If you are looking for inspiration for a life less consumed by consumerism check out The High Art and Subtle Science of Scrounging by master scrounger Jim Juczak. Whether its the $50 car or how to find free building materials people will thank you for taking, or tips on finding and storing free, wholesome foods, this book will encourage you and pay for itself over and over. In honor of James' tenure at Wheaton Labs this summer co-teaching the Appropriate Technology Course, the eBook is available here for a special low price.
I give this book 9.5 out of 10 acorns. This book is truly fantastic! The author was a teacher in a previous life (although, I gotta say, as another teacher, one never stops being a teacher, even in you retire!). His skill as a teacher is evident in how neatly and understandably the information is laid out. This book is both easy to read as well as PACKED full of information. It's also really interesting. I've stayed up past my bedtime quite a few times to read a few more pages!
It's about a whole lot more than just "scrounging," too. Here's just some of the things you'll learn about:
building your own home,
finding affordable structures to live in while you build your own home
how to approach people to ask about stuff they have lying around
places and people to ask about free stuff
what tools to take with you to take apart cars for parts at a pick-a-part yard (we'll be using this info in just a few days!)
how to barter
how to glean
easier ways to ram tires full of dirt for earthship homes
why it's important to scrounge (save money, save the earth, be prepared for harder economic times due to peak oil)
some of his creative uses for scrounged items
how to raise your kids to be skilled, sustainable, and adults who can survive
how & why to well-insulate your home
cheap/free vacation ideas
where to get a free dinner
and a whole lot more!
Some of the scrounged items mentioned in the book are more...toxic than others, and there isn't a discussion about the downsides of scrounging and using more toxic oil-based paints or chemical solvents. And, there's some repetition in the book where things are said almost exactly the same in more than one place (though, this really isn't a bad thing, as it helps reinforce those ideas).
I have learned so much from this book, and will definitely be sharing it with my husband (who took me dumpster diving before we were even dating, and frequently brings home treasures he finds in dumpsters and road sides and the dump. Fencing saved from the dump is SO much better than flowers or candy!). I had not known that there were affordable handpumps that I could install on my electric well, or what tools we'd need to take apart cars a junkyard, or that I could make my own mozzarella in less than 30 minutes, or that an old propane fridge could be brought back to life by turning it upside down and taking it for a ride on a bumpy road.
James has packed this book full of a wealth of information, and the information is presented in a way that empowers you to think that, you too, can scrounge. The illustrations are fun and useful. There's a good-sized bibliography at the end with citations and further research. I think this is a book everyone can benefit from reading, and everyone will learn something from.
Location: Schofields, NSW. Australia. Zone 9-11 Temperate to Sub Tropical
posted 6 months ago
Love this thread and James Juczak's book. Anything that is saved from going to landfill is great in my opinion.
Piece of Trivia: Here in Australia researchers found that the people most likely to dumpster dive were not the homeless but were school teachers. Makes sense, many of them would be exposed to the latest info on why it's important to reuse, re-purpose and recycle and intelligent enough to follow through on doing just that.
Teachers also are usually pretty poor, and need a lot of resources for teaching, as they are usually not provided by the school. And, since they're dumpster diving for their students/teaching, there's less guilt/awkwardness.
(I used to be a teacher, and it is a lot easier to say, "I'm digging through your trash for things I could use in my lessons" than, "I want your trash for myself.")