Waste Not, Want Not in Kingston

freegansWhen I first heard about the concept of freeganism a few years back, the idea both peaked my interest while at the same time managed to be mildly repulsive. Freegans are best described as people who employ alternative strategies for living by boycotting the unethical economic system, and embracing cooperation, freedom and community. In relation to what ends up on your plate, Freegans are known for collecting perishable food items through practices referred to as urban foraging, otherwise known as dumpster diving.  Back in university I had a friend who recalled numerous occasions where he had plucked discarded day-old doughnuts out of a dumpster.  In fact, he and his friends went so far as to wait outside of a Tim Hortons for an employee to make the daily deposit.  While dumpster divers flirt with trespassing charges by choosing to live off of waste that is guiltily or otherwise blindly discarded by the masses, this week’s poll question asks:

Could you embrace freeganism?

  • Maybe, but not for food. (52%, 57 Votes)
  • No way, no how. (39%, 42 Votes)
  • Yes, absolutely. (7%, 8 Votes)
  • Something else entirely. (2%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 109

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Encouraging freeganism is bad for business, however many would argue that it represents the pinnacle of environmentalism.  In some respects Kingstonians already embrace certain aspects of freeganism by way of participating in the annual tradition of large item pickup.  The year end fire sale of furniture in the university district student village ghetto, produces droves of treasure hunters and scroungers who divert unwanted furniture and personal effects from the trash heap.  While upgrading one’s living room set by way of inheriting a castaway La-Z-Boy is likely passable in the eyes of many, the practice of plucking near spoiled food from a dumpster is entirely another story, and reminiscent of something you’d expect on Fear Factor.  But should it be?  Is there really anything wrong with eating produce that’s slightly past it’s prime, or prepared meals that have sat in coolers until their due date? I regularly drink milk that’s sat in fridge past the expiration date, and the discounted produce rack at the supermarket is sometimes a great place for a deal.

What are your thoughts on freeganism? Do you know anyone locally who’s keen on urban foraging?  What are your limits in relation to living off of the waste produced by society? Thanks to NatalieHG for today’s photo, which features a freegan’s feast.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

2 thoughts on “Waste Not, Want Not in Kingston

  • homeless and people have been doing this for eternity. how is this new?

  • I have been using dumpster diving as my main source of food for years. You would NOT believe the things you can find in dumpsters (I only dive dumpsters of stores). Anything you can buy from a store you can find in a dumpster. Guilt, money and waste free.

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