The Future

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It’s been pretty slim pickings the past few weeks. It’s hard not to get discouraged, especially given the experience I had with the police recently. At first I was mostly annoyed by it. However, being punished for trash picking also reminds me that scavengers are pariahs to a sizable portion of society.

Feeling like an outcast kind of sucks, and it’s gotten to my head a bit. I’ve become more concerned about the opinions of other people, and more afraid that people might see me picking and tell me to buzz off or call the police. Not to mention that after being treated like a criminal, I have to wonder if the police actually suspect I am a criminal.

If I had found anything good in the past few weeks I probably wouldn’t be thinking as much about it. But I’ve barely found anything at all, which leads to thoughts about whether this is a reliable line of work, especially after accounting for the fact that I’ll have issues with police and neighbourhood security types as long as I do it. It makes me wonder if I should find a “real job.” It’d be nice if going back to school was an option, but that’s a no go because as a dumb kid I decided to spend my student loan money on two more or less useless degrees, and only realized I had no idea what I actually wanted to do with my life after it was almost over.

However, it’s also true that trash picking might be more important now than it has ever been. I don’t want to get too political here, but Donald Trump was just elected President, and the guy doesn’t seem to believe at all in climate change. In fact he has said that it’s all a Chinese conspiracy. I’ve personally saved (literally!) tonnes of great stuff from going to landfill, and I know for a fact that this blog has encouraged people to try their hand at scavenging. The more people trash pick, the more we can mitigate the effects of a Donald Trump presidency and our wasteful, throwaway society.

So, unless some great opportunity presents itself it’s probably best that I keep on keeping on and learn not to be affected by the haters hate. I’m still confident that there’s enough garbage out there to keep me going financially. However, I’m also going to put some thought into re-branding, or maybe changing the way I pick. I’ll let you know if I make any changes.

In the meantime, I’d appreciate it if you could tell me in the comments why you think trash picking is cool! I presume you do, since you read this blog. But it might help me remember that not everyone thinks that scavengers are low-life deviants. I’d also enjoy reading some of your trash picking stories, including best finds, best & worst encounters with other people, and so on.

Today I’ll share with you some of my finds from the past few weeks, and some stuff from earlier than I never got around to mentioning. At the top of the page was my best find from last week – a non-functioning Xbox 360 with lots of accessories. The 360 doesn’t power on, and none of the basic stuff I did to try to fix it worked. Still, I’m sure someone can fix it, or maybe just use it for parts. I put the whole lot on Kijiji for 50$, which is a good deal considering how much comes with it.

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This alarm clock was part of the great week I had about a month ago. It was found under some cassettes in a garbage can while taking a walk in the Mile End. The clock is an old Westclox “Big Ben” that was made in Peterborough Ontario sometime in the 20s or 30s. It works great and is quite attractive, though the ticking is way too loud for me to personally enjoy. I have it listed on eBay for 85$ + shipping.

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One of the cassettes was this Feldenkrais lesson from 1980. It’s kind of funny because one of my best friends, and sometimes lender of car is a Feldenkrais practitioner. It’s not valuable or anything, but my friend certainly appreciated it!

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I returned to the spot that earned me a “finders fee” and found a bunch of ripped up trash bags. Someone else had gotten there before me and did a crappy job at not making a mess. I presume they found some good stuff as well. Regardless, I dug around to see if there was anything they missed and found a small sterling silver dish, a Mexican silver bangle, a few miscellaneous pins, and an alpaca hair comb. The dish is the best find of the bunch – it weighs about 60 grams, making it worth about 30$ in scrap.

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If you have any ideas as to what this is let me know! It’s about six inches long, looks like a bouquet, comes in a nice box, and is totally unmarked. The base tests positive for silver, and the black bits at the end smell like some kind of incense. I posted it on the “what is this thing” subreddit and the best guess was that is was an atypical aspergillum (or the thing use to sprinkle holy water). I’m not particularly confident in that though, so let me know if you have any better guesses.

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Let’s finish off with this collection of eight seemingly brand new pairs of jeans I found in a bag near Square St-Louis. Some even had their original tags. They’re all different sizes, so I suspect that maybe their previous owner managed a clothing store. Most were made by a relatively new local brand (I won’t say which one, because it might hurt their business if someone Googles their name and finds out that someone threw out a bunch of their jeans) and a few others were Levi’s. These should sell for 5-10$ each at future yard sale.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

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116 thoughts on “The Future

  1. Celeste says:

    I think trash pickingis very important. We had to get rid of our composter, and it was $100. I couldn’t give it away. I was so sad for it to go to the landfill. The historical perspective is important as well as it being a great, non tradition job.

  2. Carrie says:

    This work is so important especially since you live in an area that offers items of historical and social importance at times. I love diving and finding treasures, it’s euphoric! I enjoy (almost) every aspect of it, finding treasures and also saving stuff from the landfill. My sometimes favorite finds are those things you use so frequently that it’s like finding money: cleaning supplies, high end beauty products, sealed food.

  3. Mark says:

    Big fan of the blog, and first time poster. I understand your doubts about the future of garbage picking and see how you could be discouraged. Unfortunately what we see as a good deed, others see as a concern or nuisance. I would encourage you to start scavenging from other sources to supplement your income if that is a concern of yours. Consider buying from other low cost sources. Thrift stores, Craigslist, flea markets, Facebook marketplace, Kijiji, eBay etc. are great places to find items close to free, without the worry associated with trash picking. You have already have developed a great eye for value as evidenced by your posts, and I think that is the hardest part about getting started flipping. Why not make it a little easier on yourself and add a thrift store route to your weekly routine? I wouldn’t let a couple unpleasant incidents stop you from garbage picking though, you’re doing the Lord’s work and entertaining thousands on this blog. Take care!

      • Nancy says:

        I also agree. I personally go to two thrift shops almost every week. If I had more time, I would open an ebay store and resell some of the stuff.

        As for what you do, Martin, I think it’s a service to society and you shouldn’t be bullied by those who consider themselves the “haves” because they don’t want people profiting from their desensitization to value. I believe it would be worth it looking into legal aid regarding the tickets. It definitely feels like an abuse of authority (looking to find something to ticket you with) and I strongly believe you could win this.

        I have done a bit of municipal law. If you tell me which arrondissement this happened in, I could look into it. I believe you said Westmount?

        I assume you see my email? Email me details of your case. I would love to help out if I can.

        Nancy

        • martng says:

          I should probably get into alternative sourcing a bit. None of the thrift stores around here seem to be much good in terms of finding treasures, but estate / moving sales might be good. I go to those occasionally and have flipped a few things for modest profits.

          It was Ville Mont-Royal. You can see that ticket, and I think I linked to the by-law in the post called “Ticketed!”. The details of that last ticket are pretty much all on that last post. I’m not going to challenge it as it’s not for much money. The mechanical inspection thing unfortunately was not challengeable. I do have the results of the inspection as proof that it was given without much warrant – it’s maybe not useful now, but in the future who knows.

  4. Dude! says:

    Don’t be discouraged…keep doing what you’re doing! You’re showing readers that not everyone has to join the rat race in a 9 to 5 job. You work hard out on those street, but it pays off for you. It demonstrates there is a different path a person can follow. You’re also putting a spotlight on the wastefulness in our throwaway society, while at the same time saving valuable items that would never again see the light of day if it wasn’t for you!

    I hope you keep at it…….Dude!

