Home News Singapore “freegans” share treasures from dumpsters to migrant workers

Singapore “freegans” share treasures from dumpsters to migrant workers




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One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This indeed true for the freegans in Singapore, the so-called “home” of the “Crazy Rich Asians” as they dive dumpsters to look through what other people throw away and they take whatever they think can be of use to migrant workers, as these are shipped to their home country as holiday presents.

The word “freegan”, first appeared in the 1990s, is a blending of two words: “free” and “vegan“, a person who does not eat animal products. Freegans do not buy and sell anything. They scavenge, search dumpsters and trash bins to retrieve what unwanted items and reuse them or share those things with others. In this way, they practice their commitment to cut wasteful production and consumption due to over consumerism.

Photo: Facebook/Daniel Tay

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In the case of the rich city-state Singapore, waste is incinerated or shipped to a man-made island used as a landfill. Just like other countries, waste management has been a recurring as well as a future problem. In less than 20 years the landfill could reach its capacity, the National Environment Agency (NEA) estimates.

“Freegan in Singapore”, a Facebook group, has gained a lot of following that includes Singaporeans and foreigners. One member, Mr. Colin Lau said: “We should give whatever we have in excess to the poor instead of throwing it away.”

Photo: Screengrab from YouTube

Another popular Singapore freegan is Daniel Tay, who started dumpster diving in 2016, initiated the Freegan Giveaway. He volunteered for the Food Bank, a charitable organization that collects food from retailers, distributors, and F & B.

Not just Singaporeans but thousands of migrant workers from Third World countries greatly benefit from this movement, as they were able to get hold of items that they cannot afford to buy. These include handbags, nearly new clothing, electronics, and even pieces of jewelry. Freegans organize weekly giveaways to these workers.

One domestic worker from the Philippines cannot contain his extreme happiness when she received a Louis Vuitton handbag. Another fellow Filipino worker even sent two wheelchairs for her mother and sister who are unable to walk after suffering strokes aside from two TV sets and laptop for her son.

Photo: Screengrab from YouTube

Items are still in an excellent condition that these could be great savings for the foreign labourers. They are spared from spending on clothes and other wants but their money will be used for more important things like food and school fees.

Freegans in Singapore do not only recover waste to be of good use but they also make migrant workers happy.


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