Site icon Things I find in the garbage

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.

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