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How to Be a Freegan

So you recycle your newspapers and plastics. Big deal. “Freegans” are trying to save the environment by living exclusively on stuff in your trash. Here’s how to join them.


  • Step 1: Dumpster dive Learn to love dumpster diving – that is, literally climbing into dumpsters to forage for food and other goods. Just be discreet. Dumpster diving is illegal, and can lead to a fine.
  • TIP: Sometimes it pays to take a direct approach and ask a store or restaurant manager if you can be given the food being thrown out anyway.
  • Step 2: Learn how to forage Learn how to forage in your neighborhood for edible plants. Your local horticultural center or library can help you.
  • TIP: Whenever you have a particularly good food haul, share it with others so nothing goes to waste.
  • Step 3: Pick up furnishings Pick up house furnishings by cruising the streets on days that people are allowed to discard large items.
  • TIP: May is a good time to go through the garbage near universities because students are clearing out their dorms.
  • Step 4: Get rid of your car Get rid of your car – even if it’s a hybrid – and rely on walking, bike riding, skating, and hitchhiking for most of your transportation needs.
  • Step 5: Frequent thrift shops Frequent thrift shops for used clothes, appliances, and furniture.
  • Step 6: Become a squatter Find an abandoned building you can make your home. That’s what serious freegans do, even though squatting is illegal.
  • FACT: Nearly half of all food produced in the United States goes to waste, according to a University of Arizona study.

You Will Need

  • A willingness to get dirty
  • A tolerance for eating food from the garbage
  • A commitment never to buy anything new

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