Summary of “On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eighner

Dumpster diver lives with nothing but knowing everything; we live with everything, but knowing nothing. In his book, Lars Eighner describes his experiences of feeding himself from the refuse of others (Eighner Pg.146), and the lesson he learns from being a scavenger. As a dumpster diver, Lars did not live with self-loathing; rather, he takes this as a learning opportunity. He gains a great amount of knowledge during his adventure including knowledge on how to differentiate if the food is safe to eat or not. He seems to be an intelligent man because he soon finds out the place ant time to get fresh food (the pizza shop’s dumpster) after the store close at night.

Moreover, Lars often asks himself why the dumpster was discarded (Eighner Pg. 150) before he takes away anything from that place. This question not only safeguards him from getting food poison, it also teaches him the true problem of society today. People take for granted what they earn and don’t see any problem of being wasteful. For example, students nowadays throw away goods that are still in fair condition, simply because they think they are their parents’ possessions (Eighner Pg. 150). During Lars’ experiences, he hates can scavengers. The work done by can scavengers often damages many useful items in the dumpster, and the money they receive is just used for one or two alcohols – they are often winos. Lars believes one’s trash is another man’s treasure and those treasures should not be wasted by can scavengers.

As a Dumpster diver, Lars Eighner learns a lot from his “adventure,” and also becomes a better person. He acquires the sentimental value of trash in the dumpster; every trash has its own values and stories. Therefore, it is very significant that, although Lars had nothing, he knows everything. One’s possessions cannot obtain as much value as one’s knowledge can provide.

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