No, I have not bought underwear yet. Can I tell you something? Organic underwear? Is kinda ...ugly. And seriously expensive. I know, I know, natural dyes, blah blah blah. But look at this!! Even the cut seems unflattering. Do I seriously have to spend $19 for granny panties?! Someone heeeeeeeeeelp meeeeeeeeeeeee.
I think part of the problem is, you get overwhelmed. Every single clothing company reportedly uses sweatshop labor. Walmart depresses local economies and treats its employees poorly. How can you boycott every major store on the planet? You can't, right? And if you can't, then you may as well shop everywhere.
That, in sum, was my argument for years. But this past year, I managed to go a whole year without purchasing anything from any of those major clothing stores. And you know what? It's not impossible. Even now, when I plan to start buying clothes, there are plenty of thrift stores to shop at (so if I want, I'm able to buy Gap clothes without actually giving money to Gap), and more and more eco-friendly stores with fair labor practices. And you know, what? It is so empowering when you realize that no, you are not entirely dependent on big huge clothing stores. You don't HAVE to shop at Target; in fact, you do just fine without Target.
On the other hand, with the freegan food thing, I felt much more conflicted. I feel very strongly about building the market for local and organic food. So the fact that I wasn't buying, that I wasn't sending my money to local food economies, was strange.
It's a delicate balance isn't it? Between not buying and opting out and supporting sustainable economies and opting in? During my non-consumerist year, I balanced the not buying durable goods with buying food at restaurants, buying songs off iTunes, paying for concerts, movies, plays, and museums. But during my pseudo freegan month, that balance was gone, and it felt weird.
Sure, I was saving money, and reducing food waste. But what about my principles? Is it really principled to be eating nothing but non-organic bagels and conventional cream cheese for a month just because it's free? Is freeganism taking non-consumerism too far? Even pseudo-freeganism?
Eventually, and, I don't know, maybe the carb overloading was causing hallucinations, but I started to come up with this analogy. Just as it takes all kinds of species in an eco-system, perhaps it takes all kinds of eco-nuts. You have your herbivores, your omnivores, and then there are the freegans: the scavengers. And you need the right balance of all these types of species. Freegans, therefore, are performing a necessary function in this eco-system.
Necessary, perhaps, but I think unfortunately, the freegans will have to do without me from now on. The farmers' market is beckoning, and, to be perfectly honest, I'm a little tired of bagels.