You may have heard of being a vegetarian, pescatarian, you’ve probably even heard of veganism, but have you ever heard of freeganism? Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but the magic of TikTok has definitely brought this way of life into a brighter spotlight.
“Freeganism” is a portmanteau of the words “free” and “vegan”. A “freegan” is someone who wants to help the environment by reducing the waste produced by excessive consumerism. Freegans try to limit their participation in the economy as much as possible, and one stark way that they do this is by relying on dumpster diving to get the things they need.
TikTok user Dumpster Diving Freegan, uses her account to show viewers her dumpster hauls while simultaneously calling out the immense waste produced by consumerism in America.
@dumpsterdivingfreegan Reply to @cloverpatchfroggie Thank you; there is no excuse for food insecurity in the USA. #dumpsterdiving #freegan #capitalism #dumpsterdiver #fypシ ♬ A moist healing song – Nez Tunes
Dumpster Diving Freegan’s videos have gone viral as she documents stacks upon stacks of thrown out food and products which all seem to be perfectly fine. As more people learn about the ideology of freeganism, debates have sprung up about the wastefulness of excessive consumerism.
Dumpster Diving Freegan educates her viewers on the culture and lifestyle of freegans through her numerous TikToks and curated playlists. The user also claims on her bio that “Diving has NEVER made me sick”.
Since Dumpster Diving Freegan’s hauls show the large quantities of foods and products that she retrieves from her dumpster halls, she has made it very clear that she donates the excess while also still making sure to leave products in the dumpsters for other freegans as well as homeless people.
The fact that she donates food from the dumpsters to charity has been a hot topic for debate, and both sides have presented their arguments.
One Twitter thread went viral as user IllNana Vanzant (@kinkythought) calls for dumpster divers to keep their hauled products to themselves, to let people know where their food come from if they are to serve it, and not to donate the food to pantries and giveaways.
Within the thread, the user explains the danger of donating food from the dumpsters when you aren’t aware of the state of the products. They also recount their experience as a pantry user where people would be donating food from dumpsters and not properly informing others about the source of the food or being vague about where it came from.
On the other hand, on TikTok, Dumpster Diving Freegan explains how true freegans—like herself—are very cautious and responsible about what they bring to their homes in the first place.
@dumpsterdivingfreegan Reply to @gloriam_realty I don’t like to mess with dirty dumpsters! #dumpsterdiving #freegan #free #dumpsterdiver #zerowaste #capitalism #fypシ #gnc #f ♬ A moist healing song – Nez Tunes
If a product looks even the slightest bit sketchy, she won’t take the risk of introducing the possible dangers it may harbor to where she lives. In one of her videos, she says that “It’s all about common sense and taking proper safety precautions.”
Dumpster Diving Freegan also explains that she does not give raw meat or perishables to homeless people since they don’t have the proper resources to store, cook, and/or eat these. She also makes sure to let people know where her food comes from before offering them to anyone.
Dumpster Diving Freegan repeatedly takes the time to answer questions and comments on her videos. In one video, she addressed someone’s comment about simply contacting the store managers themselves and asking to get the products before they throw them into the dumpsters. She responded by saying that she has tried this out several times, even offering to pay full price for the products, and was always told to contact corporate where her request would either be denied, or she would receive no answer at all.
The idea of freeganism isn’t a fully mainstream concept, it is made up of a whole community and culture that we aren’t all fully aware of. Dumpster Diving Freegan reassures people that it takes a huge responsibility to be a freegan, and most especially to be a dumpster diver. She explains the detailed precautions that she takes like keeping updated on product recalls, and even checking the temperature of meat before she takes it.
Dumpster Diving Freegan was kind of accurate when she said in one of her videos that people would be mad at her either way—whether or not she donated the food that she finds.
In this case, the best thing that one could do is to learn from both IllNana’s Twitter thread and Dumpster Diving Freegan’s TikTok which both generally urge people to be responsible. Stay cautious for the sake of your safety and be sensitive towards the people around you—whether it’s by telling them where your food came from or leaving some behind for people who have no other means to feed themselves other than by dumpster diving.
One man’s trash truly is another person’s treasure…
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