An Analysis of “on Dumpster Diving”

Ashly Strawder
Professor Ivey
English 1101 - 40831
11 February 2016  
An Analysis of “On Dumpster Diving”

The essay “On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eighner is about a gentleman who describes his experiences as a homeless man traveling with his dog named Lizbeth. Eighner not only explains the breakdown for living out of dumpsters, but also the lessons he learned from being a scavenger (which is what he thought was a much more appropriate name then dumpster diving), since, in fact, he did not do any diving. Ultimately, I think the message he was trying to get across in his story is that we often waste a lot more then we even realize we do. Things that would be quite valuable to someone else (“one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”) if you will.
Eighner starts off by saying he was extremely interested in dumpsters long before he actually began dumpster diving. He even wrote the Merriam-Webster research service to find out all that he could about the name “Dumpster.” Shortly after, he learned the term dumpster belonged to the Dempsey Dumpster company and ever since then he capitalized the word even though it was lower case. After losing his job over a policy dispute in 1988, Eighner ended up using all of his income to pay the rent, thus having to gather all of life’s necessities from Dumpsters. He acquired many useful things from the dumpster while still trying to maintain in his home such as books, candles, medicine, dishes, furnishings, money, bedding, toilet paper, even clothes and a laptop -- which he actually used to write this story.
Eighner went by four basic principles when dumpster diving, common sense, knowing the Dumpsters, checking them regularly, and always asking the question, “Why was this discarded?” For example, he learned to avoid game, poultry, pork, egg based foods, fish and leftovers -- since they spoil easily. From time to time he would find good amounts of beef which were most often in good condition; however, he also stayed...