Everything You Need To Know About The ‘Freegan’ Culture in S’pore

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Have you ever heard the phrase “dumpster diving?”

It’s exactly what it says: the act of going through dumpsters, trash or anything similar to find food or usable items. Not something you would think the average person would like.

Image: Flickr

Frankly speaking, it can be a pretty big turn-off.

However, there are a group of people who have elevated this to more than an activity. A group of people who have found a deeper meaning to life beyond scouring the trash.

Let us talk about freegans in Singapore.

What is a Freegan?

All of you are probably thinking, “Hold up, a lifestyle where people go through garbage to get food and items? People CHOOSE that?”

Image: me.me

Yes, in fact, an article was written in 2017 about now-popular freegan, Daniel Tay, and how he brought light to this lifestyle that still stumps most of us till this day.

More than an average dumpster diver, a freegan is someone who rejects consumerism and seeks to help the environment by reducing waste, especially by retrieving and using discarded food and other goods.

The intent is selfless, and freegans are attempting the positive extremes of the phrase, “reduce, reuse, recycle”.

How Local Freegan’s Operate 

First off, I would like to point out that there is a pretty strict rule in rummaging for trash in Singapore. It can even be classified as theft.

So yes, boldly walking into your neighbour’s dustbin picking out their stuff just might have some repercussions if they did not allow it.

In the case of food businesses, freegans are highly encouraged to ask for the food leftovers of said business.

If you think about how many customers actually come in every day, one can imagine how much wasted food there possibly is!

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So the with the food part out of the way, what about items that people have tossed away?

Technically, since the items have been abandoned, they are no longer counted as being -owned- by a certain person. If that is the case, the freegan’s act of taking the item cannot be said to constitute theft.

With that being said…anybody out there who wants to ‘disown’ an Xbox One?

Image: Know Your Meme

Willingness to Give and Receive

I will be the first to admit: I love getting free stuff.

A 34YO "old-virgin" S'porean was desperately looking for a boyfriend and surprisingly, she really found one online. But the intentions of the man will make you cry. Prepare tissue paper to watch this video based on real events:

Ask anyone and I guarantee you most of them would not be opposed to it.

Image: GreetyHunt


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Of course, there is always the element of -pai seh- when getting something for free.

Remember that feeling when you got an extra sweet in kindergarten cuz the teacher liked you slightly more than the rest of your classmates?

Remember when everyone just stared on and you got shy?

Something like that, not that I would know.

Image:favim.com


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However, in the blog started by Mr Tay, he seems to share the same sentiments.

“It may sound strange, but you’d be surprised to learn how many people cannot bring themselves to receive a free gift from others. Many will reject the gift or offer to pay for it.”

“Once you have changed your mindset from having to use the money to get items to getting it for free, you are ready to proceed to the next level of freeganism.”

In return, freegans can also take the opportunity to help de-clutter homes of waste in exchange for leftover resources. All-in-all, it seems like a very good exchange rate!

Marie Kondo will thank you for it.


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Image: memegenerator

You know, maybe he does have a point. I understand how a freegan lifestyle might seem to attract especially those of lower-income.

Personally, I’m a little too chicken to brave the hoards of waste and possible health risks.

But seriously…free gaming console, anyone?