In The Astral, the Quirk's daughter Karina is a practicing "freegan" - a term that comes from a fusion of the words "free" and "vegan" (although not all freegans are vegans) - and as such, she chooses to eschew conventional consumerism.
Often referred to as "dumpster divers," freegans generally believe that western society throws away too many useable goods - including food - and they consciously limit their participation in the current, profit-driven economic system. This wasteful mentality, they explain, increases the need for more landfills, leaches pollution into ground water, and threatens an already compromised environment; once a dump is full, more must be built, and open land is transformed into unsightly and health-threatening garbage heaps.
In response, freegans choose to boycott this way of life and follow a few specific, ethical principles. According to Freegan.Info, these principles include:
They turn other people's garbage into usable goods; as restaurants and markets toss out still-edible fruits, vegetables, and meats because they don't meet "perfect" requirements, the food becomes fair game for a freegan. In The Astral, Karina supplements her "dumpster diet" with store-bought organic food, which, many freegans would agree, is a reasonable way to ensure getting proper nutrition. Likewise, community gardens allow people to share in their quest for sustainable food sources with others who follow in their footsteps.
Some find the freegan lifestyle extreme. Rooting through garbage is, admittedly, an unhygienic activity. On the other hand, we know that at some point waste management will become unsustainable; land is not an unlimited resource. The principles of the freegan movement seem pertinent, and this reviewer believes it's certainly worthwhile to listen to what they have to say.
To read one woman's account of her experiences as a "dumpster diver," check out the Sierra Club article entitled "My Life as a Diver."
This article was originally published in September 2011, and has been updated for the
June 2012 paperback release.
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