written by Jason Knight

The word scavenging, isn't something that one normally associates with the green movement or environmentalism. It has a distinctively negative connotation to it, something that is unpleasant, dirty, unsavory, it has an air of desperation clinging to it. We imagine that this word and its activity is used only in the context of the animal kingdom like vultures scavenging meat from the remains of a dead dead buffalo. Whatever the scenario, it's usually in a negative context. However, scavenging is actually something positive and all we need to do to realize that is to change our perspective slightly.

Here at Eco hacker farm and specifically Veintidós where I'm volunteering, I spend quit a lot of time thinking about scavenging; yup, scavenging thoughts wonder around my mind, thoughts like, where is the best place to scavenge, will there be people who might see me scavenging; what is the best time of day (or night) to scavenge, what type of item do I really need to scavenge, can I carry said scavenged items by myself (do I need a sack?) and when is the best time to embark on a pre-scavenge scouting run. Of course, after all these thoughts, I need to actually go out and scavenge something.

I should clarify at this point... I'm not a vulture on the lookout for emaciated starving buffalo, nor am I on the lookout for just any old thrown away rubbish...no, my mission, is to scavenge....to salvage those items which will be of use to the Veintidós project. The items can be anything really, items which have suffered from their inevitable planned obsolescence and been tossed out for a newer version by their owner, old broken furniture, odd bits and pieces, but in my case I am scouting for wood....timber....lumber....pallets or parts thereof to be used in constructing all sorts of useful things for the project.

Scavenging therefore is the natural progression of planned obsolescence....we scout, seek, find those items which have been discarded and thrown away by their owners thinking that said item/s are broken, un-repairable and useless, and take these items, re-purposing them, repairing them, using our ingenuity to utilize them in the most efficient way possible.

If we take a moment to consider how beneficial scavenging items and re-purposing them can be, not just from a personal financial point of view, but also from an environmental aspect; reducing rubbish in landfills etc...if we can get people to see that it's not a negative action but a positive activity, then scavenging will lose it's bad reputation in time. One man's rubbish is another man's treasure as they say, which reminds me, it's almost time for me to out on my midnight scavenging hunt....so wish me luck :-)