Friday, September 25, 2009

The Scavengers' Manifesto


I read this book over the summer, and it really applies to my life. It's full name is The Scavengers Manifesto: A Guide to Freeing Yourself from the Endless Cycle of Buying More and More New (Though not Necessarily Improved) Stuff, and Discovering how Salvaging, Swapping, Repurposing, Reusing and Recycling can Save the Earth, your Money, and Your Soul by Anneli Rufus and Kristan Lawsom. That's a mouthful, right? The title gets a little weird with the saving your soul part, but I wanted to try it. I've always liked being thrifty since I've been nearly broke my entire life and I thought this book would be amazing. I was right. It's all about the economics behind thriftiness and the varying ways to be frugal with your money.

There are a myriad of types of scavengers: retail scavengers (people who shop yard sales, discount stores, thrift stores and such); Urban Scavengers (dumpster divers and "Finders"); Social Scavengers (Freecyclers, clothing swappers, free-sample forager, no-cost gardeners); and Professional Scavengers (Archeologists, Prospectors, Found Object Artists, Beachcombers, and Treasure Hunters).

I discovered through this book that I am a mixture of all four. I've always shopped at thrift stores and bargain hunted and I'm a member of freecycle, but for the purposes of this blog, the two most important are Finder and Found Object Artist.

I'm a finder. Things seem to cross my path. Here's a quote that describes me perfectly.

" Finders do not seek. Not consciously. Not pointedly. Finders find. They have a gift.(..) Finders are primal because what they find, while usually welcome, is always unsought and unexpected. For the Finder, finding is a way of getting stuff but also an ongoing game."

This happens to me all the time. I'm a big fan of gardening, and I had noticed in one of the windows in the English building a hyacinth plant someone was growing in a pot. I noticed it everyday for a week until it was gone. I saw where that professor had dumped it outside, the foliage dead. A hyacinth is a bulb that returns every year, so I picked it up and wrapped it in newspaper. I looked like a freak carrying around a dirty bulb in newspaper, but the flower looks nice in my garden in spring. This is also an example of no-cost gardening!

I'm a finder, but also a found object artist. I find total crap and because I like to make things, I figure out ways to make something out of it. Like my mailbox that I found and told y'all about in the first post. Not only that, people give me things because word has got out about my weirdness. I'll run into people I haven't seen for six months and they'll have something they've been saving for me to make something out of. It's both weird and nice.

The bottom line of the book (besides the strange religious connotations associated with the title) is that people don't have to spend money to have the things they want. There are ways of having the things you want that don't involve spending money. The problem is we're programmed to think we have to spend money and create waste to have stuff. Here's a quote that is basically the idea of the book: "The best way to save for your future and stay financially healthy is to not spend money. But consumer culture won't tell you that, because consumer culture has stuff to sell you. Right. Now."

I recommend this book to everyone who wants to save money and be awesome at the same time!

On a completely different note (I'm so excited that I have to share!), I've posted pictures of the new house on my Facebook page, so feel free to check them out!

Before pictures:

"After" Pictures: (Bear in mind, that the after pictures are actually "in progress" pictures!)

Happy Scavenging!

*edit* In spite of using the link option at the top of my page, for some reason, I cannot make it look link-like. Just copy and paste if you'd like to check them out!


  1. That actually sounds quite interesting -though I would agree that salvaging etc, is not going to save your soul! I think I am a finder too. I also have gained the reputation of repurposing and using all sorts of stuff so people give me stuff all the time.

  2. This book sounds prefect for a finder friend of mine. But I guess a finder would never buy it, eh? Unless she found it in the discount bin.

    BTW, your welded bottle tree is awesome, and I like your bike face too. It looks like an owl to me. With a mustache.


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