Is One Man's Junk Another Man's Treasure?
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Is One Man's Junk Another Man's Treasure?

One man\\\'s junk is, in fact, another man\\\'s treasure.

A capitalistic society is full of waste. The average American uses a car for about 150,000 miles. The average American also uses a toaster for about 20 minutes. Did you know that your basic toaster is no more than a simple series circuit composed of the cord and a resistor? Believe it or not, you just learned how to fix a toaster.

People have been living in the margins since time eternal. There have always been beggars, street musicians, thieves, and men standing at a corner gas station hailing cars from a suspiciously close distance to the local Home Depot. Is it the moral duty of a civilized country to stop these marginal lifestyles? If we consider carefully the principles that the United States predicated itself upon, then we would realize that it is not.

Many years ago, the United States was created on the basis of freedom of speech and of action (assuming the action does not harm another individual). Today, that value has become so twisted that we do our best to ensure that the items which still have value are going to the landfill, no matter what the cost. To that end, we lock up our dumpsters and try to prosecute people for living off of someone else's garbage.

In one sense, a military gear dealer is not so different from a dumpster diver. He or she is a recycler, taking something that the Army no longer finds useful and acquiring profit from it. In fact, those who deal in military gear may actually find themselves dumpster diving from time to time (I made my best find ever in a dumpster). Is it wrong to sift through garbage? Well, if your intent is to steal a person's financial information, it is very wrong. But, we should consider that some people need to collect cans in order to make ends meet, and leave the locks off of our garbage receptacles.

To the average person, an empty 64 ounce gatorade bottle is trash. To the recycler, it is a couple ounces of plastic. To the dumpster diver, it is a perfectly legitimate half gallon pitcher or water bottle.

To the average person, a lawn mower with a broken starter is trash. To a dumpster diver, it is a lawn mower with a broken starter. Or, a motor with a frame.

There are trillions of residual dollars being thrown away in our garbage. In the spirit of free enterprise, we should at the very least consider allowing those who want to partake in the enterprise to do it. A smart society would institute programs to capitalize on the disgusting degree of wasting flowing into the garbage.

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Comments (3)

interesting article, thank you

Good article Dustin, as always. It's so true; Americans throw out perfectly good items every day, they can be found sitting on the curb every week. Some things are donated, that's true. We just bought a really nice stadium seat that has to sell for a min of $30; we got it for $3 at a Goodwill store.

We're habitual recyclers. We take what others throw out and make it like new again :)