17 May 2009

Freeganism, Dumpster diving in Singapore

I didn't want to spend this weekend, but I had to. I should've learned to dig into dumpsters like Freegans. I've heard and read that they find a lot of basic, everyday things that people waste for nothing. But Singapore probably had introduced a fine for dump-diving like it's not enough of a taboo already, because well, it's clearly illegal. Although it's safe when common sense is used and it's always good to use a mask, wear gloves, and clean up afterwards. I'm definitely curious if there are any Freegans in Singapore - people who don't believe in capitalism or selling their lives just to survive.

I've only seen the homeless, the Karung Guni man and other old people going through rubbish finding things they can reuse, consume, recycle or sell. People see them as a nuisance but I've wondered about how much they know and what they find. But I've never seen normal young people my age do that unless they've accidentally dropped a $50 note, their mobile phone, or their iPod in. And if I, a young woman, not homeless or in rags, dive into the Supermarket's dumpster with a mask, flashlight and gloves, the reaction from people would probably be interesting, haha.
It probably has to be done differently in Singapore. Heck, I don't even know if it can be done without being sentenced to death. A fine would only encourage a person to dumpster-dive more because he'd be broke, lol.

Dumpster Diving - Funny videos are here

So who's going Freegan?


  1. I have been thinking about the idea of Freegan in Singapore too. I want to believe Singapore as a city also wasted many foods that still edible. But as you said, there is many legal restriction on freegan implementation here in Singapore, I guess you won't be able to meet any freegan in Singapore.

    Let's look at a few things freegan is promoting:

    1. Waste reclamation and waste minimazation

    This idea of dumpster diving and minimize waste give a image of poverty in Singapore and not many Singaporeans will like to have that image. Other than that, it is illegal anyway to dumpster dive here.

    2. Eco-friendly transportation

    That includes our legs and maybe bicycles. If you ever try cycling here in Singapore, you will agree the roads and drivers here are not designed to be cyclist friendly. :-)

    3. Rent-free housing

    Rent is definitely a option here but not the free component. When come to housing in Singapore, there is no such option as free, at least I don't know there is any.

    4. Working less

    There is a lot of public awareness need to be put out there. There are a lot of Singaporean love to work less but it is definitely very difficult consider the crazy increase in house price here and the other living cost. People does need to realize that every dollar they spent is life energy gone forever, in order to work less, they have to make the correct choice when facing with consumerism.

    So, there is a lot of lucks needed if you want to meet some freegan here or be a freegan yourself. ^^

  2. Hello Yeo Kian Hwee,
    thanks for your contribution. Yes I agree, Freeganism opens our eyes to the reality of today's society. It encourages us to question: Why are we paying for things that are being discarded and eventually seen as worthless?
    People are starving in third world countries. We have enough food to feed them and the whole world threefold. But where does all the food go?

    It's part of the whole economy on a broader scale. Freeganism alone cannot go against it or change it - it's only a road less taken. A crack in the system not everyone discovers because we all think we should play the consumerism game otherwise we end up in jail.

    Freegans do have the money to afford the things they 'rescued' out of dumpsters, which is why being a Freegan does not equal being poor. It's called doing the environment a big favour. I think Singaporeans are rather open to enough to notice the difference... when the difference is made clear to them.

    It's hard to be a Freegan in Singapore due to the laws, you're right. So it comes down to doing it at one's own risk. Freegans, so to speak, aren't thieves or burglars and the reasonable ones do not break into barricaded or closed areas - that again, is a difference why I think there should be a neutral opinion with regards to freeganism. I'm sure there are Freegans in Singapore, though they might not want to be known for the reasons stated. But it's okay.

    I believe that we should all have the right to save the environment and to protest in a way that no harm on any person or property is done.

  3. Hi,

    I think most of us are not willing to play the consumerism game but forced to join in the game. We are so separated from the product we are using and consuming for our daily live, the only way for us to get what we need is to go to supermarket and exchange the product with money.

    Culture is another big obstacle for freegan to flourish here. There are certain activities that give people the impression that a person is poor and not many people like that image. Dumpster diving for free food and stuff is one of them, getting free food from charity organization is another one. Another example would be cycling, although government has step up their effort to encourage people to get on bicycle, but it has mainly promote it as a recreation activity that they will prefer you to cycle in circle around the park.

    Sometime I find the freegan groups in New York city are so passionate and united. They spread their freegan idea on the internet through website and Youtube video, forming a community of freegan from all walks of life and doing their part in reducing the resource consumption of the population there. Freegan in Singapore has a lot catch up need to be done.

  4. Asking if there is any freegans in singapore is mostly a mistake. If im one, i wont even come out and say yes. I am. Even if like that was 10yrs ago. What i suggest is, to ask freegans to contact you via email. Gather them up and go for dumpster dives together. Maybe, courage in numbers? xD

    1. Not too bad of an idea. Haha. Well it's one of those things you wouldn't want to brag about in Singapore. :P