For at least a few weeks, I've been living using others resources. I do not own a cellphone and have no expenses except my car insurance. I'm currently using my car for sleep and transportation. For food, my job has free hot chocolate and green tea (I drink A LOT so I keep my calories up. On my free time at work I look for food left behind at meetings or ask people at lunch. They also have a shower, but I rely on left behind soap. On weekends, I go to Sam's Club or Costco and spend much of the day eating samples. It's free for me since I don't buy anything.

  • Is this sustainable for the future?
  • Is it possible to start a family with my lifestyle?
  • Is there anything else I can do to lower my expenses?
  • 2
    Are you doing anything economically productive? That's quite an important part of the equation.
    – 410 gone
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 14:51
  • 1
    Yes, I am saving all of my money and investing it. I haven't done much yet, but I am toying around with bitcoints or commodities, but thats a didffent discussion Commented May 20, 2016 at 15:32
  • 2
    I think this fails one of the more common considerations for sustainability -ethics. Even if what you're doing is lawful, it's not something I expect the people you're taking from would regard as a good thing. The obvious way to find out is to ask, perhaps when you ask if you could also sleep in the office a few nights a week?
    – Móż
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 5:03
  • @Mσᶎ I would agree, but only with the specific behaviour of seeking free samples with no intention to spend elsewhere in the store. Other than that, the ethics of use of an employers assets largely depending on the level of use they're comfortable with. For example, if they provide a free gym, then they would expect staff to shower there daily. Commented May 22, 2016 at 11:19
  • In don't get your point... at what moment are ethics being involved? If no one cares of their waste... the one who cares (for environment and wallet) is missing ethics!!?? there seems to be many confusions on -whats sustainable for who- nowadays Commented May 24, 2016 at 3:58

4 Answers 4


I wouldn't focus on negative answers...


Yes it is sustainable... At least for one person as well as you are doing already, dealing with unconscious waste.

MAYBE it will be sustainable for an entire family, moreover if you are all CONSCIOUS human beings and focus on some CURRENT tendencies in that direction around the world (YES, you're not alone!):

Not about waste transformation, but related:

  • Hard Money (Non-Fiat currencies)
  • Sovereign Citizens or Freemen (living under own laws no matter the country, obviously this doesn't allows you to surpass others laws, there's many movements in many countries, but it's a legal complication in many matters)

As you can see, there's many of this anti-waste tendencies, some being really applied in Germany and France (very conscious countries on waste-transforming which is usually called RECYCLING, which in this continent's society is on pampers). Maybe you could make some research on those countries and their tendencies to find much more useful things.

I'm doing my thing too, and you know what? some of the richest persons I've known have made their way from ground-up through this kind of waste-transforming-tendencies that aren't adopted by the mayority of us (recycling, green bonds, biogas, etc), done massively, but yes, little by little.

For whom this all is MORE sustainable is for the entire world, humanity and mother earth, so I want to give you a BIG THANK YOU! in name of us all, you are a living example and you should SHARE IT.

Internet is information, and information is... POWER!

With enough information you have the power to transform EVERYTHING!

Nothing is created, nor destructed, only transformed. (Laws of Thermodynamics, Conservation of energy and Conservation of mass).


It's reasonable to say that a lifestyle can still be sustainable even if not everybody could live that way. It's like filling a niche in an ecosystem. Obviously we can't all eat discarded/excess meals, but there is certainly room for such behaviour to be part of a system that is sustainable as a whole. You almost certainly can't live that way your whole life though, assuming you live to old age.

It's not sustainable for your health to be consuming hot chocolate as a food, and it's likely the free food samples aren't great either.

Some of those lifestyle choices would be difficult if you get sick, especially if was a disease that required special facilities or equipment. Examples I can think of include difficulty making yourself comfortable if you suffered from a spine problem, public or workplace toilet facilities being inadequate or perhaps inappropriate for some diseases, asthma or respiratory conditions requiring a warmer place to sleep than a vehicle.

Are you driving your car to get to the stores you get free samples from? If so, then you could consider the environmental and monetary cost of running the car (not just fuel, but servicing and wear and tear too) and compare that with the monetary and environmental cost of getting food elsewhere.

