On Dumpster Diving
In the essay “On Dumpster Diving” author Lars Eighner narrates his experiences of scavenging. This well-known author, though being incredibly talented, had to work as a counselor at a drug crisis center in Austin, to earn a living. After losing his job,he unfortunately had to move out of his home and live the hard life on the streets. The essay talks about the author’s survival on the streets and expresses his ethical dilemma.
The author was surprised by the large amount of perfectly edible food and usable goods he saw in the Dumpsters. According to observation, Dumpsters in the areas where many students live, are usually rich, and supply almost everything one needs to survive (par. 21). Students usually just throw away many objects, since the spend their fathers’ money. Many people with abundance of resources tend to throw away many useful things and don’t even realize it. The author gives a long list of items that can be found in Dumpsters. He found all types of food: vegetables, fruits, meat, yogurts, sometimes even warm pizzas, juices, ice-cream and liquor. He has also found a pair of brand new shoes, a pocket calculator, a walk-man, and clothes. Many things were damaged, but easily repairable.. At first he was shocked to see all these items discarded just because their owners were done using them. Lars Eighner says, “Although I would naturally prefer to live the comfortable consumer life, perhaps — and only perhaps —as a slightly less wasteful consumer owing to what I have learned as a scavenger (par. 4). Mr. Eighner describes himself as an experienced scavenger. He knows many methods of evaluating food to check the quality of it. He has mentioned three principles of eating safely from the Dumpsters: 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?” (par. 6). He...
Cited: Eighner Lars, “on Dumpster Diving.” 2005. The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction. Ed. Linda H. Peterson, et al. 13th ed. New York: Norton, 2012. 31-42
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