Discard Culture

Dumpster Diving and Freeganism

Dumpster Diving and Freeganism

Author; Rebecca Dart

Dumpster diving is a relatively new term for an old practice. It was once called gleaning, the practice of cleaning up after the harvest, usually done by the women of the community. This practice is now taken an upsurge in popularity, but instead of cleaning the fields “freegans”, as they are now called, are scavenging dumpsters. This practice is usually an anti-consumerism or green movement

There are entire websites devoted to the freegan lifestyle. The most the most popular one being freegan.info and is based in New York. This seems well kept up with a lot of information and resources as well as meetings and events set on the calendar for March 2015. For Canada there is freegan.ca. This is a very basic site with information on freeganism. There is even and wikihow on steps to dumpster diving. A vast majority of people who dumpster dive are looking for food, but not always. Beauty products, furniture, clothing and games are some such categories of finds that individuals go look for.

The theory of mapping of controversies was done by Tommaso Venturini and Bruno Latour. Venturini explored mapping such topics with actor theory network that Latour developed and published a paper in 2005 titled "Diving in Magma". Throughout this mapping I will explore dumpster diving and freeganism in terms of the media, scholarly articles and the impression of the general public and other concerned parties. I will follow the rough outline, as defined by Venturini in his paper, as you follow the paths below.

Definitions of key terms:

  • Dumpster Diving - the practice of searching dumpsters to find discarded items that are still useful, can be recycled, and have value.

  • Dumpster - a large trash receptacle designed to be hoisted and emptied into a truck.

  • Food Rescue - also called food recovery, is the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste, and distributing it to those in need. The recovered food is edible, but often not saleable. This is often done for food to be distributed to charities, soup kitchens or foodbanks for homeless people.

  • Freegan - a person who rejects consumerism and seeks to help the environment by reducing waste, especially by retrieving and using discarded food and other goods; a blend of free and vegan, though the person does not have to be began or a vegetarian. There are still some controversies regarding the exact definition of freegan(ism)

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