  5. drewsdailydelight says:

    Just wanted to chime in to say that I really admire what you do and think it is punk as hell (in a good way). I’ve never personally attempted garbage picking but you’ve found me so much amazing source material for my art and you’ve literally made my life happier. Every day you drop stuff off is a hauliday. Keep doing what you do please!

  6. Lynn says:

    It’s normal to go through a bad patch where you start to question yourself, but don’t be downhearted. You are talented at what you do and so few people can say that how they make a living is good for the planet and good for the soul. I have been a full time ebay seller for 10 years now. I source the stuff I sell from garage sales, thrift shops and other people’s garbage. Every now and again I hit a bad patch and question if this is what I should be doing with my life, but if truth be told I am addicted to the thrill of the hunt and cannot give it up. You have accumulated knowledge over the time you have been doing this and that knowledge is valuable. Use that knowledge to start sourcing from other venues like estate sales. Pick a couple of types of item that particularly interest you and learn everything you can about that area. Place ads on Craisglist asking if people of that kind of item to sell. There is so much potential to make a good income and have fun doing it. Keep your chin up!

  7. Danyele says:

    Don’t let it get you down. I remember having the same feelings about it, I would struggle about the ethics of it all until the next really cool find I passed curbside…then the inner scavenger would take over. Now, years later it doesn’t bother me in the least. There is enough waste in this society where no one would ever have to do without again if they would only open their eyes and minds to see it. I love scavenging, it’s like a weekly treasure hunt. The neighbors where I lived before frowned upon what I did, until they started seeing what I found…it got so bad I was hiding stuff in the cab of my truck or at my mom’s I didn’t want them to see and take, because they would literally wait on the porch for me to pull up after making my rounds.

    Oh, and check the USB ports on the 360, picked one up that had the same problem, someone bent a pin on one of the ports and it was shorting out on the other ones, bent it out and made sure none of the pins were touching and it powered right up, my kid’s still playing on it 4 years later.

    Chin up, hope your next find is a great one!

    • martng says:

      Yeah I might just need a bit of a break to recharge the batteries or whatever. Overall I’ve never been too worried about what people think, but I have been a bit more recently, at least in the rich neighbourhoods (not shy at all my local neighbourhoods though).

      They would take your stuff? That sounds like actual stealing, haha.

      I checked all the pins but they looked okay. It’d be nice if it was an easy fix.

  8. deannadobie says:

    I am really on board with what you are doing and support you 100%. I as well find usable and perfectly usable items in my building (New white microwave, unused new set of dishes…. etc) and along the street unique treasures await to be found useless by other passerby’s.
    I have gotten past the odd looks and sometimes sneers and / or rude comments. But of late it just seems to that they know this is what I do – pick up random articles for “projects” in the works.
    I am an artist at heart and also work full time. Bravo to you and all that you do my friend . Keep on keeping on!

  9. tess says:

    I love to see the things you save, many a one of a kind and are given another life. A friend of mine does apartment clean outs (gets paid to take stuff away) and resells useful things at garage sales (paid again). Maybe you could advertise this service & preempt the garbage duty. Another tip, watch for garage sale listings, after the sale there is usually a big dump. I love the thrill of the hunt (mostly residential & nearby, I don’t have wheels) and have found jewelry, nice wood furniture, mirrors, clothes, art, plants, rarely-but-happily cash money!

    • willedare says:

      My mother is taking years to empty her home before (theoretically) selling it. I wonder if you could establish connections with a few respectable realtors who would cherish your willingness and ability to separate wheat from chaff when houses or apartments need to be emptied… Your skills might also be valued by folks who run estate sales? I truly hope you persevere. Your posts regularly inspire and enliven me.

      • MB Danielson says:

        I think this gentleman makes a really relevant point. Your experience and research is an education in appraisal skills. I wonder if professional appraisers would hire you freelance, part time to deal with stuff they get from estate sales etc.

    • martng says:

      I do like the apartment clean out idea, maybe I can advertise something like that. Though I’d likely need a truck.

  10. planetwhat says:

    What are your degrees in? In my experience, there’s always a way to leverage your education – I guess I’m just curious how 2 degrees could truly be worthless (although you did quantify your statement with a “more or less” which is ok – universities were originally meant to expand your mind, not get you a job). Garbage picking *is* important – I think a lot of people throw things away *hoping* people like you will save them from the landfill. You might not want to do it forever, though that doesn’t mean you should give up on selling things online. For what it’s worth, I think of you as a marketer more than a garbage picker…

    • martng says:

      Sociology and Political Science. They’re pretty run of the mill degrees that a lot of people have. I’d have to get a masters for them to be of any particular interest to employers, but I can’t go back to school at this point (outstanding student loans and no money) and I don’t think I’d want to anyways.

      I also say they were wastes of money because I have a hard time remembering anything I “learned,” haha. I feel like if I had bought and read, lets say five books I’d have the same amount of knowledge that I received from years of university. But I also wasn’t a very good student – I got decent grades but never actually did any of the readings. My fault I admit, I’ve always been easily distracted.

      Some have argued that school would have helped my writing skills. That might be true, but I honestly think that my years of blogging (and editing) have done more for my writing skills that essay writing ever did. Just compare my first blog posts to more recent ones for example!

      I think the amount of things that I find that are put there to be found are pretty low. Some of the furniture and lamps and stuff, definitely. But if someone’s putting tiny things inside black trash bags they’re not expecting them to be found.

      I do think that I’ve become a pretty good eBay seller, and I have a basic understanding of a lot of different markets. I don’t feel like I’m a particularly effective marketer (my Etsy store for example is really not very good from a branding perspective) but I do have a knack of knowing when something might be desirable to a specific market or collector.

  11. Yes keep up the good work you are doing a great thing for your city and the planet, keeping good items out of the landfill and finding them a second life. The amount of stuff our over-rich society throws away is really shocking. Even by diminishing it a tiny bit, you are doing good. I can’t understand why this is considered in any way a crime – it really doesn’t make sense!

    I myself have no qualms about picking up something good somebody has put out by the curb. I’ve found antique dishes, furniture, quilting fabric – the best thing was a huge (6 foot tall) bird cage on wheels. The guy had just put it at the curb so I asked him if he was throwing it out. He said yes, his pet cockatiels had died, he’d put it out for the metal scrappers, but that I was welcome to take it. I happened to know somebody who needed such a cage for a parrot they’d just rescued. The guy was so happy that somebody could make good use of it, he said that was much better than it just getting crushed for scrap. It was a total win-win-win all around.

    Keep up the good work!

