Princeton Student Finds Passion in Garbage

CAROL’S SUMMARY: Dumpster-diving isn’t just for those down on their luck. A student at Princeton shares his experience dumpster-diving while practicing freeganism to help reduce waste. There is a lot you can learn about yourself and others through looking at patterns of consumption. Of course, some of these findings may not be so appealing, but they are interesting nonetheless.

Questions to consider:
1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of dumpster-diving?
2. What do you think of freeganism?
3. What else can we do to help reduce waste in our society?
4. How can these findings help us as a society to be more aware and leave less of garbage footprint?


By STEVE KOLOWICH, From the Chronicle of Higher Education, February 20, 2009

As a Princeton University student, Alexander Barnard has access to cafeterias staffed by an award-winning dining service. But he can still tell you the best time to scavenge grocery Dumpsters for edible food.

“Between 9 and 10 p.m.,” he says. “After the stores close, before the garbage trucks come around.”

Mr. Barnard, a senior majoring in sociology, gets many of his meals from the garbage, which is where he says too much of America’s usable food ends up. He is a practitioner of “freeganism,” an activist movement organized under the principle of “limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources,” according to Freegan.Info, an outreach group with which Mr. Barnard is affiliated.

“Freeganism is not just about being cheap,” he says. “It’s not just about living off the waste of society. It’s about trying to make an impact.”

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