If you like Abbie Hoffman’s classic Steal This Book but aren’t anarchist enough to embrace the legally questionable tips, The Scavengers' Manifesto is for you. Authors Anneli Rufus and Kristan Lawson tackle a host of ‘scavenomics’ topics, from the philosophy and evolution of scavenging to the spiritual nature of this frugal and environmentally responsible lifestyle.
This is not a list of tips; after all, the scavengers among us already know how it’s done. What Rufus and Lawson offer is a lengthy description of scavengers from different species and their behavior. They proudly share examples of their found treasures and the satisfaction gained from living the scavenger’s code. More importantly, they spell out the practical reasons for scavenging: “…every American alive discards fifty-six tons of trash per year…” Statistics like that one ought to horrify and shame us all into adopting the scavenger way of life.
The romantic fantasy of being self-sufficient is fed by retailers who offer an unlimited supply of products – stuff!—that is in direct opposition to the very definition of that lifestyle. The authors of The Scavengers' Manifesto point out that “scavengers, more than just about any other social category, are self-sufficient.” Note the qualifier; while we may not participate enthusiastically in the “manufacture-sell-consume-dispose cycle,” we aren’t completely free of it. “Without your cast-offs and junk,” Rufus and Lawson point out, “we’d have nothing to scavenge.”
The rebels of our capitalist system will find validation for their mindset, as well as support and encouragement. Readers who are new to the concept can take a stroll through musings about scavenger fashion, learn the 12 Commandments of Scavenging, or study the Scavenging Skill Set to find out if they have what it takes to participate in this satisfying movement.
We hear a lot of people expressing their desire to cut back, pare down, and generally spend less in these economically trying times. Unfortunately, many of them simply don’t know how to live a thrifty life, and this is the sort of book that can make frugality a do-able change. (The authors suggest borrowing the book from a friend or library, by the way.)
Rufus is the author of Stuck: Why We Can’t (or Won’t) Move On. Lawson’s previous work is Darwin and Evolution for Kids. Their credentials for writing The Scavengers' Manifesto are solid and practical and include an intimate relationship with the lifestyle. This one is recommended for scavengers who want to know more about the proud tradition of scavenging and for anyone else who seeks a more sensible way to approach economic stability.