In February 2008, Lisa Ling gave viewers a look inside the subculture of freegans
, people who chose to shun consumerism in favor of living with less. While most people are not going to go to that extreme, everyone can learn to be less wasteful—after all, Americans make up just 5 percent of the world's population but use 25 percent of the world's energy resources.
The Dominguez family admits they're wasteful. The kids—Joe Jr., Jessica and Lauren—are picky eaters, so mom Tina makes four different meals for the family and throws out the leftovers. Sometimes, the family skips her meals entirely and buys fast food instead. They load up their shopping cart with $200 of food even though their refrigerator is already full, and Tina says they end up throwing a lot of it away. Their garbage cans burst with bags by Sunday—but trash day isn't until Wednesday.
The family also uses a lot of heat and electricity. Joe Sr. says they spend about $200 a month on electricity and nearly $800 on gas heat.
The bills, like the trash, keep piling up. "Some months, I have to borrow money," Joe Sr. says. "If I get a bonus, I can pay back my mother or friend. Right now, I'm on the brink of, borderline, where I'm going to lose everything."