Marketing waste

I went out this afternoon to try to get a trumpet I have fixed up. The valves don’t compress, basically (I found this in the trash a while back). He told me it probably just needed a cleaning, but that it would cost 65 bucks plus tax, and that’s not really in my budget right now.

Maybe I can clean it myself. This guy online says all it really needs is valve oil and some grease, so maybe I’ll try that.

Regardless, on the way back I saw a few things, some of which bothered me.

First off was this old laptop. Not old enough to not have XP, but old enough to have a floppy drive. I just tried it out and it still turns on, but it seems like the screen is busted. I may just give it to the computer place on St Laurent. As least they might know how to dispose or recycle the parts properly.

This rack for your bike seems to be in fine condition. I’ll probably put it on the craigslist free section.

This map is from the Ste-Therese area, which lies northwest of Laval. I’m not sure when it’s from or how exactly it works (or is meant to represent), but I do know some urban planning people so maybe they can help me out in that regard.

I found a bunch of marketing stuff on the curb on Cartier by the railroad tracks. This box was full mostly of these plastic things. I don’t really know what they are for – maybe to put shot glasses in, but that seems kind of pointless.

Another box was mostly full of these plastic posters you see at bars. They look unused. I think these might actually be useful for sealing/insulation, as the stuff is pretty strong and thick.

Also in a box were these drink trays, also unused. The cork ones are pretty nice. I took these with me, as I’m sure these can come in handy for someone.

A good load of metal shot glasses, with the company name on them. I took these as well.

Some cinnamon sugar, to be used as part of some drink. They were open but perfectly fine (and mostly full) so I took them.

Finally, some Molson M posters, probably never used.

Seeing this kind of stuff on the curb bothers me because of how it’s a total waste of resources. We extracted the base resources (in this case, the various stuff needed to make plastic, and trees for paper), created the product (and used a bunch of oil), and shipped it over a great distance, only to be used once or never used and then put out on the street to be stored underground in landfills. Not to mention the land that goes to waste when you need to build a bigger landfill. All of this in the name of possibly making a few extra bucks.

It wouldn’t be as bad if the companies involved made a concerted effort to ensure the final product wasn’t a complete waste. For example, if they just gave the trays / glasses to local bars or to second-hand stores, or maybe avoided creating mostly-useless and distinctly disposable plastic products in the first place, or made a concerted effort to recycle, repurpose, or create compostable products.

It’s all too symbolic of the times we live in, but there are things we can do. I recently read about a website called which has had some success getting different restaurants to adopt more environmentally friendly practices. Perhaps some petitions are in order?

What other ways can we encourage less wasteful practices? Beyond me finding it before it gets trashed, of course 😉

A frying pan and a massive VTR

Last night I felt like getting some fresh air, so I decided to take a bike ride and explore the garbage in a place I’ve never really gone (to see garbage, at least). I went up north to Rosemont, where the pickup is in the morning to early afternoon. Because of this, some people leave their trash out before they go to bed, and there’s less of a “rush” for me to explore as much as possible before the truck comes and takes it all away.

I found some pretty decent stuff. Check it out.

One of the first things I came across was this painting, marked “Côté,” just leaning up against a trash bin. I like it a lot. I took it home and it’s now on the wall in the living room. The back says it’s done by Gertrude Côté-Couture.

I found these rocking chairs. One was perfectly fine, and the other was slightly off but good for outdoors. Seemed wrong to waste them so I stashed them in an alley for someone else to find.

A good milk crate, board game set, and a decent looking typewriter. I left this on someone’s front step. They looked kind of hip, so maybe they made use of it. Worst comes to worst they have a minor moment of inconvenience!

This frying pan was casually thrown on top of this pile of junk. It’s actually a pretty nice pan.

It’s made by Le Creuset, a French cookware manufacturer that began business in 1925. According to wiki, the rich “flame” color found on this pan is a signature of this company. The same type of pan sold on Ebay for 15$, and another similar one sold for 70$, so there is a market for this apparently vintage pan, but I think I’ll use it myself.

Cast iron never dies – it just needs some lovin’. This one needed a good scrub. I tried using a few different techniques, but in the end I found scraping it with a metal spatula and a spoon (for the rounder edges) worked best. Heating the pan seemed to make it easier.

It took a while, maybe 30 minutes of actual effort, but it’s pretty smooth now. I just need to re-season it and it should be good to go.

I found this frying pan too but it turned out to be a well used Teflon. I put it in the recycle. It’s hard to tell in the dark, although maybe I should have known by the weight. It was a good brand (Lagostina).

Another typewriter! This one looked good but didn’t really have room I have way too many typewriters anyways. I left it by a bixi station – hopefully a hipster found it.

And now for my last, heaviest, and favorite find of the find.

It’s a VCR, believe it or not, a JVC CP-5550U to be precise. It passed basic tested – the power and the lights turn on.

UPDATE (Jan 24, 2013): This turned out to be a U-Matic VTR.

It’s frickin’ huge and super heavy. As you can see, it’s at least 3 hats wide, 2 hats long, and 1.5 hats tall. Using the hat metric, this VCR is probably at least 50% more hat in every direction as compared to a normal VCR. It also weighs at least 50 pounds (67.5 actually, just looked at the manual online), and I only got it back home (a good 5-7 minutes without carrying a 70 pound VCR) using sheer determination. I put it up on the handlebars of my bike (fortunately, it came in the box) and gingerly accelerated, trying to avoid any sudden movements. I’m happy I got it back, and glad it didn’t break my bike, but when I see something like this I just have to have it.

It looks pretty cool on the inside. It’s actually quite clean, cosmetically and on the inside.

On the outside is written that this model is a “Professional” VCR and apparently this model was intended to be used for people looking to do film editing. (See the manual here).

According to this website, this specific model’s original MSRP was 3360$, and I assume that was in 1980s money. Clearly it’s not worth that much now, but from what I see on the internet I could probably get around 100-200$ for it. Not bad. I do feel an irrational attachment to it, due to it’s ridiculous size and the journey it was to get it back home, but in the end if I can get money for it I won’t turn that down.

That’s all for now!


I went out yesterday, and it was raining quite a bit at times, which seems to lead to less trash on the streets. I did find this wok though. It by Ikea and seems like new. It was oddly mixed in with a much more rusty wok and some more scrap metal. An older French woman was talking to me a bit, and she noticed the scrap metal and brought it to the alley for the scrap metal guys to take.

So, not too much yesterday, but altogether I saved a bunch of metal from going to landfill. In my mind that’s a big plus for the environment, as now we can use recycled metal for some unknown product instead of extracting more minerals from the Earth.