Published: 1 March 2010 at 09:54
Anglia Ruskin University law expert explores whether taking abandoned goods without paying for them is a crime
In a fast changing world there are always new issues emerging for which the law has no direct precedent. Anglia Ruskin University’s Anglia Law School lecturer Dr Sean Thomas has just written the first legal analysis of freeganism in English law. Simply entitled, ‘Do freegans commit theft?’, it has just been published in the top-ranked law journal Legal Studies.
The environmental impact of mass consumerism is a growing concern, with a consequence being the production of significant levels of waste goods. Freeganism is an alternative consumption strategy that involves taking goods that appear abandoned without paying for them.
Although ‘freegan’ has not yet made the Oxford English Dictionary, it is not a new idea as Dr Thomas explains:
According to the website www.freegan.info:
Dr Thomas first became interested in the subject after having read a feature article on freeganism in the Observer Food Monthly in August 2007 which pricked his legal imagination:
The paper discusses whether freeganism can be considered theft. The issue turns on whether the goods are legally abandoned, and also on the freegan’s state of mind. Dr Thomas argues that even if the goods are not legally abandoned, freegans are not doing anything so dishonest to attract a criminal sanction.