What Is The Purpose Of The Essay On Dumpster Diving

How much food do consumers waste? Not much, a lot, you don’t know, or you don’t care? It doesn’t seem that many consumers do care. In the article, “On Dumpster Diving” (1993), Lars Eighner uses exposition, description, and narration to criticize consumer wastefulness.

Exposition is the literary device that Eighner uses the most throughout this article. Exposition is when the author conveys his story through explanation. Eighner explains certain things rather than telling a word for word story about his experiences. Eighner uses this device often in this article such as when he says, “I have heard people, evidentially meaning to be polite, use the word foraging, but I prefer to use that word for gathering nuts and berries and such, which I do also according to season and the opportunity”. Eighner does not simply say he disproves of using the word “foraging” in that way, he explains why he disproves of it. This is the manner in which a majority of the article is told in.

Description is another literary device used in this article. When an author writes descriptively they describe what they are discussing in great detail to help the reader better picture what they are saying. There is a bit of descriptive writing in Eighner’s article such as when he says, “Some students, and others, approach defrosting a freezer by chucking out the whole lot. The mass of frozen goods stays cold for a long time and items may be found still frozen or freshly thawed”. Describing this process, Eighner tells us that consumers waste food because of ignorance. Not knowing a proper procedure or simply not preparing causes more avoidable wastefulness.

The third device Eighner uses in this article is narration. Narration is simply telling a story the way it happened. There is no stopping to explain or describe what you are discussing. Eighner practices this device when he says, “I began scavenging by pulling pizzas out of the dumpster behind a pizza delivery shop. While it lasted I had a steady supply of fresh, sometimes warm pizza”. Eighner tells us this to let us know that instead of donating the good pizza to the needy, the pizza shop just throws it in the trash.

Eighner’s purpose in this essay is to criticize consumer wastefulness. Eighner gives proof of consumer wastefulness in order to open the eyes of consumers so people will care more about what they throw out, and focus more on saving what they can.

Eighner’s tone in this article is formal. Eighner writes in a formal tone to let the consumers whom he is addressing know that just because he is homeless does not mean his opinion is unknowledgeable. If anything he should know more about the subject because he has seen it from both sides. Eighner uses a formal tone because the average consumer would think more highly of his opinion if it is written formally, as opposed to informally.

The article leaves me wondering whether or not consumers will see and understand what Eighner is trying to convey. Will people see how much food is being wasted? Are people going to start to stop and think about what they are throwing in the trash? Will the amount of wasted food decline, stay the same, or even increase?

On Dumpster Diving

By Lars Eighner

Dumpster diving: an art, a passion, or just a way to survive? This essay, written by Lars Eighner, basically covers the finer points and etiquette of dumpster diving. Eighner shows us in his essay how in every dumpster, and in every bag of garbage; there is a story to be told. He shows us how wasteful our society really is, and reasons with the audience how it really isn’t wrong to practice this ever-popular form of art and self sustainability.I think that the reason that Lars wrote this essay, was not because he wanted to teach people how to dumpster dive or to talk about his life story; but it was because he wanted to educate people about how this form of self sustainability is not so much a selfish or greedy act, but more an honest way to survive through poverty. Also, I believe that it is a statement to people everywhere, telling them that even though they might be living in the lowest societal realm, there is always an honest way to survive.

One of the ways that Eighner convinces the audience of his points is through many examples of his own personal experience; or logos. He shows this throughout the essay, whether it be telling a tale of how he manages to score fresh and hot pizzas for himself and his dog Lizbeth, or how he uses certain techniques to determine is the food he is scavenging is “maliciously contaminated” or not. Another way that Eighner convinces his audience and exemplifies his point is through metaphors. He uses this form of rhetorical strategy quite often, an in many forms. For example, on page seven of the essay Lars writes:

"Every grain of rice seems to be a maggot. Everything seems to stink. He can wipe the egg yoke off the found can, but he cannot erase the stigma of eating garbage out of his mind."

In conclusion, I believe that through many compelling and convincing writing strategies and the use of a multitude of facts and personal experiences, Eighner has definitely convinced me that Dumpster diving is not so much a sin, but more a way of life. So in memorial of this essay and also of the dog Lizbeth that died, I will capitalize the word "Dumpster" as a sign of my respect to the many people who live on the fringe of society, but still manage to cling on.


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