Move-out day 2017

I spent a lot of time at the end of April cruising the streets of a nearby university neighbourhood, hoping to find great move-out related trash.

Move-out day is a phenomenon in every university town, but especially those with high international student populations. Basically, when kids finish the spring semester many of them move (often home / far away) around the same time. As you can imagine this results in a lot of great trash. The kids aren’t often all that organized, and a lot of them are quite privileged as well – us trash pickers are thus doubly blessed, triply when you consider just how many people are moving at once.

Last year I did very well, finding a working MacBook Pro, and iPad, a couple of valuable perfumes, change (including loonies and toonies), and even some bills. However, I realize now that I got pretty lucky. I used to think that May 1st was the biggest day for garbage, but this year I figured out that April 30th is best. Last year I was actually late to the party, and was lucky to come away with some great finds regardless. I’m surprised I made that mistake, as now it seems obvious that most of the moving would happen before the end of the month.

The mistake didn’t effect this years results anyways. My plan was always to go to the area early and often in hopes that I’d get the first pick of as much garbage as possible. I knew that even if the 1st was the best day, it wasn’t the only day – some people were bound to move out before that. There’s actually a lot of competition for move-out day garbage, so it pays off to put in that extra effort.

I ended up having a pretty productive few days! My finds don’t quite match up with last years, but they’re still very good.

I think I was most excited about finding another MacBook Pro. The things are like money in the bank – even when broken they typically sell for three figures. I know I’m going to have at least a decent day when I see that silvery plastic shell.

Thankfully, I found one in the trash pile above. I could see it through a little hole in the bag.

The MBP, a 13″ Mid 2010 with a good screen (but no HD and perhaps other issues) sold quickly for 180$. But I found lots of other good stuff that day, including a Samsung notebook that seems to work fine (it runs Ubuntu though so it’s a little harder to do a factory reset), a nice pair of Sony headphones that are worth around 60$, and some tea, spices, and paints.

I had good luck with laptops. I found another one, a Lenovo Yoga 2 not far from my storage. This one is actually in very nice condition except for an issue with the screen, which flickers and stays off about 95% of the time. I was persistent and managed to get it working (mostly through determination / sitting in front of it for a while) long enough to do a factory reset and test the internet. It’s a nice little laptop that should sell for around 175$ even with the screen problems.

People were throwing away Plantronics earphones left right and center. I found three different pairs, all of which worked fine. I guess they were cheap enough (24.95, according to the packaging) to not worry about. I also found two pairs of Qatar Airways headphones with noise cancellation. I sold the lot (minus the fancier Sony headphones) to one person at my yard sale for 15$, which I think was fair for both sides.

There’s always some dumb frosh / frat stuff that gets thrown out en masse on moving day. This year it was sunglasses. The design is actually pretty cool, but they’re almost always emblazoned with some slogan that makes them a hard sell.

I also found a 1tb external hard drive. I haven’t been able to get it working yet, but it might just be my computer being weird.

Here’s some semi-useful stuff. There’s so much to choose from that you really have to limit what you take. The jewelry was almost exclusively junk that ended up in a free box. I sold the two canvases for a dollar, and the Cuban pesos for another dollar.

I found a shopping bag full of books that reminded me of my Sociology degree (I actually still have a copy of The Protestant Work Ethic & The Spirit of Capitalism). I sold most of them to some guy at my yard sale for 10$.

I also found a longboard that my skateboarding expert friend says should sell for around 60$.

I opened up a bag on St Urbain and was greeted with a mushroom container full of jewelry. Most of it was junk, but I did find a locket that was marked as being made by Tiffany in 2004. The locket looks legit in a lot of ways, but Tiffany is commonly faked and it’s best I determine the authenticity one way or the other before selling it. I can’t find a similar piece online, which might be a good thing as most fakes are based on well-known and popular designs. I took a few extra pictures which you can see below, and if you have any potential insights let me know in the comments!

Otherwise, the kids always throw out lots of change.

I had better luck on that front last year, but I still found around 24$ overall, not including Euros and other foreign coins. Better than nothing!

