Notes from a Future Freegan Van Dweller?

27 Apr

I have an earth-quaking update on my belt situation.

You better sit.

Here it is: I have replaced my two belts with a single black belt I purchased at our local Goodwill. If you follow this blog closely, you’ll know that Jennifer bought my two belts at Goodwill. Well, not all thrifty purchases are created equal; both belts fell apart shortly after I laid my fingers on them. I thought for awhile that they were “trick” belts, some kind of practical joke, like an exploding golf ball.

Also in Goodwill, I found some awesome Saucony trail running shoes (glad I don’t have to worry about the pronunciation of “Saucony”) that make my New Balance shoes (also purchased at Goodwill) look like a couple of turds. I’ve spent $16 on two pairs of like-new shoes. The 2012 version of me would have kept both, but I’m going to sell the old pair on eBay. If Edwardsville had homeless people concentrated under an overpass I could bike on over to find a dude with size nine feet, but I guess all the homeless are over in St. Louis.

In other news, I’ve become enamored with freeganism, which I previously thought to be synonymous with dumpster diving. Sure, that’s a part of it, but it’s much more.

Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.

(I can’t figure how I’ve gone this long without Googling “freeganism.”)


I’m not an official freegan yet; I have to think about it and see how far I can go with the “alternative strategies.” Namely, I have to get over my fear of being spotted rooting through garbage. Also, the ick factor; I sometimes gag messing with OUR garbage. How am I going to react to stumbling upon a bunch of rotten eggs or a hastily wrapped poopy diaper? Oh, I know what will happen: I’ll pass out and hit my head on a concrete block, or, worse, I’ll land with my face on the poopy diaper or something equally disgusting.

Yesterday I got nervous simply riding my bike in the vicinity of dumpsters. I kind of slowed down and looked over there wondering if I could actually do it and I felt like I was breaking the law. Good thing I’m not a serial killer. I just know I’d fall over dead of anxiety just preparing for my first kill.

(On a side note, I want to document for my future self how I just did this funky hand dance trying to trigger Panera’s motion-activated paper towel dispenser. My enthusiastic gyrations failed to stir the machine. I’d love to see video of people doing the same this morning, but, sadly, I think it’s against the law to set up video cameras in public restrooms.)

I stumbled upon the term freeganism while reading about van dwelling, which is a whole strange world with a vibrant online community. I know, It’s bizarre, but I feel in my bones that I’ll eventually be living this kind of simple life once the kids are off to college or joining the circus or whatever. I would like to have one of these Volkswagen vans to customize. No mortgage. No car payment. No utility bills. No lawn to mow. No big home to maintain. It’s dropping out of “The American Dream” and living life on my own terms.

Girl living in a van

If you’re wondering where Jennifer fits into the van, that’s a good question–I guess under the false floor I’ll  build in it for storage.

As you’d expect, this is a contentious issue in our house. Examples: If something turns up missing I’m instantly accused of donating it. I say downsize and simplify; she says shut up. I say let’s rent out a room; she says you’re f***ing crazy. She talks about the yard and how awesome it’s going to look; I yawn and say cool. She shows me the new wreath for the front door; I force a smile and tell her it’s the best f***ing wreath I’ve seen in my whole life.  

When the girls are in school and Jennifer’s at work, I stand in the center of that big house and feel lost and desperate. Why? It’s such a waste of space. It’s a bitch to clean. The yard is huge and needs constant attention. Warm air leaks out in the winter. I see hundreds of toys that go untouched. Upstairs, to get from the top of the steps to the bedrooms you have to cross an expanse of space I could easily live in. Tiny house designers are creating homes smaller than this unappreciated part of our house. 

It’s not like I’m just intentionally trying to be obstinate or weird. I really do sit around thinking about how most of the world lives: in filthy poverty. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. I am a filthy rich bastard compared to the population of Earth. That’s baffling to me.  See “first world problems” on twitter.

It’s not our fault. We’re force-fed what it is we need to be happy. Here’s a few things I thought up in, like, a minute:

  • Multiple televisions pulling in 250 channels
  • Multiple gas-powered vehicles
  • Electronic gadgets of all shapes and sizes (iPhones, iPods, iPads)
  • A closet full of clothes and shoes
  • Extra rooms, completely furnished, rarely used
  • Throw or “show” pillows
  • Souvenirs and sports memorabilia
  • Decorative glassware
  • Fancy plates and stuff for “special” occasions
  • Boxes and boxes of decorations for all four season and major holidays
  • Maybe a boat, a motorcycle, an ATV, or a camper (to “get away from it all”)
  • Gear (hunting, camping, hiking, etc.)
  • Random “collections”
  • Lawn tending machines and tools

If you’re not getting me here, you’re probably reading through that list and thinking “Yeah, and?”

Well, I guess it’s my job on this planet to be the freak say no to some of the most standard American values.

One Response to “Notes from a Future Freegan Van Dweller?”

  1. aemi February 21, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    it’s incredible how i feel the same! i can’t wait for the children to get older and me taking up the road!!! But i know it’s not possible right now. i like this term of “freeganism”, “van dwelling” also; i just feel like i’m going to be the only girl in europe who wants to live in a van, whereas it almost looks like “normal” in the us…

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