Lars Eighner “on Dumpster Diving”

10 October 2016

In Lars Eighner’s short essay “On Dumpster Diving”, he describes his experience of being homeless and the art of dumpster driving. Eighner prefers being referred to as a scavenger rather than a dumpster driver. Eighner stated “I like the frankness of the word scavenging. I live from refuse of others. I am a scavenger. ” (383) He describes scavenging as a full time job, that requires a lot of effort. He believes that if one follows certain guidelines and rules, with doing so this could possibly help one to become efficient.

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One rule is knowing good place and time to look for food and other items, that could be useful. Another rule is knowing how to eat safely from a dumpster . Eighner said “Eating safely from dumpsters involves three principles; using the senses and the common senses to evaluate the conditions of the found materials, knowing the dumpsters of a given area and checking them regularly. Seeking always to answer the question ‘why was this discarded? ”’ (384). Responding to dumpster diving:

What I get from Eighner’s pierce is that even though he is living a life of poverty on the streets, he seemed to have a good attitude about the circumstances in which he lives in. As Eighner said, if most people most people, put in his situation, they would rather be dead or would trade anything to live a life of comfort. His confidence and knowledge shows his experience in dumpster diving, which most people look down upon. “At first the new scavenger is filled with disgust and self-loathing, (Eighner, 5)”.

Eighner finds it as an art, and something that not everyone is capable of doing. Through the good and bad Eighner finds the art of Dumpster diving as a lifelong learning experience and rewarding. I agree that not everyone would be capable of dumpster diving. A lot of people are too filled with pride; they would never be caught dead doing such thing. Then again if you put someone who has been wealthy all their life in Eighner’s situation, they probably wouldn’t make it.

That individual definitely wouldn’t consider dumpster diving as a art. They would view all their findings as trash, while Eighner sees it as treasure. The typical wealthy consumer would definitely view Eighner findings as trash, due to the fact that they are accustom to buying everything brand new. In this sense I feel that Eighner feels a bit better than the consumer. Maybe because he can survive in the worst condition and still be happy, while other people are pampered and only seek comfort.

Even though Eighner seems to be ok with the life he is living, I get puzzled by the thought of why is Eighner homeless in the first place? Is it by choice or was he left with no other option? I know some writers like to experience certain situations, which make writing their piece much easier. Could that be Eighner’s excuse? It’s easy for one to make assumptions about what it would be like dumpster diving, but it’s nothing like having background. A quote often used is, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. ” This describes Eighner’s feelings perfectly.

At one point he stated, “People throw away perfectly good stuff, a lot of perfectly good stuff. “(384) This proves the point that once someone throws something away, it doesn’t mean it is trash, just ready for a change of ownership. Eighner few dumpster diving as an art because of all the cool stuff he finds on a regular. Things such as: clothes, type writer, love letters, ragdolls et cetera. He mentioned that he hardly ever pick up things without envisioning the time and the case behind it. This is exactly what art critiques do.

Eighner stated “almost everything I have now has already been cast out at least once, proving that what I own is valueless to someone”. (385) Eighner sees dumpster diving as an art. I believe that anyone with an open mind that reads the essay could possibly relate. I personally do not have any experience dumpster driving, but I can definitely relate to Eighner’s views. Dumpster diving can definitely be considered as an art, the things that people through away on a regular, put together with some other dumpster driving, could potentially become something beautiful.

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