  • I believe your point is important... they should always check out to be healthy and safe through his life journey of sports and recycling... that assures it to be sustainable at least for them, the environmental and the non-monetary world... Commented May 24, 2016 at 3:54
  • nevertheless... he's not the first one neither the last one to try to live such a complete live depending on recycling and making conscious use of unconscious waste... hopefully there would be more, there should even be a manifesto like the self-repair or some other manifestos... Commented May 28, 2016 at 6:43

No, it's not sustainable.

As per your comment, you're not doing anything economically productive, but you are consuming goods and services. It doesn't matter that those goods and services are free to you at the point of consumption - what matters it the consumption itself, which is happening without you contributing to economic replenishment.

That's not sustainable.

  • 1
    This answer assumes productivity is bonded to fiat currencies, nevertheless trading is more ancient than fiat currencies and traders were VERY productive indeed. I generally encourage not to boost misconceptions. Did -economic replenishment- existed before fiat currencies? Commented May 20, 2016 at 21:47
  • I also believe there's a misconception about the consumption cycle... if this guy is not entering the consumption cycle, then the consumption cycle is decreasing (just a bit, but does) based on the waste-harness actions of this hero. Consumption cycles depend upon masses of adopters, as well as politics, currencies, and many root problems of current humanity trying to become a civilization (Kardashev's scale). Under this point of view... Diversity and Tolerance could be seen as civilization drivers. Commented May 20, 2016 at 23:11
  • @davidtaubmann but he explicitly is in "the consumption cycle", it's just that he's getting other people to pay for what he consumes. The question is whether he produces anything, and in a capitalist society that most reasonably equates to "earns money". I'm going to guess he's not more productive by any other measure that might count as sustainable, or he would have mentioned it.
    – Móż
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 5:00
  • 1
    I disagree. Societies can support a small group people who are not productive themselves. The only question is a society is willing to support them. I think that generally people are fine with supporting people who are mentally or physically disabled (e.g. elderly or people with Down-syndrome), and less so when it comes to people who are perfectly able to contribute economically but simply refuse to do so. However that doesn't mean it's not possible/sustainable.
    – THelper
    Commented May 22, 2016 at 6:39
  • @davidtaubmann the answer has nothing to do with currencies - it all applies equally in a barter economy.
    – 410 gone
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 10:30

There's a term used which may apply to such a lifestyle: freeganism.

From Wikipedia:

Freeganism is a practice and ideology of limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources, particularly through recovering wasted goods like food. The word "freegan" is a portmanteau of "free" and "vegan". While vegans might avoid buying animal products as an act of protest against animal exploitation, freegans—at least in theory—avoid buying anything as an act of protest against the food system in general.

Freeganism is often presented as synonymous with "dumpster diving" for discarded food, although freegans are distinguished by their association with an anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist ideology and their engagement in a wider range of alternative living strategies, such as voluntary unemployment, squatting abandoned buildings, and "guerilla gardening" in unoccupied city parks.

Freegans have organized themselves a bit, and have a website: freegan.info: strategies for sustainable living beyond capitalism. On this website you could find more information about strategies and even meetings of local like-minded individuals.

However, as @Tim points out in the comments, while the freegan ethos relates to a fundamental rejection of capitalism, your participation in the economy as a worker means you aren't (yet?) a freegan.

  • 1
    There's another term that would more accurately describe the OP: Parasite n. "One who habitually takes advantage of the generosity of others without making any useful return." Freeganism — at least my understanding of it — doesn't involve the calculated exploitation of others (be they individuals or organisations/businesses) for one's own selfish desires. Since the one and only reason the OP is doing what he is doing is so that he can hoard cash for later spending, I don't think that constitutes "limited participation in the conventional economy".
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 16:44
  • @Tim There's something your are missing, parasites affect their hosts, what Cooler-Ranch is doing makes no harm to others, as he is taking advantage of waste. Maybe you should research about garbage millionaires. Commented Jan 28, 2020 at 6:53
  • @DavidTaubmann It costs stores real money to provide free samples. The social contract is that you consume a free sample to decide whether or not you like the product and, if you do, then you buy it. Continuing to consume free samples, with no intent to ever buy the product, is ethically wrong, tantamount to theft, and causes direct financial harm to the stores. It costs real money to heat water for showers as well. None of that behaviour is remotely similar to making use of other people's garbage, which is a practice I have no problem with. Hot water and food samples are not 'waste'.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 10:51
  • @tim I may agree with your point of the samples, nevertheless it might be the only one, you might re-check where the showers are, and for who. Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 17:12

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