Every so often we get one of those articles about how someone more frugal than your average frugal person is living off the land on the cheap, surviving on stuff discovered in Dumpsters and other people's trash. These enterprising individuals are known as Dumpster divers or freegans or anti-consumerists or whatever the name du jour happens to be, and we are supposed to feel both bourgeois-horrified and possibly impressed by their behavior. Would that we could eat old tacos from the garbage and save $250,000; our lives would be different, indeed. Today in the New York Post Kate Storey writes of such a person—Kate Hashimoto, who "Dumpster-dives for all her food, doesn’t use toilet paper or do laundry, and hasn’t bought toiletries in 10 years."
Hashimoto, like some others with this extreme propensity for savings, is employed. She's a CPA. Storey writes, however, that after Hashimoto was laid off in the dot-com crash she changed her lifestyle. With the fear of being fired at any time weighing on her following that experience, even though she has a job now, she takes advantage of all the fairly decent or even good products thrown away by upscale stores. She lives in Harlem, in a studio purchased and paid for, and treks regularly to the Upper West Side for free food because that's where it's best and most plentiful (Fairway?). She also cuts her own hair, washes her clothes "while she showers," runs to work instead of paying for the subway, participates in medical trials, takes surveys online for gift cards, and uses soap "to wash herself after using the toilet."
All very economical, if time consuming. But here's where it gets interesting: There are certain lines a Dumpster diver will not cross. She will not take home another person's discarded mattress (because of potential for bedbug infestations) and instead sleeps on used yoga mats. (She's going to be on TLC Tuesday night on the premiere of Extreme Cheapskates, so what's not to believe about any of this?) She also draws the line at dating for food:
“I’ve been in a relationship where I stayed because I was getting freebies and gifts, but I got out of it,” she says. “It’s better to be single and Dumpster-diving than to be with someone you can’t stand.”
Sound advice, that. Maybe the Dumpster-diving life makes some sense after all.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.