November 15, 2011

Re-assessing my life for the better

I was checking my email today and received an email from a newsletter I subscribed to ( about budgeting and saving money) with an interesting article topic about scoring free food from dumpster diving. I love stuff like that so I read it. Boy this article is an eye opener.
I didn't realize non-homeless people did this, but it sure makes sense. If you didn't read the article (but you should since I suck at paraphrasing), I'll try to explain it. It talks about people who Dumpster Dive for food, or anything else, thrown away by "big" corporations (grocery stores, bakeries, etc). Food that either expired that day or had a dent in the can or has a brown spot...all for consumerism.

"Americans throw out an astounding 27% of available food, about a pound of food per day for each American." says the guy in the article.....ok, so I have (and still do sometimes ) do it too. I throw away carrots that "look funny" or milk that "smells funny" (actually, i think all milk smells funny so I don't throw it out until it's reached the expiration date). But what gets me, these stores throw large quantities away WITH NO REAL PROBLEMS with the food....most is just "cosmetic". But they don't donate it because they don't want to be sued if someone gets sick or whatnot. Ok, I get that.....but can't they just put a clause on it or something that prevents them from getting sued? I mean, millions of people in America only are starving and living in shelters, that would LOVE to have this food!! (BTW: I found out after I posted this that there IS a law that protects companies from getting sued for donating food they are about to throw's called the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996)
Well, that's where Freegans come in. They are environmentalists (and usually vegans, hence the word free-gan) that believe capitalism is ruining the world. They Dumpster Dive for food, toiletries, cds, dvds, books, furniture, and whatever else they come upon. They usually go in groups because they can end up with too much for one family, which is then sorted so every group member can take a portion of their findings home.

It sounds gross, but most stores throw away bags of packaged food, and it all gets picked up by the garbage truck within 24 hours of being thrown away....that's why Freegans go "diving" just after stores throw away the "bad" food of the day, which is also usually closing time. See pictures below of the "bad" food they throw away...looks pretty ok, doesn't it?

(photos courtesy of the Secret Freegan)

One lady, who calls herself the Secret Freegan, donates most of what she finds to any shelter willing to take the "dumpster" finds from her. I love the idea of giving back to others in need.

What is my reason for writing this? Other than sharing this amazing story about others saving money and giving back to people in need, I feel I need to re-assess and re-evaluate my life. I am actually one of those really "poor" people, but fortunate enopugh to have a roof over their head.....but I'm tired of either myself or my husband working our butts off for ungrateful bosses (remember the movie Horrible Bosses that came out recently? well, it seems like every job we get, they are like that) just to live in a run-down trailer with no cable, sucky internet, no washer/dryer, no dishwasher, no car, living off of government help (Food Stamps and medical) and wishing I will win the lottery so I can have "stuff".

Well, having stuff and money really means nothing if you are bitter and ungrateful (which I try not to be, but a lot of people are). I want to get back to some basics in my life where I will be able to self sustain by having my own business (that's where my jewelry/craft making come in), grow most of my own food, trade or barter items and/or services (my brother in-law traded his tattooing ability for 2 motor-scooters recently). Why buy new when you can get food, items, or services for free if people are willing to give them up? That's why I like the Free section on Craigslist, and forums like Freecycle where you can get just about anything for free. As for rent, heating, and some techy stuff, those are things I will still need to pay for (I gotta have some tv, cell phone, and internet).

I want to live near people who appreciate each other and life as well as help each other out with no regrets or complaints (ok, sounds to good to be true, but at least that's what Freegans and a lot of people do, but most people aren't lucky to see it or experience that side of people). I'm tired of certain family members who make $40,000+ a year for just the family of 1, that complain about helping others in need because they are tired of shelling out money to them....Now, I don't ever expect them to help me, but I DO expect them to NOT complain when they do help. What happened to families that help out with babysitting, household chores (fixing broken things mostly), rides places, or whatever without asking for anything in return? Or at least are happy to help others without complaining that they are "so tired of giving money to everybody and their brother when they are in trouble"? Again, I just can't stand people who help out, but complain about it TO MY FACE....don't help then if you don't want to....whatever.

Right now, my husband and I are enrolled in school and still have another year on our lot rental, so we can't move just yet....but after we get our Associates degrees, we will move to a cooler state (hopefully Oregon or Washington?) and try to start things new.

What I want to accomplish while there:

1) Own my own home....yeah, we are renting to own this trailer, but we don't own the land.....
2)Have a plentiful vegetable and herb garden.....and share what I grow with others like myself
3)Be crafty.....make my own, well, just about everything! Make jellies and my own bread....fix up "old things" into useful, fun things (look up "upcycling" on Etsy or google)
4)Turn my crafts into profit....start selling on Etsy and at Farmers Markets or other local shows
5)Eat healthier and exercise more....hopefully the gardening will help with both of those :)

We will be saving any extra money from tax refunds or whatever to make this happen. I will live better, and the way I want to. Here's to living better!



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