Tag Archives: sustainability

Mercury

I found some nice stuff on Thursday, and also saved something toxic from making it to the landfill.

In one of those bags was a little jar of mercury! Judging by its label I’d guess it was made in the 40s. The listed weight is one pound, but it’s around half full (weighs about 240 grams according to its scale, and presumably about 30 grams of that is the jar). Regardless, for its size the jar is quite heavy, and it’s interesting to feel how it sloshes around in there.

From what I can tell mercury is safe enough in this form, ie: in a glass bottle at room temperature. It’s even relatively safe to play with it in your hands – my friend’s mom apparently used to break thermometers and play with the mercury, and I also read some accounts of students touching it as part of a high school science class. However, it is still quite toxic, especially if inhaled. It’s especially bad for the environment, particularly in the food chain. Seafood is particularly vulnerable to mercury, and through biomagnification it can affect larger animals (like us) as well.

So, it’s good that I saved this from going to the dump! It’s also probably good that it didn’t get crushed by the garbage truck, as the mercury in theory could vaporize and end up in the face of the garbage collectors. I’m guessing whoever tossed it wasn’t paying attention to what they were throwing out, or didn’t know just how toxic mercury can be.

This is the first time I find a significant amount of mercury. I’ve seen a few old mercury thermometers before, but those apparently contain only up to around 2.5 grams. Finding this makes me wonder if there are any other toxic elements collecting dust in people’s basements. Maybe someone has a jar of cadmium, arsenic, or radium kicking around.

Fortunately, I also found some stuff here that I can use or sell.

I found a couple little plastic containers, once of which held a small collection of Wade figurines.

They’re not worth much, probably around 3$ a piece, but it’s definitely better than nothing.

I saved plenty of neat old junk, including two card games from Canada’s centennial (1967), a couple pairs of cool no-name frames, and two rolls of veneer.

Sorry these photos aren’t as good as they are usually, I’m still figuring out how to take photos at my new garage space. The lighting definitely isn’t as ideal as it is in my light box, but it’s better for taking larger group shots (which saves me a lot of time, and generally makes it easier to share extra finds).

Here’s a couple of cute strung together cardboard animal figures. I’d guess they’re from the 60s or 70s.

The jigsaw was a nice find. It’s old and a bit dirty, but still seems to work great. My friend will likely make use of it in some future woodworking project.

Otherwise, I saved some leather scraps, powder paints, and some vintage watercolour paints. I’m not sure if any of the paints are still good, but I figured I’d give them a chance.

I’ll definitely be returning to this house this week. Hopefully I find more old junk, and less mercury.

I’ve been having a lot of luck lately in my garbage runs. In fact, I have a backlog of photos on my computer waiting to be shared. I’m sure I’ll have another post up by the end of the week!

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to garbagefinds.com
6. Follow me on Instagram

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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Tuesday in Rosemont pt.2

Last week I returned to Rosemont in hopes of finding more neat stuff. There wasn’t much at that spot this time around, though I did find a little box of threads and a decent, if slightly rusty pair of vintage scissors. Kudos to the reader who noted that the figurines from the last post may have been bingo-related good luck charms, as the box also contained some bingo game pieces.

I also found a ziplock bag full of aluminum pull-tabs. I remember various people, including my grandmother (she still does it, in fact) saving these thinking that they could be donated to a charity which would then turn them into wheelchairs. I’m not sure there are actually any charities that do this in Quebec, though I did find a couple that collect them in the Toronto area. Either way, though pull-tab collectors certainly mean well it doesn’t seem like a particularly effective way of raising money for charity. According to Encorp, a beverage container management nonprofit, you need around 12,000 pull-tabs to get about 5$ worth of aluminum, the same amount you’ll receive if you return 100 small cans. Apparently it’s also a lot easier in modern recycling plants to recycle an intact can versus just the tab. Overall, it doesn’t seem to be worth the effort, though it’s nice to see that people care enough to do it in the first place.

This find made me wonder if this pull-tab thing is a specifically central Canadian phenomenon. Is anyone in BC, or the US, or anywhere else collecting pull-tabs, or have heard of people doing so? Let us know in the comments!

Though I found little of value at that last spot, I was luckier at another familiar location.

You may remember these nice perfumes I found a while back, which came from the same recently sold house. That was around a month ago.

In subsequent weeks I found some lightly worn, and sometimes unused shoes and bags. Also a nice jewelry box, a few unspectacular watches, some nail polishes…

… and another nice perfume. This large 100ml bottle of YSL Opium Fleur Imperiale is worth around 100$.

