Friday, June 22, 2007

Dumpster Diving, Garbage Picking, Scavenging and Freegans

Yesterday, the New York Times ( shared the story of how Freegans (, who are members of a growing anti-consumerist movement, have adopted unique and ingenious ways of capitalizing on other people's garbage by simply picking and sorting through it at optimal times. Last week, here in Metropolitan DC, the Washington City Paper ( also showcased an article about the value and usability of items found in the dumpsters behind Georgetown University at summer session's end.

We live in a time of polar opposites. What sense can be made out of an advertisement for Tiffany & Co.'s ( Palm Tree diamond pendant (set in platinum) retailing on the inside cover of the NYTs for $2,650 and those that actually rely on dumpster diving, garbage picking, scavenging, and the Freegan lifestyle for FOOD - I do not know. Yes, I said food.
The avoidance of mass consumerism and sheer waste is another very valid reason why you and your family, community, or business may opt to engage in an estate, yard, tag, garage, moving, or other liquidation sale. People WANT your stuff. They really do. And they'll pay for it. What you don't sell can go to various charitable causes, or a local dumpster if you will. We don't begrudge anyone from accumulating the things over the years that help mark a fine lifestyle ... but be responsible when disposing of these items - this is where an estate sales agent can help you obtain good value, give good value, and generally do a good thing. When you have an estate sale, you help keep history alive. When you trash your goods, you help keep landfills alive.
While the Freegans try to locate items that are, well, free - it's a known fact that those attending a well-advertised estate sale are usually a collaboration of dealers, collectors, and those with a refined eye. Freegans believe the consumer economy is a sham and a decent way to make a home is rooting through trash. There may just be a middle of the road. Something between safeguarding economic and social injustice by preventing the production and transport of products and specifically seeking out previously used, much loved products to build one's own heritage.