I'm a freegan. 

I've written extensively about my freegan worldview and praxis over the years and I hope I've made it clear that freeganism can involve far more than just rescuing food. It's true that in these tough economic times, rescuing food may be among the more accessible recourses for penny pinchers (indeed, that was why I initially sought out freegan.info myself); and perhaps food rescue gets lots of notoriety because of its spectacular nature - most people seem to consider it disgusting and shameful, though any meagerly conscientious person can clearly see that it's the sheer amount of waste that's disgusting and shameful, not the act of rescuing it! 

So it's important to note that freeganism is absolutely not only about rescuing food. 

According to freegan.info, "Freeganism is a total boycott of an economic system where the profit motive has eclipsed ethical considerations...

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

Thus folks who subscribe to a freegan worldview may engage in many other kinds of rescue and conservation. Some freegans ride bikes, scooters, or skateboards rather than driving cars or even using public transit - the latter, of course, requiring a great deal of energy and oil, dependencies that keep us engaged in war and destroy our environment, even here at home (see: gulf oil spill, Appalachian mountaintop removal and fracking). Some freegans squat and homestead abandoned buildings, believing that housing is a right, not a privilege. Some mend their own clothes rather than buying new clothes, which are often produced by exploited sweatshop workers. 

As for me, one of the most stark expressions of my freeganism over these past few years has regarded my time and energy. In December 2009, I committed myself to various creative pursuits - music, writing, activism, videography and more! - and refused to seek steady work, believing that I could not afford to do both. I engaged in what some call "unjobbing."

Somehow this commitment resulted in a huge paradigm shift in my consciousness. Whereas previously I believed that my time was worth at least x dollars per hour, I now understood my time as priceless. I felt as though my mind had been freed from some kind of compulsory prison, the hamster wheel of consumerism and wage slavery. I began volunteering my time to people and organizations around the city and the more I volunteered, the more I became privy to the extent that time has become commodified in our culture (and especially in a place like NYC). I realized that time is amongst the most valuable commodities here and I had it, free, in spades!

It's not that I haven't been working, though (let me be clear about that!).  On the contrary, I've worked harder these past few years than ever before. I just didn't have another person dictating my schedule and I didn't earn a regular paycheck for my efforts. Instead, I had to employ a great deal of self-discipline to organize and abide by a very busy schedule (typically consisting of at least 40 hours of work per week, plus volunteering, church and social commitments) and I was paid largely in donations that I received for my music at shows, while busking, or online

Indeed, I came to see that I was working for God, not men; and I knew that God would pay me in kind, providing all my needs. I'm unspeakably grateful and pleased to say that S/he has been faithful. But now I also see that God is calling me into a new season, into a new mode of work. 

As I've mentioned on other blog sites, I've begun a steady gig as a dishwasher at Darling Coffee in Inwood. I'll be working there twenty hours a week, on average, for the foreseeable future; thus I am no longer unjobbing. Nevertheless, I'm grateful to report on some of the many revelations I've received throughout this unjobbing stint, especially the fresh perspective I now have on the value of my time and work. I still regard them as priceless, which is why I would only spend them doing work that I deem to be significant, a blessing to my friends and neighbors. This is precisely what I've found in my new job. 

I also absolutely believe that, unjobbing notwithstanding, I'm staying true to my ideals. While I yet believe that unjobbing can be a great paradigm shift for many people (as I've already stated, it did wonders for my consciousness!), I'm now looking forward to a new paradigm, beyond unjobbing. And make no mistake about it: I'm still working first and foremost for God. S/he may not be the one signing my paychecks, but God is certainly the one who continues to provide for my every need. I see it as some sort of cosmic barter system

So it's still within the confines of freeganism.




Your comment will be posted after it is approved.

Leave a Reply