Professor is dumpster-diving urban Robin Hood

Thu Dec 1, 2011 5:15pm EST
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By Judy Wiley

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - University professor Jeff Ferrell is something of a U.S. urban Robin Hood, although what he gives away is not stolen but the result of dumpster diving.

The Texas Christian University (TCU) professor of sociology sifts through dumpsters and gives the vast majority of what he finds to the needy or to friends.

He has also managed to furnish his living room with what is left, filled a tool shed with a collection of everything from screws to power tools and never pays for a bar of soap or office supplies.

Ferrell, 57, has been known to give scrounged food to friends, in the form of prepackaged, never-opened cocktail nuts. And because he gathers the goods on a bicycle, most of his finds are from dumpsters near his home.

The energetic, lanky professor with spiky hair is passionate about the ill effects of consumerism on society.

"I think it's appalling on the level of just sheer waste and full landfills," he said in an interview at his house. "I think it's also profoundly disturbing given the level of need in our society."

Ferrell's wife, Karen, buys groceries and not all her clothes come from the dumpster, and some of their furnishings did not come from the trash. But Ferrell says he never buys clothes for himself.

Scrounging is his word for what he does. When he moved to Texas 10 years ago from Arizona, Ferrell decided to live off other people's discards.   Continued...