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Critical Analysis of on Dumpster Driving by Lars Eighner

Critical Analysis of on Dumpster Driving by Lars Eighner

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Published by: Aaron Merrill on Dec 05, 2009
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Critical Analysis of "On Dumpster Driving" by Lars Eighner The essay on “On Dumpster Diving” written by Lars Eighner is about

a homeless man, accompanied by his dog, explaining the strategies and guidelines of surviving from dumpsters, thereby exemplifying the wasteful nature of Americans, while explaining the etiquette involved in the process. The author began dumpster diving about a year before he became homeless. He used all of his infrequent income for rent, consequently having to derive all of life necessities from dumpsters. He then goes on to share the valuable information he has learnt as a human scavenger. He starts by outlining the guidelines of what is safe to eat. The main principles involved are, using senses and common sense to evaluate the condition of food, knowing the dumpsters in a particular area and checking them frequently, and always wonder why the food was discarded. He is convinced that a lot of perfectly good food is discarded. Canned goods turn up fairly often in dumpsters and are among the safest foods. However, some canned foods can cause fatal diseases like botulism. Dried foods such as crackers, cookies, cereal, chips and pasta are usually safe to eat, once they are free from visible contaminates. Raw fruits and vegetables are usually safe, except for the rotten ones. Confectionery like chocolate and other hard candies are also safe, since candying is a method of food preservation. Carbonated beverages tend to be good if they still fizz, and alcoholic juice mixes were always appreciated. The author also scavenged pizzas from a dumpster behind a pizza delivery shop. Prepared food was usually not safe, but he retrieved the pizzas immediately after the shop was closed. These extra pizzas were due to prank calls, incorrect orders, or customer rejection, and were perfectly good when discarded. The pizzas shop made efforts to discourage the author but they were in vain. The author was also wary of a number of items. He was cautious of leafy vegetables, grapes, cauliflower and broccoli, because they may contain liquid contaminants that are difficult to wash away. Fruit juices were known to contain nasty molds and were usually avoided. The author avoided game, poultry, pork, egg-based foods and fish, which tend to spoil quickly. On rare occasions he would find large amounts of beef that he was able to cook. He also stayed away from leftovers since they were usually spoilt. Despite these numerous precautions the author still got dysentery at least once a month, consequently showing the downfalls on dumpster diving. Caution was also taken of other animals that thrived from the dumpsters. Cats, bees and birds

were among the most common animals found in the dumpsters. However, the most vicious of them all, were the Fire Ants. The author’s dog (Lizbeth), was very sensitive to the presents of these Ants, and alerted him of the Ants even when they were not visible to him. The second main idea portrayed by the author was the wasteful nature of Americans. The area the author scavenged from contained a number of wealthy college students. These students tended to waste a lot of food at the end of the semester, and during intermissions during the semester. Here he would find a lot of edible food like peanut butter, frozen foods, yogurt, cheese and sour cream. In addition to food the students discarded drugs, pornography and spirits at certain times of the semester like Dad’s Day, and after a big party. The final major focus on the passage was concerning dumpster etiquette. The author explains that dumpsters contain many things of value, but it does not make sense to acquire everything attractive you encounter. The things that are not required should be left for the benefit of others. He only collects things of immediate use, and restricts himself to the collection of one small object like calculators, sunglasses or campaign buttons. He also anticipates his needs, and would collect warm bedding found in August and essential drugs like antibiotics. The author does not think scrounging is profitable, and does not see the sense in going though individual cans, because it is to time consuming and messy. He tries to practice ethics when dumpster diving, by not drawing conclusions about the people who’s garbage he scavenges through. The author concludes by emphasizing the point that you should acquire what you need and allow the rest to go by. He explains that most possessions will one day be discarded again, so it make no sense carrying it at all. He discusses his attitude about possessions, thereby equating himself to the wealthy because he knows that there is always more, and pity the people who try to acquire everything they encounter in life.

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