Scavenging impedes and facilitates clutter busting. 

Scavenging sentimental but extraneous stuff from my folks’ and in-laws’ homes magnified my normal household clutter into a paralyzing mess.

But other people’s scavenging instinct provides me with ongoing, guilt-free opportunities for jettisoning stuff.  Scavengers haunt estate and garage sales, thrift and consignment stores, and buycycle and freecycle sites, so I do, too. 

Serious scavengers adore Fairfield’s citywide annual “Trash and Brush” pickup, an environmentally dubious service currently underattack.  (See Will Merydith’s blogpost, Annual Trash Pickup Not Sustainable, at www.  Since we moved outside the city limits in 1994, my husband and I haven’t dragged unwanted clutter curbside for years. When we did, our trash piles contained only stuff the thrift stores wouldn’t take.  Still, some guy or other always nosed a dusty red or green pickup alongside our trash pile and poked through it.  From inside the house, I watched one guy toss scrap lumber, a broken humidifier, bent curtain rods,and a splintered pressboard cabinet into his truck bed with the aplomb of a museum curator discovering long-lost Picassos in somebody’s attic.  After he drove away, I darted outside, spotted only a rusty nail where our trash pile had been, and sighed with satisfaction. 

The most devoted scavenger I know is a goat farmer.  He periodically bullies an obliging, muscular friend into helping him haul road-squashed deer carcasses into his pickup and out to his farm.  There, the men drag the dead deer into a field where bald eagles glide down to feast on it.  The goat farmer’s done this awhile now, and more eagles visit that field every year. 

Scavenging is part of humanity’s heritage.  This ancient instinct expresses itself more so in this person, less so in that one.  Scavenging can be worthwhile, but watch out.  Using trash is noble: hoarding it isn’t.