I focus on household waste. I’m sure there’s money-making potential in business waste but my interest in history makes searching through the things put to the curb much more exciting.
Each neighbourhood has its own garbage collection day. Most take place in the morning but some in denser urban areas such as the Plateau and Rosemont take place in the evening. Different areas have different regulations which can be a factor in when or if I decide to go. I do a lot of work with bike and trailer but I’ve also been using a friend’s car fairly regularly since she moved here a few months back.
I look mostly for larger than average accumulations of garbage in front of a particular house or “spot.” I keep my eyes open for “for sale” signs, especially in suburban areas. By this point – I’ve been doing this off and on since 2004 and full-time since 2013 – I have a pretty good eye and also judge a pile based on the “look” of the bags. In general, a “saggy” bag means household waste, a dusty bag means renovation materials such as plaster, and a bag with sticks poking out means yard waste. Lifting the bag or giving a light kick reveals a lot about its contents.
I avoid a lot of the nastiest garbage through my screening techniques but still occasionally open bags filled with cat litter, rotting food, and diapers. I also see the occasional needle, a good reason to avoid digging into the unknown as much as possible. You need a strong stomach in this profession! I untie the bags as much as possible. Sometimes the knot will be too tight and I’ll rip the bag near the top and re-tie it when I’m done. The main goal here is not to make a mess, it’s not good for business and it’s not a nice thing to do in general.
I make my money selling online, mostly with Ebay but also with Etsy and Craigslist. I generally base my prices on current and completed listings and adjust up or down depending on my instincts. It’s hard to pin down a value for some items – in those cases I might start an auction at what I would consider a “very high” price in order to gauge interest. In general I use fixed-price “buy it now” listing but will use auctions when I think a bidding war could ensue. I make a lot of money from yard sales and bazaars as well, though these can be hard to organize in my current neighbourhood.
That’s the most of it! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.