By Nazaret Castro
The freeganist movement proposes to live on what has already been bought. The Freegans say it is a philosophy of life, and the movement criticizes the waste embedded in the very foundation of the system. Some estimate that a third of the food produced in the world is wasted. An absurdity that takes on inhuman dimensions if one takes into account that a billion people go hungry on this same planet, both generous and limited. So the freegans ask themselves: if only with the food thrown away in supermarkets one can feed well, why spend money to benefit the multinationals of the agri-food business, whose methods in environmental matters and working conditions are suspicious?
Food is just the tip of the iceberg. Freegans oppose the vicious buy-throw-buy cycle in all its aspects: from compulsive shopping for the latest and unnecessary technology to advocating for product repairs and fixes. It is true that often buying a new bag comes out at almost the same price as repairing the one we already have, but, if we think about the resources that we are throwing into the landfills of the planet and the working conditions in which the new bag has been produced, We may realize that even if prices say otherwise, it will always be cheaper to fix a bag than to buy a new one.
There are critical voices that show the contradictions of a movement that emerged in formerly well-off families that rummage through the garbage; the eternal debate around the middle classes that champion the causes of the left. But it is a movement that highlights the contradictions and absurdities of the system.
For their part, graffiti -as they are called in Buenos Aires- or trade fairs propose meetings in which everyone leaves what they don't need, and if they want, they take something they like. The main thing here is that, unlike barter, there is no reciprocity. One can carry dozens of records, books and clothes and collect nothing in return, or conversely, arrive with nothing and wear something. The promoters of Buenos Aires graffiti say that there are no abuses of the type "I'll take it all", perhaps because the very essence of these fairs, often itinerant, is mutual trust.
Also interesting are the time banks that are already making a dent in Spain: here, the exchange is based on the time it takes to perform a service: English classes in exchange for fixing a tap. Sometimes these initiatives create their own currency. This is the case of the Solano currency, proposed by a cultural group on the outskirts of São Paulo, whose symbolic currency facilitates the exchange of cultural services by preventing money from mediating.
And when things get so complicated that tickets start to run low, we always end up resorting to the usual barter. It happened in Argentina in 2001 and it happens in Greece in 2015, where product exchange fairs are becoming more and more widespread, often through vouchers that act as common currency.
They are very different initiatives, but they share the same common thread: they seek to escape the dictatorship of the Money God. Perhaps it is not yet possible to escape from the system, from the imposed need to have a bank account and to charge in euros or dollars or pesos. Maybe they are drops of water in the middle of the ocean. But, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, "if the drop were missing, the ocean would miss it."