  12. Suzanne Allred says:

    Just hold your head up and walk proud, brother! People who judge you are uneducated and ignorant. I take so much pride in scavenging that I have to stop myself, when complimented on something, from saying “thanks, i found it in the garbage on moro street”‘

  13. Donna Peterson says:

    Take Heart! Not only do I enjoy reading your blog, I’m amazed that you are able to make a thrifty living at it too. The things you find have value, not only monetary, but as stated in other comments, historic and artistic value too! Your vision and goals are good ones, and I’m sorry if other narrow-minded people sneer and see you as maybe ‘too alternative’ or scummy. I wonder if maybe they possibly think you are like drug-addicted desperate–that you cull thru trash hoping to find something to sell or pawn for money?? and these people worry that someone like that is close to their homes (next move is stealing from actual home, possibly!) I guess I would recommend that you dress VERY nicely, and maybe even have a business card printed up or a card, stating what you do is finding value in trashed items, before they are committed to the landfill forever and lost. Maybe even list in a pamphlet/booklet with photos some of the amazing historic and/or artistic items you find, or that you have up-cycled to something amazing that is now being used? And yes, you may sell some of the items, so that you can keep up this hobby/living. But even then, those items are going to someone who values it, whether it is historic Jewish passports, Polish vintage literature, antique silver cigarette cases, anime DVDs, vintage local postcards, photos, articles, souvenirs….people find value in those items which would be forever lost…to just ‘garbage’. Who knows? Pass out enough cards, esp. at your ‘yard sales’ and maybe people will contact YOU when their elderly relatives pass on and they are overwhelmed with their excess items filling basements and attics, or simply because they need to clear out 40+ years of a home and downsize to an apartment. Sure, they can sell those items themselves, but it’s a LOT of work. There are people here in Seattle who are contracted to run Estate Sales–you could do that in your future, perhaps as a business, or just simply offer to take things they would have just trashed anyway. I’m sure people would rather know that Auntie’s items are going to possibly be valued by SOMEONE in the world, rather than filled a landfill and forgotten! Best of luck, I really enjoy your blog!

    • martng says:

      I like the idea of branding a bit so that I look less scary to people while I’m picking. It might be good to have a mission statement of some kind, or a goal I’m looking to accomplish (right now I have a goal, but it’s a bit vague).

      Also, I think if I were to started going out in the morning instead of at night, that I would look less scary as well. People are afraid of the dark, and afraid of people who make their moves once the sun goes down. Going out in the morning would make me a little more accountable somehow, in that people could actually see me, the car, and so onn and presumably having this information would make them less scared.

      Yes, perhaps I can enter the estate / moving sale business somehow. Certainly something to think about.

      • Donna Peterson says:

        Wear a certain color (or argyle!) sweater vest underneath your coat…and maybe a vintage tie peeking out! Natty colorful socks. Or a certain stylish hat or scarf, so that you are recognizable instantly–“oh, there is that Vintage Collector checking our giveaway trash I read about in the local paper, honey! Maybe he wants those horrible decorative candlesticks from Auntie Bess, you think? Maybe I’ll go out and talk to him and ask him about them!” Become approachable. Branding and a certain look, name, or logo is a good idea, free advertising!

      • Celeste says:

        Maybe you could put those green recycling arrrows on a jacket or hat. Not so you look like you are pretending to be official but maybe if you present yourself as an upcycling artist.

  14. Nola Townley says:

    I love seeing what you come up with. Don’t get down on yourself. You are being a good steward of someone’s trash. There was probably a wave of people in that particular area that didn’t clean up there mess. I wouldn’t stop but be smart. Go to other areas. Go on Craigslist and post you are looking for trash. Put an ad in your paper saying you would take things they no longer want. Show up when rummage sales are about done and offer to help them clean up or make a bundle price of things you know you can re-sale at a profit. Flea markets are good places but most of them know if their stuff is valuable. But you may be able to get some good deals at the end or the end of the season. If someone hollers at you for picking their trash tell them you clean up after yourself quite nicely and won’t be a bother. Don’t give up!

  15. Joyce Hayden says:

    Don’t give up! You give so much pleasure to so many people in addition to doing good deeds

  16. Maggie Kathwaroon says:

    I look forward to your posts and can’t wait to discover what you have found. I am a bit of a scavenger myself in that if I see something interesting, I will fish it out and bring it home. The amount of still useful stuff that people throw out is unconscionable. I live in an affluent area I don’t understand why people don’t at least bring their no-longer-wanted belongings to Renaissance or the Sally Ann; they seem to have enough room in the SUVs and minivans for trips to Costco, why not to a thrift store?

    Have you thought of writing your city counselor and asking them to consider easing up on this kind of surveillance? You are, after all, doing a service by saving items from landfills and recycling still useful items.

    • martng says:

      I doubt they would listen to me unfortunately. They don’t really care about things going to landfill or being recycled, their main goal is to make their citizens feel safe. They have no real interest in helping me earn my living.

  17. Catherine says:

    Not only are you saving things from the landfill, making money and finding absolutely fascinating and historical items you write about it in a very engaging way. Sorry for the long run on sentence.
    Really look forward to every post. You are my hero!

  18. vonlipi says:

    Trash picking is so so important! Keeping stuff from ending up in the landfil is crucial.

    Trash to some is treasures to others….too bad some people think they are above it.

    Yesterday I rescued a huge amount of bubble wrap from a box near a very noce jewelry store downtown…..
    Some of my coworkers thought I was crazy and disgusting for bringing this in the office!
    All of it was in unused condition, super clean… and I will help me pack up Ebay sales.

    Trash picking doesn’t have anything to do with being poor or well to do. It is our duty to reuse and recycle. If I have things I don’t use anymore, I will put them near the giving tree for someone to take if they need it. It is the way it should work.
    Don’t let yourself be brought down by negative coments or the police…they should give you a bonus because you are helping society!!!!

  19. Antero says:

    I’ve been trash-picking in St.Henri,downtown,Ville Emard and Lasalle on and off for bottles,cans,paintings,food,books,tools,etc for eight years.Rescued a lot of good stuff.I never got a ticket or got threatened luckily.I hope it stays that way.That is maybe because I have never trash-picked in Town of Mount Royal,Hampstead or Upper/middle Westmount.Those rich neighborhoods have many more residents who dislike scavengers intensely and regard them as a nuisance.Sorry to hear about your scuffles with the police.But you must keep scavenging.You should fight the latest ticket you received in court.So many readers are supporting you.There is no reason why you must quit scavenging.You’ve had 20 times more good experiences than bad ones.

    • martng says:

      It’s definitely because you’re not in these specific rich neighbourhoods. They can afford to pay for neighbourhood security, and have a bit more clout with police. I’ve never had any issues picking the the Mile End, Plateau, Rosemont, Verdun, CDN, and so on. The existence of trash pickers there is just a fact of life, and there’s no way to stop it.

      I’ll never stop scavenging, I’m sure of that. It’s just too much fun. But I may consider a change in approach, or maybe returning to it being more “part-time” rather than full-time. We’ll see.

      • I think you have it reversed.

        Some areas are terribly residential, and they don’t get much foot traffic. They don’t even get much car traffic, mostly people going to a specific house.So walking becomes suspicious. Other areas get more pedestrian traffic, and aren’t so far from streets that aren’t residential. I feel a bit funny walking up residential streets in NDG from Sherbrooke to Monkland, long residential streets with big houses. I’m going to something on Monkland, where there are stores, but the specific street means nothing. TMR is a weird layout, an enclave with some stores in the centre, but those are mostly if local nature. The only reason I’d walk through there us to get from Cote des Neiges to Mountain Equipment Coop in Marche Centrale.

        So a lot is out of the ordinary. One can also argue that with little traffic of either kind, there aren’t the natural blocks to crime. Fewer are around to see it. This is true of factory type areas too. Yes, money allows for the isolation, but I don’t see it as some fear of invading hordes.

        Density is much higher in the areas you mention, there are more reasons to be there, and people around that will make criminals think twice about doing something.

        Michael

        • martng says:

          Also good points. Population density and specific urban layout are also factors. Unless you’re walking a dog, walking itself is a bit of a deviant act in TMR because there’s nowhere really to walk to. And it definitely makes a difference that the Plateau, for instance has about 5x the population density of TMR. More eyes on the streets to be sure.