My best cash find though was this gift card. I was optimistic that there would be a little money left on there, but I wasn’t expecting it to be 63$! This is actually the first time I found a gift card with money on it, and obviously I hope to find more going forward. I feel like it’s something I should see more often than I do, and I wonder if I’m just overlooking them as I scan and evaluate the trash.

I look forward to doing this again next year! However, July 1st (aka Moving Day in Montreal) is coming up as well. This will be the first time in a few years that I won’t be moving myself, and I’m excited to see what I can find on the curb.

36 thoughts on “Move-out day 2017”

  1. great finds; I’ve also found gift cards–one was just on the ground in a grocery store pkg lot and only had five dollars on it–but I used that in the grocery store; apparently 5dollars wasn’t worth it to whoever threw it down. I always watch for them. My best find was twenty dollars in the pocket of a pair of jeans thrown on a trash heap on the curb–so I always check pockets

  2. Wow!!! What fantastic finds! It saddens me that so much stuff is thrown away, but I’m glad you and other pickers are there to give it a second life. 🙂

    1. I feel the same way. It’s shocks me actually. Why don’t people make an effort to give their unwanted things to charity?

  3. Nice finds! Love your street pics.

    Turmeric and Montreal Steak Spice … sweet!

    All my files have been transferred to the HP Pavilion laptop I bought off you last year … it works like a charm. Colour me happy!

    All that loose change! I don’t know … I wouldn’t even throw away a penny. 😀

  4. Hi! Good job! It’s been large pick up around here and it’s been sick! We picked up a whole Harman Kardon state Speakers, receiver and all, plastic wrapped and in almost new condition. An 1890s maple table worth 1k and so, so much more! My store is looking like a museum, packed with stuff, and opening soon! I will notify you when it’s all open! Thanks so much for your blog and I go back to it for reference!

    1. Nice, I find furniture pickings are usually pretty slim around here (people generally know to donate, or sell on Kijiji), with the main exception being that George Nakashima chair I found last year.

  5. That money I bet was an American student! My previous post I meant Harman Kardan speaker, receiver, and all. Don’t know how “state” ended up in there.

  6. Great finds Martin,and good pickings for the next clean up.My best find to date was a scrap heap,people were looking for wood to burn as the Winter season was approaching.I saw an old wooden desk and before anyone could smash it up for fire wood,I opened the draw and and found some very small remnants of gold inside.I opened the draw completely and found a pink box,about 4 inches both ways and 3 inches high.I collected the gold remnants and found this pink box a little heavy,so I took it to my car and sat inside with great expectations. On opening the box,I felt overwhelmed,as it contained only gold inside.Everything had price tags,I totaled the full amount of price tags to $25,000.00. There were gold crosses,bracelets,and necklaces.As it was a landfill,I could not locate who threw it out and I waited for hours,but no one showed up.I feel it may have been hidden and someone was cleaning out the place and just wanted to get rid of the old wooden desk? To this day,I still have everything and consider this to be my best find yet.I am glade to share this story and hope other people will also have such incredible finds. Jennifer

    1. Damn, I’m jealous. Probably someone just didn’t notice the old stash, I’d guess it was from an estate. The price tag value is probably pretty inflated (jewelry store jewelry tends to be sold at a massive markup) but the collection is probably still worth like 3-10k for the gold weight. Obviously a very nice find, hopefully I get so lucky someday.

  7. I cant believe how wasteful people are.and to throw money in the garbage is sinful.but good for you martin for finding all these goodies.

  8. My company does service work an apartment complex close to Penn State University in Pennsylvania, USA. Foreign students leaving stuff behind is a huge problem for management as they leave entire 3BR apartments full of furniture and cars. the manager told us he has called tow companies to remove BMWs and similarly priced cars left behind.

    My local university started something that I think is great. They set pallets on the streets with signs reading “recycle pile, take me” where the students can place anything they think may be of value.

    1. Damn, I was jealous about the BMW finds until I realized that you can’t just sell a car that’s not yours, haha. That’s just a hassle. If someone abandons their iPod that’s another story. I like the pallet idea as well.

  9. In the U.S., we have a chain of stores called Plato’s Closet, which pays you cash for teen/young adult clothing and shoes. College student clothing would be perfect for resale shops or consignment shops that cater to younger demographics like PC

  10. Nice finds! The Tiffany 925 piece looks like it also says Peretti. Elsa Peretti is an Italian designer whose work is sold by Tiffany. There are good sites on the internet explaining how to tell if Tiffany is authentic. I hope it is!

