Tag Archives: sustainability

Vladdy

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I’m doing the occasional car route these days, but most of my trips have been via bike to the Plateau and Mile End. These treks are good exercise and occasionally productive, more often now because the cold encourages most of the other pickers to stay home.

Around the new year I checked out the McGill area to see if I’d find any move-out stuff, thinking that some students might move and ditch their old crap after the fall semester. I did find a little bit of stuff, but not much of any value. Still, I’ll probably give it a go again next year as maybe I’ll be luckier. My favourite find from McGill was this collection of mostly full teas, some of which look pretty fancy.

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I’ve been finding a bit of neat stuff over the past few weeks at a spot in the Mile End. It seems like someone’s slowly clearing out an apartment.

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I think these things belonged to someone from the Balkans. The cool hand carved ashtray on the left is marked as being made in Zagreb in 1963, while the ashtray on the bottom is signed Sarajevo. If anyone can tell me what’s written on the cigarette case I’d be interested to hear it!

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The fan features sticker images from different touristy spots in Quebec. Sorry it’s a bit blurry! The Minolta 16 camera is quite small and cool looking. They’re not super valuable, but the camera is great yard sale material. It’s in nice cosmetic condition, and comes with a flash. The negatives are medium format and look to be from the 60s.

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For whatever reason there were a bunch of watch cases without any insides. They looks cool, again not worth much but good for yard sales. I figure someone will want the roll of scrap leather. It’s hard to make it out from the photo, but the leather pouch on the left was made for the Boy Scouts. I don’t know what it would have held. There were a few photos left over in that Limocolor photo holder, but most of the photos I’ve seen in the bags were ripped up before I got there.

The most valuable pieces I’ve found there so far are probably the pewter figurines. I think they were made for Dungeons and Dragons, by a company called Ral Partha. This kind of stuff has value, and from my research I think I can get around 50$ for the lot.

I’m keeping an eye on that spot, and will let you know if I come across anything else that’s cool! I also saved a bunch of decent looking silk scarves, as well as a few bits of clothes but unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of those.

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Otherwise, the late January move-out trash has been surprisingly good thus far. I’ve been focusing a bit more lately on yuppie trash, making sure to bike past the nicer condo units in the area. So far the strategy seems to be working well enough. I found this nearly full bottle of Guerlain “La Petite Robe Noire” EdP in front of a nice house on Laurier, and was able to quickly flip it for 30$.

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I found a bunch of other scents elsewhere, including another by Guerlain. I don’t really like these ones because they remind me of high school gym class, but hopefully I can make some money off them regardless.

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More interesting was a large collection of photos (lots more than what’s shown here!) that someone took of various sporting events. I haven’t had a chance yet to look at them much, but a lot of the photos are of car races and some are from an NFL game with Peyton Manning at quarterback.

My favourites though were some shots of an Expos game. They were probably taken in ’98 or ’99 as those were the years when Brad Fullmer played regularly in Montreal. The photographer largely focused on Mark McGuire and Vladimir Guerrero, the latter of which was one of my favourite players back in the day. I only really got into baseball around 2002, so it’s cool to see these photos that remind me of those early years. I’ll probably keep a shot or two of Vladdy and sell the rest at a yard sale. A lot of them are decent photos – I’d bet they were taken by an amateur with a relatively expensive camera.

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I came across a box full of vintage baby clothes while touring around Outremont. A lot of them still have their original tags on – they were made by a company called Lebretton, which I can’t find much reference to on google. Still, they’re very cute and people on Instagram said they’d do well on Etsy. Some have minor stains, but I figure the ones on white fabric might be easy to spot bleach away.

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While out on one of my morning walks I happened across a pile of bags in front of a recently sold apartment. From it I saved a whole bunch of decent, re-usable junk. Fortunately there was an empty box nearby as I didn’t have my backpack on me. I took a chance on that maple creme liqueur but it was definitely past its prime. Down the drain it went, but at least I recycled the bottle.