          Also, perhaps it’s not a surprise that rich people want to protect themselves, as they are clearly the most profitable targets for criminals looking to steal from someone. So, while it’s annoying for me given that I don’t want to steal from anyone, I probably shouldn’t be too surprised when I get caught by the same net.

  20. Eddie says:

    You get a lot of response from readers living outside Quebec.I hope more readers living in Montreal will be supportive and share their tips and experiences.

    • Karen says:

      I am a big fan of your blog and know you are doing an essential job for the planet. I’ve been going to thrift stores for decades and besides for the thrill of the hunt and never knowing what you’ll find in the next shelf, there’s finding some cool thing that i just love. And I’m finding things I need without having to support the production of cheap, toxic plastic crap.

      On top of that, your profession or avocation or however you think of it is keeping so much out of the landfill. We need you!

      At the risk of adding more politics here, it’s been said that the true job of the police is to look after the elites. This is why so much of the law focuses on property. So just know that, like it or not, that’s behind the issuing of tickets and fines. Try not to take it personally even though it sucks to be singled out for such mild “offenses”, and please keep doing what you are doing!

  21. Sylvain de Montréal says:

    Si je fais de temps en temps des ventes de garage, ce n’est pas pour l’argent, mais surtout pour éviter de jeter. Par chance, je réside dans NDG, le paradis de la vente de garage. S’il reste des choses, je les mets sur le bord de la rue avec une pancarte « À donner ». Il en reste en général assez peu pour les éboueurs.

    Lorsque ma belle-mère a cassé maison, un type nous a demandé s’il pouvait prendre les choses que nous mettions à jeter. Nous avons dit oui et il a réduit la pile de déchet du tiers. Nous avons pris son numéro de téléphone et on l’appelait les samedis ou nous vidions la maison. Il réparait, reconditionnait et faisait de ventes de garage avec le matériel.

    Lorsque mon père a déménagé en résidence et que nous avons vidé la maison familiale, je faisais une pile séparée de « scrap de métal ». Il y avait au moins deux ferrailleurs qui passaient les week-ends ou nous vidions la maison pour revendre les métaux au poids.

    On jette nos choux gras au Québec. Quant à moi, toute initiative pour diminuer les déchets est toujours une bonne idée, c’est pourquoi je suis assez fasciné par ce que vous faites et que je vous admire avec beaucoup de respect.

  22. Hera says:

    Please don’t stop what you are doing. I wouldn’t be discouraged by the TMR people, they are special, their problem is not only with scavengers but also with each other. It is a great pleasure to read what you found and your adventures. I personally find your work very interesting. Please continue.

  23. Stephanie says:

    Don’t stop.
    There’s some great advice in the previous posts, which can maybe help influence some slight changes to make you more effecient/effective.
    TMR has private security and now police on your case – stay away from there, yeah, it’s a great neighbourhood, but is it worth returning there & getting into more hassles? Probably not so maybe opt for an ‘it was fun while it lasted’ view and explore other areas….they might not be TMR, but as you know, you can find amazing stuff in other areas too – I’ve never found silverware thus far, and haven’t been as lucky as you have with jewelry, but the other things I’ve come across have been well worth the time & effort.

    • martng says:

      Perhaps, we’ll see. It might also be better if I started going out in the mornings instead of the evenings, so that I’m less scary to people.

      Jewelry hauls are pretty inconsistent. I remember finding a few great jewelry hauls in my first year or so of picking, and since then they haven’t been as common or big. Perhaps counterintuitively, most of my best jewelry finds have been in working class and middle class neighbourhoods rather than rich ones, I guess because the richer people know their stuff is worth money. Keep on picking and I’m sure you’ll get lucky!

  24. Susan says:

    Of course what you do is important! There is so much that goes into landfills that should not! I’m fascinated by your posts – it’s like treasure hunting!

  25. Ali says:

    Are you kidding me? You are doing something amazing. You won’t believe me but I often think of you and all the things being thrown away when I am thinking of buying anything new. Also if I am ever in the area would you consider letting me stay along? I would pay for the privilege. Keep up the good work.

    • martng says:

      Thanks, and perhaps! Especially if you pay for the privilege, haha. To be honest I don’t really do things like that anymore because I find having new people around distracts me from my work, but I could make an exception. Send me an email if you’re ever around and maybe we can arrange something.

  26. Arthur Babson says:

    You need to stop going to TMR for the time being.Go to Verdun west,LaSalle,Ville Emard,NDG,Ahuntsic,Ville St.Laurent and Griffintown more often to scavenge.You are highly unlikely to get tickets there.Those neighborhoods have a lot more scavengers who operate openly.Cops rarely question them or bother them in those neigborhoods

  27. ladyamay says:

    I wish I could find great things in trash here. It’s not a well to do community and it’s a very small town at least 40 minutes from any other. That being said, sometimes I do find stuff I can resell. I recently was given access to whatever was left in 2 houses and netted a whole car load of cool stuff. One thing you might try is placing an ad in a local facebook group that you will pick up unsold yard sale items or clear out garages for people if it is not too much trouble to get rid of the true junk and you have a vehicle. I have thought of doing that but have no place to store more right now.
    I wish you much luck in the future, I love recycling stuff, especially if it means I can make a little cash.

    • Ave says:

      Great idea about advertising to pick up things that are unsold at yard sales and clear out garages. A lot of people find those tasks a hassle, especially since the local thrift stores don’t pick up on weekends.

    • martng says:

      Not a bad idea, I’ll float the idea around my head for a while and see what comes out. It might be good to have a couple of these “odd jobs” so that I can make money outside of garbage.

  28. michelle says:

    Martin-
    i love your blog and appreciate your work. Your findings, your research into their origins and meaning, and the way you present this all have the stamp of a sociologist’s perspective, which is fascinating and educational to those of us without your knowledge and skills. So i disagree that your university time was useless.

    I feel very angry about your experience with the private security and police. This behaviour is authoritarian and bullying; it is entirely about social control, comes from and feeds into the fears of a well-ensconced group of entitled persons. You have had many useful suggestions after this post. I think you should consider whether you want to invest the energy to fight in court, but if you were interested in doing so, you would have local readers who know and support you who could speak on your behalf. I would happily do so.

    The numerous comments and wealth of ideas presented by your readers all clearly indicate that you and your work are much loved! I agree with many of the suggestions about possibly finding an alternate “picking” stream that particularly interests you and could generate more income with work off the streets.

    Keep it up!

    • martng says:

      Thanks for the good words! I don’t think I’ll challenge this one, as it’s really not for enough money for it to be worth the time, but if anything else happens I may like to have some help.

      I will definitely consider other revenue streams. Some interesting ones have already been provided by other commenters.

  29. Susan says:

    I love trash picking. When I was a kid my mom would stop at a dumpster on the way home from church to get flowers thrown out by a florist. Some things I have pulled out of trash recently are: organic leeks, a step stool, a child size folding chair, scrap wood, gift wrap, and plastic tote bins. I go for things I can use, not things with resale value.
    I totally understand people not wanting identity theft problems from people going through trash, but in reality we in North America are so wasteful and do squeamish about old or used things it’s silly. I tell my friends about pulling things out of trash and while many of them would never do it themselves, they do tend to offer me their unwanted stuff before donating it.
    I wonder if gender plays in to part of the problems you’ve had? I wonder if female trash pickers get less harassment because they are perceived as less threatening? I am female and I can’t remember ever getting in trouble digging in a trash bin, but I do it much less frequently than you.
    Any chance you could take a female with you to see if you get treated differently?