  11. hey there! If you end up selling that locket I might be interested. I don’t care if it’s tiffany or not, in fact, I probably won’t be able to afford it if it is. i just really like the style! 🙂 Thanks!

    1. Yeah it’s a nice one. I have to figure out for sure whether or not it’s Tiffany before I do anything with it, but it might take a while because I have so much other stuff to do too. Send me an email and when I figure it out I can let you know, though in all honesty it might be months before I actually do anything with it. The spring garbage has been good and projects keep on piling up.

  12. Martin,people`s laptops keep getting stolen from coffeeshops ,cars,offices and homes.This dévastâtes many people.I hope it never happens to you.Read this poignant ad from Craigslist.

    STOLEN MACBOOK PRO- PLEASE DONT ERASE- I WILL PAY $$$$$$ – $1000 (545 milton) cacher cette annonce

    No questions will be asked. You stole my computer from Lola Rosa today near McGill University (545 Milton) …. I am a mother and have kids and have been working on a REALLY important document. IT’S on the computer and is worth all the money in the world. I am willing to give you 1000$ (way more than the price of the computer) to get these files back.


    If you would be so kind to send me the file called Honors thesis on the desktop and I will wire you money, NO QUESTIONS ASKED. PLEASE CONTACT ME SO I CAN GIVE YOU THE PASSWORD, IM BEGGING YOU.

    514 690 3898

    1. Yup, that is sad alright. And very annoying. My computer isn’t really worth stealing fortunately.

  13. Hello there,in Ville St.Laurent the big green plastic recycling bins and black plastic garbage bins with lids on top stay outside many apartment buildings all seven days of the week.If you are in the borough,you can check them out on any day.In St.Laurent,there is a street called Painter Circle.I do not know if you recognize this street or know about it.Why was the street named so?If I were in VSL,I would check out O’Brien,Dutrisac and St.Germain along with tiny Stanislas street and also the remote Bois-Franc region.

    1. I only go to VSL on the heavy garbage days (first trash day of every month), so I will leave those to you. I also think that people in apartments are more likely to scavenge because their neighbors trash is more visible and often easily accessible, I rarely have luck in these situations. I prefer to focus on single-family homes up to the five-six plexes you often see in the Plateau.

      I do like that area of St Laurent though (have found plenty of neat stuff there). Bois-Franc not so much, there’s a fair bit of money there but the area is still very “fresh” and thus not that interesting (very little old stuff).

  14. I follow your blog and you inspire me to scavenge.But I work in a coffee shop,Martin and can only scavenge two or three hours per week.Have not much free time.I confine myself to scavenging three to five Streets per week.
    If you are in Ahuntsic,please visit the quaint and delightful restaurant/coffeeshop Café Le Romarin at 160 Fleury West.They serve great coffee,soup,salads,sandwiches.It is good to patronise small coffeeshops instead of Starbucks,Tim Hortons and McDonalds.

    1. Keep it up, Ahuntsic is not one of my routes so I’m happy if other people can do it. I will take a note of that restaurant, it looks nice.

  15. Great finds!
    Nice marker set too.
    Do you have them listed?
    Altho’ shipping to US is costly, from what I hear.

    1. I think they’re in my yard sale stuff, not sure if they sold at my last one or not. Shipping to the US is unfortunately a minimum of 10$, which probably makes it not worthwhile.

  16. Great finds as usual, as well as inspiration for those of us who love finding a treasure in the wild. Here is a great article on helping to spot fake Tiffany.

    I had to go through several negative transactions (I got my money back on all of them) before I found an AUTHENTIC Tiffany piece. Here is what I know about Tiffany sterling silver charm bracelets and necklaces. For visual aids, I will actually be using some of the items listed for sale to the right of this guide! They change all the time, but it doesn’t matter, fake is fake, and real is real, no matter what.

    1. Tiffany NEVER goes on sale, they DON’T have an outlet store, and you can’t get things “wholesale”. Tiffany also DOES NOT have a factory in China, nor do they buy from China. All their jewelry is made in the US, along with some items being made in Italy, Spain and Mexico. Therefore, when you see a seller with numerous “NEW” Tiffany items, BEWARE!!

