On Dumpster Diving
Quite by accident, I found the essay On Dumpster Diving by Lars Eighner on the pages of Seagull magazine. The first lines of it captured my interest considerably, for as I had never read about dumpster diving or scavenging before. On Dumpster Diving is a piece of large Eighner’s work called Travels with Lizbeth (1993), which was based on his own experience of homelessness. The author engages me by telling the origin and meaning of the term Dumpster Diver, presenting his survival guide with specified rules and regulations. Dumpster is a trademark of garbage loading onto trucks system. Dumpster diving involves persons voluntarily climbing into rubbish bins (dumpsters) to find valuables or simply useful items, including food and used clothing. Eighner writes that the life of a beggar traveling without any money opened his eyes to the fact that all those containers with waste are real “supermarkets” for the poor, and they are not only a source of survival, but also a depositary of high-quality and diverse food. Anyhow, there is a risk in eating such findings. According to Eighner’s experience, taking food out of dumpsters should involve three simple principles: “using the senses and common sense to evaluate the condition of the found materials, knowing the Dumpsters of a given area and checking them regularly, and seeking always to answer the question, “Why was this discarded?” Narrator advises to avoid such foods as game, poultry, pork, and egg-based meals. Soft drinks testing should be based on their fizzing vigorously. Being a scavenger, one has to notice the least signs of visible contaminates. Notwithstanding the scavenger has no indemnity of self- intoxication. Later on Lars tells about “a predictable series of stages a person goes through in learning to scavenge,” in which disgust at the beginning gives way to indiscriminate acquiring of the things. The story also includes information about the...
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