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Garbage Collectors Come Clean About the Stuff People Throw Away

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The stuff people throw away can be truly shocking.

And it’s not just the amount of money we spend on things that we just pitch in the trash. People seem to think that garbage bags somehow shield them from being arrested… because A LOT of illegal shit gets thrown away for ANYBODY to find.

These 14 garbage collectors know this all too well, and they’re not shy about divulging what they found!

Let’s go!

1. So many different things in just 8 months!

I worked ~8 months while waiting to go to school in my small southern town.

Summary of interesting things I found go as follows: $20, bullets, a live snake, a fully working 400$ amp (which I now use for my speaker setup), and a small bag of marijuana, and a can literally full of adult toys and open DVDs.

2. Thanks history professor. Or should I say… history thief!

We used to pull the recyclables out of the dumpsters by our rental condo in California. Found a Naval officer’s sword, a nice set of cast iron skillets, plus a fantastic handmade leather chair. Still have those in my home. Lots of clothes with tags, pretty sure the residents one unit over were shoplifters and thieves; we took that stuff to the thrift shops.

Then there was Big Trash Day in Japan once a quarter. Fully working treadle sewing machine with a cast iron base, ceramic hibachi pot, marvelous glass and lacquer cases, a giant yellow quartz gem set in silver. A full set of WWII photos and albums, including a Kamikaze farewell party, but a history professor “borrowed” those to examine and never got them back to me.

3. Think of all the money to be made!

I lived in a campus town and every year, end of the semester, (especially the end of spring semester) the most amazing stuff would be thrown out.

Students (especially foreign students) leaving who had no way to take their stuff with them.

Uncounted couches, TVs, furniture, computers, electronics, etc just sitting on the curbs all around the campus.

They had to clean the apartment out and they had nowhere to put the stuff but on the curb.

4. Why do people throw away laptops?!?

I live in a town with 2 colleges in it and I like to go textbook hunting on move out week. I’ll usually pull 2,5-3k in 2 weeks. I’ve found around 8-9 phones of vary degrees of degradation, around 4 laptops with fixable problems and a closets worth of name-brand clothing. My daily driver timbs are trash boots.

My friend though, after two years of gathering now owns a small business selling and renting what he calls “dorm kits”, which usually include a couple lights, chairs, a mini-fridge, a microwave, an electric kettle and other odds and ends. He has a real job but makes about 40k a year supplemental, a lot in cash. (that he keeps in a cardboard box labeled “f— you money”) He will often find 2-3 of the kits he sold outright in the garbage that same year. I’m jealous of his work ethic, because those couple of weeks before/after the semester he works 18 hour days.

TL;DR- if you live near a college there’s gold in the garbage.

5. E.A. office… it’s in the trash!

The cleaning company I work for regularly gets rid of unwanted stuff from an Electronics Arts office.

We could keep the items they didn’t use anymore. Some of the fun things we got were: a classic guitar hero set, wii fit + balance board, sim city mouse pads (still using those), some kind of singstar microphones (use the now for talking online with friends), old sims disks with all the commercials they have ever released (some weird stuff was on there), battlefield bad company key chains, old games like need for speed and rogue galaxy for ps2 and lots of minor stuff.

This happens annually so i hope they got some fun stuff this year.

6. So much wine!

At my sister’s alma mater, she said the rich girls threw out a lot of good stuff when the dorms had to be cleaned out for the summer. She got clothes, shoes and purses.

I lived in Israel as an English teacher several years ago and since thrift stores aren’t really a thing there, perfectly good clothes would be thrown out. I got so many bags of clothes.

Once they were washed, they were perfectly fine. (Got hand-me-downs from my teacher, the teacher of two people in my cohort and a few friends in my cohort as well.) Never had to buy clothes (minus a pair of boots and my Purim costume) during my 10 months in Israel! Before Passover, people toss anything that isn’t kosher for Passover. I found more clothes and three unopened bottles of wine!

7. Snowboards?! Whoa!

I usually find brand new stuff still in the plastic. Haven’t really found anything illegal though.

My brother in law works for a recycling place and he finds all kinds of cool sh*t. One day he came home with 3 brand new dc snowboards. He said whatever company wanted to shred the last year’s model that didn’t sell so he took it home.

8. Lots of meds!

I was a janitor for my high school in the summer months and one of the first jobs of the summer was locker clean out. I was given the master key for all the lockers and had to go in one by one to clean them out.

I found so many bottles of ADHD meds (adderal, ritalin, vyvanse), relatively brand new shoes, nice north face fleeces among other random sh*t.

9. The $100 pick up

I worked on the back of a trash truck for one summer when I was younger. It was my girlfriend’s dad’s company so I rode with him pretty much the entire time. We never found anything truly odd but one of my best memories was when we used to go around to pick up trash at these multi-million and billion dollar homes.

There was this one house that we picked up trash at that always had four, five, six huge cans full of bottles and trash from their weekly parties.

The rule was, only two large cans were to be picked up. Anything extra would cost the customer more. Well, in order to avoid having to pay the company extra, every week there would be this old guy standing at the back gate with a $100 bill. He’d hand us the bill in exchange for us not telling the owner about the extra pick-up.

The owner, the guy who he handed the money to, always promised not to tell anyone about it. We always had a good lunch on those days.

10. Never pay for a bike again!

My dad was a garbage man. My brother and never paid for a bike as kids – he’d find bikes in various states of disrepair and bring them back home to fix them up from their usable parts.

Also, radios. My dad would find some incredible old radios – tons of 40s/50s era tube radio receivers, which we would fix up together.

As far as illegal, I remember him telling me that he found a big ziploc bag full of mary jane one time.

11. Guns & Ammo

I was a garbage man for a number of years in the early 90s. I live in a very small town that is mostly Italian, and one morning we were sent out to collect the dumpster from a trucks top on the outskirts of town. As the truck was pouring the contents of the dumpster into the back, I saw a wet box break apart and inside were a bunch of submachine guns and magazines of ammo.

I stopped the winch, told the driver, and we both decided to play dumb (not difficult) and pretend we didn’t see them. So I continued on and crushed it all as though I hadn’t seen them.

I just remember being afraid that they were dropped off for a pickup or exchange and if some saw me taking them or I was found with them, it’d be a really bad day for me.

12. Better living through chemistry!

In an old school, a forgotten high school chemistry lab from the 60s. Jars and jars of things like thermite, sticks of yellow phosphorous submerged in some yellow-colored liquid that had evaporated to the point where there was only 1/8″ of liquid covering the top of the sticks and the slightest movement would cause the top end of the sticks to be uncovered.

This was all on the same racks as a jar of mercury, about a pound of powdered asbestos, spools of magnesium ribbom, quantities of powdered sulfur, nitroglycerin, potassium permanganate, cans that had rusted through (they still contained – something –

but the labels were too corroded to read), acid nitric and too many other bottles to read as just being in that room for a couple of minutes gave me a splitting headache.

It had apparently been a well-stocked chemistry lab for high school students decades previously then one day the school closed so they locked the door and nobody had entered it (much less cleaned it out) for decades.

13. Casino cleanup

My uncle in Vegas was a trash man.

After work he would walk through the landfill and find casino chips, jewelry, other valuables and money – enough to buy a very nice home on his modest wages after only a couple years. Rich, drunk and/or stupid means a lot of disposed, as opposed to disposable, wealth.

14. You knew this was coming…

A severed arm with no hand.

At first I thought it was from an animal until I looked closer in horror that it clearly was a human elbow.

That last story… WTF?????? How do you ever recover from that? How do you go back to work???

Got any crazy stories of things you found which you can’t unsee? Let us know in the comments!