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Hello everyone!

I just read all the previous posts and have to say I love this board. I have been a scavenger all my life, though for the past several years I have done little actual curb shopping/diving, due mainly to the fact that I now live in an economically disadvantaged area where most of the curbside "treasures" have long surpassed their useful lives, and when there is something salvagable, it is snapped up quickly by people who need it far more than I do. In other words, there is little waste. When I lived in a shabby apartment complex at the edge of a more affluent neighborhood, however, it was a different story--I acquired enough items from careless yuppies to redecorate my living quarters many times over!

But what I really wanted to bring up was the idea that diving has rewards beyond the dollar value of the things you find. I believe that it also helps you to realize what is truly precious, and to rethink your place in the grand scheme of things. I teach college composition, and for years I have been assigning to my classes an article by Lars Eighner, entitled "On Dumpster Diving." It originally appeared in the Threepenny Review, fall 1991. The reason I teach this essay is that I want students to question the many unexamined assumptions and judgments they make on a daily basis, and I find that dumpster diving, as a topic, provokes them to do so because their knee-jerk reaction is to declare it socially unacceptable, unethical, and just plain gross. After reading and discussing the Eighner essay, however, they often change their minds. If I can find a way to make the essay available to all of you via a link, I will; for now, though, I'll just share the conclusion:

"Many times in my travels I have lost everything but the clothes I was wearing and [my dog] Lizbeth. The things I find in Dumpsters, the love letters and ragdolls of so many lives, remind me of this lesson. Now I hardly pick up a thing without envisioning the time I will cast it away. This I think is a healthy state of mind. Almost everything I have now has already been cast out at least once, proving that what I own is valueless to someone.

Anyway, I find my desire to grab for the gaudy bauble has been largely sated. I think this is an attitude I share with the very wealthy--we both know there is plenty more where what we have came from. Between us there are the rat-race millions who have confounded their selves with the objects they grasp and who nightly scavenge the cable channels looking for they know not what. I am sorry for them."

RW
intending to offer more practical posts in the future but hoping some of you will enjoy the philosophical digression on this Saturday morning
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