Freegan tips for the frugal

When I was in college, my roommates and I didn’t think twice about picking sofas, coffee tables, and housewares out of other people’s trash. Don’t get grossed out. We always gave them a good scrubbing and disinfecting when we got home. We were definitely tried and true dumpster divers, mostly because we were too broke to buy what we needed. It’s fun to see what treasures you can find that others have discarded, and you couldn’t beat the price tag: Free.

A good friend and former roommate took it a step further. She was a freegan, meaning she didn’t pay for anything unless absolutely necessary. She would search for bags of discarded donuts and bagels in the


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14 Responses to Freegan tips for the frugal

  1. Shahrul Azwad says:

    I understands the reasons behind freeganism but it is just not for every man. In our country, Malaysia, this is despised by almost everyone when it comes to food.

    Our culture has no problem making good use of other people’s trash. It’s a frugal behaviour but there is a limit to how low a person can go and eating food thrown away regardless of its safe condition is unacceptable by our culture.

    A common and better practice by our street hawkers is to donate unsold food to mosque, so prayers can had them for supper or to the orphanage. Unfortunately fast food operators rather throw them into the garbage than donate them or even give them to their employees.

  2. Lori says:

    I’d be interested in hearing how many hours a week your friend invested in searching for her food and other goods. It would make an interesting comparison if we also knew what she made at work. I admire the freegan mentality, but it seems that they spend a lot of evening/night hours on this, when many of us simply can’t. Thanks for the article!

  3. Cassandra says:

    I’ve dumpster dived a few times. I never dived for food but I have gotten a nice end table and some holiday decorations.

    At work, after every banquet, I make 2 or 3 to-go boxes of leftover food. All the employees do this. Not a lot of food is thrown out after we pick out what we want.

    I don’t like to waste stuff, but I don’t think I could bring myself to dumpster dive for food.

    Like Lori, I am curious as to how many hours your friend spent searching for food.

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  5. Jo says:

    Great post in these troubled times. First learned about “freegans” when Oprah did a show on them. Also saw on Oprah last week about the enormous savings that can be made by unplugging all electrical appliances and chargers when they are not in use.

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  7. Interesting article. In my callow youth, bakeries used to throw away “day-old” products. They would use the same bin and no other garbage went into the bin. Each product was individually wrapped in plastic. If you showed up in the evening before trash pick-up day, you had your pick of perfectly fine bread, muffins, and rolls.

    I think day-old bakery outlets still do this.

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  9. in2amish says:

    i was just wondering when you do this? after all the stores are closed or at night when no one can see you. also can you get in trouble by the police?

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  11. Gail says:

    What difference does it make how much time she spent doing this? This is how she enjoyed living her life and I’m sure she found more joy in dumpster diving than in typing or filing or whatever her part-time job would have consisted.

  12. Sam says:

    This is great. I dive and visit bakeries after hours. I also hear Stores like Trader Joes have a tendency to throw away great stuff which will bring vitamins to those who live on rice and beans!

  13. Deb says:

    Hey, some people have been doing this all their lives

  14. Christine says:

    If and when I dumpster dive for food products I take along a food/meat thermometer to check the temp of meat and dairy products. Below 4 0 ready to go. Most veggies can be peeled and cut down. I bake mt own bread but other same goods are freezable and if too old it goes to the chickens. Bones can be cooked down for broth then given to the dogs. I find the adventure of it a blast. Saving major money is a byproduct. I turned my husband onto the bargin bin at the grocery and then gave him the royal dumpster treatment just don’t tell him I told you.

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