    2/08/09-Following is an email I recently received from an ebayer after I reported his listing for selling fake tiffany (it was removed). He knew who I was because I also emailed him and told him I was reporting him for a fraudulent listing:

    Dear yvonne9903,

    I see you were concerned about my Tiffany bracelet listing. Fact of the matter is we (30 ebayers) make purchases of 100 or more at a wholesale price straight from a distributer in Hong Kong. If you worked at Tiffany’s you would know that everything they sell is jacked up to 2-3 times after it arrives to uphold their reputation and pay their employees very well. They make alot of profit. As for myself and the others, we make between $10-$20 per item.


    Bull. Funny thing is, when I emailed his past buyers to let them know their items were fake, one buyer told me the seller had claimed the ring he sold her (a knockoff Tiffany Somerset heart ring) had been “specially made” for his girlfriend! He also claimed that it was the wrong size but because it was custom made, he couldn’t return it! STEER CLEAR OF THIS SELLER!!

    2. The links on any tiffany tag bracelet or tag necklace are NOT pinched together, they are soldered together and very smooth. You almost can’t tell where the link begins or ends.

    3. The lobster clasp on a Tiffany bracelet or necklace will show EXCELLENT workmanship, if it looks like it’s a cheapie, it’s not Tiffany. In fact, the entire piece should be heavy and feel SOLID in your hand. Also, here’s a little secret, the lobster clasp will ALSO be stamped 925, at the base of the clasp.

    4. EVERY Tiffany piece is stamped with the Tiffany & Co. mark and the metal mark (e.g. Tiffany & Co. 925, or T & Co. 925) Many pieces are stamped with the date the piece was trademarked, the Tiffany logo, and the metal content, in that order (e.g. 2001 Tiffany & Co. 925). The pieces by artists such as Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, Frank Gehry etc, will be signed as well as stamped. When buying a piece that has a chain and pendant (e.g. the Tiffany bar pendant) BOTH the pendant AND the chain will be marked Tiffany & Co 925, sometimes along with the word ITALY on the other side of the ring clasp in the back.. If the chain is marked but not the pendant, then that pendant IS NOT Tiffany! If the seller hasn’t shown the markings in their photos, either ask for additional photos or don’t bid.

    5. Tiffany tag bracelets and necklaces are made of .925 sterling silver, and are heavy, if your jewelry feels light in comparison to it’s size, beware. Also, Tiffany sterling jewelry will photograph dark silver and even gold colored sometimes, not pure silver or silver-white. There are alot of people out there selling fake Tiffany that’s been coated with Rhodium, which gives it a whitish appearance.

    For instance, look over to the right of this guide, that’s right, take a look. See the items that look overly shiny and have lettering that looks WHITE? Those are what you want to avoid. The lettering on a real piece of Tiffany will look dark.

    6. THIS IS NEW – PLEASE READ! Tiffany has just come out with an engraved heart tag lifesaver necklace. For those of you who have read my guide in the past, you will know that this used to be a RED FLAG for fake tiffany, but not any more! So you’re going to have to be more vigilant. First, the engraved heart tag necklaces WILL NOT have 925 at the bottom, it will be at the very top of the bail, and it will be small. The top part of these tags will have a large loop for the chain to go through. The older lifesaver tag necklaces will not be engraved. NO MATTER WHAT, IT WILL ALWAYS BE MARKED ON THE BACK. So ask for photos of the back of the tag to be sure.

    7. The engraving on your return to tiffany bracelet should be completely and totally sharp and clear to read. Also, Tiffany uses a very thin font, if the font on your piece is wide, or if it’s unclear or looks sub-par, (ALL TOGETHER NOW)… IT’S NOT TIFFANY!!

    8. This is my best advise: If you’re not certain, check the website, compare what the person is selling to what’s on the website! Does it look the same? You will save yourself a lot of doubt, worry and money if you just take the time to go to the website. It’s very easy to navigate and you can see closeups of the items.

