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In the Chronicle of Higher Education there is an interesting article about a professor who quit to study dumpster diving for several months.

"Instead of applying for academic positions right away, the former professor decided that he and his wife, Karen, would try living out of Dumpsters for a while. As a criminologist, Mr. Ferrell has long studied those on the margins of society -- graffiti artists, outlaw-radio-station operators, militant bicycle activists -- and he was aware of the subculture of people who manage to survive on what others throw away. He wanted to find out how they do it, where they look, and whether he could live that way, too. It was a big leap, especially without a campus gig to fall back on, but it was also a big relief. "I was so glad to be out of the academic machine," he says.
During his eight-month experiment, Mr. Ferrell rifled through garbage heaps here in suburban Fort Worth, his hometown, where he and his wife moved after his resignation. He hunted for clothes, furniture, dishes, books, photographs -- whatever was useful or interesting. He kept a detailed log of everything he found. Karen took a job as a cashier at a grocery store making $9.50 an hour, money they used to buy food and keep the lights on. Everything else came from the trash. "What I found was that I could be almost 100 percent dependent on what I scrounged except for food," he says. "
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We need to get this guy here on this board. He could correspond via public library terminals...

The only thing I don't like was that he did his experment down in Texas. It would have been much more impressive to me if he had gone through a winter in say Wisconsin or Michigan.


As for me, I'm still splitting my free wood, but ready to stack most of it...
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"What I found was that I could be almost 100 percent dependent on what I scrounged except for food," he says.

He didn't dive for food? What a wimp. ;-)

I don't know how he could say that anyway. You need actual cash to pay for rent or mortgage, utilities, phone, insurance, etc. Can't get that out of a dumpster.

phantomdiver
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I don't know how he could say that anyway

Maybe he meant in conjunction with DW $9.50/hr job?

You need actual cash to pay for rent or mortgage, utilities, phone, insurance, etc. Can't get that out of a dumpster.

Isn't it a bit excessive to insure dumpster-dived furnishings?

Laura
g, d & r

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Isn't it a bit excessive to insure dumpster-dived furnishings?

I was thinking health and auto insurance, but I see your point! LOL!

phantomdiver
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I read that article and meant to post here but forgot. So glad someone else did!

As to paying for utilities and insurance: He sold a lot of things that he found. I know for sure he got money for scrap metals. I think he may have resold larger items as well, but not certain. The day the journalist spent with him he received about $80 for metal found that day as well as some smaller items he'd saved up. If I recall correctly, his wife's job solely paid for food.

Unfortunately, I just finished the newspaper and gave it to someone else; wish I'd checked the Fool before doing so and I could have given you more details.

Selphiras
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"The only thing I don't like was that he did his experment down in Texas. It would have been much more impressive to me if he had gone through a winter in say Wisconsin or Michigan."

Well, if he did his experiment during the summer then I'd think that would be pretty darn impressive considering that he's in Fort Worth. The Dallas/Fort Worth area can feel like a convection oven in the summertime. Heat coming down, hitting pavement and bouncing up plus the wind blowing the heat around.

Stockbuyer2

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