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The most valuable single item from that pile was probably this nice Lampe Berger. Based on my research I should be able to sell it for around 40$ + shipping. The rest (again) was decent yard sale junk.

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Otherwise, I came up mostly empty from a run through the Plateau (east of St Denis) except for a find from this box of junk. It didn’t look like much, but I figured I’d poke around anyways.

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Amongst the crap was an old container (my guess is that it held margarine) filled with curiosities, including a few pieces of bone, a drawing of a dove, a small crystal, an empty bullet, and a 10k gold ring. Someone on Instagram said it looked like “black magic” and recommended I put it back. I do think it looks a bit like black magic, but I’m definitely keeping the gold ring. It’s just junk gold, but because it’s fairly hefty at 3.75g it should make me around 65$. Not bad!

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Otherwise, I’ll save perhaps my best recent find until next time!

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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Best of 2016!

I’ve been a full-time trash picker for four years now, though only in the last two has the endeavor been reasonably profitable.

2016 started off with a bang, but my luck turned sour starting around June and an encounter with the police made things even worse. I’m now reflecting on my future and considering what to do next. Still, I’ll always trash pick even if I change professions or focus on a new project, I just won’t do it quite as often. “Things I find in the garbage” will likely continue to be the most frequently updated trash picking blog out there in 2017.

Otherwise, 2016 saw me continue to improve my selling skills. I professionalized my business by finding a decent laser printer, allowing me to finally start printing my eBay labels, by buying a light box which makes photography much easier, and by generally continuing to fine-tune the listing process. These tools and skills should come in handy going forward.

Despite it feeling a bit like a down year in some ways, 2016s “best of” compares favourably to that of 2015 and is definitely superior to the best of 2014. So enough talk, let’s get to it!

Top three useful finds

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#3. Furniture for storing my crap.

Early in the year someone clearing out a house allowed me into their home to check out some free furniture. He seemed like a nice guy who just wanted to be done with it all. I ended up taking this credenza, which turned out to be a mid-century piece made by Drexel. While it’s not in perfect condition the credenza is still very nice and quite useful, as the top middle drawer is great for holding various garbage-related tools. More recently I found a dresser and a filing cabinet, both of which also had a mid-century look. These pieces are now loaded with eBay junk.

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#2. Bluetooth speaker.

I’ve been wanting one of these for a while! I don’t have much space to work with so I like how it doesn’t clutter up my room with wires. These go for around 100$, making it a pretty nice get. I found it not long ago while biking around the Mile End.

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#1. Laser printer.

I have a long standing hatred of printers, but I took a chance on this one and it’s worked pretty well thus far. I rate it as the most useful find of the year in large part because I didn’t realize how much better shipping rates were through Paypal. I always figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but now I feel silly that I spent so many years writing out labels. It’s sometimes a dollar or more cheaper, and that’s just extra money in my pocket. On top of that, laser printers are just a lot more cost effective as compared to inkjets.

Top decoration

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#1. Shell chandelier.

After years of trash picking I’m pretty much set for home decor stuff. However, this chandelier made from circular bits of shell was a great find. It was in pieces when I found it, but I spent a few hours putting it back together and now it looks awesome. It really brings the room together.

Top four oddities

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#4. Cutout of some guy

Who is he? I have no idea. I even asked Reddit but they didn’t know either. If you happen to know who this guy is, let me know in the comments! He’s currently a decoration in my room.

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#3. Vintage Valium

Valium doesn’t exist anymore, at least by that name, so this was a neat find. The drug was at its peak popularity during the Carter administration, and definitely had an impact on the culture of the time.

