300

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This is my 300th post!

I started “Things I find in the garbage” back in March 2012 – around two and half years ago. A good friend of mine suggested the idea to me and I quickly took to the world of blogging. I posted fairly prolifically in those early days; for example, in April of 2012 I wrote 27 posts!

The blog has definitely changed over time. I think of my early blog posts as charming and a bit naive. I wrote awkward, vague post titles like “Some stuff from yesterday and from before” and “Some of the things from yesterday,” didn’t know about white balance adjustments in photography, and didn’t do much on the editing front. However, in many ways these early posts were a more accurate description of what you see on the streets on a day-to-day basis. It wasn’t my “job” back then, my goal was just to document what I happened to see.

My posts these days without a doubt contain a lot more treasures. I’ve gotten a lot better at pickin’ since I started writing the blog, and especially since I began doing it as a full-time job in February 2013. I now find amazing stuff on a pretty regular basis, while the past was a bit more boom and bust. A side effect of this is that I glaze over the more everyday stuff that I would have mentioned – perhaps at length – earlier in my blogging days. My blog in its current form is a better description of the totally insane things that are being thrown out on a day-to-day basis, as well as the potential for profit that comes with finding them.

Other aspects of the blog have also improved greatly, or at least have become more professional. I write better titles and take better pictures. I have a facebook page and a blog-specific email address. I spend a lot more time editing, which has greatly improved my writing skills. I’m proud of what the blog has become.

Perhaps the biggest change though is the focus on selling. In my early posts garbage picking was a hobby – now it’s a profession. Noting my weekly profits has become a consistent part of the blog, as is mentioning my newest eBay listings. By doing this I hope to illustrate how selling garbage for a living works (or at least my version of it). I also hope to encourage people to do the same, even if only part time. There are definite economic, social, and environmental benefits to this line of work. Not everyone can devote themselves to the garbage picking as I do. However, more people keeping their eyes on the curb, aware of the potential benefits (and risks) of doing so, will help to reduce waste, lighten our effect on the environment, and give people another potential source of income.

As for the future? Who knows, but I don’t plan on quitting any time soon. I think I have a good thing going here, and I’m pretty sure “Things I find in the garbage” is the only frequently updated English-language blog of its kind on the net. That in itself makes it a valuable resource. I now have around 2700 followers (another big difference from the early days!) and have been featured or mentioned in newspaper articles, radio segments, the local news, and on WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed” page. Waste-related topics seem to be getting popular these days, so I won’t be surprised if the best is yet to come.

(By the way: if you’re interested in seeing old posts there’s an archive at the bottom of the page.)

Let’s get to the garbage! Last week was a bit quiet, partly due to taking Thursday and Friday off for yard sales (more on that later). St Henri, however, was once again productive on Sunday night. These bags were at the same spot where I found the 25c bills and US Navy WWII bracelet last week.

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Not far away was another, larger pile that clearly belonged to the same place. I don’t remember seeing anything here last week and I find it a bit odd that things were placed in two distinct locations.

Inside the bags was a lot of neat and sometimes useful stuff, including: a set of three vintage “Made in Canada” casserole dishes (one was broken); an old teapot by Stadler of Staffordshire England; a stainless steel coffee pot; two aluminium mugs; a bunch of miscellaneous kitchen tools; two vintage razors (that should make me a bit of coin on eBay); old tins, containers, and bottles; a framed poem by Ogden Nash; an ancient insulin syringe in its original box; and a collectible Old Spice / Shulton shaving mug. My favourite piece of this bunch might be the last: a 1950s clip made as an advertisement for Tetrafume Weevil Killer.

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Some of these items were stashed away in two old cigar boxes. Neither are worth much, but they’re still cool and great for storing small items.

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Whoever owned these items had an interest in the peace movement. I found a pin for a disarmament rally here last week and this time around these two popped up. The one on the left is particularly cool – the symbol is quite aggressive!

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I thought this little book was pretty cool. It was given out for someone’s elementary school graduation in 1936 and features pages full of messages from his classmates. Some of them are pretty funny. Of the ones I’ve read my favourite is a clever poem from Dean:

“Roses are red
Violets are blue
Pigs become hogs
And so will you.”

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I saw this old canvas bag and instantly recognized a number that was printed on it. It’s the same as the one etched onto the US Navy bracelet from last week, meaning that this bag was used in the Second World War. I also found a piece that reddit helped me identify as a WWII ribbon pin.

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This little red box was filled with old photos, letters, telegrams and other ephemera. Some of the letters and telegrams are from the war years. I haven’t looked at it all much yet, but there could be some interesting bits of history in here.

