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New, Disruptive Ways to Save the Environment

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Back in 2010, the New York Times magazine ran a feature on what’s known as the “Freegan” movement. In theory, the idea (ably parodied by IFC’s Portlandia) is living by “salvaging what others waste and -- when possible -- living without the use of currency.”

In practice, this involves a lot of dumpster diving and squatting in abandoned houses. The Times describes the movement as a mix of communism, environmentalism, a DIY ethic, and frugality.

Whether or not Freeganism is dirty or dangerous is up for debate, but it’s popularity is not. Last summer, the Daily Mail reported on a major Freegan feast right here in New York City. Many of the participants were otherwise successful young professionals.

For those of us who care about the environment but want to stop one step short of finding dinner in a dumpster, there are a few, slightly less free options. Earlier today, the Atlantic provided some examples of eco-friendly practices a bit more extreme than low flow toilets.

Some ideas are disgusting, like brewing manure tea (not to drink, but as fertilizer) or peeing in a bucket to avoid flushing the toilet. One suggestion, the Diva cup, is a reusable feminine hygiene product that works about how you think it would, given the name.

Others are just annoying and expensive, like a shower that kicks you out if you use too much water or installing a bidet. The truly dedicated might donate their cars to reduce carbon emissions and help the less fortunate.

Of course, there are a number of practical ways to help the environment and save money, like going to the library. For the lazy, turning off appliances when leaving the house should have at least some impact.

And, for people with money to spare who don’t want to buy a new shower but want to do something for the environment, there’s always carbon offsets.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.