    9. Make sure the photo is of the actual item, don’t be fooled by a photo lifted from the Tiffany website.

    10. There are many items engraved with “please return to tiffany”, and you will need to go to www. to check what you see on ebay against the real deal. Go to “collections” at the top of the page and click on “return to tiffany.”

    11. Be suspicious of any seller who states in their auction that they don’t want questions about the authenticity of their item. Any decent seller who wants to make a sale will welcome questions. If their auction tells you not to ask questions, they probably have something to hide. Make sure there are closeups of the item. If not, ask for closeup photos to be sent to you.

    1. I saw that, it’s still hard to say for sure. I feel like it’s authentic but before listing something like that I’d want to be sure about it (eBay doesn’t take kindly to people listing fakes). Maybe I’ll bring it to a local expert at some point to have them look at it.

  17. Before, both Ville Émard and Cote St.Paul had garbage and recycling pick-ups on Friday morning.Since April,Cote St.Paul from Le Caron to Darcy McGee street,incuding Laurendeau and Angers Streets have garbage and recycling pickupon Thursday morning.
    Allard street and the Streets north of Monk street in Ville Émard continue to have garbage and recycling pickup on Friday morning.Keep this in mind.If you do Verdun West,you can also cover Cote St.Paul.Cheers.

    1. Thanks, there are a lot of garbage days changing recently, mostly due to the expanding recycling programs. I’m glad when people tell me because I don’t find out unless I look it up on the borough website, or very occasionally there will be a news story about it.

  18. I do not like tiny homes.Less is not more.Please read this great article.
    What No One Ever Tells You About Tiny Homes


    Bee Murphy

    June 2, 2017

    Domestic Lives


    My husband and I share a 492-square-foot apartment in Cambridge, Mass. We inhabit a “micro apartment,” or what is sometimes called a tiny house. This label is usually proudly applied to dwellings under 500 square feet, according to Wikipedia. We are unwittingly on a very small bandwagon, part of a growing international movement.

    But deep inside the expensive custom closets and under the New Age Murphy beds, the pro-petite propaganda has hidden some unseemly truths about how the other half lives. No one writes about the little white lies that help sell this new, very small American dream.

    Here, on the inside, we have found small not so beautiful after all. Like the silent majority of other middling or poor urban dwellers in expensive cities, we are residents of tiny homes not by design, but because it is all our money can rent.

    Tiny houses are booming. The movement, whose origins fans often link in spirit all the way to Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, became increasingly popular after the 2008 housing crash. Living small has come to signal environmental mindfulness and restrained consumerism.


    A tiny home is a state of mind, if not a religion. It is in vogue, and it is in Dwell. The tiny house pairs well with other contemporary cultural currents. It is cut from the same cloth as the Marie Kondo craze of 2014, and suits this year’s hygge, too. (The recently imported cult of hygge-ness — or coziness, from Denmark — often entails the burning of candles, wearing of chunky sweaters and a pursuit of togetherness facilitated by small spaces.) Micro living plugs into the age of Apple minimalism, too. In real estate listings, “cozy” is no longer an unconvincing euphemism, but a coveted catchphrase.

    Our apartment in Cambridge was built in 1961, part of an earlier wave of utopian interest in tiny affordable housing. Our space occupies most of the lower third of a two-unit, three-story building. There is a contiguous row of nine such pairings — pint-size below, family-size above — on our street. The original developer’s vision was that income from renting the lower units could help cover the mortgage for the owners’ homes above.

    The most striking feature of our small lives is the unavoidable, domineering presence of the plastic laundry hamper originally bought from Target in 2007. Embarrassing, ordinary objects like the hamper are empowered in small spaces; they become tyrants. In a larger home, this perfectly functional item might recede quietly into a closet or laundry room.

    Our unattractive $10 centerpiece occupies approximately 0.4 percent of our home’s surface area, but visually, it seems much larger. In an otherwise horizontal bedroom landscape (a queen-size mattress on the floor), the hamper looms high and white above the rest of the room. It often reminds me of the Capitol in Lincoln, Neb. — a piece of monumental architecture designed to dominate the prairie, to force man’s will over nature.