    • martng says:

      I do think that this is one area where women might have a bit of an advantage. They’re generally seen as less intimidating, and I think people are more like to want to support them somehow. Unfortunately, while I know a fair number of women it’s not really possible for them to come with me on my routes for a variety of reasons.

  30. mopiegirl says:

    I absolutely agree with adding thrift stores and garage sales to your route! That would be a terrific way to increase your income. You can also accept donations from readers — we can send you all our old junk (that we think you might be able to sell) and that would be a win-win. Of course maybe the energy loss in getting it to you makes it a wash for the climate…I’l keep thinking.

  31. Julie says:

    Martin, adding another voice to the chorus of support and admiration for what you do. I always smile to read your posts and draw a lot of inspiration. Please don’t stop what you’re doing, it’s amazing. Hugs, Julie S.

  32. Norma says:

    I think you and your profession are just wonderful. No matter what your degrees are in, you are putting in some long hours in the degree of humanities and social sciences, which is what my degree is in. My best trash picking finds were a Rubbermaid outdoor storage shed and a captain’s chair. I have rescued televisions, fisher price play houses, and I can’t tell you how much else, that has proven to be personally useful. You could write papers or articles on how the rich live based on their trash, and the same on how those with less affluence live. You are certainly articulate, and present your material in an organized fashion. You have researched the worth and history of a great number of your finds, and you have respect for your profession and those whose former belongings you are going through. You also have a great sense of humor.

  33. jason says:

    come see me about vintage books etc. i might have an idea for you and me. just call me so im at the shop when you are down in shawville. 1-819-647-5086 mon-sat. or email me renaissancevariety@gmail.com im 100 perecent for recycling going green etc. thanks. hope to hear from you. Jason.

  34. Marie-Josée says:

    Martin, keep doing your good work – saving perfectly good objects from degradation. Hope you feel uplifted by this wave of support.

  35. Cheapchick says:

    I don’t even see it as picking trash, simply recycling or rescuing things that are perfectly good! You do a wonderful job, please don’t stop. If you can’t make enough money at it continue at it part-time and get another part-time job to assist with your income. I cannot believe the things people throw out – so much waste and such a throw-away society. Keep up the great work!

  36. Bonna says:

    I just wanted to chime in that I love your blog:) Some of my favorite things are items I’ve found on my walks on garbage day and fixed up.So cool that you make a living keeping stuff out of our landfills!

  37. cathymik says:

    You are an example to the rest of us for wanting to keep our history intact. One of your commenters commented on thrift stores. Here in London they are very expensive. It used to be you could get a deal (and I have) but not now. Don’t know what it’s like in Montreal.
    Most of the suggestions you’ve been given are great. It would just depend on how much time and energy you want to spend on any one or more ideas. Though I do agree about yard sales or church sales in getting some great stuff.
    I’ve been following your blog for a long time and have learned so much from your posts. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
    I follow several blogs from the states and in some of the places you can buy from the garbage dump. They take out things that might sell: furniture in particular. I don’t know about smaller things though it is a good idea. They run a “store”. I think it’s a great idea and it most definitely is a win/win situation. Not sure how something like that is set up. Would love to have something like that here in London.
    I’m sorry that there are people who don’t have to think about what something costs – don’t need it any more; throw it away. That’s obviously the case in your troublesome area. You commented on that so well in some of your posts.
    Please keep up the good work.You make me want to get out there and scavage.
    All the very best,
    Cathy in London, ON

    • martng says:

      Thanks for the message. Most of the thrift stores I’ve been to here aren’t that cheap, or are picked over. But estate / moving sales might be better.

      The garbage dump thing I think is more common in rural areas. Around here, it all gets picked up by the truck and goes to landfill all crushed up. I’ve heard of people finding great stuff at these places, and have personally been to a cool dump in BC (though I didn’t take anything).

      • They have all these shows on tv where people are looking for deals, but they are going to antique stores and fleamarkets, where the sellers know the stuff and are aiming for the end buyer. So no amount of haggling can bring much profit.

        It’s only going to the raw source that allows real markup. Either garbage or garage sales where it’s just junk they no longer want. You might have to buy it, but there’s no mark-up that you have to ride on. Going to a used book sale will offer many books at good prices, but a used book store has already been to the sales and offer higher prices for the sorted set of books they offer. People will pay for not having to go through the junk. But if someone’s already done that filtering, you are paying them for it, and profit comes from selling at even higher prices.

        Michael

  38. SP says:

    Dude you’re a star. The stuff you find. You’re as free as a bird. I’d say if this scavenging thing truly provides fulfillment, then journey on. Please don’t do the thrift store thing. The problem is that going through someone’s garbage is illegal. Maybe a new focus on exposed items only. This is also something you can do with a full time job. You know best.

    • martng says:

      I don’t think it’s illegal, but there are by-laws against it in some rich neighbourhoods (which also apply to exposed items). I’ve never had any problems in poor or middle class neighbourhoods. I don’t think I could make any money on exposed items only regardless. There’s certainly the occasional good find (like the MCM chair earlier this year), but most of my best ever finds have come from bags or bins.

      Regardless, you’re right that I can do this even with another job. It’s something to consider.

      • I’m pretty sure it i illegal in the city of Montreal. I said it before, but back in 1999 there was a big fuss over how garbage was put out, so a new law passed that it had to go in actual garbage bags, not boxes, not bags from grocery stores.

        And The Mirror ran a piece about garbage, and they said it was illegal to take garbage. But I don’t remember exact details.

        If it is a law, it’s not enforced, but knowing the law is better than assuming it’s not illegal. If it’s illegal you can at least argue that it’s a bad law, but you lose power if you think it’s legal (but isn’t) and argue from that viewpoint.

        I’ve been stopped lots of times for just walking down busy streets in daytime, so I wouldn’t go looking for garbage at night, because suddenly there is a real cause for suspicion, even if you aren’t stealing. So I’ve never been stopped when looking over a pile of garbage, though a coo car d slow down as I looked over some junk outside a tv repair place on St Catherine Street near Guy.

        You’re also dismissive of the not-cops in TMR. I’m not sure of their status, but decades ago when the island police forces were combined, the smaller municipalities found smaller bylaws weren’t enforced. So they added “security”. In Westmount if is “public security” and do have limited powers, but are integrated with the cops, so they can get the cops fast. They do wear the clown pants these days.The municipalities using security guards (assuming they still do, rather. than moving to “public security”), I’m not sure their exact status but they aren’t quite like a “rent a cop” coming after a burglar alarm went off. Anyone in this sort of job can let their own views in, but you shouldn’t feel it doesn’t count just because they aren’t full cops.

        How you deal with either of these is up to you. But knowing the law gives power to however you deal with them. I haven’t routinely carried ID since Nov 18th, 1980, but that was after making sure I didn’t have to carry it when out walking. It’s not to avoid things but to ensure that I’m the one who controls what they know about me.

        If garbage picking is illegal, you can decide to break the law, but at least you know you are doing so.

