Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Freegan Movement: Growing Movement or Fad?

Many people today want to simplify their lives and be less consumer and product driven, but "freegans" are going a few steps beyond all that. The freegan lifestyle has gotten a lot of attention recently, and a freegan couple was even on Oprah today.

As explained in the freegan Web site, "Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations ..." Sounds fine until you get to the kicker: "Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able." Consider the three words in that last sentence; Avoid. Buying. Anything. Hmmm....

The first photo you see on the freegan Web site is of a young woman reaching into a dumpster, holding a bag of food. For some people, depriving themselves of things they like is a serious drawback of freeganism. A distaste for dumpster diving is another. So I'm out on both counts.

Newsweek had a blog last year called Freegan Girl in which a woman tried to be a freegan for 32 days. She made it to day 31, then gave in to a serious cheeseburger craving.

I'm all for simple living and don't go in for all the conspicuous consumption in society today. I love getting free, used stuff from freecycle. But, I can't see freeganism becoming a widespread movement, it's just too extreme to stick to, especially long term. Some people will probably adopt some of its practices, or call themselves freegan but "cheat" on a regular basis.

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