What Is the Summary of “On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eighner?

“On Dumpster Diving” is the autobiographical account of Lars Eighner, who in 1988 became homeless after he lost his job as an attendant in Austin, Texas’s state hospital. The story focuses on Eighner’s experiences of scavenging through dumpsters to find food.

Lars Eighner goes into great detail when discussing his findings while dumpster diving. He speaks about the mental stages of dumpster diving, and how a lot of food is thrown away that is still good, even if the food is technically past its expiration date. Aside from food, he also describes the emotional impact that living out of a dumpster can have on a person. He describes finding sad things such as “abandoned teddy bears, shredded wedding books, and pets lying in state.” Seeing the pets makes him think about his dog Lizbeth and how she is likely to end up with a dumpster as her final resting place, as Eighner does not see himself having a place for her before she passes on. Scavenging causes Eighner to think about how much people take for granted, including the fact that they can buy something new to replace something old that they have thrown away. He feels sorry for those who do not have that luxury.