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November 9, 2013 / A Mindful Traveler

On Teaching “On Dumpster Diving”



On Wednesday, my 11th grade students read and discussed Lars Eighner’s essay “On Dumpster Diving.”  I suspect the essay is anthologized as much for the exemplary nature of its exposition as for its message, but we quickly found ourselves discussing the latter.  Only one out of the twenty expressed the slightest interest in actually sifting through trash in search of sustenance or possessions.  However quite a number, upon reflection, offered insights building upon Eighner’s.  Although they are drawn from entirely separate papers, I feel these quotations from their work together compose an eloquent admonition to our society:

“In my opinion, people these days get many things easily, anything we want from almost anywhere.  We put less value on the objects compared to people in the past or [in] poverty…  Consumers become accustomed to always buying more rather than buying only what they need…We take money for granted and also the things we buy with it.  Because they’re all [taken] for granted, we throw the stuff away whenever we want to.  We can see that everyone has different necessities and we need to start looking for them…  It is human instinct to want more and give in to avarice, but if we put more effort into ourselves and think [more] before our actions, then more people can live happier lives and the earth will be a greener place.”



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