OAKLAND, Calif. – Following an initiative to keep the mall parking lot cleaner, two new dumpsters were placed outside of Rockridge Shopping Center yesterday evening. But not everyone in the community is happy with the new additions. A local crust punk, who asked to be identified as “Tik Tak”, was disgusted when he learned the dumpsters refused to serve vegan options.


What is a Freegan?

Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

After years of trying to boycott products from unethical corporations responsible for human rights violations, environmental destruction, and animal abuse, many of us found that no matter what we bought we ended up supporting something deplorable. We came to realize that the problem isn’t just a few bad corporations but the entire system itself.

Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations and where massively complex systems of productions ensure that all the products we buy will have detrimental impacts most of which we may never even consider. Thus, instead of avoiding the purchase of products from one bad company only to support another, we avoid buying anything to the greatest degree we are able.

The word freegan is compounded from “free” and “vegan”. Vegans are people who avoid products from animal sources or products tested on animals in an effort to avoid harming animals. Freegans take this a step further by recognizing that in a complex, industrial, mass-production economy driven by profit, abuses of humans, animals, and the earth abound at all levels of production (from acquisition to raw materials to production to transportation) and in just about every product we buy. Sweatshop labor, rainforest destruction, global warming, displacement of indigenous communities, air and water pollution, eradication of wildlife on farmland as “pests”, the violent overthrow of popularly elected governments to maintain puppet dictators compliant to big business interests, open-pit strip mining, oil drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, union busting, child slavery, and payoffs to repressive regimes are just some of the many impacts of the seemingly innocuous consumer products we consume every day.

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10 {ridiculously simple} ways to be less wasteful.

Ten easiest ways to be less wasteful

I simply cannot understand littering. It is the epitome of apathy – the epitome of small souled-ness. One must have complete disregard for beauty, nature, others, responsibility, and thought in order to discard their trash in a place it doesn’t belong. To take the wasteful products of our consumerism and drop them off on nature’s doorstep is a travesty of the highest order…because it speaks about the state of one’s character. It screams “I DO NOT CARE.

In light of all this, I’d like to propose some simple ways we can all “do our part” to be less wasteful. These are things I have woven into my life, and they have become so much a part of how I operate that they are simply second nature. In every area of our lives, we form habits. It is just as easy to form good ones as bad ones…so I am pleading with each of you to consider forming these “good ones.”

1) Reusable grocery bags.

I keep a stack of them (stuffed inside each other) in the trunk of my car. After I unload my groceries into the house, I hang the bags on the knob of the door going into the garage so that I’ll remember to throw them back into my trunk next time I leave the house.

IN ORDER TO DEVELOP THIS HABIT I began “punishing” myself if I forgot to bring my bags with me into the store. I would have the bagger load all the items loosely into my cart and walk out of the store with a cart full of unbagged items. Then I’d have to bag them once I got to my car (with the bags I left in the car). I only needed this punishment a couple times before I started remembering them 100% of the time.

Asking the baggers to “please stuff everything into only the bags I brought” initiates conversations, too! I love teaching them about the Great Pacific Garbage patch and telling stories about all the little sea animals I’ve personally saved from death-by-plastic in my ocean travels and snorkelling adventures. Often, I need to be firm and repeat myself: “here, let’s actually put that in this bag–you can have the plastic one back” because the statement “I DO NOT WANT A SINGLE PLASTIC BAG” doesn’t always register fully. It’s okay to be kind and firm!

2) OB Tampons or Diva Cup

Ladies, do you realize that you will be tossing out 250-300lbs of period-related waste in your lifetime? Crazy! Most of that waste is in plastic applicators and packaging. OB tampons are 58% less wasteful (not having an applicator is seriously NBD once you get used to it), and you get like 40 per box! I save A TON OF MONEY by using them. Another awesome option is the Diva Cup. Seriously, coolest thing. And also PERFECT for outdoorsy trips (backpacking, hiking, climbing, etc.)

3) Bulk Stuff

I spend as much time in the bulk aisle as possible. I reuse the same bulk-bags every week and just print a new label (and put it on top of the old one) every time I re-fill them. Oatmeal, flax, chia seeds, trail mix, flour, spices, coconut shreds…the list goes on. Plus, it’s usually a cheaper option.

4) Bake Bread

Bread is one of those things that is expensive if you get the “good stuff” and filled with preservatives if you get the “cheap option.” AND IT IS SO EASY TO MAKE. I make a loaf whenever I run out and then, after letting it cool to room temp, slice it up and freeze it sliced. Then whenever I make a sandwich, I pull a couple slices out of the freezer and nuke ‘em for 10 seconds. Voila. Fresh bread at your fingertips.

