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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

For Frugalists, Bargain Hunting is a Lifestyle

Okay, the food thing is a little over the top even for me, but working at the landfill, I can attest that people do throw out some really good stuff.

For these extreme anti-consumers, your trash is their food, furniture
By Allison Linn
Senior writer/MSNBC

It’s an unseasonably cold day in Seattle, and Rebecca is standing in her kitchen, preparing for her regular Sunday afternoon outing. As she gathers her backpack and grocery bags, her dog sniffs around excitedly, anticipating the long walk and treats that await.

In the course of their errands, Rebecca and her dog will visit several stores and coffee shops, a bakery and a chocolate factory. But instead of walking in the front door, she plans to head out back and go Dumpster diving.

Rebecca, 51, owns a small duplex and has a job running an art program for a health care organization. She’s also an artist in her own right whose accomplishments include a piece that hangs in the Seattle Art Museum.

And she gets 99 percent of her food from the Dumpster.

“It’s so easy to eat for free,” she says. “The only things I buy are butter and milk.”

It’s no secret that American culture is a consumer culture. We like big cars, big houses and big bags of things bought at big malls and big-box retailers. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the few people who call themselves anti-consumerists, freegans, frugalists or just plain Dumpster divers. Whatever the moniker, these people delight in drastically reducing their consumer spending, finding life’s essentials at bargain prices or paying nothing at all.

“I like getting stuff free. It’s like a treasure hunt,” says Ran Prieur, 40, who lives in Washington state and whose extremely frugal life includes occasional Dumpster diving. “It’s kind of similar to what you get from gambling.”

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