Friday, April 28, 2006

Piles of Mongo: Calling all Freevans

Kingston is in transition. Thousands of transient students of Queen's are heading off and they are leaving the sidewalks of sofas, beds, dressers, bookshelves, and miscellaneous boxes in their wake.

I cleaned out my locker at the law school today. I didn't run into a soul. In fact, the law lounge - normally buzzing with activity - wasn't even lit. On my way home, I passed by unwanted piles of stuff while a truck from the Salvation Army hunted for the best discards.

In a sense, Kingston is a big mess. Scavengers are having a field day. Over the law school listserv, students started by sending out emails with stuff "FOR SALE". Recently, the same students have been sending out follow up emails begging for people to just take their things away "FOR FREE - JUST TAKE IT." I hope everything finds a new owner.

In the US, there is actually a movement of "freevans", individuals who strive to live off societal waste. A New York Times article describes them as "Dumpster-diving anticonsumerists who aspire to buy nothing. "A law school student in New York has a closet full of clothes that she asquired from anonymous donors.

Ms. Apple, 30, a law student who lives in Astoria, Queens, ... began acquiring lost and discarded clothes. The draw is equal parts thrill of the hunt, political response to a throwaway culture and frugality.
Another term that stems from our material over-consumption and the inevitable extra stuff is "mongo". Mongo is free stuff that you acquire from the discards of neighbours. So all the stuff currently sitting around Kingston is potential mongo. (It's also a verb, BTW. If you rescue something from the sidewalk, you can say that you "mongoed" it.)

I'm off tomorrow morning. It's been a great year and now I'm looking forward to the summer. So long Kingston, and thanks for all the fish.


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