Freegans: eat in the trash or another kind of protest against the consumer society

The term “freegan” appeared in the mid-nineties, although the fashion to feed from the garbage existed among a number of youth subcultures before. Freegan comes from the English free (freedom) and vegan (veganism), and this is no coincidence. Most freegans support the basic tenets of veganism, the most radical trend in vegetarianism. Vegans do not eat not only meat, fish and eggs, but also dairy products, do not wear clothes made of leather and fur. But there are other freegans who eat fish and meat, but in exceptional cases. The main goal of freegans is to minimize or even eliminate their financial support for corporations and thereby stop the globalization of the world economy, to distance themselves as much as possible from a society of uncontrolled consumption.


Freegan Patrick Lyons of the US city of Houston, Texas, tells how a woman once offered him five dollars after she saw him rummaging through a trash can looking for food. “I told her,” Lyons says, “I’m not homeless and that’s politics.” Lyons is one of many Americans who are part of the Food Not Bombs movement.


In Houston, in addition to Patrick, there are about a dozen active participants in the movement. All of them are vegetarians, however, in the whole USA among the participants of Food Not Bombs there are also those who do not follow a vegetarian diet. This is not reprehensible, since they get food in which they have not invested a penny, therefore, they do not take part in the killing of animals, like representatives of a number of Buddhist movements, who are not forbidden to accept animal food as alms. The Food Not Bombs movement has been active for 24 years. Most of its participants are young people with certain beliefs, often frankly utopian. Many of them dress in things found in the garbage. They exchange part of the non-food items found at flea markets for the things they need, without recognizing monetary relations.


“If a person chooses to live by the laws of ethics, it’s not enough to be a vegan, you also need to distance yourself from capitalism,” says 29-year-old Adam Weissman, founder and permanent administrator of, a man who is better than anyone, can clearly explain the ideals of freegans. Freegans have their own laws, their own code of honor, which prohibits climbing into containers located in closed areas in search of prey. Freegans are obligated to keep dustbins clean and in better condition than they were before their visit, to make it easier for freegans who come next. Freegans should not take documents or papers with any confidential records from the boxes, interference with the privacy of people based on finds from the garbage dump is strictly prohibited.


The freegan movement reached its peak in Sweden, the USA, Brazil, South Korea, Britain and Estonia. Thus, it has already gone beyond the framework of European culture. Residents of the capital of Great Britain, 21-year-old Ash Falkingham and 46-year-old Ross Parry, live solely on “urban foraging” and say they have never been sick. Ross was inspired to become a freegan by a trip to India: “There is no waste in India. People recycle everything. They live like this. In the West, everything is thrown into a landfill.” 


Their raids are made once a week, and the “loot” is enough to live until the next outing. They come to the markets after closing, rummaging through the garbage containers of supermarkets and company stores. Ross even manages to follow a gluten-free diet. They share leftover food. “A lot of my friends will take food from the dump, even my parents,” adds Ash, who is wearing great boots and a junkyard sweater.




Based on the article by Roman Mamchits “Freegans: Intellectuals in the Dump”.

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