50 Freegan Lifestyle Habits for the Jobless
When you're laid off, fired, or just quit, one of the first things you worry about is money and how you're going to manage to feed, clothe, and house yourself without regular income. In this respect, there's a lot that the unemployed can learn from freegans, many of whom choose to be jobless because of the freedom their lifestyle affords. Read on to learn about 50 freegan habits and strategies you can take up to live a cheaper, less wasteful life.
Grocery stores, restaurants, and consumers dispose of an incredible amount of food waste on a regular basis. Freegans work to cut down on this waste, and so can you.
- Gardening: Instead of paying premium prices to buy fresh produce from the grocery store, create a garden in your own home or even an abandoned lot.
- Participate in food recovery: Work with groups like Food Not Bombs to recover food that would otherwise be wasted, and share it with those who need it. This is not just a good thing to do, it's a great way to meet and network with community-minded people.
- Join a community garden: Gardening groups like Urban Harvest offer a great way to get cheap, healthy food while being an active member of a community.
- Wild foraging: Look in your backyard, neighborhood park, and anywhere vegetation grows to find plants that are not only safe to eat, but free for the taking.
- Compost: If you end up with leftover food, don't let it go to waste. Turn it into compost, something that will help your garden grow.
- Recover food: Instead of buying food from the grocery store, you can check out back to see what they've discarded and get it for free. You might also call this "dumpster diving."
- Ask for free food: Some retailers will actually give you food and goods that they are about to throw out if you ask and make arrangements to take it off their hands.
- Homebrew: Make your own beer, wine, and other alcohol at home, and you won't have to spend loads of cash on it at the liquor store.
Once your nutritional needs are met, you're still going to require clothing, furnishings, and other essential goods. These are a few useful freegan strategies you can use.
- Look for goods on curbs: Some neighbors have garage sales, others just put stuff out on the curb. Seize the opportunity created by your generous neighbors and go "curb shopping."
- Buy goods that are made to last: Any time you buy a good, make sure that it's something you won't need to replace any time soon.
- Precycle: In addition to buying goods that are made to last, you can buy in bulk to cut down on costs as well as packaging, avoiding wasteful products, and using electronic media whenever possible.
- Use your library: Your local library is full of books, entertainment and a free Internet connection, all just there for the taking. Librarians are also often very eager to help patrons with job hunting.
- Read online: Don't buy magazines, newspapers, and other print media if it can be accessed for free online.
- Go to repair workshops: Learn to repair items instead of discarding them, and you'll meet people in your community at the same time.
- Take a few extras from restaurants: If you've picked up a few napkins or sauce packets to use at a restaurant, but don't end up needing them, just take them home for later.
- Ignore advertising: Advertising often attempts to convince you that you should buy things, even when you don't really need them.
- Focus on reusable goods: Buy clothing that will hold up well, use handkerchiefs instead of disposable napkins, and just generally buy goods that you can use over and over instead of discarding.
- Inherit items from friends and family: Keep your ear to the ground and let friends and family know that you're interested in any furniture and any other unwanted goods they'd like to be rid of.
- Salvage: If you have handyman skills, put them to work for people who are happy to part with materials like hardwood floors, cabinetry, and landscaping, so long as you rip it all up yourself.
- Buy second hand: When you have to buy goods, consider shopping at second hand stores first. It will save you money, and cut down on production pollution at the same time.
- Try dumpster diving: Also known as "urban foraging," dumpster diving isn't as gross as you think it is, and can be a great way to find free stuff.
Here's how to get around town on the cheap like a freegan.
- Reuse cooking oil: If you have a diesel car, convert it to a greaser, and you can run it on used cooking oil from restaurants.
- Ride your bike: Through waste recovery, a secondhand store, or hand-me-downs from friends or family, you're bound to come across a bike some time. Use it instead of your car, and you won't be spending any money on gas.
- Walk: Even if you don't have a bike, it may be possible for you to reach a number of important locations on foot.
- Rideshare: Carpool with others, or just hitch a ride somewhere by seeking out people who want to share a ride.
Take care of housing, health care, and other important needs with these strategies from freegans.
- Live rent-free: Whether it means working as a caretaker in return, or simply squatting in an abandoned building, it's entirely within your reach to live rent free.
- Go to free events: Having a good time doesn't always mean you'll have to spend money. Seek out free, fun events in your community.
- Join a health care collective: Without a job, you're likely to be without insurance, so look into joining a health care collective or alternative medicine group.
- Conserve energy: Slash your energy bill by cutting down on use with strategies like solar ovens, line drying, and fans instead of air conditioning.
- Conserve water: Do your best to use as little water as possible, and you'll see a difference in your bill.
Beyond specific habits, there are a number of more general ways you can save money by living like a freegan.
- Reduce your financial needs: Cut down on things that aren't completely necessary to your livelihood, like cable and fast food.
- Find use in what others see as waste: Does someone want to unload a bunch of old magazines? Make them useful again by turning them into magazine bowls.
- Repair: Instead of rushing out to buy something new because an item is broken, try to fix it first, or find another way to use it.
- Find money-saving friends: For safety in dumpster diving and to network with new people, seek out friends that are interested in freegan habits in places like Meetup.
- Reuse: Always make an effort to reuse or repurpose anything you have before discarding it.
- Sell or donate what you don't use: By embracing freegan habits, you may find yourself flush with food and goods that are just more than you need. Take these goods and sell them to make a little cash, or just pass them along to someone who could use them.
- Get involved: If you're unemployed, chances are you have some extra time on your hands. Get involved and meet new people by volunteering, campaigning, or teaching workshops.
- Share: Trade with friends, or just donate anything you have in excess.
- Conserve: Use less, and make better use of what you have, and you'll find that you will save money.
- Freecycle: Find sites like Freecycle where you can give and take for free.
- Shop at a free store: Visit free stores or freemarkets to "buy" or swap goods that are absolutely free.
- Use only what you need: Freegans are always careful not to be wasteful and use more than is necessary, and you should too.
- Join networks: Get connected with others for money saving and job networking while you're on the hunt for work.
- Barter: Instead of spending money to get the things you need, trade what you have to offer.
- Be social: See everyone you meet as a potential friend or networking contact. Make friends with store employees, security guards, and other job hunters.
- Make use of craigslist: On craigslist, can find free stuff, barter, and even find a job.
- Use what you have: Make the best use out of what you have instead of buying something new.
- Spend time with your family: Make the most out of your unemployed free time by visiting with the people you care about.
- Think before you buy: Before buying anything, consider its usefulness and worth.
- Make something from what you find: Make like an artist and use found media. You can then sell it online, at swap meets and other outlets.