Monday, June 25, 2007

Free Trash in NYC

My friend Peter, knowing of my unhealthy obsession with Freegans, recently passed on this lengthy profile of the movement's devotees from the New York Times. Normally I find the Freegan lifestyle of anti-capitalist dumpster diving rather off-putting, though in the opening scene of the story, the free stuff free-for-all at the NYU campus doesn't sound half bad:

On a Friday evening last month, the day after New York University’s class of 2007 graduated, about 15 men and women assembled in front of Third Avenue North, an N.Y.U. dormitory on Third Avenue and 12th Street. They had come to take advantage of the university’s end-of-the-year move-out, when students’ discarded items are loaded into big green trash bins by the curb.


Ben Ibershoff, a dapper man in his 20s wearing two bowler hats, dug deep and unearthed a Sharp television. Autumn Brewster, 29, found a painting of a Mediterranean harbor, which she studied and handed down to another member of the crowd.

Darcie Elia, a 17-year-old high school student with a half-shaved head, was clearly pleased with a modest haul of what she called “random housing stuff” — a desk lamp, a dish rack, Swiffer dusters — which she spread on the sidewalk, drawing quizzical stares from passers-by.

Ms. Elia was not alone in appreciating the little things. “The small thrills are when you see the contents of someone’s desk and find a book of stamps,” said Ms. Kalish, 44, as she stood knee deep in the trash bin examining a plastic toiletries holder.

A few of those present had stumbled onto the scene by chance (including a janitor from a nearby homeless center, who made off with a working iPod and a tube of body cream), but most were there by design, in response to a posting on the Web site

Putting aside for the moment the obvious question of how one wears two bowler hats simultaneously, this actually sounds like a pretty fun scene. Very-recently discarded dorm accoutrements from a university with a prosperous profile might be just the thing to spice up that Williamsburg loft.

Admittedly, the painting mentioned did look a little like Thomas Kinkade goes to Capri, but hey - it was unpriced. One could always choose to display it ironically.

Much like Red Bull, Freeganism gives you wings.


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