I also happened to meet the lady who was throwing these things out. She drove up in her car and seemed mostly fine with my picking but asked me to close the bags. She looked mildly irritated, perhaps because someone else (maybe a can collector) had torn a hole in one of them. She went inside, but eventually came out and asked if I wanted some stuff. I ended up with a bunch of extra junk, nothing super exciting but decent yard sale items (a box of picture frames being the best get). The lady seemed nice enough, but I think the gift was more a result of her being sick of the moving process than it was an act of generosity.

I went back the next week and saw nothing on the curb. I figured that she finally moved, and that there would be nothing left to find. I was surprised when I passed by last week and saw a large collection of bags on the curb. Inside was my best haul from that spot to date. I have to wonder if she threw it out knowing that someone like me would find it, though she also threw out some nice stuff before our encounter. It’s possible she didn’t care one way or the other.

I found more lightly used items, including a pair of leather Blondo boots, a North Face bag (which I sold to a friend for 5$ at my most recent yard sale) …

… and a pet carrier, which I sold to the same friend for another 5$. He just got a kitten.

Otherwise, I picked up some more quality junk, including some mirrors, pictures frames, decor boxes, change purses …

… other stuff, some of which still had price tags attached;

… as well as a vintage pencil sharpener and silver plate thingy. Both of those sold at my most recent sale.

This jewelry box was one of my better finds. The latch was stuck so I had to pry open the top.

Inside was a lot of junk, but some quality stuff as well. There’s a bit of silver (like the chain on the left, at least) and some gold (the broken earrings near the bottom right, and the tangle of chains and pearls on the left). The spotted gold and black metal jewelry on the right is all signed Laurana, and may fetched a decent price because it’s a set. The earrings near the middle with the spiky things are pretty cool but unfortunately unsigned. The black, white, and bejeweled brooch looks Pierre Bex-y, while the pendant near the bottom left may be a chunk of raw silver with a real pearl set in.

There’s a few cool earrings that unfortunately don’t have a match, but I’ll try to find them a home regardless. If anyone knows what that star brooch with the numbers is supposed to represent let me know!

My best single find however might be this cute ring box, which appears to be British sterling silver.

The inside is in nice condition as well!

The stamps on the bottom indicate that it was made in Birmingham in 1928, if I’m reading this guide correctly. Unfortunately I can’t make out the makers mark, though it might be easier to read if cleaned of tarnish.

I found a British sterling silver box, also from Birmingham once before and sold it cleaned of tarnish for 195$. We’ll see what I end up getting for this one.

Otherwise, I also found a little bag filled with change and change rollers (as well as a silver chain with a Star of David pendant). I’ve been needing to roll my found coins for quite some time, but I refused to buy coin rollers because I knew I would find some eventually. Garbage picking makes me cheap in some ways, but the strategy worked out and I saved a few bucks.

Don’t get too excited by that bag that looks like toonies, they’re only Mexican pesos! They don’t have much value, even if you do happen to be going to Mexico.

My mom was in town this past weekend and she helped roll all my found coins. Here’s what I found that day all or partially rolled up. I forget the exact total, but it was somewhere around 25$.

While on the topic of change, here’s my accumulation of found change in rolled form. I’m very grateful to my mom for helping me tame this beast! This collection is around a year and a half old, dating approximately to when TD Bank removed all their free change counters (which were very convenient at the time). The total came to nearly 110$, and I’m sure I spent a few quarters or dollars along the way. This 25$ haul was been my biggest in some time, so this collection grew largely little by little, thanks mostly to people ditching some layabout coins as they moved or cleaned.

A new collection has already begun to grow. I found a roll of pennies in NDG the other day, and found some other coins last week that didn’t make it to the rolling party. In case you’re wondering, my biggest single haul of coins is still the 56.85$ I found in Westmount a few years ago. It’s hard to believe that someone would throw out that much change, but I guess that’s chump change when you’re a multi-millionaire.

I returned to both these spots yesterday but found nothing. Perhaps these sources are extinguished now, though I think I’ll return once more next week. If I find nothing again I’ll retire the route for a bit and focus my energy on other areas.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to garbagefinds.com
6. Follow me on Instagram

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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Recent sales – June

I’m a bit behind on sales posts so here you go. June was adequate if unspectacular. I didn’t have any particular successful yard sales, but my eBay sales were relatively high value items – I averaged around 80$ per transaction. A lot of the items came from the Plateau and Mile End neighbourhoods, and that spot with the vintage electronics provided a good chunk of the value. I certainly don’t get rich off months like June (or any month to be honest) but my profits were good enough to pay the bills and mostly neutralize financial stress.

