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Recently, one Project Runway contestant's unusual eating habits caught our attention. "I'm Freegan," said Fabio Costa, a Brazilian-born designer from Brooklyn, N.Y. Simply put, he's a dedicated dumpster diver.
Freeganism has been on the rise in the U.S. over the last few years, but now the sustainable living philosophy is hitting the mainstream. "Many freegans consider dumpster diving to be a great way to save money on groceries. Others do it because they want to live more simply," says Investing Answer's Michael Snyder.
Manhattan is home to its own Freegan network, which hosts frequent meet-ups and dumpster diving sessions for followers. Here's how the site defines the Freegan philosophy: "As workers and potential consumers, we view participation in this economy as a form of complicity in practices like sweatshop labor, rainforest destruction, and factory farming. Freegans believe in living ethical, free, and happy lives centered around community and the notion that a healthy society must function on interdependence."
For the most part, yes––once food's tossed out, it basically becomes public property––so long as shopowners don't mind anyone digging through their trash afterhours. Residential bins are probably out, unless you ask for permission. And of course, any trespassing laws apply as well. Some grocers, as Freegan Info points out, will even tell freegans when to drop by to pick up food ready to be tossed out.