        Michael

        • martng says:

          I don’t think it’s illegal. For instance, the police the other week knew that I was trash picking, but only ticketed me for some unrelated (and as far as I can tell, unjustified) offense. One would think that if it were actually illegal I would have been ticketed for it.

          There’s definitely a by-law in Mount Royal that prohibits trash picking. But it’s only in that specific neighbourhood, and might only be enforceable by by-law agents ie: local security.

          There are probably similar laws in Westmount, Outremont, and other places, though I haven’t really looked into that because I’ve never had issues there (probably because I go less often).

          That being said, you’re right that I should know the laws for real. Knowledge is power, or something like that. Perhaps I can consult with one of the free law clinics.

          You’re also probably right about the neighbourhood security. They are probably a level up from rent-a-cops. I expect they’d have more cred with the police, that’s for sure. And from what Carter posted, they are more important than I thought in terms of dissuading crime.

        • martng says:

          Also, I think you’re right about the day vs night. I think that maybe it’s time for me to start doing most of my routes in the morning, even if doing so is extra painful right now because of the consistently horrible traffic. One of the main reasons I like going at night now is that I get to avoid all that. Still, I realize that doing so makes me extra creepy to some people.

  39. Mariah says:

    I love reading about your finds and I hope you don’t get too discouraged. I think what you do is important… obviously not “saving lives” important 🙂 , but it has environmental benefits and even historical ones. You’ve found great memorabilia that shouldn’t be lost to time. I think you should change your perspective a bit and see this like being a freelancer or an independent contractor. Income will ebb and flow, and maybe you decide to pick up a side hustle in addition to this for a little more stability.

  40. I appreciate the sincerity with which you conduct your life, indeed you lead a fulfilling one full of unearthed treasures! You are also well-spoken, poignant in your mannerisms and in your contemplation of what really matters. I am very happy you exist and wish you to continue to be yourself because you have added richness to your community by maintaining your shared experiences and I appreciate it very much.

  41. What you are doing is so important and you inspire so many people. Please don’t give up. I wish there were some way to do a police outreach so that they understand who you are, what you are doing and why.

    • martng says:

      Yeah, that’d be nice. It might be possible in a small to medium size town, but I doubt the police here have much interest in spending the time to get to know me.

  42. Matt says:

    I can only recommend you diversify! Expand the way you “pick”. Go to flea markets, antique shops, second hand/thrift shops, find the goodies and learn what stuff goes for. Check magazines for sales ads, put in buy adds. Put fliers in peoples mailboxes.

    I specialize in old cameras and vintage timepieces for instance, I’m more or less an expert at this stuff now and I’ve built up a rather large stash of cameras and lenses that I sell off when I need the money. I sell both on eBay, local auction and sales sites, Facebook groups, even camera stores and also have regular customers! Best is to set Buy it now prices on your stuff and leave them up. Sooner or later someone will buy them, even if you have high prices! There are some pretty wealthy people out there that don’t really care how stuff are priced, they just buy it because they want it right away.

    Don’t go back to school and get into more debt, that’s just plain stupid. Don’t become a slave to the bankers… Invest in stuff, and when you have enough money, buy a small house or an apartment, and continue doing things like that.

    Also, it’s all about how you live and how you spend money. Do you have a lavish lifestyle (from what I’ve seen you don’t seem to be that kind of person)? Cut down on what you spend money on. You don’t need that much money to get by and live happily. Be creative and frugal and you’ll be OK 🙂

    Keep it up man and don’t get too down.

    • martng says:

      It’s a good idea to specialize in something. I go to estate and moving sales sometimes, but I don’t really know what I can definitely get value for. I’m kind of a “jack of all trades, master of none” in that way. I know how to recognize quality items, and research them to find out what they’re worth, but I don’t really know enough about any specific thing to feel confident taking a risk by spending actual money. It’s easier for me when it’s all free, haha. Maybe if I researched / specialized in one or two areas I’d be able to get more “scores” that way.

      My lifestyle is actually pretty frugal overall. I eat out sometimes, but not too often. I don’t go out much, drink much beer, do drugs, or whatever. I have spent lots of money though on therapy (I have some anxiety issues to work through) and dentistry, which is a bit part of why I haven’t made any progress on my student loans and feel a bit “stuck”. If not for that, I might have made a bit of a dent in my debt, and have more than a tiny saving.

  43. Vanessa says:

    You are doing the job of the futur. At some point, we will have to start thinking about recycling FOR REAL, reuse stuff and learn to consume less and less. You are really inspirational and make me pay attention to what I throw in the garbage. Thanks a lot

  44. Eddie Mitchell says:

    You have been an inspiration to me, even in today’s post. Thanks so much for helping me to move on.

  45. Marie says:

    Hi Martin,
    The silver thingie comes from Tunisia (you often see it in the souvenir shops) and is made to imitate a jasmine twig. It’s worn as a brooch or lapel pin. And I think that what you’re doing is incredibly cool. So many fabulous finds saved from the landfill !

  46. Jan says:

    I think you should consider a small shop open a couple of days per week. Even an unheated garage would do. My mother ran her antique/thrift shop out of a garage for years in Minnesota. Dress warm and have a small space heater. I also have a couple in my town that started a small shop advertising that they will buy estates and they would also go to auctions and buy the $1.00 dollar boxes of stuff – in the beginning. They sell things at very reasonable prices and are open 3 days per week. They are in their 10th month and now are relying almost 100% on the calls from people asking them to just come and clean out the house for FREE. They are making loads of money. I mean tens of thousands of dollars. The better things they do put on ebay.

  47. Cynthia says:

    Chin up. Experiences can tear you down, but you got this and are in it for all the right reasons. People that judge either don’t understand or are jealous that they did not think of it first or have the opportunity to exercise the same path. As they say one man’s trash is ….

  48. Brendan says:

    Is there anything you need that would make your job easier to be sustainable, that perhaps you haven’t had the money to buy? e.g. new bike, bike trailer, car, etc? Maybe a small kickstarter to help you keep doing what you’re doing?

    • martng says:

      I can’t think of anything currently. If I go through with some of these suggestions I may need a truck or a minivan, but I would need to think for a while about that before jumping into anything.

  49. Wow Martin, I think you’ve struck a chord … a strong resonant one! Kudos to you and all you do. I’m your biggest fan (you know it!). Your readers have posted some good suggestions. If you’d like a proper business card, let me know. I can design one and get it printed once you’ve approved it … and I’m paying. 🙂

  50. P Mcilraith says:

    Cheer up! You have had a nasty experience that has knocked your confidence. You are a forerunner in a movement to cut consumerism and care for our planet while providing some income. I love reading your blog. Please know there are people out here who are behind you 100%. Chin up and keep pickin!

  51. Michael says:

    I made beer money in college flipping video game consoles and got my start when a PlayStation 2 fell out of the garbage can at a house I ended up renting. I love the idea of saving things and keeping from overproducing, reducing landfill, remembering lesser-known history. You’re kind of a hero to me. I wish you luck and courage to continue. I keep looking at your etsy and eBay pages in hopes of something to get my wife some antique jewelry for a special occasion. Keep it up!!!

  52. I found an Xbox 360 a few years ago, I’ve yet to even try it. But at the time I did do some searches, and there may be an issue of capacitors needing replacing inside. But that was a cursory search.

    I was all excited, then realized the RAM couldn’t be expanded, so while it would make a good general purpose computer, it would mean less RAM than on my then current computer.