1. Vintage 1944-1945 Montreal Canadiens Schedule: On eBay for 150$. I found no record of any similar schedules on the internet, so there’s a possibility that I found the only one left in existence. Who knows? At the very least they seem to be pretty uncommon. Regardless, I’m happy with the price I got here. This schedule, which was a bit bigger than your average business card, was worth around its weight in gold. Found in Villeray.

2. Five packs of Vintage MacDonald’s cigarettes: On eBay for 137.50$. I also sold another two to someone else for 70$. I only have a few left now. Unfortunately, eBay has since deleted my listing citing that tobacco sales are strictly prohibited. However, according to this page it seems that they allow cigarette sales as long as you say that they are being sold as collectible packaging only. I’ll have to call eBay to clarify these positions. Found in Villeray.

3. Sony Microcassette Recorder: On eBay for 40$. Found on St-Viateur in the Mile End.

4. Ortofon STM-72 Stereo Transformer: On eBay for 75$. I sold this one “untested, as is.”

5. Ortofon STM-72 Stereo Transformer: On eBay for 200$. I sold this as used, but I got a premium because it looked NIB, or new in box. Both were found in the lower Plateau.

6. Voigtlander film camera: On eBay for 25$. Found in Outremont, took a while to sell.

7. Vintage 1940s Jewish marriage certificate: On eBay for 35$. A neat find from Cote St-Luc. Also a slow seller.

8. Lizon vintage eyeglasses: On eBay for 20$. I was starting to think these would never sell, but then they did. Found in NDG.

9. Jackie Robinson 8×10 photo: On eBay for 60$. Found a while back in NDG but only recently listed. One of my garbage picking dreams is to find some Jackie ephemera from when he played with the Montreal Royals in 1946. Maybe one day it will come true.

10. Production Variance Analysis in SAP Controlling by John Jordan: On eBay for 65$. I was wondering if I had wasted my time listing that collection of slightly old SAP (programming) textbooks I found a while back. It had been a few months and not one had sold. Fortunately, I’ve now sold two for a prices high enough to justify the effort. Hopefully the rest sell at some point, but if not at least I made my three figures. Found in the lower Plateau.

11. Practical Guide to Sales and Distribution in SAP ERP: On eBay for 65$.

12. Tascam Porta-05 Mini-Studio: On eBay for 70$. I didn’t have the power cord for this, and new power cords were kind of expensive (at least 30$). Because of that I decided to list it “untested, as is” for what I thought was a pretty reasonable price. However, the buyer asked for a return because of some problem with the play button. That was annoying, because I made it pretty clear that the buyer shouldn’t expect the unit to work. On the other hand, I also screwed up by listing the condition as “used” (I’m not sure how that happened, brainfart on my part I guess) instead of “for parts, repair”. That meant I couldn’t reject the return outright – eBay states that things listed as used should be functional.

Anyways, the guy later said that his friend might be able to fix it, and I haven’t heard from him for around a month now. Maybe it’ll all work out. Found in NDG.

13. Vintage Order of Ahepa secret ritual: On eBay for 50$. Found a few years ago in Ville St Laurent.

14. Welch Allyn diagnostic set: On eBay for 90$. I got more for this than I expected to. Another item sold as “untested” – the battery had long since died, and I wasn’t going to go out of my way to replace it. Found in VMR.

15. Vintage 1920s / 1930s Westclox Big Ben alarm clock: On eBay for 70$. This was a beautiful clock but it ticked very loudly. Some people are into that, but I warned in my listing that others might not be. Found in the Mile End.

16. Sony TR-610 Transistor Radio: On eBay for 130$. I love finding old radios. Found in the lower Plateau.

17. Cross fountain pen, 14k gold nib: On eBay for 40$. Found in the Mile End.

18. NIB Logitech webcam: On eBay for 75$. This had never been opened. Found in VMR.

19. Nikon Coolpix camera: On Kijiji for 50$. Worked totally fine. Even came with the charger. Found in Westmount.

20. Vintage art: On Kijiji for 50$. I had this cool painting for quite some time. It looked to be painted on cloth, and was probably made in art deco times. Perhaps I could have gotten more for it on eBay, but it would have been a hassle to ship. I’m just happy it finally found a new home. Saved in Outremont.

21. Silver ring: On Etsy for 20$.

22. Yard sales: 225$. I had one mediocre and a few mini yard sales in June. I forget how much I made to be honest, but I think that’s a solid guess.

23. Vintage postcards from London, England: To a reader for 40$. These were part of that nice old collection I found in VMR back in May. There were more than what’s pictured above, and I still have the royalty postcards if anyone is interested in those.

Total: 1857.50$, 12459.50$ so far in 2017. Current projections put me at around 25k for the year, which would be a record!

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