Scavenger. This word means different things to different people, but it’s most often negative: dirty, cheap, bottom-feeder or even un-American. Enter Anneli Rufus and her partner and husband Kristan Lawson, who chose to emphasize the word’s more positive definitions and associations in their book, The Scavengers’ Manifesto
Life-long scavengers in their own respective ways, Rufus and Lawson choose to understand the term as a lifestyle and promote its’ other, more positive connotations, such as treasure-hunter, bargain-shopper, recycler, upcycler, freecycler, artist, green!
Society tends to negatively associate scavengers with garbage, but the scavengers don’t create the garbage–instead they get rid of it, or process it, or diminish it, or turn it into something useful.
Rufus and Lawson wrote The Scavengers’ Manifesto in 2009 to highlight the movement that brings together environmentalists, anti-consumerists, DIY-ers and treasure-hunters. The book acts as 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.”
These are big statements, but a life of less can ultimately be more.
While the authors promote leading a thrifty life, they don’t necessarily advocate a life without. Rather, they ask that we all consume more consciously, to think of a products’ afterlife and to appreciate and utilize what we already have to its fullest potential. We can get down with that! With America leading in the consumption and waste departments, Rufus and Lawson note that every American alive discards fifty-six tons of trash per year.
And aside from consuming less and reusing more, isn’t it just more fun to be creative with the stuff you already have? I mean, why does anyone need to buy a pair of electric scissors or plastic boxes to hold your plastic bags, when you can challenge yourself to be more resourceful. Repurposing or breathing new life into an old object is a way to express your individualism, creativity and general sense of appreciation for that back-to-the-land lifestyle so many of us appreciate. Not to mention you can save a couple buffalo nickels to boot.
We are capitalism’s naughty children, little rebels, sprinting through the gate.
We challenge you, and ourselves, to a life of less. We are always looking for new ways of scavenging. Let us know how you are creative or thrifty in your material world. Is it buying secondhand? Composting? Car pooling? The promise of giving and swapping in time for spring? Sharing is caring.
Oh, and buy the book!