The Scavengers’ Manifesto

This blog was inspired by our book, The Scavengers’ Manifesto. It’s a powerful guide to making the most of the many modes of legally acquiring stuff for free or cheap — but it also examines the philosophy, history, spirituality, science, and economics of scavenging. An instruction manual and initiation ceremony and liturgy all in one, The Scavengers’ Manifesto links together a wide spectrum of seemingly disparate activities that no one ever seems to have realized before are connected.

Look around you. The way in which human beings acquire stuff is shifting. Expanding. Forever. All around the world, millions are salvaging stuff, trading stuff, recycling stuff. This is the end of the shopping monopoly.

It used to be that when anyone wanted anything, he or she dashed to the store and bought it new, full-price. Mission accomplished. Back then — not so long ago — getting goods by any other means besides new and full-price was considered suspicious: the realm only of bottom-feeders, bums, moochers and cheapskates.

But today, scavenging doesn’t mean the squalid ragpicking that it used to mean. From Freecycling to thrifting, from swapping to clipping coupons, dozens of different pursuits count as scavenging today. Just think how many ways you scavenge on a daily basis. You scavenge just by tracking down a good deal.

We wrote this book because we wanted to redeem and reclaim the whole notion of scavenging. It’s our lifestyle and we like it. We — Anneli Rufus and Kristan Lawson — have both been scavengers for as long as we can remember. As soon as we could walk and talk, in cities far apart, both of us were scrounging, foraging, and finding stuff. In college, still not having yet met, we both filled our rooms with thrift-shop clothes, kitchenware, and secondhand books. And in the years since we met, neither of us ever had to explain — or apologize — to the other for picking up pennies from the street or lifting trash-can lids to peer inside them or seeking, in every store, what’s on sale. We wrote The Scavengers’ Manifesto because seeking out the free and the cheap is neither a shame nor a flaw but a skill and a virtue. In a paved-over consumer culture, as economic crises loom, scavenging is an age-old, exciting and enlightening way to save money — and maybe even save the world.

Buy The Scavengers’ Manifesto at


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  1. […] to Comments If you are the parent of young children, you have at one point or another shared the scavenger lifestyle. You have looked upon a plate of abandoned scrambled eggs and toast, practically untouched, still […]

  2. Note to those who saw the segment on ABC’s Nightline:

    The free box depicted in the segment was NOT the free box in People’s Park in Berkeley; it is a different, much lesser-known free box elsewhere in the city that is intended to be used by anyone in the neighborhood. We also contribute clothes to this free box, and help to maintain it whenever we’re in the area. We actually contribute far more clothes than we select for our own use, since we only choose items very infrequently.

  3. this blog is the invention of the century :)
    i fully support this filosophy because our world need that!
    thanks a lot,

  4. Years ago I had a web site called Monster Free until AOSmell canceled my account for using the word ‘ass’ in a chat room. But not all was lost. I made acquaintances with another freebie guy, Graham Pocket who runs in Australia. He’s a charming chap and never has any shareware nor crippleware. It’s all!

  5. I just created a forum for scavengers, freecyclers, etc. in California. I totally agree with this philosophy. It’s good for the environment, it’s great for our wallets, and helps us be more creative. Instead of looking at things and seeing junk, the creative juices get flowing and we think, “What can I turn that into?”

    You have great info, keep it up!

  6. Oh, I probably should have left my forum for those interested.

  7. Great article! I totally support you guys :) This philosophy is great and very practical. You should check out some free samples as well. Thanks again for the article and Best Regards!

  8. […] got without succumbing to mass-market production and consumerism, I’d highly recommend this read or even their blog. Their manifesto is in better words than I could have ever said–it seems […]

  9. Found your book Scavengers Manifesto at a thrift store here on Whidbey Island and paid just $1.00!!! Deal of the century! Plus I found my people! Thanks!

  10. […] Scavenge Blog […]

  11. […] but with little success. I know others have held their ground and been more effective. I found The Scavenger’s Manifesto to be a great resource with more than just tips and tricks for finding free stuff, but a different […]

  12. […] Scavenge Blog […]

  13. Have your book beside the bed, reading and re-reading. I will dip into the blog archives, but are you aware of A couple in Florida spent over a year amassing a list of every charitable thrift store in the country, and you can search by town or zip. It’s a wonderful resource when you are on vacation and need a thrift fix.

  14. […] -the blog […]

  15. […] but with little success. I know others have held their ground and been more effective. I found The Scavenger’s Manifesto to be a great resource with more than just tips and tricks for finding free stuff, but a different […]

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