I try really hard not to waste and to reuse and that really is the point of this whole thing. You don't have to dig through the trash to make a difference. The big "thing" these days is living green and what better way to help the environment than by reducing consumption?


Anonymous said...

joanne, all these years and i didn't realize you were that much of a non-waster! just like me! :) though i'm not convinced i could eat out of a dump - even if the food was in perfect condition. no one ever does "enough" - but we do what we can and add to that when we should. love you!

Teriana said...

I love leftovers. There's only a small list of things that I won't eat as leftovers: french fries. End of list. Though I don't think I'd ever go dumpster diving. Even if it was post dated cereal the supermarket has just tossed out. I had co-workers that would throw out bottled water if it had been opened for more than two days. Good grief! It's been in the ground for 3,000 years and it's gonna go bad in two days?

I worry sometimes that I'm too materialistic. I don't have to have the latest and greatest. I never pay full price for clothes and don't mind buying used things. But I've been living for the past 4 months with just my TV, VCR/DVD player, camping stuff, clothes and computer. And I have a 10 foot trailer in storage filled with nics nacs, magazines and various other crap that I obviously don't need, but that I can't bare to get rid of.

StacyMSmith said...

Ok, I'm all for saving the planet, but I'm not eating out of a dumpster. That's the end of that. Though, I do routinely eat at my mom's house, and I always get a doggie bag. I have the same TV that I had when Dylan was a baby... and the darn thing still turns on. I drive a 95 Jeep, though I'm pretty sure at any moment a part will fall off. How'm I doing? :)