Going Frugan: One Woman's Effort to Live Off Trash

Inspired by the notion that one person's trash is another's treasure (and on the heels of Andrew's post about the Great American Apparel Diet),...

Inspired by the notion that one person's trash is another's treasure (and on the heels of Andrew's post about the Great American Apparel Diet), one woman has turned frugality and garbage-sifting into a way of life. Katherine Fairfax Wright lives for a good bargain. She thrives on taking your discarded grill and turning a profit one day, and she transforms your useless rutabaga into Super Bowl grub the next. Wright is a frugan.A concatenation of "frugal" and "vegan," Wright's frugan way of life means she constantly tries to find the cheapest (usually free) way of acquiring the basics of living. She dumpster dives outside stores to get her food and various home items and has even been able to re-sell many of her findings for a profit. Wright's blog, Frugal Living, details her findings, featuring pictures and dollar amounts for her impressive finds. Where most people see a black dumpster in an alley, Wright has found literature (books saved from Columbia and NYU dumpsters), apartment accessories (magazine cases made from cereal boxes), and meals (literally hundreds of dollars worth of discarded food).The biggest difference between Wright's frugan ways and the "freegan" lifestyle is that she is not opposed to spending money. Whereas freegans live completely outside consumerism, she earns money from her findings, believing, according to her blog, that her lifestyle "is just about being conscious about things and using things creatively when appropriate. It's about saving money where you can, so you can spend it where you can't."As Planet Green notes, though, the entire frugan/freegan movement acts as yet another reminder of the wastefulness of our culture, citing the recent H&M controversy as a case in point. For a store or company to trash perfectly useful items on a daily basis speaks to the nature of our society; people like Wright work, in their own small way, to combat carelessness and manage to draw attention to the issue. After perusing Wright's blog and seeing her concoctions, I'm almost tempted to forgo my trip to the grocery store and see what's for dinner in my dumpster.Photo (cc) by Flickr user MarmotChaser
via Alan Levine / Flickr

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