    Glossy photo spreads on popular blogs like Tiny House Swoon make the small life look disproportionately good. Small houses have spawned a decent-size media subindustry. Browse Amazon for helpful tomes such as “Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building and Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet” and “The How To Guide to Building a Tiny House.” The big screen features small houses. You may try documentaries like “Tiny: A Story About Living Small” or “Small Is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary.” Or “Tiny House, Big Living,” the small-screen series, which is in its fifth season on HGTV.

    Tickets for the Tiny House Conference (“tiny houses, big conference”) in Portland, Ore., in April cost $349. The event featured inspirational talks like “Downsize Your Space and Life” and “Future of the Movement.” In Charlotte, N.C., you can hire a tiny house life coach to help with your transition.

    There have been some skeptics. In December 2013, The Atlantic ran an article headlined “The Health Risks of Small Apartments.” The results the magazine reported were inconclusive. Small spaces may pose psychological risks to some populations, but not to others. Some of the experts interviewed by The Atlantic argued that age might matter. Micro apartments could be good for young people, like my husband and me.

    Life in our tiny home is characterized above all by shabbiness. Like the apartment’s pervasive, undomesticateable dust bunnies, the threadbare feeling grows and grows simply because it already exists.

    No one warns you that everything is more concentrated in a tiny house, that the natural life cycle of objects accelerates.

    Our things are aging faster than they did in their previous homes. We sit on our lone couch more hours a day than in any previous dwelling. The cushions are fading, the springs sagging, the corners fraying. Our rug is balding along our daily paths, starkly revealing repetitive routines: back and forth to the coffee machine, to the couch, to the sink, to the couch. The denudations look like cow paths cut through sage brush — invasive affronts on the landscape. Everything in our tiny house is worked over more, used harder.

    Here, even smells take up space. We once made a meal that called for caramelizing three pounds of onions. For hours the onions melted in their pan. Technically they were taking up less and less space, but somehow they intruded more. In a tiny house, the smell of slowly sweated onions is an inescapable, cloyingly rich aroma; a scent to drive men — and women — mad.

    The eau de onion spread to everything. It clung especially to the moist bathroom towels, and to the laundry drying in the bedroom. We were never clean again. Fresh from the shower, we immediately smelled of onions — of tiny house. For weeks, smelling like old onions became one of our micro lives’ certainties. The scent’s preferred repository, I eventually learned, was my New Age, polyester sports bra.

    “It smells like onion,” my husband had certified weeks later. “That doesn’t seem like a good thing to wear.” I said, “I can’t not wear it.” And that was true. I did wear it, but the bra’s coolly advertised moisture-wicking technology seemed designed to activate the old onions. I carried the smell with me deep into the city. You can never really leave a tiny house; it goes with you everywhere.

    For generations, writers have warned about romanticizing the lives of the poor. Beware the nostalgie de la boue. Small can be a bad fit.

    So we daydream big. Dreams of unfashionable, politically incorrect, old American aspirations that our generation isn’t supposed to believe in anymore. Dreams of design features so vast that they sound like foreign countries. I dream of kitchen islands. I dream outside this box.

    Gene Tempest is a writer and historian who lives in Cambridge, Mass.


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    1. I think tiny houses work for some people but not for others. Personally my ideal would be a “small house” – I find that the typical Canadian post-war suburban home (you see them a lot in Verdun and NDG for example) is a great size, perhaps a little larger than necessary but not by much. I don’t like the idea of trying to cram myself into a tiny space (I think this might work better for people with more organized minds). I would still rather that than live in the cheaply built “McMansions” (seen in most newer suburbs) where there is so much space to the point where it has no meaning or value.

  19. I love your blog and admire your scavenging.I graduated from high school seven years ago.I worked in a sports store for five years after CEGEP.Some of my university grad high school colleagues have huge debts and many go for post-grad degrees and get into more debt because of student loans.Some of whom I know cannot decent work because of automation.I recommend more people do what you do.Your work cannot be easily automated.Since four months,I have been working as a male stripper in a gay club.I love it and hope to do it for many more years.(I Know my work cannot be automated either;I live off my looks and charm,and I am surprisingly thrifty).If I need money on the side,I will do what you do.

  20. wow- can’t believe that so many things or value are just discarded without a second thought. How does it work with you looking through private bins? That is something that would be frowned upon here in the UK and probably would get calls to the police!

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