Mama’s recipes here and here. Cinnamon rolls here. If you don’t have a bread machine, you can grab one at your local Goodwill for $10 (zero need to buy new) or you can knead the bread yourself and just let it rise for an hour somewhere warm.

5) Buy clothes second-hand/ DUMPSTER DIVE!

I would say at least half my wardrobe (wish it was more), including shoes, is from thrift stores, dumpsters, Twice, (link) and hand-me-downs. And I generally wear name-brand stuff. If you’re a college kid and your school puts massive dumpsters outside the dorms at the end of each semester, GO DUMPSTER DIVING! It’s such a blast, and you’ll find such great stuff. I even got myself a *brand new* vacuum cleaner last year, in addition to leather shoes, new dresses, and a Pottery Barn dust ruffle, which is currently on my bed. I dumpster dive not because I’m too “poor” to afford new things (though that’s a perfectly legitimate reason, duh) but because WHY NOT? Why send a ton of perfectly good appliances, shelving units, shoes, clothes, lamps, sheets, towels, etc. to a LANDFILL when I am perfectly capable of salvaging and using them? Washing machines and bleach are my bffs. Take a friend with you. Make it fun. Sarah and Sydnie came with me last year about this time. :)

{{You can do this for food, too! Grocery stores always throw out anything past its sell-by date, BUT IT’S ALL STILL GOOD! Go to the dumpsters behind Aldi, HEB, Trader Joes, etc. and see what’s in ‘em. I keep my grocery budget to <$100 a month, and I eat like a queen… :) }}

6) Time your showers

I am very proud of the fact that I can take a 10 minute shower, complete with shaved legs and washed/conditioned hair. ;) I know some of you enjoy your long, hot showers (*cough* Alli *cough*), and that’s alright. But if you want to put a little skip in your step each morning, see how quickly you can get in and out. Plus, it will contribute positive juju to your efficiency. ;)


This may be my #1 deal. Treat yourself. Buy a water bottle. That you can refill. For the next 30 years. Like my Hydroflask. It’s my baby. It keeps ice frozen, in a HOT TEXAS CAR, ALL DAY LONG. I think it was invented by angels. I 100% believe using disposable plastic bottles is pure laziness. Use 30 disposable bottles and you’ve spent enough to buy yourself one that will last your entire life. Plastic water bottles contribute to a massive portion of the world’s waste.There are places in the world WHERE THEY ARE AN ABSOLUTE NECESSITY because of unclean tap water. THAT IS NOT AN ISSUE IN MOST PLACES IN AMERICA. Drink your tap water and save the disposable bottles for people who actually need them. I wrote on this topic here.

8) Recycle.

Okay, I grew up in Oregon, where the walls of the garages of everyone we knew were lined with recycle bins: “glass” “plastic” “paper,” etc. It was no skin off our nose. It’s just what we did. Once a month Dad and I would load up the truck and take it all into town to the Recycle Depot, where we’d sort it and break everything down. Many of you live in a place where ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS THROW IT ALL IN ONE BIN AND STICK IT AT THE END OF YOUR DRIVEWAY. WHAT?!? If you’re in that group of people and you still choose to throw recyclable stuff away, I have no words. I know there’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not recycling actually helps, etc. Here is what I know: it’s gotta be better than burying it under the ground or throwing it in our oceans. So just do it.

9) Use old boxes

We’re in the process of packing a 3,000 sq. foot house right now. Which means we’re in need of A LOT OF BOXES and also means we’re all miserable because packing is quite possibly the worst non-tragic activity in the Western world. However, we have spent ZERO DOLLARS on boxes. This is because my mother is insanely resourceful, and she sends Dad and I to the hospital every couple days to the “Receivables” shoot to grab all the to-be-recycled BRAND NEW medical boxes. They’re awesome boxes (thick, sturdy, perfect) and come in all sizes.

10) Companies

If you’re a gear junkie like me or a name-brand junkie like my mama, think about the companies you’re choosing to support. You are voting with your dollars. If you, like me, simply cannot get everything second hand, considerwhere to buy your new stuff. Personally, for all things “gear” and “outdoors,” I choose Patagonia. I love their business model, and I LOVE their environmental conscientiousness. I trust them. I don’t spend extravagant amounts of time researching companies and their carbon footprints, but when I come across a company “doing it right,” I *bookmark* them in my brain as “a good place to shop.” There are loads of other Good Ones besides Patagonia, but that’s my personal go-to. They have somehow figured out how to couple awesome quality with environmental awareness.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this: be a thoughtful person. Think about your actions. Think about your waste. Think about your consumption. Don’t make it your idol–don’t obsess over it and make yourself horribly guilty. Simply give it some thought power. It’s worth the effort. Truth is, I don’t do all I *could* do. And probably, neither will you. But we can do some things, right?

What are your favorite ways to reduce waste? Share this post and add a few of your own!