THE BLOG

Are You Freegan?

02/13/2008 05:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Are you a freegan? Being a freegan is sort of like being a vegan. You do not consume any animal products, just like a vegan, unless someone gives it to you for free or you find it -- then you can eat whatever (freegans who eat meat are sometimes called meagans).

Being vegan is hard enough anyway. I did that for a while and I just gave up. I think it would have been possible for me to do it if I didn't travel around so much and have to rely on airport concessions and room service. I used to have a separate suitcase for my blender and cutting board and knives and all kinds of fucking annoying vegetables! Fuck that! It was too much for me to handle! I also gained a lot of weight because the only thing that I would eat was nuts and I would eat them constantly because they were already done! I didn't have to prepare them. Being freegan is a little easier. But the trick is to get someone to give your food to you for free.

Freegans believe that there is too much waste on the planet. The landfills are full and getting more full with stuff we don't need that we are throwing away in order to get other stuff we don't need. They are all about stopping the insanity of the spend/waste cycle and giving money to bad companies who exploit foreign labor. They feel that the best way to live is to employ some heavy duty recycling and become extremely resourceful. Instead of shopping, they dumpster dive. I think that this makes sense. They are similar to Food Not Bombs, an important San Francisco political group who would gather food thrown out daily by restaurants and use it to feed homeless people. I know a lot about Food Not Bombs because one of their founders worked at my father's bookstore when I was a kid. I liked Food Not Bombs because they were so practical and incredibly effective. They fed people -- that was their politics. They wanted to save the world by feeding people. It was remarkable and revolutionary in its simplicity.

I think freegans are just as cool, and I can see it catching on for real. I am not sure if I would want to dumpster dive, though. My husband is a big fan of dumpster diving. Half of the things in our house were recovered from dumpsters, garbage cans, street corners, dump sites. We can't ever drive past a pile of junk. We have to stop so he can go 'shopping.' Because usually it isn't junk. There are paintings, musical instruments, pillows, dolls, books, records, sculptures, big velvety overstuffed chairs, mattresses, clothes, shoes, jewelry - treasures, not trash.

I suppose I am suspicious of garbage because I spend so much time in New York City, where you just don't even want to look in a trash can. Looking very hard into a NYC garbage can and will just about ruin anyone's day. New York City garbage is the gold standard of garbage - it is what other garbage wishes it was. It is regular garbage with 1/3 more vomit and human blood! It makes its own gravy like certain kinds of dog food! But if I really think about it, in New York, the trash isn't always in the can! Just this past weekend I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant in Chelsea. It was very chilly out and I couldn't wait to get the wonderfully hot and savory noodle and dumpling soup that I crave when the weather is bad. I had a big bowl of the steaming goodness and I was extremely satisfied. I paid and got up to go to the bathroom. In the bathroom, right by the toilet, I noticed a big mass of brown matter all over the floor. Someone had stepped in it many times so it was flattened out and I thought it was brownies at first. I thought, "Well that's strange. They don't sell pastries here." And then the smell hit me and horrified, I realized it wasn't pastries. Sure, it may have been pastries at one time, but now, eh, it was no longer pastries. Also it was weird because it was just right by the toilet, but not in the toilet. So close, yet so far away. And I thought I had bad aim. It was an unbelievable mess. I started screaming and screaming and I ran out of the bathroom and the waitress looked at me and walked into the bathroom and then abruptly walked out in a very "it's not my job" manner - I couldn't believe that she didn't do anything!! I thought - wow shouldn't she call someone or deal with this somehow?! But she didn't. She just went back to her In Touch magazine after first taking a long moment to give me the stinkeye for screaming. I left with the unforgettable smell just lodged in the back of my nose and stormed out into the cold New York City winter vowing never to go to that particular restaurant again. I wouldn't even eat there if it was free.