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Consumerism and Materialism in On Dumpster Diving and Stuff is Not Salvation

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We are living in a world where it is more important to own an iPhone 11, than to have a plate of food in our homes. Lars Eighner and Anna Quindlen have both written personal essays about consumerism and materialism. In Eigner’s personal essay “On Dumpster Diving” he portrays how he can make a living by searching dumpsters, and how people don’t acknowledge things that are yet helpful and important. Likewise, Quindlen’s essay “Stuff is Not Salvation” touches on the contemporary issue in regards to the increasing number of individuals who invest crazy amount of money on stuff that they don’t need. The message that both writers give are similar, however they use different ways to develop their claim. Although some individuals are controlled buyers, most of the american society let consumerism and materialism get over their head, and they start buying stuff to fit into a classified society as well as to hide themselves from reality.

In Anna Quindlen essay “Stuff is Not Salvation” she discusses how Americans are wasting large amounts of money in stuff that have no meaning. In “Stuff is Not Salvation” by Anna Quindlen, Quindlen writes “A critical difference between then and now is credit” (426). Therefore the benefits and convenience of utilizing credit cards often make individuals purchase new products that they cannot afford. People regularly binge spend on consumer goods utilizing credit cards, which could even result in a massive debt. Quindlen also mentions “A person in the United States replaces a cell phone every 16 months, not because the cell phone is old, but because it is oldish” (427). This quote infers that Americans are not only buying stuff without having the money for it, but that they will also throw out products after a certain period of time. People often think that because a new phone was released there is a need to replace that phone with the new one, they start thinking that this new phone has a better camera and battery because that is the image that the companies portray; big companies like Apple and Samsung have created amazing advertisement for people to go crazy and buy their products no matter what the situation of that person might be. Overall, Quindlen encourages her readers/audience to ponder the things that they purchase.

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In Lars Eighner personal essay “On Dumpster Diving” he uses his personal experiences as a scavenger to prove his audience that what they might find as trash he might look at it as gold. According to Lars Eighner “Students throw food away around breaks because they do not know whether it has spoiled or will spoil before they return” (280). Eighner emphasizes this in his personal essay because the food that college students throw out thinking that it might be expired or that it will soon, is what fills up his stomach most of the time. He often finds food in good condition for his dog and for him to eat, and that shows us how our society throws out a bunch of food that are still in good quality just because they might see it damage. Another example found in Eigner’s piece is “In particular they tend to throw everything out when they move at the end of the semester, before and after breaks, and around midterms, when many of them despair of college” (280). This means that college students are not only throwing out food, but many other stuff like computers, paper, school supplies, among many other things. And most of the time students are throwing stuff out because there might be a new product that just came out, for example, a new computer so they had to throw the oldish one out to buy the new one and try to fit between the other classmates. Overall, it’s seen how one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, which is exactly how Eighner’s feel.

In both essays, Eighner and Quindlen both write how a large number of individuals dismiss things that are still in good condition, and they also support how people don’t appreciate things that still work. Anna Quindlen observes in “Stuff is Not Salvation”, “I looked into my closet the other day and thought, why did I buy all this stuff?” (427). This demonstrates how young people get a bunch of crap for no reason, which they end up regretting or thinking about it after they have it for a long time. And since the product was bought just to show off to friends, and now they are not as trendy the question of “why did I buy this?” comes into place. Similarly, Lars Eigher mentions in his essay, “Even respectable employed people will sometimes find something tempting sticking out of a dumpster or standing beside one” (278). This shows how much stuff is being thrown out and as a result even people who have a job are becoming more addicted to having more things in their houses, since they find products that could fit into their homes where they already have a bunch of crap. Finally, both Eighner and Quindlen shows us that we buy things that we desire and don’t really need.

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