    I’ve ended up with a number of game consoles over the years, kind of a surprise. But I never find them with much, so no games or controllers. But ten other times I’ve found cables and games by themselves.

    Michael

  53. Keep on going! your job is amazing!

  54. Nancy says:

    Please don’t despair. You’re doing important work. I live in NYC where trash picking is a noble profession. From furniture to cans and bottles, the folks who comb through this city’s mountain of garbage on the sidewalks are providing a vital service, and so are you. Whenever I go on my run, I give “thumbs up” to every “can man” or woman I see. It’s tough to live in a world where people value big salaries, mega mansions and the latest expensive gadget. It takes real character to say, ‘I want less not more.’ Your blog–and your life–are inspiring others. How man people can say that? Keep on keepin on!

  55. diane Corey says:

    Love your posts. Hate to see you down. I have sold things on ebay thru a store that receives retail merchandise by the lot and sorts thru it. I started buying swimsuit pieces for .50 each and have had to reinvent myself a thousand times as the merchandise changes and the retailer has started selling online. I would think if you enjoy your work as much as you seem to, that working for an estate clean out business part time or other such business would give you ideas about how to run a larger, more profitable business with fewer dry spells and predictable income to help you save towards that goal. If you started your own clean out business, you can rent trucks by the day. Its interesting that in the states different things sell on ebay. Vintage Pyrex coffeepots, Pyrex colored mixing bowls and colored pyrex with designs are all hot. Also people buy replacement parts for small kitchen appliances like bowls for mixers and glass tops for blenders

  56. I, as well as many others, look forward to all your posts, don’t ever stop 🙂 I haven’t had too many nasty encounters, most have been pleasant, but early on in the summer I had 3 nasty experiences in one week. It really rattled me, and made me nervous for a few months. I can’t say I’ve completely gotten over it as I do still get bouts of nervousness and anxiety when stopping at a pile. I was wondering if the guy who left the mess at the spot you mentioned above was the guy who the cops were really looking for…maybe you guys look similar? Who knows…I could definitely see people complaining about him if he’s leaving a mess for the home owners to pick up. I agree with the others that thrift store flipping can pay off, I’ve found some great stuff in little known, or church basement thrift stores. Have you also thought of dumpster diving? Lots of times stores throw away perfectly good things still in original packaging. You could flip those on Craigslist or even add the stuff to your garage sales. 🙂

    • martng says:

      Yeah, I guess my confidence is just a bit shot. (It doesn’t help that I haven’t really been getting too lucky otherwise). I might end up taking a week or two mostly off so I can relax and reset my brain a bit. I haven’t taken any real time off in years.

      I haven’t really done dumpster diving no, except for food. Might be worth trying…

      The messy guy was in a much different neighbourhood than the police encounter. I doubt the mess is the problem there, it might be more the occasional theft (as mentioned by the commenter below) and the general paranoia of the rich.

  57. Carter says:

    Hi, I love the blog, great info here. Im not into garbage picking myself, mostly consignment for my customers items, but still love to see what you find. P.S., I heard about you through Scavenger Life and that was a great interview!

    Anyways, regarding the whole getting stopped in TMR thing, perhaps I can offer some perspective. I lived in an apartment (not a millionaire myself, just a normal apartment in a nice quiet neighborhood) in TMR for 5 years (2009-2014ish) and still have clients in the neighborhood. While I lived there my car was broken into twice (once for a 5$bill in my cupholder and the 2nd time for a hockey stick). A 3rd time they tried to but couldnt get in and simply broke my door handle which was expensive to fix. I also have several friends and customers in TMR who have had their cars and homes either attempted or successfully broken into. The police have told me that there are literally thieves who pass by every night and physically check cars and also use devices to test for frequencies for cell phones etc. That police theory makes sense because I’d rarely leave stuff in my car but the few times I did, I had problems. Other people have told me the same thing too.

    As someone who would occasionally work late into the night, Id often take walks in the summer time in the middle of the night, and on more than 1 occasion, Ive been questionned by police or the town security. And to be quite honest, Im very happy that they do that and was happy they would question why a young man is walking around in the middle of the night by himself. TMR is an expensive neighborhood with valuable homes/things/cars and is easy to escape from by all the close highways. As the police say, this makes it a prime place for thieves. The police and security are trying to amp up the security and homeowners are scared and frustrated that the problem has not been solved.

    I obviously do not agree with the b.s. tickets and fees that you had to pay. That sucks and you should maybe fight it, if you think you can win. But the sad reality is that, until they can find a way to curb the rampant crime, (and as a former citizen, I can tell you there is a whole secret un-talked about level of small time burglary and crime in the neighborhood,) the police and security have no choice but to question any sort of suspicious behavior (such as creeping through someones trash and having a bunch of items in your car). The lack of questioning and presence in the neighborhood would only make the burglary problem even worse!!!

    With that said, dont let it stop you. Also dont let the struggles of being a small business stop you either. You have a very interesting strategy. Perhaps what you need most, is to take this to a real business level and develop a business plan, goals, key performance indicators etc, and then ask other entrepreneurs and people in your network to review it and give their opinions and advice.

    Anyways, good luck!!!

    • martng says:

      Thanks for the comment. To be honest I never really thought of it from that perspective. In my mind, I assumed the crime rate there was low because most rich people presumably have alarm services. But perhaps it was naive of me to assume that this would prevent people from trying to steal.

      I have heard about there being some kind of device that somehow detects the presence of laptops and cell phones, and I guess it wouldn’t be hard to just drive around looking for that kind of thing. If someone forgets a MacBook Pro in a car, or a newer generation iPhone that would be an easy way for a criminal to make some quick money.

      This kind of makes me think that I should start doing morning runs in the wealthier neighbourhoods. For one, most people in Outremont and Westmount don’t put out their trash at night anyways. And secondly, the fact that I’m out in the morning / in the sunlight will likely make me less scary to most people.

  58. Diane Narkawicz says:

    I really enjoy your blog. I’m not going to repeat what everyone else has said so well. Please continue doing what you do and know you have lil ole me is rooting for lil ole you here in Rhode Island!

  59. Hunter says:

    I loved reading Carter’s response.So logical,so illuminating.Avoid TMR for a while,then go back to TMR with a different stategy.You will have no problem scavenging in rich West Island neighborhoods .Just do not go into people’s backyards or walk up the lawn to the houses.Stay on the sidewalks and you will not have a problem.That said,I urge you to fight the bogus ticket

    • martng says:

      Yes it was an interesting response. To be clear, I never go in people’s backyards, or even on their front yards. I’ve seen interesting looking trash close to the stoop (as opposed to the curb), and while it was tempting to look anyways I consider that as private property and not necessarily garbage (though likely future garbage). Only when it’s on the curb do I assume it’s garbage.

  60. Johnny Lovelace says:

    I am a bisexual male,mid-twenties who is underpaid in a low-wage retail job.I do scavenging like you once or twice a week to make extra money.I am trying my young boyfriend who works in retail to join me too in scavenging.But he resists.If both of us work together,we could make more money at this.Please keep your blog going and continue the scavenging.I count on you for inspiration.

