She has no occupation, she owns no money; she gets her food by dumpster diving, she lives an alternative life. Her name is Grace H-S, a 21 years old freegan in California, United States.
“As a freegan, I am not in college, nor do I work in a paid job.” Grace says, “Instead I live in an international community, where I am a full-time volunteer…My life is perhaps a little unusual to some people, but I am dedicated to living on the fringes of society, or at least living an alternative lifestyle.”
Indeed Grace’s life is special, even when she was just a little girl. As born in a lower-class family, Grace learned about dumpster diving from her parents long before it was cool. Her parents taught her the value of treating the environment with the respect it deserves, and gave her guidance in the reusing of all kinds of waste, including the throw outs of supermarkets.
“As you can imagine, when I was growing up, I was embarrassed by our second-hand clothing, our curb collected items, and the occasional thrown out food.” Grace says, “But after I left home and began to travel in a radical Christian community, of all things, I came in contact with the ideals of Freeganism. Then all the things my parents tried to teach me began to make sense and I embraced a simple lifestyle, which includes minimizing the necessity for spending money and consuming through such things as dumpster diving.”
Ok then, what is Freeganism? Why do they lead such an unusual life? Why are they picking food from the trash when they can buy it from the supermarket? Why do they insist on not spending money at all? Are they so poor that they have to turn their life in that way? Grace admits that some people view Freeganism with bias. “They think we are too lazy to work.” Grace smiles, “but actually Freeganism is about a lot more than dumpster diving or getting things for free - it is about creating a more sustainable way of life.”
In Grace’s eyes, our society is in an accepted collective insanity. The economic system our society adopts now contributes to over consuming, wasting, exploitation and damages to our environment. In order to change this situation, Grace makes herself a Freegan. She decides not to use money and dependent on this system. Instead, she spends most of her time in volunteer, recycling, implementing the best use of resources and finding ways to limit consumption and materialism in our own lives and those of others.
“People keep asking the same question again and again.” Grace says, “They always say ‘We can never change the way things are. There will always be evil, so why try to change anything? It's just not realistic.’ But actually we can make a small difference in an individual life, we can inspire others to see hope, we can reduce our consumption and waste by a fraction, so why not try to change? Would we rather live lives that are not of any use? I think we should live out what we believe, whether it's "practical" or not. There is so much we can do. I personally see my life as an experiment, a search for the best way to live my life.”
When asked about the future plan, Grace thinks about it for a while.
“My life is quite easy and I do not have such a big plan like others. But I guess I will continue what I am doing now—volunteer, recycle, educating people and no money in life. I am not going to have a child and I am not feeling I have lost anything in my life as some people may think I have made a big sacrifice to be a Freegan. ”
Thanks to Grace, thanks to those who believe their dreams, they show people that maybe a better world is not so difficult to get.
“If more people live simply, there is more to go around.
If more people reduce waste, there is more to go around
If more people share what they don't need with those who do, there is more to go around.
If more people give their time helping others, there is more to go around.”