Going Green: True Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers, and Dumpster Divers

Going Green: True Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers, and Dumpster Divers by Jeffe Kennedy

Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press

Date Published: May 2009

ISBN: 978-0806140131


What re-using—or not—says about our culture and priorities

Never mind the Ph.D. and middle-class trappings—Laura Pritchett is a Dumpster diver and proud of it. Ever since she was old enough to navigate the contents of a metal bin, she has reveled in the treasures found in other people’s cast-offs.

For Going Green, Pritchett has gathered the work of more than twenty writers to tell their personal stories of Dumpster diving, eating road kill, salvaging plastic from the beach, and forgoing another trip to the mall for the thrill of bargain hunting at yard sales and flea markets. These stories look not just at the many ways people glean but also at the larger, thornier issues dealing with what re-using—or not—says about our culture and priorities.

The essayists speak to the joys of going beyond the norm to save old houses, old dishwater, old cultures, old Popsicle sticks, and old friendships—and turning them into something new. Some write about gleaning as a means of survival, while others see the practice as a rejection of consumerism or as a way of treading lightly on the earth.

Brimming with practical and creative new ways to think about recycling, this collection invites you to dive in and find your own way of going green.


“When readers are weary or leery of environmental books full of data and doom, they can turn to novelist Pritchett’s spiky collection of personal essays about going green the old-fashioned way. Thrift used to be the guiding principle in nearly every household. Clothes, jars, bags, string—everything had multiple lives. But with the rise of consumerism, household ecology was largely abandoned. Not so for Pritchett, who, from childhood, has been an avid alley cruiser and Dumpster diver, finding treasures in trash. Proud of her gleaning ways, and certain that reclamation and recycling are essential practices in this time of bursting landfills and oceanic trash islands, she invited fellow garbage-pickers to share their views of the waste-not, want-not life, and the result is a lively and provocative assemblage. Kathy Lynn Harris pays tribute to her tough rancher grandmother, the queen of reuse. Eliza Murphy’s beachcombing essay reveals the terrible truth about the marine plastic plague.Others share stories of flea markets, garage sales, and roadkill. These tales from the scavenging front are unexpectedly philosophical, confiding, funny, and affecting.” –Donna Seaman, Booklist

“This lively anthology features essays by and about garbage artists, road-kill gourmets, and master scavengers. These authors prove that treasure is abundant, and yes, you can get an entire executive home office set, an air hockey table, a digital camera, and a set of matching midcentury-modern armchairs for free if you know where to look.” –Sierra Magazine

“These 20-plus personal accounts interpret “gleaning” broadly–from the act of obtaining castoff food, usable household goods and wearable clothing to collecting stories and life experiences. Going Green recounts and inspires creative ways to employ the proverbial three Rs in one’s life and just may send a legion of readers to the town dump.”

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