Freeganism in Minnesota

Freegans: Living Free in a Consumer’s World

Freeganism tells us the world is ripe for the picking. A rejection of consumer culture that addresses food waste and saves completely edible, nutritious and delicious foodstuffs from the landfill.

What exactly is a freegan?

The word “freegan” is a portmanteau of the words “free” and “vegan.” It is a culture that generally wants nothing to do with the rat race, and capitalist society based solely on profit, consumption, and acquisition. There is no need to spend more money on new things when there are products that go to waste daily. A simply philosophy, really, one of appreciating what has already been made instead of working tirelessly to constantly buy/own/update; it goes beyond condemning a few bad corporations, it calls attention to the system itself as the problem, rejecting capitalism, and more importantly, consumerism. It’s about the joy of being free, not tied to the latest this, that, or the other thing, and the reward of living without it.

It’s not about keeping up with the Joneses, it’s picking up what the Joneses left behind.

According to“Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources.”

And it’s not illegal. According to the 1984 case California vs. Greenwood, the Supreme Court declared, “The Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home.”

The mantra is, ultimately, don’t purchase when you can repurpose.

And it’s perhaps the only real antidote to affluenza; the term used commonly by critics of consumerism to describe the actual (mental) sickness/fatigue that comes the constant need to buy, buy, buy.

Freeganism in Minnesota

Food Waste

A main focus of freeganism is to salvage at least some of what has been wrongfully tossed in the garbage. The world wastes about 1.4 billion tons of food every year. The United States is the worst offender: Almost 80 billion pounds every year, an estimated 30-40% of the entire US food supply, around 219 pounds of waste per person, ends up in the trash ever year. That’s like every person in America throwing more than 650 average sized apples right into the garbage —

Or rather right into landfills, as most discarded food ends up there. In fact, food is the single largest component taking up space inside US landfills, making up 22 percent of municipal solid waste 


How does freeganism work in a state like Minnesota?

It can be hard to imagine living the freegan life in a state like Minnesota, where winter weather can make it hard to live without a new coat or boots without holes, a hot meal or warm drink.

This is where the internet can help. Sites like, mentioned above, offer tips, tricks, and procedures. There’s a “Dumpster Directory,” for example, that identifies the best dumpsters for finding food, and the best times to look for it. (for the Minnesota chapter specifically click here) has news and information on freegan communities all across the world. It is about community. It is about coming together.

Local libraries have free access to computers with internet, and are open to everyone.

And it’s also about the do’s and don’ts of living the freegan way. Etiquette is important to remember: Dumpster diving during business hours is considered rude/intrusive. Plus, you’re more likely to have an angry business owner chasing you away and putting locks on dumpsters, screwing everyone. These aren’t rules necessarily, just better ways to go about living the free life.

Because, at least for the time being, this is the way the world works.

It isn’t only about food (although that is often the most important, re: survival). Clothes are thrown out before they should be, especially around college campuses during dorm move-out time. Usable appliances are tossed out as well. If you rummage through the dumpsters of Best Buy you can even find some tech or toys for yourself for the costs of one good jump.

There is too much waste in the world. Freeganism combats that one item at a time.

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Freegans: Living Free in a Consumer's World