I worked one of my long 12-1/2 hour RN shifts at the hospital yesterday and along with my tired and draggy body, I brought home a fancy Asian pear and a bagel with cream cheese. How did I end up with these free goodies? A doctor brought in a big box of bagels and cream cheese for the nurses, and the pear was a thank you gift from a family whose newborn I'd helped.
Both items went into my son's school lunch this morning. I joked that "I was becoming a freegan." And when he asked what I was talking about, I answered that "a freegan is someone who never pays for anything." He then asked if "freegans refuse to accept money," to which I replied, "no."
I thought this was a very astute response, and it's been swirling around in my head ever since. If somebody wants to get everything for free, shouldn't they conversely refuse to accept money? I make an effort to pay it forward when I'm on the receiving end of generosity. I participate in a Buy Nothing Group, and look for opportunities to give as well as receive. Over the past week, I've given away a fancy bar of Whole Foods soap and a cat scratching post.
Of course this is all theoretical, as mortgages still need to get paid, as does health insurance; and last time I checked, my son's college tuition could only be paid with money.
But there is so much excess in our modern consumer driven society where people replace perfectly good items simply because they're tired of them or they've become dated looking. New things are being manufactured at such a rapid rate and available for such a low cost that they're no longer valued. I brought home a brand new looking towel last week that thousands of people probably walked past. (I waited a day to take it, as I wanted to give the owner a chance to track it down.) A towel. A washable towel. A towel that has since served as a barrier between my son and our fabric car upholstery after an impressively muddy soccer game. A perfectly functional item that others chose to ignore.
There is an overabundance of stuff out there in our world, and there simply aren't enough people willing to accept anything they deem to be less than perfect. Even on the Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group, some responses to my towel rescue was just a straight-up "eeuuuw, that's gross."
Yes, I bring home and accept free stuff when it crosses my path. I'm someone who's deeply bothered by our consumer driven, throw-away society. So let's all make a commitment to repair instead of replace, make do with what we have and refuse to get sucked into momentary trends. (I'm looking at you, Target, with your never ending mad for plaid commercials!) Be that person who can see diamonds in the rough. Accept free stuff and find new homes for your unwanted but still usable possessions.
Sorry Target, I do my shopping at the curb instead of your big box store. I guess that makes me a freegan. Well... except that I do accept money for work. I guess I need to put some effort into getting our mortgage company and the local universities to opt into this whole freegan thing.
"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."