Embracing Freeganism

Embracing Freeganism

by Laura Jennekens

In my travels as both an Interior Decorator for 10 years and a business co-owner making handbags from rescued remnants the last 2 ½ years, I see the potential in all things recycled.

I recently embarked on an addition to our home, running my two businesses and my two kids to their various activities, helping with homework, speeches, projects, all while up to our ears in drywall dust. Well, the dust has settled and we’re in. We expanded our kitchen, the hub of all things family, and I worked some serious recycling magic by re-using reclaimed pieces from a myriad of cool, eco-friendly sources…in other words, second-hand stores, garage sale finds, and even good pickings from curbside. I didn’t exactly dumpster dive but pretty close.

There’s a whole new term out there for people like me, although I’m not about to dive head first into any dumpster any time soon…short of that, I guess I’m a Freegan. Yes, that’s Freegan not Vegan.

Our gorgeous new room has the twist of the vision of a decorator but is brought to life by way of all things re-worked. The doors on the two shelving towers flanking a large window seat were previously windows in a sunroom from a friend’s house in Bloor West Village.

The mantel, pilasters and facer plate cost $4.50 at a yard sale and were installed without any added fixings…they’re just perfect all dented and dinged. A screen door my dad and husband built years ago was taken off its hinges outside and reinvented as a pantry door with a large chalkboard added where the screen once was.

I even added a gorgeous Berger, chair with cane seat and back that came from a curb-side, drive-by-scoop…with my kids ducked in the back seat saying “Mom, this is SOOOOOO embarrassing!” Funny, they love to curl up in that chair now that it’s placed just right beside the fireplace. Many benches and footstools were placed for maximum seating and comfort and this room has become the be all and end all for large family and friend gatherings.

Good home décor should always take on the personalities of the people living there. What does mine say about me? I guess it says I’m a recycling, reinventing friggin’ freegan! But you know I’ve never been in another space like ours. You can’t find it in a box store, or a home decor store where you buy matching sets of furniture. Ours has been a labour of my love of reusing what’s already out there, instead of everything new. Patience and an eye for unusual finds in unusual places are key, and of course a good coat of paint or a slipcover in some cases…

So, before you embark on any home decorating project, check out what your friends are putting in their garage sale, stroll the aisles of the “Vill-ahge” (freegan-speak for Value Village) or the good old Goodwill, you might not hyperventilate at the prospects of potential all around like I do, but try it, you might find just the thing you’ve been looking for all these years. And watch, it’ll be the thing everyone says, ‘where did you get that?!’…no worries, it’ll be our little secret.

Embrace your freeganism!

About the AuthorAbout The Author

Laura Jennekens is co-owner of Echoes in the Attic a recycling fashion accessories company that in the span of two and a half short years has garnered national attention in many Canadian magazines, newspapers & TV appearances as well has launched their eco-savvy designs in 50 stores across Canada. Her career as a writer/producer of TV commercials and reinvention after kids as Interior Decorator eventually morphed into co-owner of Echoes in the Attic she runs with her partner Vicky Gerke from their homes in Bradford Ontario.

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Great article on Freegan!  I love finding treasures from other people's castoffs.. Keep it up it is a nice hobby.

Jenna Crooks, British Columbia

Excellent and inspiring!

Linda Fitzgerald, Toronto, ON

Way to go Louee! I am so proud of my little sister...and try to follow in you 'freegan' footsteps whenever I can...

Yummy Mummy Reas, British Columbia

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