Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The July Pseudo Freegan Challenge

A few months ago, Megan from Fix contacted me with an idea for a monthly challenge: a month of freeganism or buying nothing AT ALL. "I'll do it with you!" she said.

And because I'm a sucker for challenges and because I have a competitive streak, oh and also because I am totally NUTS, I agreed. But I still had reservations. "What about food?" I asked, "because I really don't have time to be going dumpster diving at the Au Bon Pain."

(You guys like how the TIME was my issue here and not really the uh ... dumpster diving?)

Megan agreed that the food was problematic. And then we remembered, duh! We have rent to pay. And bills. And turning off your phone for a month is a pain in the ass. And I have recurring donations to Planned Parenthood on my credit card.

Anyway, one thing led to another and we ended up deciding that this month would be the Pseudo Freegan Challenge. So ... we'll still be paying rent and our bills and donations. We'll still pay for medications if need be.

But other than those necessities, we're going to be spending as little money as possible. No snacks, no soda, no movies, no paid concerts, nada. All monetary spending that is not rent or a monthly bill or medication will go up on our blog. And yes, this includes food. If we mess up, and go to a movie, it goes on our blog. And at the end of the month, the one who has spent the least amount of money ... gets to declare victory and talk smack about the other.

Obviously this is going to be a challenging month. Megan gets food at work. I do not, so that puts me at a disadvantage in that category. We both have weekend trips planned for July (one weekend with the family in the Bay Area and a girl's weekend in Vegas) so obviously we're going to end up spending money there. I prepped a little for the challenge by filling gas in my tank and buying my July metro pass before June ended. And I did some grocery shopping over the weekend. I didn't spend much more money than I normally spend, but I did tailor my shopping with the challenge in mind, opting for stuff that I could freeze or store for a month like pasta sauce, bread and bison meat, instead of a ton of fruits and vegetables. Other than that, I bought tickets to a couple events in August (Les Miz at the Hollywood Bowl!!) and that was the extent of my planning.

Why did we decide on this challenge? Especially when Megan's already done the non-consumer thing for a whole year? Neither of us are against eating out at restaurants or seeing movies or paying for concerts. So why even bother?

I'll let Megan speak for herself, but for me, personally, I thought it would be interesting from a psychological perspective to really examine my relationship with money. I want to see how deprived I felt if I didn't allow myself to spend at all. I want to save money for some upcoming adventures. And frankly, it's summer and Los Angeles has hundreds of free events all over the city. I want to see if I can start taking advantage of those, instead of taking the easy road and going to a movie theatre.

So ... we'll see. I fully expect Megan to kick my ass up and down the block. But if that happens, that's okay too. Because as seriously as I am taking this challenge, I also know that I am going to have to give up on perfection right away. There are days when I will end up spending money. And on those days, I will come here and blog about it, and then go back to trying not to spend anything at all. It's going to be an interesting month.


Joyce said...

Wow, I don't know how you'll do the food part. That will be interesting to read about. You did gret with the giving challenge, though!

Anonymous said...

That's awesome. You guys are taking it to a whole other level! I can't wait to see how it goes.

P.S. Cool to see about the donations to Planned Parenthood. I used to volunteer at my local one in college.

Unknown said...

You go girl, we're right behind you. Actually, I'm fairly new to the green scene and I'm not really crazy about dumpster diving. I think I'll sit this challenge out. Maybe I can do half a challenge; I'll cut out all unnecessary items. My biggest problem will be Coca-Cola; I can do without almost anything else, but I'm a Coke addict! (I do recycle my 2-liter bottles.)

Anonymous said...

I promise I'll get something up on my blog later today...! As for the food, the truth is, most apartments have enough food for at least one emerging nation squirreled away in there - when are we ever going to eat that random stuff? I wanted to challenge myself to get a little creative. And it already worked...I bought some stuff for the freezer that I've never tried before. (Whole foods from the farmer's market, I promise...)


Green Bean said...