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#2. Collection of vintage UFO literature

I enjoy finding things related to niche interests or fringe beliefs, and this year I made first contact with the UFO / conspiracy subculture. Many of the pieces were book lists from the 60s and 70s published by Gray Barker, the guy who pretty much invented the concept of the “Men in Black” but looks to have been a skeptic in his private life. I sold this lot for 55$, but in retrospect I think I might have been able to get a bit more for it. There’s a very healthy market for old UFO stuff. I found this collection in Rosemont back in July.

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#1. Collection of far-right / fascist / racist / skinhead literature

Speaking of fringe beliefs, 2016 saw the first time I ever came across anything that was overtly and unapologetically racist. This stuff came from the same house as the UFO lit; that guy was into definitely into some next ideas. Most of the literature dated from between the early 80s and late 90s and was distributed by different organizations in Quebec, France, and Belgium. I listed it on eBay hoping to find a buyer who was interested in researching the different movements but I haven’t had any luck thus far. I found a lot more besides this first haul, but I figured I’d shared enough already.

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Honorable mentions

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2016 was a great year for finding Apple products. I made hundreds of dollars selling several iPods, three iPads, and a mostly functional MacBook Pro. I hope the trend continues in 2017!

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Junk from “The Muck”

One of my favourite spots of the year was actually in Ahunstic, where I happened upon an intriguing pile (post one, post two, post three) on my way home from Ville St Laurent. I went back to the same spot for several weeks and collected many, mostly small items, including a bit of gold and one of my favourite finds of the year. However, sorting through the stuff on the curb was challenging at times because for every cool thing there were ten that were ruined or just plain junk. Let’s just say I’m glad I got my tetanus booster not long before stopping there. I thought of the spot as “The Muck,” in reference to the c.1920s union application card that I found there that first time. The part of Ahuntsic that produced this stuff was distinctly lower middle class, so this is a good reminder that cool trash can come from just about anywhere.

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Vintage postcard collection

I saved about 2-300 postcards from a recycling bin way back in May. Most dated from between the 1930s and 1950s. None were particularly valuable on their own (I think the most valuable were a pair of old Chinese postcards that went for 40$) but altogether they made me a couple hundred bucks. I learned a lot about the postcard market by selling them, and maybe that knowledge will come in handy in the future.

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Robert Sonneman floor lamp

This mid-century lamp was a nice get. It was designed by a guy named Robert Sonneman and similar lamps are listed on 1stDibs for 1000$ each or more. I doubt I’ll get that much but I’m sure this lamp will make me a bit of money eventually. It’s in pretty good condition overall, but I have yet to clean up the cast-iron base which is a bit rusty. I figure it’ll sell for more if I can get that cast iron looking black again.

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WWI group photo

This photo, which is likely over 100 years old, was hidden behind a picture of Brother Andre that looked to have been clipped from a magazine. It’s a neat piece of history, and it ended up selling to a local collector for 83$. That was more than I expected!

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WWII letters and ephemera

I found these way back in January. I remember the homeowner coming out and telling me not to pick there, but I already had some cool stuff in the car including these bags of letters. Here’s hoping I didn’t miss out on anything good. I haven’t actually spent much time looking at the letters, but my mom read some of them and said that there were two authors, one of which was actually a pretty good writer. It might be interesting to do something with them at some point. My favourite pieces were the Military ID cards, especially the one below. I haven’t been able to find a card quite like it online.

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Top 10 finds of 2016

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#10. Vintage fashion magazine collection

These magazines filled two document boxes. Most were Vogues or Harper’s Bazaars that dated from between the 50s and 70s. Some were individually valuable, such as the issues of Harper’s Bazaar featuring drawings by Andy Warhol or the ones with Audrey Hepburn on the cover, but most were in poor enough condition that they were best sold for collage. Fortunately, I have a friend here who does just that. Apparently fashion magazines from this era are the best to collage with because of their high print quality. I’ve made a few hundred dollars off them already, and I still have some left to sell.

