Leave my garbage alone


In my years trash picking I’ve had pretty generally good experiences with the people whose garbage I picked through. Some have asked me politely to leave while others have simply noted that there was nothing interesting to find (whether I trusted that or not is another story entirely). At the same time many people have been very kind and generous, going out of their way to give me information about the stuff they put on the curb or to encourage me to take things home.

Today, however, I met someone who was quite displeased with the notion of me going through her trash. In fact, she was furious.

I was looking through the bags in the picture above. I was a bit more than half-way done when a woman opened her front door and started screaming at me. She told me to put her trash back, that I had no business going through her garbage, that I was a bad person and that I should get a job like everyone else. It was a quite the diatribe I tell you what!

I put a few of the things I had found back in the bags as she requested (including some old records) but kept what I already had put in my backpack. I wanted to keep what I had found and wasn’t really convinced by her logic. She never really explained why she was so angry, though it doesn’t seem she has much respect for the scavengers of the world. All in all I think I composed myself pretty well under fire.

Ah well, so it goes. I expect most of the people I meet going forward will be much more pleasant. However, I’m not going to post pictures of the things I found here – it’s not worth the potential hassle. Either way it’s getting close to the end of the month so I’ll definitely have some more finds for you soon!

11 thoughts on “Leave my garbage alone”

  1. Some people are completely irrational and there is no reasoning with them. Don’t let’em bother you! You are doing a good thing whether they know it or not.

  2. I’m glad you’ve developed a duck’s back for that kind of thing to run off. I’d have been bummed out for a week after. I’m guessing she’s insecure (fear of her identity being stolen) or just plain nasty … or maybe there were body parts in one of the bags. You never know.

  3. I was thinking of the concern about identity theft. My mom used to pick things up off the curb, but not from the bags. She refurbished alot of neat things she found there and in dumpsters.

  4. I think it’s completely expected. People toss things with a belief that their secrets will go to the garbage. Not just the identity theft, but all those alcohol bottles that they don’t want others to see. When it’s still in front of their house, it’s a lot more traceable to themselves.

    People have fussed over the piles that seem from someone who has died. The reality is, the person has died, they don’t care. If they are fussing over what to do with their stuff, they are still alive the minute they die they don’t care.

    But I’m sure some of them would be embarrassed to find someone going through their discards, they had a sense that it would be discarded. They don’t want their “dirty laundry:” viewed by others.

    No, this isn’t really a reason to stop looking at garbage, but people have to look at the other side, rather than dismiss it.

    I would again argue that some of the problem is the garbage laws. I still haven’t found the Mirror article from I think 1999, but when there was all that fuss about how garbage had to be in large green garbage bags, it seemed like more garbage then went into those large green garbage bags, rather than visible to all. So it seemed (and this is subjective) that less stuff was visible after the law changed, when before the good stuff was generally just left on the sidewalk for all to see. So now we have people actually opening the bags to look, and the things people don’t want others to see get viewed.


  5. That woman was definitely mean.If she was worried about identity theft,she could have shredded her documents before putting them in the trash bag.You should definitely have the right to salvage good vinyl records from trash bags on the curb that would end up in the landfill otherwise.

  6. There are quite a few people like that who will throw out reusable stuff but get angry at those who try to salvage it from the garbage.Just ignore her.If I were you,I would have gone back a second time 30 minutes later and checked out the trash in detail­.You could also have carried the bags into an alley and quietly open them there,where she would not see you.When you were finished with checking the bags in the alley,you could have tied them up neatly and dropped them back on the curb.Think about it!

    1. I went back a little later but I still felt a bit off about it. I felt the bags I didn’t go through and they didn’t seem too exciting so I decided to just move on. I got the impression I went through the best bags first.

  7. One hausfrau came out of her lower duplex and yelled at me as I was going through her garbage. I ignored her, enraging her even more. “I’m going to call the police!” she hollered threateningly.

    “Go ahead!” I snapped. She whirled around and stomped inside, slamming her door. Never did notice any cop cars in the area…

  8. You know what?Garbage is up for grabs so let her just get down with her non-specific self and get the hell over it.I am not wrong.
    If you left a big mess on the sidewalk???? well,then yes,but if you were polite and just took what you wanted and left the rest all tidy well then she should just shut the hell up.Right?

  9. Not to be mean, but screw her, garbage is up for grabs, take it! Ignore her, she no longer owns these possesions! Be respectful, do not make a mess, but dont listen to these people and dont let them put you down. Garbage is garbage. Its up for grabs, may as well take it for your own benefit rather than to have it dumped into a landfill!

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