Dumpster Dinners: An Ethnographic Study of Freeganism

Victoria C. Moré

Abstract


Dumpster Dinners: An Ethnographic Study of Freeganism at Illinois State University dives into dumpsters with the freegan subculture of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. Freeganism is a way of life based on limited participation in the conventional economy and has been gaining popularity in recent years. Freegans strive to spend little money, barter or trade for goods and services, and live off food that has been thrown away. The freegans in this study are three motivated and educated women who regularly dumpster dive behind local businesses for food and products. Additionally, the freegans barter for goods and services and exhibit a “make it do or do without” attitude that seems almost obsolete in today’s hyperconsuming America. This study explores where and why freegans exist, the process of turning garbage into groceries, why perfectly good groceries become garbage in the first place, and what can be learned from the freegan way of life. This study was conducted for an undergraduate senior thesis course in Anthropology at Illinois State University, spring of 2010.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15273/jue.v1i1.8004

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The JUE is a peer-reviewed online journal that publishes original ethnographic research by undergraduates working in a variety of disciplines. Submissions are welcomed. Contact the Editor, Martha Radice.

ISSN 2369-8721