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#9. Vintage pen collection

The most valuable of the bunch was a vintage Sheaffer PFM (“Pen for Men” – above) that sold for 175$, but there was also a nice Sheaffer Imperial and a desk pen with a 14k gold nib, not to mention several other yard saleable pens and vintage pencils. All in all the collection should net me a few hundred dollars.

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#8. Vintage Longines gold watch

It seems like I find a couple gold watches a year. I hope that keeps up because they’re easy money! Longines is a good brand, and was pretty well regarded back in the day according to posters on watch collector message boards. It hasn’t sold yet, but I recently uploaded a better picture (thanks light box!) so maybe it’ll head on its way soon enough.

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#7. Vintage Heinz soup sign

This sign came off a vintage “electric soup kitchen” that was designed to heat a can of soup in 2 minutes. These machines were made in the 30s and 40s but there’s not too many kicking around anymore. It’s a neat piece of history, one that ended up netting me 270$ on eBay.

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#6. Vintage pennant collection

I saved a whole bunch of neat pennants, most of which featured various Canadian towns, but these WWI era military pennants were the coolest and most valuable. The Valcartier pennant ended up selling for 160$, while the 40th Battallion pennant sold for 110$. Most of the others went to the yard sale bin, but one from Lowell High School (Jack Kerouac’s alma mater) went for another 30$ on eBay.

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#5. Omega watch

My first and finest gold watch of the year. Omega is a luxury brand, so while the watch wasn’t in perfect condition it was a worthwhile project to a handy watch collector. The movement itself worked well, and it ended up going for almost 500$ on eBay.

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#4. 2012 MacBook Pro, 15″

This was easily my best find from McGill’s moveout day. It’s hard to believe that someone would throw it out as it’s easily worth several hundred dollars. It works fine – in fact, I’m using it right now. Here’s hoping I have similar luck in the ghetto again next year, though I’m not holding my breath. Lots of great stuff gets tossed on moveout day but not many people throw out awesome laptops. That requires a special, and hopefully uncommon brand of privilege.

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#3. Widdicomb chair

It might not look like much, but apparently this chair is pretty exciting if you’re really into mid-century modern furniture. It was designed by George Nakashima as part of his “Origins” line. It needed reupholstering, but it still sold quickly for around 950$ Canadian dollars.

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#2. Perfume collection

This was definitely the most perfume I ever found in one spot. These weren’t cheap perfumes either – most were made by well respected brands such as Guerlain, Christian Dior, Yves St Laurent, and Balenciaga. I had to work for them though, as the perfumes in this box were spread across several black trash bags and were mixed in with cosmetics that don’t age nearly as well. I’ve already made several hundred dollars from this collection, and I’ll probably earn well over a thousand when all is said and done.

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#1. Henri Bourassa 1908 election badge

It took me a while to decide, but I think this election badge was my favourite find of the year. It’s certainly an interesting piece. Henri Bourassa is an important figure in the history of Quebec, being one of the first to promote a brand of French-Canadian nationalism (though not separatism, which would emerge later). He founded the newspaper Le Devoir, which still exists today, and there’s a pretty major road named after him in the north of Montreal. He somehow managed to personally win two different ridings in that 1908 provincial election. I don’t think that’s even possible any more.

The pin also appear to be pretty rare – I couldn’t find anything like it on Google. Maybe there’s a few others kicking around out there somewhere, but it’s very cool to save something so uncommon. The fact that this photo comes up when you do research on Henri Bourassa makes me think that I’ve contributed, if only slightly to humanity’s wealth of knowledge.

As the coolest thing I found from “The Muck” it reminds me that, while rich people’s garbage is pretty good, common folk can have pretty cool stuff too. This kind of thing acts as inspiration to keep me doing my bike trash runs in the Plateau and Mile End. Even though I often won’t find much of anything, sometimes I do get pretty lucky.

Of course, I also like that it made me some money. It eventually sold for 350$, which is a lot for a button!

Let’s hope my finds in 2017 can at least hold a candle to these!

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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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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