“What I don’t do? I don’t have a fulltime job, I don’t have a car, I don’t have a husband or children, I don’t have a TV,” said Wendy Scher about herself when I asked her how she is different to others.
The 33-year-old is an anti-consumerist vegan and freegan. She only works a few hours per week, lives from less money and consumes as little as possible. Wendy Scher does her groceries, when the shops are closed. The piles of trash in front of New York’s supermarkets are where she gets her food from- for free. Barely ever she needs to buy food.
But food waste is also a major problem on the larger scale. According to the UN Environmental Program, 30% of all food in the US is thrown away. Food makes up the largest share of waste going to municipal landfills, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Most things in Scher’s apartment and her kitchen shelves are found. “It’s just about having an observing eye,” she said. The most useful thing she ever found on New York’s streets is her bike. But the list of found items is long: printers, vacuum cleaners, coffee machines, pots, pans, kitchenware and once even twelve flowerpots.
Scher lives from only $750 a month: $530 is the rent for her room in a shared apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The rest she spends on bus tickets, metro cards, laundry or toiletries – the only things she can’t find for free. She doesn’t make savings but can make due right now.
She became a vegetarian when she was 12 years old and a vegan by 19. Lately she doesn’t even eat sugar or bread any more. But even such a specific diet isn’t a problem as a freegan. The healthy and organic supermarkets in Williamsburg waste as much as any other supermarket. What has been on the shelf minutes earlier can be found in the trash bags on the street a little later.
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