How Freeganism is Combating Wastefullness in America

Katie McCarville
4 min readJan 1, 2022

I was first introduced to Freeganism in my high school English class. My teacher put on a documentary about people who live completely off food they find in dumpsters. And no they weren’t homeless or completely destitute. They chose to live that way. I was quickly enamoured by these people who are so committed to sustainability that they dig through garbage just to say Fuck you to the consumption based economy. I absolutely loved it.

Dive! The Film — Living Off America’s Waste. Directed by Jeremy Seifert. Initial release October 2009. Find it Here.

Freeganism is an ideology that believes in the minimal consumption of resources. Particularly through the recovering (dumpster diving) of wasted goods. The word Freegan is a combination of the word “free” and “vegan.” This doesn’t mean that all Freegans are vegan, this just refers to someone who gets their food and resources from dumpsters. It may sound like a strange practice but there are huge communities of people who get all of their food completely from trash. It’s not a lifestyle driven by economic necessity, but out of principle to reuse resources as to not contribute to practices that are destroying the planet.

Freegans take a political stance of not wanting to participate in the economy (for various reasons). They don’t want to add more demand to an already extremely wasteful economy. They try to buy as little as possible, and try to get the things they need for free. They are anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist.

Their main motivating factor is to help create a more sustainable world, and to combat our over consumptive, resource destroying economy. It’s no secret that the typical American lifestyle is unsustainable and threatens the future of life on this planet. The type of society that throws away this much food doesn’t value the earth or the work it takes to produce it. It is to our own personal detriment that we continue the process. Millions of people in the world go hungry, but in the US even our trash cans are full of food.

In America we leave food left to rot in dumpsters yet we still have people who don’t get enough. On top of that, in some cases it’s illegal to rescue this food and give it to people who are hungry. Some companies even throw out better food than what their own employees can afford, and then bar them from taking any of the unsold food home. (Williams, 2016. Full article here).

Katie McCarville

Feminist, Artist, Writer, ADHD haver, Playboy, Philanthropist🤷 I’m really just at the mercy of my own perspective.