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Not Freegan buying it

Today we’re lucky to have another guest post from Lois (not her real name) of Lois Common Denominator. Thanks Lois!

I first started really thinking about the psychology behind consumerism after reading the book “Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping” by Judith Levine. I love stuff like this. I still need to read the book by the lady who wore the same dress every day for one year (OK, I’m so pathetic that I’ve practically done that without the intent of writing a book about the experience) and the book by the women who went a year without buying anything made in China (I do that when I take the kids to the toy store — “You can buy anything you want, but it can’t be made in China!” — that explains all the Legos and Playmobile stuff in our house).

I then looked into the Freegan movement. This is a group of young people who are sticking it to “the man” (who is “the man”? Am I “the man”?) by not buying anything. They dig their food out of dumpsters and live in abandoned buildings. They also don’t believe in holding jobs. OK. I don’t quite get this. You’re not paying for anything, but someone else DID pay for that food and building you’re using. I’m not a big fan of the something for nothing philosophy.

Now I’m way into Freecycle. Freecycle is a group of people who post things on the Internet that they either want to receive, or want to give away. The thing is, it all has to be FREE! So far we have given away coupons for craft stores (I don’t craft) and we’ve tried to give away a scout shirt and school workbooks (though the problem with Freecycle is a lot of time the people never show up to get the items). I have received an awesome dress from a nice woman who replied to my pitiful pleas for clothes (I hate shopping for clothes, but let’s save that for another post). I’ve seen kittens, baby clothes, food, furniture, and even a car listed for free. It’s great.

Another great way to get free stuff is to help people move. Since we live in a high-turn-around area (read: lots of college students), people are constantly moving in and out. Nigel and I always help them move and inevitably, they get sick of loading up their belongings and ask, “Do you guys just want to have the rest of our stuff?” This is how we got the majority of our furniture, a PIANO and even our pet frog, Bluto.

Then there are the free hot-dogs and pizza at R.C. Willey. I figure that I bought a bed and a TV there, so they owe me some free snacks and soda pop.

What are your favorite “free” things?

13 thoughts on “Not Freegan buying it”

  1. You don't, by chance, still have that scout shirt you tried to give away but no one came by to pick up? Because I am definitely in the market for a free scout shirt.

    In our early years we used to describe how to get to our house like this, "We're on the way to DI." I think people felt sorry for us because they knew how hard it was to support a family teaching school. So all the time people would call and say, "I'm taking this sofa to DI, do you want it?" or "I have three bags of clothes my niece has outgrown, can I drop them by?" There were so many times, especially with the clothes, when the timing was so perfect I knew the donation had been inspired.

    I love free stuff!

    But I also love to give it away. I gave a lot of my daughter's nicest clothes to a family with three daughters. My daughter is almost 13 now, and quite the tomboy. So it's kind of fun to see the youngest of the three girls wear a couple of the dresses I gave to them. It reminds me of when my daughter, who is almost taller than me already, used to be that age.

  2. I used to mock my dad for buying almost ANYTHING that's cheap/close-to-free. He was the local druggist in our small town which means everyone knew him and us by default. He went through a 'phase' where he wore free shirts that someone had given him. It was kind of like the mullet…you know 'business in the front, party in the back?" OK, weird reference but nevertheless the shirts looked fine from the front, nice color, conservative cut and collar. But, you see when he turned around to get your prescription off the shelf they said in about 100 pt type, "SAMPLE NOT FOR RESALE" and another large paragraph about what kind of penalties you will incur if you try to sell these t-shirts. I worked for years with this man in the pharmacy. Everyone knew he was my dad. I was mortified.

    Funny thing about my utter horror at this fashion faux-pas is that I've become a total garbage hound. And despite my dad's extreme way of showing me that example, I took it and made it my own. And I fully intend to embarrass my kids as much as he did me. Thinking of which, I need to get going on that….

  3. There are some things about the Freegans that I love. I love the idea of reusing EVERYTHING. The idea of limiting our waste, sharing our resources, doing without a lot of fluffy junk. Those ideas ring loudly in my ear. It's just the dumpster diving and living in total anarchy that I don't get into.

    I like freecycle, too. I love our local Good Will. We live in a really wonderful neighborhood that really takes care of each other. The neighborhood (as a group) owns an industrial tiller, 4 canoes, a trailer, and a few other things mostly related to surviving an earthquake (tents, porta-potties, trauma gear, that kind of thing). It's absolutely wonderful. It saves resources, reduces excess and waste, and everyone can still enjoy the richness that comes from having those things around.

  4. I'm a freecycler, too–what a great idea.

    When I was really on top of things (read: not since I became a mom last fall), I coupon clipped and LOVED the free things I could get. Not even using coupons, but watching the ads, Rite Aid and Walgreens have Mail-in-Rebate items practically weekly that are free after the rebate. I love free toothbrushes, deoderants, extension cords, cold medicines, etc., etc. Albertson's also has some things on sale that are free with coupons . . . if you can get there before they're all gone.

    I love free food samples. Love them.

  5. I really wish I were good at free. Or even at the thrift shop/garage sale kind of shopping. Unfortunately, I seem to have missed that gene. I seem to only find cool stuff when it's full price at the mall.

  6. I love Freecycle! I couldn't believe that anyone would want the stuff I give away on there, BUT THEY DO!! We gave away out old front door, and the warped screen door to someone else. The best part is that I can put it outside my door and they just come pick it up, brilliant! I can't throw anything out anymore without thinking, "Can I Freecycle this?"

  7. Azucar, does this mean that somebody might want our old light fixtures? We just put the wire/brass parts in the garbage and recycled the glass, but we have some more to replace and I hate throwing things away that still work.

    (I have used Freecyle to give away other things and agree that it's a fabulous thing.)

  8. Well drat — I'm sad I threw a few out. But as I said, I'll have a bunch more so I'm glad to know they might be wanted. I'm also in the process of replacing our old heater vents covers, and it's hard to imagine someone wanting those, but I guess it's worth a shot.

    (Story about that — my 10 year old was helping a girl in his carpool carry some stuff into school that she had brought for her part in the medieval fair that day, and he accidentally carried in a Target bag with a few heater vent covers in it that were in our trunk waiting to be taken to D.I. He didn't find out what he'd done until she gave us the heavy bag back after school. He was embarrassed enough that his first thought was to make me promise not to put the story on my blog.) (This isn't my blog, so I've technically kept my word.)

  9. My sister in law advertised that she was giving away "a bag of junk", and someone came and got that. I'm always amazed at what people want — especially when it's free!

  10. Free French toast breakfast at Macey's this morning. They're hosting a free BBQ this afternoon. I spend a good deal of my paycheck there to feed my teenagers, so I'm all over getting a little something back.


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