A commenter asked me why I was into dumpster diving – and expressed interest in why anyone does it. In this article I’d like to try explain what my views are.
I started the “freegan” lifestyle in general about a year ago. I didn’t name it that, but this was basically what I was. I lived in squats, even on the street a little bit.
I also walked the “Camino de Santiago” – an old pilgrim path – and slept at the free refuges on the way, where I could find them, and tried to eat free and do everything free. I told myself that for one month I wouldn’t touch my credit card, that I would live off what people gave me. There was kind of a glamour about being a pilgrim which made my homelessness a little better in the eyes of people, and by informing people that I was living off donations on my journey (but without putting pressure on anyone by actually asking for donations) I earned enough money for my necessities, even saved some money up.
Why did I do all this? Two reasons. Financial necessity – I was getting some money from my parents but not a huge amount, and I didn’t WANT to depend on them – and a combination of anger and a desire for freedom. The anger and freedom are two sides of the same coin – I wanted to be free, the System wanted me to be a slave, I felt victimised, I rebelled.
So basically, because of anger I made myself separate – from my family, from the System, and from the “normal” world. I lived with squatters, eating free food, as a way of being different, because I hated normal. I think many of the people I met in the movement were the same as I, or similar.
As you can see I’m not painting freeganism very well here. Well, that’s the thing: as much as I liked some of the people I met (and hated others) I feel, looking back, that there is a fundamental flaw in the fight idealistic freegans, anarchists, communists, etc are fighting. Can we be separate from the System, capitalism, the Machine? Yes, I guess we can, through anger. We can if we do everything to set ourselves apart in our lives, and we will appear apart, though I don’t think we’ll ever be any better. The reason for this is I think the System, all of this victimisation, slave-master BDSM bullshit, exists only on a low-vibrational plane, the plane of victimisation, fear and anger.
Anger goes with fear and victimisation. If you feel like a victim, you can become angry at the person who is victimising you. If you feel fear, you can allow yourself to be put into a position where you become a victim. It’s all on the same vibrational “plane”. You can’t “win”. The communist revolution in Russia ended with the revolutionaries becoming the new dictators. And I witnessed the same with my friends: I met them fighting against capitalist reform in the university system, and they ended up creating a new squatted university, completely out of hate. The politicking and the beaurocracy that went on in that place was as bad or worse than everything they were fighting against, and they couldn’t see it.
The way to “win” forever is to transcend this bullshit, which means to rise above. Find a place in you where you don’t care about all the victimisation. You know people choose to vibrate on the plane of fear and anger, and so for the most part they make their own suffering. Suffering CAN just happen to you, but if you stay happy regardless and refuse to focus on it, you’ll drift away like a magnet repelling a magnet.
This is a pretty high-level discussion, but I think this may be the fundamental reason many people become freegans, squatters and dumpster divers. I’m not saying they don’t have a point though. I think it was a step along my path to go through that. It’s better to be angry than to be afraid – anger, while remaining with a sense of victimisation and fundamental vulnerability – a masked vulnerability – has more strength in it than the cowardice of wage-slavery and soul-death.
In the end though I don’t want to AVOID having a job, AVOID having a boss, AVOID spending my life doing things I don’t like. I just don’t live on that plane, don’t want to focus on it. I don’t CARE. These things can’t affect me. Nowadays I just say to myself “I am happy” and SMILE – and I let life prove it to me. It does, it really does. You just give it a little while, keep convincing yourself you are happy, and your situation shifts to help you support your belief that you are joyful instead of keeping you with an excuse to be pissed off all the time.
It’s more fun like that and I feel stronger too.
So that’s why I think many people dumpster dive – a sense of struggle – and that’s why I don’t anymore.
The positive things about dumpster diving though: it helps you question things and be independent; it can be a good way of cutting costs when you live in the city and you’re not earning much (though I recommend you research entrepreneurship and start earning more – food doesn’t really have to be such a big deal – if you attract happiness I think such an effortful way of life is not something you’ll stick with for long); it can be fun and it’s a good way of meeting people who question things. I enjoyed going round places and finding really good, edible food which was just lying about – it was like hunting eggs.
If I still lived in Barcelona there are a couple of places I would go to to dumpster dive if I lived nearby. One organic supermarket was a daily source of really good stuff – free gourmet food, now that’s something I wouldn’t say no to. I wouldn’t make much effort though. Seems crazy to depend on it, a way of saying to God, “No, I don’t want your divine gifts, I like to struggle.”
Thanks for reading!