Hmm. Don't know how I feel about getting food out of a trash can - though I'm game to get just about anything else out of a dumpster. Interesting to see how it goes.

J said...

I like the idea, but as others, I would be very concerned about food. But I really like the idea of buying nothing beyond the basics. Seems like a challenge like that would be something that more of us could and would be willing to take part in.

Perhaps next month you have a "No Extras" challenge. Though it would be difficult to determine what all those extras would be, I think things like sodas, coffees, movies, mall trips, take out, candy, you get the idea would be cut out. I'd definitely be willing to try that out.

Good luck in your Pseudo Freegan Challenge!

Chile said...

Well heck, Arduous, you could sign up for my challenge, too. Just choose quit spending money!

Good luck. It'll be fun to see what you do this month.

Anonymous said...

so THIS is why you were riding me about getting those concert tickets yesterday. very sneaky.


Sam said...

Wow this is exciting. Good luck! Are you going to do any dumpster diving at all? And since you are up late most nights anyway its the perfect time to be hanging out by the dumpster.

ruchi said...

Joyce, I'm not sure how I'll do either. I have some weird stores of food in my cupboard, so I guess those will finally get eaten!

SDG, yeah I'm pretty nervous. We'll see....

Bobbi, I hear ya! Cutting out unnecessary items is great!

Megan, whatever slaaaaaacker. Just kidding. :)

GB, just to be clear, I am not actually planning to do any dumpster diving. Though to be honest, I'm not necessarily opposed to it if I were going with an old hat freegan. But it's not something I'm going to jump into on my own.

Jennifer, I know it's a pretty extreme challenge. The thing is Megan was a non-consumer for a year, and I've been a non-consumer for almost a year, so the less extreme stuff is actually pretty familiar territory for us. (Except for restaurant eating. That's our weakness.) So we made the challenge pretty hard. I'll try and come up with an easier challenge in the next few months that everyone can try and participate in.

Chile, sign me up!

Honda, that's me. I'm sneaky!!

ruchi said...

Beany, like I said to GB, if I knew anyone who was a veteran dumpster diver (like if I lived in NY) then I'd give it a whirl. But as it is, I'm not sure I have the balls to go out and try to dumpster dive on my own.

Anonymous said...

I am ready to start "challenging" myself, and break my silly Target addiction once and for all. As a frazzled mom of three, it became a habit to go to Target for supplies, and end up with a bunch of other crap we didn't need. During my "staycation", I pledge to stay out of the bullseye! Thanks for doing this!

hgg said...

that's a great idea. I should do that at some point. hmm, maybe now? can I join too?

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

You're nuts. You're also an inspiration!

Good luck!

Jennifer said...

Sounds like a great idea... I'll be interested to see how you do.

Anonymous said...

good luck arduous!
i look forward to hearing about the challenges and lessons that come up as you go through the next month.
i think it'll be interesting, to say the least. money is so arbitrary. i can imagine it feeling liberating, seperating yourself from that system.

EcoBurban said...

Good luck to you! I look forward to reading about it. This is non-consumerism to the extreme. You go with your bad self!!!

ruchi said...

Jen, good for you!! I haven't been to Target since Christmas I don't think. In fact I have a $5 gift card there, but I haven't spent it just because I haven't been there in so long.

HGG, for sure, come play!!

CAE, you are right, I am nuts. It's part of my charm. ;)

Jennifer, thanks!!

Kimberly, if you can believe it, I've been at it 14 hours and it's already gotten difficult. I'll probably be posting about it on Thursday.

EBM, thank you!!

Anonymous said...

I am away for a little over a week, here you go, going trash diving! Sounds like a perfect summer activity :)

Love to hear how your challenge goes. The internet access where I am right now is inconsistent. So I don't have the luxury of reading and commenting much.

But damn, I want to hear your freegan fun :) Slow down your writing, okay? So I don't have to read 30 posts when I am back.

ruchi said...

Cindy, sheesh, now everyone is going to think I am trash diving! I am not. I'm not against it either, but I'm not.

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