The Y5s were in the final week of their STP unit of inquiry. When I asked them what they could do right now to make environmentally sustainable choices, they gave me some effective strategies that could be implemented immediately, and easily. Together, we came up with the ideas below.
The ideas written in purple were mine so students could get an idea of what I was looking for. BTW I told them I knew that I could shower in less than 3.32 minutes since I play my favourite song before I get in the shower, and it's still playing when I am finished!
Since this was the end of the UOI, they had accumulated quite some knowledge at the end of 6 weeks, in addition to their existing prior knowledge. I wanted to challenge all of this by discussing the practice of freeganism with them.
Freeganism is when people outright reject consumerism and obtain their food, and sometimes other non-perishable consumer goods, even electronics and furniture, by taking those that others that have rejected, thrown out or deemed useless. A more common, and direct, term would be "dumpster diving".
I showed students three videos.
1) A Freegan, named Daniel Tay, in Singapore who manages to lack nothing in food or goods, by taking those food items that have been thrown out by vendors or even excess food, "leftovers" essentially, from his neighbours. In some cases, he barters cooked food, For Daniel, Freeganism was the salvation to many, if not all, of his financial suffering, after he had tried many other coping strategies. He also talks about health and safety issues of Freeganism, the stigma of it from friends and family, and how he has turned his this unique lifestyle into a charitable endeavor.
2) A TedTalk by Daniel at the Singapore Polytechnic. In one year, he spends only $8.00SGD on food and $300.00SGD a month for other expenses. This is where he speaks quite eloquently, practically, and humorously, about the virtues of Freeganism in world that is obsessed with consumerism, and surviving in one of the most expensive cities in the world, Singapore. One unexpected benefit of the sharing of food, was the friendship and generosity of those in his community.
3) A Freegan tour of New York City, a city reputed for its high cost of living.
Here are those videos.
After viewing these videos, students were intrigued, inspired and puzzled by the concept of Freeganism. Some comments were:
- why is there so much wasted food that is still edible
- how can distribution be improved so that those who need food, but cannot afford it, get it
- what motivates people to become Freegans
- would we do this? Why?
I admitted that I have taken things from the recycling area of my condo, and even showed some Korean books I saved from the garbage. Not only were they high quality hardcover books, but they were related to many of our UOIs and useful to many of our Korean students who were EAL students.
Freeganism definitely gave the Y5s some food for thought.