Living the free life

Posted at 7:53 PM, Feb 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-24 23:01:17-05

LOGAN, Utah -- Katie Swain and McKenna Drew are ladies who lunch.

And dinner. And if they plan it right, it'll be free.

The women describe themselves as "freegans."

"It was kind of a funny thing," said Swain. "Definitely, we eat free food."

"Freeganism" has its roots in an anti-consumer movement -- a statement against America's massive consumer waste. Some Dumpster dive to score free food; others re-purpose what has been discarded as a form of recycling.

Online, Freegans share information about places to "forage," or spots where food is given away for free. More hardcore freegans declined to FOX 13 on camera for this story, but said they were trying to reduce the amount of consumer waste they put in the world, and, in many ways, living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

"I think it's smart in a lot of ways," said Drew. "There's a lot of good parts about it... how much we waste in every day life."

Drew and Swain, both students at Utah State University, take their own unique approach to freeganism: they're event crashers.

"We're not exploiting it or taking what's not yours, but there's so many opportunities that people don't even know about," said Swain.

The two USU students scour fliers and banners for signs of free food. There is no shortage of college events willing to offer a sandwich or a cookie to get someone in the door.

"It kind of started out as a challenge, like, 'McKenna, how long can we do this?' And she was like, 'I think we can go the rest of the semester,'" Swain said. "So it was kind of like a challenge to us and it became a thing. Our thing. and people would be like, 'Katie and McKenna are headed up to campus again for lunch.'"

Both women lived for two weeks on nothing but free food offered by different clubs and organizations at USU.

"You'll have like six meals in a day the first week of school," said Drew.

"Everybody wants to take care of you," Swain added.The Freegans operate under a code of ethics: sit through the lecture or exhibit; don't mooch; take only what you will eat -- unless the hosts push more food on you.

Using the Twitter account @FreeganCrashers, they spread the word about community and campus events that offer free food.

"It's beneficial both ways," said Swain. "Because it's something I wanted to go to anyways, and there's free food."

The Freegans say event crashing has actually opened their eyes to new experiences and ideas. They've attended engineering lectures, taken in art exhibits and watched debates with both the College Republicans and College Democrats.

Swain said she wandered into an international studies lecture for free food and a chance to win $5. In the end, she left signing up to teach English in Ukraine.

"That's like an opportunity I thought I was never going to do," she said.