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I also found four pages full of slides. They seem to be interesting and very well shot. I’m most excited by a number of cool shots of Expo 67 – the Expo 67 Facebook group is always hungry for new photos. I’ll definitely share some with you when I get them digitized, which will hopefully occur in the next few weeks. Until then, I offer a camera-shot preview below.

All in all a great haul! I’ll definitely be back in St Henri to check on this same place next week. I found some good stuff in the Plateau last night but that’ll have to wait until my next post.

Last week was exceptionally warm and I decided to take advantage by having an end-of-season yard sale bonanza. I teamed up with several different friends and held sales on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The most successful was Sunday on Duluth and Coloniale. I made almost 350$ and obviously got rid of a tonne of stuff!

I apologize to my readers for not mentioning any of this on my blog or Facebook page. Since being shut down by the city in two consecutive yard sales earlier in the year I haven’t felt confident in saying that I’ll be at a specific place at a specific time. Now that I seem to have found a few different good locations, however, I think I’ll feel better about that.

Last week’s garbage sales (September 22 – September 28)

-Yard sales: 124.50 + 30.75 + 119.25 + 347 = 621.50$. An amazing total that makes up for my relative lack of yard sales so far this year. I unloaded a lot of stuff, which opens up more space for the new and helps me stay organized. My two biggest sales were of 60$ and 80$, both of which came on Sunday. The former was almost entirely taken from my boxes of little baubles while the latter was a more diverse portfolio of random stuff.
-Vintage Canadian Red Ensign flags: on eBay for 305.50$. I had listed these individually but one buyer bought them both. This is more than I had originally expected to get for them and is obviously a nice sale. Found in Mount Royal in late July.
-1950s Madrid Bullfighting poster: to a reader for 25$. Found in Mount Royal a few weeks back.
-Miniature Japanese masks: on eBay for 73.50$. Another nice, quick sale. Found in Mount Royal at the same place as the masks.
-Loose change return: 4.75$.
Total: 1030.25$, 4226.75$ since May 18 (when I started counting). An amazing, record setting week. I don’t expect to crack the 1000$ mark any time soon, that’s for sure. Before this I was averaging around 700 a month. Obviously this won’t keep up, but the money I made this week will help me stay afloat for quite some time. It’s sort of funny that all my non yard-sale sales came from Mount Royal.

New listings:
(Note: no links are provided to listings featuring any sort of personal information)

WWII US Navy sterling silver ID bracelet

If you have a question, see anything that you’re interesting in buying, or to just want to say hello feel free to email me at thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I also enjoy comments!

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23 thoughts on “300

  1. Congratulations on reaching 300 posts – this is one of the most enlightening and entertaining blogs ever!

  2. I enjoyed reading the analysis of your blog’s evolution from its more modest beginnings. T’is true … you’ve come a long way. I like your relaxed informative delivery. It isn’t difficult to get a real sense of the personality behind the writing.

    Lots of interesting finds. Gad; who throws out pictures! I don’t understand that. I know you’ll have great fun sharing them though.

    I remember autograph books. They used to be all the rage. I had two, but they’ve gone the way of the dinosaur. It’s nice to see a few of the old familiar rhymes.

  3. You’ve had 300 posts (congrats!), and I’ve commented on every one. I guess that makes me your biggest fan. 🙂

  4. Awesome! And congratulations. This is one of my favorite blogs to visit.

  5. Dave says:

    Do you see a lot of people scavenging the trash in St.Henri?Do you see many people collecting cans and beer bottles in St.Henri?I live in Rosemount and visit my girlfriend in St.Henri.Just curious.

    • martng says:

      I have seen a couple of can pickers, but not much else so far. I’ve only gone at night so I can’t speak for whatever goes on in the morning.

  6. Hubert Lachapelle says:

    I am a silent admirer of your blog .I am interested ,really interested in knowing roughly what percentage of your subscribers are people living in Quebec and what percentage of subscribers are readers outside Canada .I hope you choose to answer this.I hope you can cover many more neighborhoods and rescue many more gems.Do not ever quit your blog .

    • martng says:

      Unfortunately there’s no way to tell where people suscribe from. I would expect though that many, perhaps 500 or more are from Montreal. These people are also more likely to comment.

      My top two countries by views (not suscribers) are Canada (139,000) and the US (65,000) with the UK a distant 3rd (7,200)

  7. Roben says:

    300 posts in and I just started following. Looking forward to digging in the archive later.