  61. Sally says:

    I would miss this blog if it ends, but you likely will move on to a new lifestyle at some point. Don’t worry about it. My funniest encounters have been with raccoons, which will NOT leave and just hunker down and glare. Best finds financially have been Legos, Apple products and fashion stuff. Best finds personally have been a load of camera supplies, a newer digital camera than I owned (different trashcans), a great vacuum cleaner, and tons of office and art supplies. Finding children’s art /craft supplies is so common that I just throw them in a box and periodically find a nearby organization that has children’s programs. The local museum got boxes, the animal shelter got a box, etc. I’m in a very densely populated state, and I enjoy keeping inappropriate things out of landfills too. I’ve taken laptops to Staples, ruined CD/DVDs and cords to Best Buy, and paint/glue and rags to our local recycle center. And, of course, everything else to the thrift shop. I don’t get too annoyed at people who throw this stuff out – I think most people are doing their best, and everyone has a day when they just are too tired/sick/sad/busy to deal with one more thing. Although I do get annoyed at people who trash books, largely because they are the easiest thing to get off your hands, as the local libraries all accept donations for their booksales. And because books.

    The absolute funniest/worst thing I’ve encountered was the people who put cinder blocks in trash bags and left them sitting innocently beside the trash cans, as if the trash guys wouldn’t notice. It was a tiny yard, they were selling the very small and cutesy house, and I guess they wanted the big, ugly cinder blocks gone – but seriously? I saw the unmasked cinder blocks sitting by the curb a couple days later, so I assume the trash men refused to take them.

    • martng says:

      I don’t expect the blog to end any time soon. Even if I stop picking as a full-time job, I’ll still pick regularly because I can’t resit the temptation. And as long as I find cool stuff there’ll be a blog.

      People sure do toss out some weird things sometimes. I can just imagine the garbagemen pulling on the bag, only to have it tear away and reveal a heavy cinderblock. Probably gave them a laugh at least!

  62. AB says:

    Hi, please continue, don’t let other people bring you down. I see you as treasure hunter ( of tiny treasures) and writer of a very successful addictive blog. Maybe you could generate more income of your blog to get you through financially slow periods

  63. Susan Hayzer says:

    Hi,
    Look at all the support from your readers, you really must persevere we love reading your blog!

    I’ve never really scavenged as a hobby or job, but I have been ‘skip hunting’ in the past with my husband. We have found planters for the garden, an old ww1 weapon, windows, etc. If the skip is on someone’s front drive we knock on their door and ask if we can take items out. No one has refused and they seem a bit bemused.

    A couple of weeks ago we took our garden waste to the dump and as I was about to drive away I noticed someone about to dump a wrought iron garden ornament – just what I wanted. I shouted out to the man asking him if I could have it and then practically ordered my husband to jump out of the car and get it. I don’t know what came over me, it all happened so quickly.

    Another time we passed a local recycling station, and someone had left a glass mixing bowl, a box of 20 brand new erasers and some crockery on the top. We took them home and I use the bowl all the time for cooking. I love making do and recycling, I love a bargain and visit all the boot sales/charity shops and junk sales I can.

    We had a skip on our front about 10 yrs ago and a neighbour asked if they could take the old door off the top and that’s when we realised we had trully ‘arrived’ – someone actually wanted some of our old junk!!

    Honestly keep up the good work and carry on trash picking.
    Best Wishes
    Sue in SE London

  64. Helen says:

    Don’t let rent-a-cop’s and the law boss you around .What you make available to us, are items that are on the verge of being destroyed and lost forever.Please take heart we are many more with you than against you.
    Your followers could appear at court with you.. if you wanted.

  65. Desiree says:

    Please don’t be discouraged!! I think it would have left me rattled too, but it wasn’t right that those officers harassed you. As a fellow Canadian I’m disappointed in them. Keep going, you’re an encouragement to the rest of us!!!!

  66. Susanne g says:

    I have no advice but love you and your work. It is not easy, we all know that it is grueling work until you find the good stuff. You are an excellent writer. Please don’t stop.

  67. Hector N. says:

    Scavenging is not illegal in most neighborhoods.Also,many residents in different boroughs throw out reusable good stuff in open boxes with the rest of the trash because they want the public to rescue it.I have seen scavengers look through the trash right under the nose in downtown,lower Westmount,Verdun,LaSalle,etc.The cops do not even go near them.Municipalities ask people to send less stuff to landfills so except in a few wealthy boroughs like TMR garbage scavenging is mostly tolerated.Technically,it may be illegal but it is mostly unenforceable .So continue trash-picking fulltime or part-time.I have never seen so many responses to a blog post of yours.Why doubt yourself?Continue..You have had lean periods in scavenging before when during certain weeks you salvage very little good stuff.I run an icecream parlor and fast-food business combined.My business is very slow some months,but it is very busy other months.Part of life.

  68. Grant Guiterman says:

    Do not secong-guess yourself.You got two fines in almost four years for doing great work;that is nothing.Your readers’ contributions alone could pay both those fines off.Many other people scavenge like you in Montreal,but on a smaller scale.Do not even talk about giving this up-if I were you I would contest this ticket.

  69. Giovina says:

    Please don’t stop! I love that you are saving stuff from landfills and I hate how much good stuff gets thrown out. Trash picking shouldn’t be illegal, it’s a valuable contribution to society, because you are finding things with historical value and reducing waste. I’ve found lots of my furniture on the street as well as some other cool stuff, It’s a win win on saving stuff from the landfill and not having to buy new things. I’m sure things will turn around for you soon, trash picking seems to be somewhat cyclic.

  70. Ange says:

    I also enjoy reading about your finds and how you re-distribute them to where they are wanted. I’m in Australia and have a husband who is a bit prone to picking up bicycle parts from rubbish heaps. He is sometimes able to put good working bikes together and provide them free to international students at his workplace who need transport. We also picked up a working dishwasher that we used in our house for 5 or 6 years (it had a free to good home sign on it) and my daughter’s cast iron frame bed came from hard rubbish (we did have it cleaned up and powder coated). Not long ago I put out an old dressing table and within 10 minutes a man on a bicycle rode past and asked if he could have it. I was happy to see it go to a good home. I am always appalled by the way people throw things away so unthinkingly and I always take our unwanted things to charity shops.

    I don’t know whether this is the same in your country, but I do not remember anything being discarded in this way when I was kid (back in the 70’s and 80’s). I think it indicates the extent to which we have increased our purchasing, probably driven much more by fashion trends and advertising (and in Australia at least, increasing disposable incomes). It’s great that there are people out there like you who are going against this (though I feel sure it is a very difficult way to make a living). Don’t despair…

  71. Jen says:

    I could fill a book with why I think what you do is “cool”!! I’m pretty sure you are living the life I dream of. I think what you do is VERY important. I am always AMAZED at the things you find in the garbage. It’s unbelievable! It gives me such a sense of relief when I see the items you have saved. If people throw things in a bag and put it outside then they should be considered public property. I don’t understand getting annoyed about people going through things that they threw away??
    I definitely understand the feeling alone thing. I have been selling on Ebay for 12+ years. My family thinks I’m insane. It is very isolating. Another reason I love your blog. I read about your finds…the excitement of it….the NEED to do it. I know you get it.
    I am a long time reader and absolutely LOVE reading about your finds. By all means, be safe and beware of the crazy but please keep doing what you do. Probably most of us feel like pariahs. We need you to tell us we’re “cool” too !=)

  72. sfltpdp says:

    yeah i agree, i’m totally blown away by your finds and i also appreciate your writing. i also did my share. started w food then got a bike trailer and did garbage runs. but it’s beastly hard work. now just the odd summer leisure exploration. kudos.

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