Friday, June 22, 2007
Chinatown, June 2007
The New York Times had an interesting article yesterday about “freegans,” or people who live intentionally off other people’s trash. I can dig that to a certain degree - I’ve certainly picked up my share of cool stuff from the sidewalks of Manhattan on trash day.
The freegans (here's their Web site) go dumpster-diving together at places where there’s likely to be good trash - outside NYU dorms at the end of the semester, for example. They find furniture, art and working televisions. It’s amazing what people throw out.
The freegans go a little too far for me, though. They even eat out of the trash, retrieving discarded food from supermarket refuse.
They’re making a comment about our wasteful society, and it is remarkable that people can live pretty well off what their neighbors throw away. Are Americans wasteful? For sure.
But I’m not sure being a “freegan” really changes the system or makes an effective point. I like the fact that they’re using what would otherwise be wasted, but they’re still living off the same wasteful society.
I think a better answer is to buy carefully. Go ahead and consume, but use restraint in your consuming. Then you’re using your economic power to direct the market toward fulfilling important or essential needs.
And on that subject, I found this very interesting set of maps on Flickr. Check them out. They’re quite illuminating.