  8. But that’s the evolution of everything. When starting out, everything is new. So the fact that people throw out good stuff can be quite the shock. The first time you find something, that’s neat. Only with time do you uncover the fact that some things are really common, so what seemed valuable at the start is no longer so valuable a bit later. Since it’s new, you can’t evaluate how common something might be, that comes with time. I know every time I find something “unique” I keep hoping to find more items like that, only to find other things just as interesting, yet never the item again.

    The hands breaking the rifle is the symbol of the War Resisters League, founded in 1923 in the aftermath of WWI. I had a tshirt with the symbol, but it wore out.

    Michael

    • martng says:

      Exactly. Certain things are thrown away in droves, to the point where I don’t even notice them any more, including some books (I only take ones I think I can sell), kitchen cutlery (I only take particularly nice pieces), and so on.

      Thanks for the info. It’s always good to know a bit more about the history of these things.

  9. Linda says:

    Congratulations Martin from a newish fan in Eureka, Missouri USA. I am so very proud of you, noble soul. 🙂

  10. Brett says:

    Congrats! You’ve shared some great treasures!

  11. KerryCan says:

    Congratulations–on the blog, the evolution of all this, and for making garbage-picking seem so cool!

  12. thriftcycler says:

    Maybe a lot of people wanted to do what you do, but not a lot of them have the courage to actually do it. I’m very happy for you Martin. To me you are “living the life” that some people would only dream. Congratulations on the growth of your blog and career. I am one of the people who are learning from you and at the same time being amused and more importantly awed by your finds. Yes please, keep on hunting for more.

  13. thriftcycler says:

    sorry typo: I meant “dream of”

  14. 1two3more says:

    Congradulations! What great finds! It’s crazy what people just throw away.

  15. mirichek says:

    Hello dear scavanger, I sent you also a massage on facebook, sorry to bother you fro all possible derections.
    My name is Miri and i am trying to realize a creative collective project that will discuss and question the relation between art and garbage. I am currently bulding a class that i am going to offer at secondary schools around montreal.
    by the end of the first session i will ask all of the participants to bring there own garbage with them to school, the garbage will be used as a matirial for our collective artisitic creation. I am facinated by your blog and life … if you are free to share maybe an hour max of your time sometime somwhere i would love to meet and take a few photos or if you dont feel comfoteble just ask you a few questions.
    I am sure that meeting you will help me in directing my project to the right way.
    cheers Miri

  16. Congratulations on reaching this milestone and thank you for blogging. I love your blog and feel that you are doing a service. I have always picked things from the trash, but I only started selling some things after I started reading your blog. You are an inspiration for me!

  17. Ramona says:

    Congratulations on your 300th post; I enjoy reading your stories. You have made me more aware of the treasures we have, but also it’s a good reminder not to just acquire things mindlessly. I hope that you are keeping records, this blog is a great start, because your story would make an interesting book. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Frenchie says:

    Hello, One follower from France. Here trash is put out in containers and we would not be allowed to scavenge. Also when going to the recycling place no one is allowed to take anything from it. Furthermore no one would be so open and dare confess that he/she is making a living from trash. Different mentality I suppose. Here too many people expecting public money.

  19. Fonda Rush says:

    Since you have mentioned that you found a syringe (unused), I want to tell you to use sturdy gloves (not just latex-thin) while searching blindly through the trash bags. There’s always a story: My friend, who was a manager of an apartment complex, was always cleaning up used needles from the premises. He ended up getting AIDS, so I just want you to be safe. I found your site a little while ago and am enjoying your stories. In the communities where I have lived (Ohio and North Carolina), our trash is put in large receptacles for easy mechanical pick-up, so the things most easily discovered are those things that don’t fit into them. This leaves out being able to find the little treasures that you so often write about. Dumpster diving is a little dangerous, but finding larger items next to the dumpsters is common in apartment complexes. Every once in awhile, one could find a piece of furniture that has been placed near the curb for bulk pick-up. There is one site, in particular, I follow a woman who is a furniture trash-picker. She knows just where to find things of this nature. She enjoys painting these pieces and offers them for sale in a consignment shop (I believe, or maybe her own booth in a shop). I enjoy your stories and seeing the results of your travels in the streets of your town. I hope that people (police) won’t hassle you too much for what you do, and I wish you the best.

    • martng says:

      Thanks for the comment. I probably should use gloves but I find them pretty bulky and awkward. On the other hand I mostly avoid apartment building trash and picking in low-income neighbourhoods so the risk is even lower. It also helps not to dig through bags blind, ie: deal with what’s on top of the bag first. Often what I’ll do is take the junk from one bag and put it in another, allowing me to see the small stuff and treasures (or potential dangers) that lurk at the bottom.

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