“On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eighner Essay

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“On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eighner, ethos is used the most towards persuading that dumpster diving is “A sound and honorable niche.” In Eighner writing it is clear to assume that scavenging is no walk in the park. Eighner believes there is a code of honor towards respecting other scavengers, including helping each other. Despite being homeless and living a rough life Eighner shows pride in being a dumpster diver. Eighner realizes there is more than just trash in dumpsters, there are memories, secrets and valuables as well. While using ethos, pathos, and logos throughout his passage. Ethos is used the most, especially towards explaining how people discard good items.

Because Eighner was an actual dumpster diver, he uses ethos to show his readers his words are credible. Eighner surely makes himself stand out almost as an expert on dumpster diving. He may not know everything, but he sure does know a lot and has very well tips for new scavengers. Eighner states “I prefer the term ‘scavenging’ and use the word ‘scrounging’ when I mean to be obscure” (Par 4). By using a simple different word than “Dumpster Diving” it gives his title a different tone. A tone that less empathy is given and one that a different image pops up in your head once you think of it. In the reading Eighner states how he understands scavenging through personal trash cans are an invasion of privacy. Eighner explains “Dumpsters contain bank statements, bills, correspondence, … Pill bottles. The labels on pill bottles contain the name of the patient, the name of the doctor, and the name of the drug” (Par 59). Eighner uses ethos by demonstrating respect on the multiple viewpoints on scavenging through an individual’s garbage can. Eighner uses ethos trying to explain how there are two different type of dumpster divers. Eighner states that there are dumpster divers that “lay waste to everything in their path and will stir so one of a pair of good shoes to the bottom of a Dumpster” (Par 55). This would be your stereotype of a homeless person. Eighner states “A true scavenger hates to see good stuff go to waste and what he cannot use he leave in good condition in plain sight” (Par 54). Eighner explains there are respectful homeless, the ones who are trying to do their best and not bother anyone else. Eighner may not know everything about scavenging but he surely sounds like an expert, on how he presents his knowledge of scavenging.

Eighner is so good at making himself look like an expert that he never asks for pity towards him. Pathos is not used very much throughout his writing. Eighner discusses “At first the new scavenger is filled with disgust and self-loathing. He is ashamed of being seen and may lurk around, trying to duck behind things, or he may try to dive at night” (Par 39). Though Eighner may not be directly speaking about himself it is understandable how he would feel ashamed. One may also feel sad for the scavenger having to go through this. While still being homeless and living a ruff life it is clear Eighner has a good heart. Eighner explains “Although I hope to get off the streets so that Lizbeth can have a long and comfortable old age” (Par 62). Instead of thinking in just himself he is also worried and carrying for his companion, his dog. Going through something as difficult as this, there is no surprise a lesson is learned. Eighner implies “Many times in my travels I have lost everything but the clothes I was wearing and Lizbeth. The things I find in the dumpsters. . . remind me of this lesson” (Par 77). This quote may spark some emotion in the reader. Knowing the struggle and pain Eighner went through with his companion to survive. While learning the lesson of how wasteful people are and how people never really think about it until they are in a tuff situation like Eighner's.

Eighner is a very smart man and has very well reasoning. Eighner points out “Spirits and drugs do, like all other commodities, turn up in dumpsters and the scavengers will from time to time have a half bottle” (Par 52). Many scavengers may not be informed of the long-term effects of doing drugs. “While not being well educated on the concept of drugs with time it will lead to addiction” (Michael’s House). “I avoid ethnic foods I am unfamiliar with. If I do not know what it is supposed to look like when it is good, I cannot be certain I will be able to tell if it is bad” (Par 36). As this may be common sense to many, there is still people who may not think of this, and risk themselves to getting sick. College students are the ones who tend to throw the most away. College students tend to do this because “Since this it is Daddy’s money, the student decided not take a chance” (Par 26). Which is understandable since these students are not really having to work for their own stuff, they don't know what pain may come from working for something. Everyone can learn something and be able to change through simple reasoning.

Eighner states dumpster diving is “A sound and honorable niche.” Eighner truly express that through his readying. Eighner explains “Dumpster diving is outdoor work, often surprising pleasant” (Par 71). Even though being homeless may not sound like the best situation Eighner makes the best out of his situation as much as he can. Yes, Eighner is digging through dumpsters but he is finding valuables from it. Eighner is doing something a lot of people cannot do, making something out of nothing. Eighner is implying from that quote that we have the opportunity to make something out of nothing. We chose how things impact us and what feelings we express.

Through Eighner writing it sounds like Eighner is a very respectful, big hearted man. He discusses the good and the bad about dumpster diving using ethos, pathos, and logos. While using ethos the most towards persuading the reader that dumpster divers are not just homeless people. As well as using pathos to explain the sadness there is out there on the streets. And using logos to give very strong logical information to the fortunate people who are not homeless and do not realize how wasteful they really are. Eighner was in a tuff situation that no one would want to be in, but he was able to make good out of it and not have it impact him in a negative way. Life handed Eighner lemons and he decided to make lemonade out of it.

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“On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eighner Essay. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved April 18, 2024 , from

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