Tuesday, March 11, 2008

As Seen On Oprah

As Seen On Oprah

Photo & Text Copyright 2008 Seattle Daily Photo. All rights reserved, including reproduction or republishing.

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After I took this shot I was telling someone about seeing this woman make a lovely little table bouquet from blooms she salvaged from a dumpster. "Oh, that was just on Oprah! There are people who even get all their food that way. They call themselves freegans." So I looked it up.

"Freegans" are folks who try to live "off the grid" of consumerism. They tour the discards in dumpsters behind premium markets for usable food, floral, and other items. I saw this thrifty woman ask a floral delivery person if it would be okay to take a few flowers she spotted in the bin out back. The Voluntary Simplicity lifestyle already has a huge following here in Seattle. With fuel prices driving up the prices of all consumer goods and food, I imagine there will be a rise in this behavior in Seattle and elsewhere.


Ken said...

Sad thing is for some people this the only way they can survive.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see this on Oprah but I did see people eating from garbage cans in Japan in 1953. They also picked up cigarette butts that were smoked down to next to nothing and you know they were packed with nicotine. But they picked them up and took the paper off and dumped the tobacco into a pouch and used that then to roll new cigarettes. Probably a 100 times more nicotine than an ordinary cigarette.

I was in McDonald's once and a young man came in and rooted through the trash can and pulled out a partially eaten sandwich and sat down in front of everyone and ate it. He went back and pulled out a discarded soft drink with straw and sucked some out of that to swallow the sandwich. I don't know why I never offered to give him some money but I didn't and nobody else did.

Honestly, I think I was stunned and everyone else was. We just sat there and watched in total disbelief.

People will get a lot poorer before this country is able to turn around after the past 8 years. I don't know if it is even possible.

Thanks for stopping at my blog this morning and leaving a comment. I appreciate it a lot.

Kim said...

Ken, We often think of this as a way for those in poverty to survive, but apparently the people in this Feegan movement are middle class people who choose to stop consuming. They don't have to resort to dumpster diving, they choose to, and apparently the food they salvage from upscale markets is nearly as fresh as what's on sale inside.

Abe, That's such a sad and shocking thing to have witnessed. The people in this Freegan thing don't scavenge out of necessity, they do it to leave the system of consumption. The things they scavenge are not disgusting, but store castoffs that are still in good condition, but free and would go to waste otherwise.
Always a pleasure to visit your blog, Abe. Your photos of the blizzard are among you very best.

Gwyn said...

It's definitely a sign of the times. I don't mean to sound negative, but we're heading toward another "Great Depression."

This woman, in the photo, makes me proud to be an American. I'm glad to see people are being resourceful instead of wasteful.

Small City Scenes said...

I saw the Oprah show and these people living the 'Freegan' lifestyle are not the poor but doctors lawyers and others with money. I just think of germs. I know we are a wasteful society but I will do my bit by not being wasteful and using what I have. MB

Chuck Pefley said...

Kim, I really appreciate the way you add relevance to your posts. Freeganism makes good sense. I would prefer people in real need be the receivers of this "past pull date" stuff rather than the fairly well off middle class folks, but even so I do think the statement is important ... we are such a wasteful country. Good Tuesday to you. - Chuck

neil said...

Hi Kim. I just came across your site today. I was missing eattle, a place I lived in or near for 17 years, before we moved to Denver.

I will be checking in often and I added your blog to my roll.

Regarding Freegans, I saw an article in the Weekly, I think, that talked about a cohousing community in Seattle who pretty much live this way as a choice. I couldn't do it, but I do like castoff stuff. I can't remember when the article came out but it was interesting.

Thanks for being out there in the blogosphere!


Chris said...

Quite interesting. I don't watch Oprah, but I have heard of people dumpster diving. I actually have a friend who found a bunch of cookie sheets from a closed Mrs. Field's in a mall dumpster. She also found Christmas cards in the same dumpster a few weeks after the holidays that year.

I just voted for you on the blog contest thingy. Congrats!!

Anonymous said...

The elites are engaging in a planned program of "economic restructuring" - they have been planning it for over a decade.

To achieve economic parity for globalization, it will be necessary to LOWER the standard of living and wages in the US - thereby wiping out the middle class. It is only by doing this the globalization movement can proceed apace. We are beginning to see it everywhere in the former USA now.

It will not be over until US workers are living in cardboard houses ( or their cars ) and working for wages similar to those paid in Mexico and China... pennies per hour.

Yes it is going to be bumpy ride. The pro-globalization elites have been working on the plan for decades. Didn't you get the memo?

Jilly said...

Very moving post, Kim and love the photo of the lady taking flowers from the dumpster. I found the voluntary Simplicity website great. Just sorry to know some people need to be Freegans - let's face it, we all buy far too much, dump pefectly good things - including food.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I have salvaged many a wonderful item out of dumpsters (I have to say I didn't root through them; the articles were pretty visible) and a lovely carved wooden chest with a brass lock graces our living room. That beauty was sitting in the U. District right next to the garbage cans. Need I tell you I am a thrift shop junkie, too? Not quite freegan, but getting there. And I am a white collar person.

Petrea said...

Wonderful post, Kim.

I've been reading the winter 2008 issue of Yes! magazine this week (www.yesmagazine.org), all about living off the grid.

For a long time we've been downsizing bit by bit in our home; we still have a ways to go. Americans (and others) have been living so wastefully for so long. The planet can't afford us anymore.

I knew immediately when I saw this photo that the woman was simply choosing her flowers. I admire her.

Thank you for a thought-provoking and informative post.

Bibi said...

I see the lady is choosing flowers from the dumpster which I presume is near Ballard Blossoms (I see that on the rear of the van), so she seems to be a knowledgeable freegan. Good for her; I'd do (and do) the same...