I recently came across a blog called Scavenging whose authors penned The Scavengers’ Manifesto. The book has quite possibly the longest sub-title ever: 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, re-purposing, reusing, and recycling can save the earth, your money, and your soul.
The 274-page book (Tarcher/Penguin, $14.95) has nine chapters that covers what the authors have found (Ray-Ban sunglasses, ripe apricots, and a rubber vampire bat), the basic philosophy of a scavenger (“scavengers do not expect to get everything we want”), and the types of scavengers (retail, urban, social and specialty).
Oh, Julia, you are probably saying to yourself. I’m not a scavenger. I’m a bargain hunter!
Ahem. Turn to page 160. The fifth type of retail scavenger is…bargain hunter.
Seriously folks, I’m a little creeped out by how well these pages describe me. Does this sound familiar to you, too?
“Some scavengers buy brand-new stuff — without paying full price. Hunting for bargains is a form of scavenging, whether you do it at a yard sale or online or in a superstore. Researching deals and sales at mainstream stores, then going to investigate, takes time and effort. Bargain Hunters comparison-shop, seeking cheap brands, discontinued lines, generics, economy-size packages, rebates, discounts and sales, and alternative retail options such as catalogs and websites. Bargain Hunters are shocked at how few standard consumers bother to do this…After a while, bargain hunting becomes instinctual.
Bargain Hunters ridicule brand loyalty…Bargain Hunters are immune to ads — except sale ads. They know that the mascara featured on that Vogue page will not make them prettier than cheap chain-store mascara. Well, not that much prettier.
The Bargain Hunters, high prices simply seem wrong. Unethical. Unnecessary. Like some sort of trick. What kind of moron, Bargain Hunters ask, would pay that much? Bargain Hunters refuse to pay full price because they believe doing so is stupid…Wanting a secure future and knowing that every dollar counts, the Bargain Hunter is dead serious. Yet Bargain Hunters are among the world’s most hated scavengers. This hatred is expressed subtly, via the raised eyebrow, the muttered comment, and the smirk. Consumer culture teaches that frugality is downright bad: that it is funny or sinister or even mean. She’s cheap; she doesn’t want to share.
Now I understand why, when I tell folks what I do for a living, they feel compelled to whisper that they, too, are bargain hunters. We know what it feels like to be scorned!
Scavengers Manifesto also has a chapter on how to be a scavenger. The skill set requires eternal vigilance, curiosity, tolerance, bravery, and topsy-turvy aesthetics.
Think you’re cut out to be a scavenger? Buy The Scavengers’ Manifesto for $10.17 at Amazon. (But wouldn’t a real scavenger get it from the library?)