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AGING: I'm not cheap, but have a couple Freegan tendencies

Please bear with me today since this will very likely be difficult for you to understand, especially at first blush. It was for me. A friend who claims to read this column weekly threw out a challenge. He, Art Scharte, must be a philosopher at he...

Please bear with me today since this will very likely be difficult for you to understand, especially at first blush. It was for me.

A friend who claims to read this column weekly threw out a challenge. He, Art Scharte, must be a philosopher at heart, too, since he challenged me to write by only providing me one guiding line, "My socks and underwear drawer are always full."

My first thought was that he hadn't been raised in a poor home during the depression years. I can remember when socks and underwear were sort of a luxury item, and what few I had would likely be the results of birthday or Christmas presents. My second thought was that he was privileged to have had a conscientious mother and later a wife that took excellent care of him in that one compartment of his life. Certainly, it is that kind of love, care and consideration from a loving companion that makes our lives more worth living.

I just about gave up the challenge until reading about Freegans in the Oct. 1 issue of Newsweek magazine. Freegans have decided to boycott, at least in part, our capitalistic society by curtailing over consumption of resources. They reuse, renew and recycle and do their utmost to waste not. (I recall when darning socks was a very common practice.) Freegans employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Another name for Freegans, or at least a group with similar motives, is "Greens."

Freegan literature says they embrace community generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation and sharing as opposed to materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity and greed.

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I don't have the desire to become a Freegan and certainly don't have the self-discipline to proceed "whole hog." But, philosophically, I realize that we Americans, for the most part, buy far more than we need and often are wasteful. My favorite expression is that I don't need any more knick-knacks, brick-a-bracks, do-dads or whatnots -- and that list could go on ad infinitum.

Imelda Marcos is famous for her ridiculous over-purchasing of shoes, but most of us share some of those over-consumption habits. Americans struggle with obesity, use 25 percent of the world's oil and are the world's leaders in self indulgences.

So what are the Freegans doing to break some of those indulgences? They don't waste, or certainly waste less, resources of all kinds -- food, gasoline (walk and ride bicycle when possible) electricity (turn off the computer at night, only turn on lights and leave burning when needed) and you can add to this list of wasteful practices with which we all have learned to indulge ourselves with. My favorite expression about food is copied from that song line, "If I can't be with the one I love, I love the one I'm with." I apply this to food. If I'm offered something that I don't especially care for, I may not eat much, but I always eat whatever I take.

Freegans take up gardening when they can and grow some of their own food. They seek out organic food and patronize local farmer markets. That helps in two ways. The spread of food is more limited, and you aren't as tempted to buy those foreign goodies that have been shipped from who knows where.

Well, I hope that Art isn't disappointed with the tangent I ended up writing about when he may have had a different perspective entirely. And I hope this essay, when read by other friends, will lead them to reconsider -- I'm not really cheap, I just have Freegan tendencies.

Humor is so important, but a lot of it goes around in so many media sources it becomes old hat. The following seemed funny to this old hat. Hope they do for you too:

I used to be decisive: now I'm not sure.

They told me I was gullible and I believed them.

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I had amnesia once -- or was it twice?

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous at home and when he grows up, he won't be able to merge his car onto the freeway.

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