Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Running On Empty

I’ve been a little tired lately. Anxious to get home last night, I noticed that I wasn’t the only thing running on empty. I stopped to fill up my tank and not only did I get gas, I got nauseous.

Chicago was recently given the “Highest Gas Prices In The Country” award and I know this little sign here is a joke, but it might has well have read that at my gas station. $4.25 for a gallon of gas? WTF indeed!

Like everyone else, I’ve been looking for ways to save some money. My bloggy buddy, Jessica Morris, always has some great money saving tips. She even can walk out of a CVS pharmacy with all kinds of stuff for like 12 cents. I haven’t quit figured out how to do that yet, but she is my idol for deals and steals!

One of our biggest household expenses is food. My husband and I both have healthy appetites and with four teenagers in the house, you can imagine what my grocery cart(s) look like every week. I once almost scared a former co-worker out of having children when I showed him my grocery receipt. It’s true!

Anyway, last night on the news, the anchors were taunting us to stay tuned with “an unusual way to save money on your grocery bill”. Very Interested, I watched until the segment came on.

It was about people called “Freegans”. I had never heard of Freegans before, but according to their website:
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.

Uh huh. In plain English, this means they search through garbage dumpsters looking for “good food” that people, restaurants or businesses throw out. In order not keep normal people from throwing up a little bit, the Freegans call this practice “urban foraging” instead of what it is. Dumpster Diving.

Let me just say this. At night, you aren’t going to find anything good inside or outside a dumpster in a Chicago alley and the thought of anyone wanting to eat food out of a stinking garbage bin that has probably contained rats, dirty diapers, hobos, maggots and a dead body or two is enough to make me want to heave.

Maybe, since it’s getting thrown out anyway, they could just ask if they could have this stuff before it’s put in the dumpster? Call me crazy. It’s just an idea.

One gal and her roommates even offered up their Dumpster Stir Fry recipe! Ready in a snap and served up with a simple side of botulism. YUM!

It seems Freegans don’t spend money on anything. They forage and/or trade for everything from clothing to office supplies. I’m not sure what they’d need office supplies for because most of them practice something called “Voluntary Joblessness”.

Don’t you worry that they have no income, though, because human needs are more important than abstract notions of private property. Freegans live rent free by squatting in abandoned, run down or foreclosed buildings!

I guess that explains why they have no qualms about eating out of a dumpster. They live in one.

But, I wondered, how do these Freegans get from one abandoned rat trap to another? I researched and the answer is hitchhiking. Of course! I guess it’s ok to use gas as long as they don’t have to pay for it.

I would have bet that serial killers would have already grabbed up anyone stupid enough to hitchhike years ago and prevented them from reproducing, but I guess I’m wrong!

Now, why didn’t I think of these things? Seriously, what is wrong with me, working for the man and getting trapped into buying a house, a car, food and gas when I could be a freeloader? Oops, sorry, a Freegan.

I think I’m sticking with Jessica’s tips.


pjazzypar said...

I don't know if I can live the Freegan way, but I wish that I could. A friend forwarded this website called Gas Buddy that searches out the cheapest gas in your area. I hope it helps.

pjazzypar said...

Hey RC, With your permission I would like to borrow the gas sign on this post for future use. I anticipate gas prices getting much worse with the upcoming summer and I will probably be revisiting this topic.

Jessica Morris said...

haha!! This was so worth waiting for :) I even got out of bed last night to look for the post and it wasn't here yet!! Yes... I'm a loser.
Oh well.

I saw some Freegans on Oprah ... like a month ago or so? I can't remember. Anyway, I think it's gross too!!
And you bring up a super good point - why don't they ask BEFORE IT GETS TO THE DUMPSTER?!!

Paul did that at Panera (asking, NOT dumpster diving!) one time and we got about 80 lbs of bread for free. We made lots of friends with our neighbors over that bread :)

The Freelance Guru said...

Freegan 'ell!

nashvegas said...

The sign at a gas station near me says:

Reg - Arm
Mid - Leg
Prem - 1st Born

Love your new look - much easier for these old eyes to read!

Malcolm said...

I wish I could go the Freegan way, but I literally don't have the stomach for it. Since the beginning of the year I've been carpooling with others who work in my office. Another gas saving measure that I've been using is driving in the 60 mph-70 mph range on the expressway. I've noticed that most commuters are doing the same thing because driving on the expressway used to be like competing in the Michigan 400.

By the way, I like your new blog layout. The bright look gives it a crisper look and makes it easier to navigate.

The Rock Chick said...

Pjazzy: thanks for the link! Yeah, I don't think the Freegan lifestyle is for me at all. I borrowed the pic myself from the internet. It's great, right?

Jessica: that's what I like about you-you get so excited over other's blog posts! I do too!! We are a lot alike :)

WOW! 80 lbs of panera bread? For Free? YUM! Yes, your tips are much better!!!

freelance: LOL. You are a riot!

Nashvegas: no way! That is too funny! I guess at this point it doesn't even matter if they post the prices. At least you get a laugh from the sign! Glad you like the new look!

malcolm: well, carpooling is good! Much different than hitchhiking :) I've noticed people are slowing down here a lot, too. There was an interesting tip on the news the other night. Besides the Freegans. They say to turn down your radio in the car to save gas. Some study proved that if you're jamming with loud music in the car, you are more likely to press the accelerator more than needed.

I don't know. I spend a lot of time in my car. Not sure I'm willing to make that sacrifice!

Sassy Mama Bear said...

I know what my kids would say if I said we were going to try the Freegan lifestyle, and it would not be very kind.
Gross, gross, gross.

I am feeding 3 teens and a husband who eats like one, so I feel your grocery store pain.

I bargain shop as much as one can but it never seems enough.

Oh, I like the new look.