Here's a heartening story about how one Brooklyn woman bikes, recycles, and generally lives off our city's mountains of daily food waste, all adding up to what the Guardian calls a "middle-class class life in New York City on less than $5,000 a year." Encouraging, but be sure not to read the fine print, like the part about how a friend puts her up rent-free in a Crown Heights house, or the small detail about her income property in France.
Credit where it's due: "Marie," an illegal immigrant from France, keeps a near-zero footprint; she bikes everywhere, recycles her clothing, fixes what's broken instead of buying a new replacement. We also admire her freegan game, which is on lock. She regularly hits up spots like Union Market in Park Slope, which tosses "sealed Tuscan bean soups, fresh cheese raviolis and raw kale salads" every day.
Let's be real though. She also seems to be gifted with a huge helping of luck and generous friends, including a real estate agent named Greg she met in 2010, who then proceeded to put her up in his house for free for the next five years. In exchange, Marie does odd jobs around the house and, as a freegan, brings home hauls of quality groceries that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill.
Her routine is inspiring in its sustainability and its hustle, except that her low-budget lifestyle is facilitated by an enviable level of privilege. Besides the free housing, she also receives "rent from a house she owns in France," though the Guardian points out that that's money Marie never uses. (Another level of privilege at play here? “I’m aware that being French, and not Latino for example, makes things easier,” Marie said of her illegal immigrant status.)
As Brokelyn put it, "The secret, it seems, to living a middle class life in New York City is having the security provided by being in a better financial situation than most middle class people would dare to dream of nowadays." In other words, to be broke, you'd better be well-off first.
But if you want to follow in Marie's footsteps, look on the bright side: European investment properties are cheaper than they've been in years, and failing that, at least you now know all the good dumpster diving spots in Park Slope.