While I applaud the efforts of groups diverting waste, I'm disappointed by the negative way that dumpster diving/scavenging was portrayed in the "Hippie Christmas" article (May 21).
Offering/scavenging goods for free is not necessarily out of laziness, but a desire to make someone's day with surprise gifts and to re-circulate goods while keeping money out of the picture. It's beyond being a bargain hunter. It's about reducing contributions to and dependence on consumer culture, which is not only a root problem of wastefulness, but non-conducive to a balanced, sustainable, harmonious community. We should applaud our community members for offering their goods with no expectation of compensation.
Dumpster diving/free boxing is a fun and environmentally friendly way to acquire goods, and to say that people "belong" in the thrift store instead of a dumpster is not only judgmental, but a way of perpetuating the false idea that if you buy something you are of a higher status/more worthy than someone who finds it for free. The truth is that the person who pulls the item from the dumpster is having a greater impact on the environment than money can buy.
To address the issue of perceived blight: I propose a sheltered, established, volunteer-run community free "box" or structure. Such structures exist and function beautifully (thanks to volunteer maintenance) in places such as Telluride, Colorado and Ashland, Oregon. Instead of the city spending money to destroy free piles, it could fund something like this. We could take an example from these towns and perpetuate the cycle of giving and receiving in a way where resources are shared and circulated with love, as opposed to the capitalistic model which is "every man for himself" and results in horrible wealth inequality and overconsumption (waste) and weak, divided communities.
— Elena McCauley, Arcata