Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Freegan or Friggin Gross

I just read one of the latest Monk books (written by Lee Goldberg, one of the former writers for the show. This particular book was “Mr. Monk is Miserable” and is set in Paris, the books are great they are just like the show and whenever I have lent them to friends who haven’t watched the show they enjoyed the books just as much. There’s quite a few of the books I believe he just published the 9th)

Anyways, in this particular book that is set in France a very interesting concept of life is brought about and that is “Freegan” Freegan refers to a particular person who chooses to live their life in a certain way. I’m not sure if this is a real thing, if it’s not, HUGE props to Lee Goldberg because it’s one of the most amazing concepts I’ve ever heard of. Surely, it really only could happen in Paris. Supposively it’s a movement, currently only in Paris but trying to branch out to America and around the world.

This so called way of life is a way of freeing yourself (hence the name) for consumerism. Everyone (according to the story by Goldberg) that is now a Freegan was previously a big corporate snob, addicted to the consumer world and wasting as much as they could. These Freegan live for free. They live in the catacombs below France (an entire world lays beneath the city of sewer tunnels (which is the cleanest sewer in the world by the way) and passageways for the catacombs. (Some of them are squatters and live in houses and apartments that aren’t being occupied “everyone has right to shelter, an empty building is a wasted resource.” But basically they are classy dumpster divers. Technically they could be described as “homeless who live in the sewers and eat trash.” However, this is Paris. These Freegan “shop” in the most expensive neighborhoods where people not only buy good food but have no problem wasting it. they throw away an apple from one bruise, they throw away anything that is past its expiration date (that to them is a consumer parade just to make us buy more food, which let’s face it, expiration dates are not 100% you can certainly eat food that is slight past its marking, some products more than others.) people throw away electronics for things that are newer and prettier. These Freegan have complete living rooms, televisions, computers (they do hack into the cities electric grid and get free cable and electricity, that part isn’t so honorable) but they are clean, they are healthy. They live their life not stealing, but using waste. They are essentially recyclers.

They were described in the book as looking like “an ivy league debate team.” They were all high intellectuals at one point and freed themselves of the shackles of a consumer-society. They do grow mushrooms (a delicacy in France, and sells for a good price) for real necessities in life that they can’t obtain “legally through bargain or trade” like prescription medication or the manure to fertilize their mushroom crops. It’s an anti-materialistic lifestyle, in the book, the “leader” of the Freegan said it was not intended to be a movement, a political statement or a cult (none of which it is) but it can be perceived that way, he made this chose of lifestyle on his own and he was passionate about it and anytime you’re passionate about something, you share it with others and if you can speak well your ideas can sound like brilliance and that’s how the “following” became.

Although I would never actually want to be Freegan, I like having a real home and my own personal possessions and safety and security. It’s a real a great idea and I can see how it attracted so many followers. It’s a romantic idea and if I didn’t describe it well enough read the book because Lee Goldberg explains it wonderfully. It’s such a cool idea because it’s not a political movement, they don’t do protests and riot and such, they are simply living their life on our waste, which recycles it and in a sub-minded way it helps save our environment. We should be able to waste less, I am always inspired by this thought, however I’m horrible at maintaining it.


  1. I've read a number of articles in the last couple of years about families who are taking at least a similar philosophical approach. We could all stand to incorporate the basic principles at least.

    I'm gobsmacked at the amount of waste we produce, quite unnecessarily. I try to be more self-aware and do a better job personally at managing my consumption.

    We use the blank side of 'used' paper in our printer at home for printing stuff off the internet for reference. I print a lot less than I used to anyway, relying on electronic tools to save paper both at home and at work.

    We recycle, at home and at work.

    I donate everything I no longer use to several different charities. I don't throw much away except real garbage. (I tried composting that for a while but EWWW.)

    I'm trying to get better at remembering my shopping bags, to be one less user of plastic/paper.

    What I would expect to have trouble (in the Freegin model) with is using other people's stuff. I can't even bring myself to wear gorgeous antique jewelry, unless I personally knew the owners (like my family heirlooms).

    I'm not a snob though. I'm just a wee bit Monk-ish. Okay -- I'm a LOT like Monk. I'm a germaphobe. It oogs me out.

    When I was a kid most everything I wore was either a hand-me-down from my cousins, or something my mom made. Wearing the secondhand clothes didn't bother me then. It's something I acquired much later in life.

    The other thing is that I feel that some possessions carry a sense of their previous owner. Especially personal articles like jewelry. Watched too many Twilight Zones I guess.

    So I will carry on the role of supplier in this alternative economic model, for as long as I'm able.

    And I will continue to monitor and control my own consumption...because we DO consume AND waste way too much.

    Thanks for the tip on the books...I had no idea! And I really loved the TV show Monk. For several reasons...I "get" him and I always have liked Tony Shaloub.

  2. yeah we've watched so many documentaries in school on waste and sustainable lifestyle (i had to take 2 sustainable classes) since its such a big movement in the design world

    i did stumble upon 'no impact man' on my own and that was really inspirational, its a guy and his famly who go a whole year without creating any impact, they do it slowly. each month they eliminate one major thing so its not until the 6th month that they get rid of electricity. but at the end of it (and even during) he talks about feeling stupid because electricity is obviously something we atually NEED in life, but there are ways to live in this society without wasting so much. he has a great quote "is it possble to live a good life without wasting so much?"

    yeah i wouldnt be able to composte in my home but i think it shoud be more available, like their should be composte chutes in apartments - that would be cool! the more convienent it is to recycle and be sustainable the more often people will do it.

    the books are GREAT! you can truly hear the voices of all the characters, it spot on. its written from natalies perspective and obviously stottlemeyer and disher and dr. kroger are available, i dont think they will replace kroger in the books, i think they will want to continue his legacy (because as im sure you know the only reason stanley kamel left the show was because he died) it really is a great book though, read them in order though because some of them take place rght after the last adventure of the previous book. the fist one is mr. monk and hawaii (which you will probably love! my aunt who grew up in hawaii LOVED reading it for that reason.)

  3. I am so glad that you're enjoying my MONK books. The Freegan movement is real...but I embellished their philosophy, history and lifestyle a bit when I decided to set the story in Paris.

    Oh, one correction... the first book in the series is actually MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE. The next ones are, in order: MR. MONK GOES TO HAWAII, MR. MONK AND THE BLUE FLU, MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS, MR. MONK IN OUTER SPACE, MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY, MR. MONK IS MISERABLE, MR. MONK AND THE DIRTY COP, MR. MONK IN TROUBLE and the latest, which just came out this week, MR. MONK IS CLEANED OUT


  4. wow! Lee it is so cool that you posted! I do LOVE the books, I read mr. monk is miserable in three days (and my friends can contest that it normally takes me MONTHS toget through books.)

    I loved the way you talked about freeganism, when i googled it and researched it online it was like all they were were dumpster divers but the way you embellished it, was a really great view on the movement.

    oops, on the order, I think I was thinking the Hawaii one as first because I read that one twice (and my friend islandpearl on here, lives in hawaii)

    I just bought mr. monk and the dirty cop & mr monk in trouble and i'm really anxious to read them and get mr. monk is cleaned out!

    thanks for posting!

  5. very cool concept, i'll add those books to my "to read" list!

  6. I just "kindled" Firehouse and Hawaii to read on my trip next week. Thanks for the recommendation.

    And very cool to hear from the author!!!

  7. Kylee!!! That is so awesome that Lee Goldberg is writing on your blog. Wouldn't it be cool if an indie director commented on your movie blog?