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Picking Through Trash to Find Gold

by Thursday, February 21, 2013

This past weekend was bulk trash pick up and as such I spent the majority of saturday morning pulling out any and all junk that was cluttering my garage and any other storage space I had.

When I bought my home, I used an alternative method to purchase it and because of this, the person who lived in the home before me left a good chunk of items and junk.  This was a pretty big windfall when my wife and I first moved in as it included a fully functioning lawn mower, gardening tools, and patio furniture.

Unfortunately she also left tons of ceramic and plastic pots, construction materials leftover from A/C work, and a shed full of items that are useless to me.

The past year I happened to be out of town both times when the  bulk trash pickup happened.

This year, I made sure that I would be home to finally get rid of all this junk…. or rather my wife made sure that I would.

As I began toss my unwanted items out on the curb I witnessed a live action version of the old adage “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

There were some items that were gone before I even made it back with another armful.

Check out this list below to see some of the items

Bulk Items Include:

  • Doors
  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Appliances (remove doors)
  • Passenger car tires (remove rims; limit eight tires per household)
  • Lawn mowers (remove gas/oil)
  • Railroad ties (cut in half)
  • Pallets
  • Rolled fencing
  • Nail-free lumber

Bulk Item Collection Crews Cannot Collect:

  • Brush, household trash, cardboard boxes, hazardous materials, mirrors, automotive chassis and bodies, motorcycles, trailers, boars and tires that are still mounted on rims
  • Sheet glass and other construction and remodeling debris

Collection Guidelines

  • Place bulk items at the curb in front of your house by 6:30 a.m. on the first day of your scheduled collection week
  • Separate items into three piles as described below
  • To prevent damage to your property, keep items 5 feet away from your trash cart, mailbox, fences or walls, water meter, telephone connection box and parked cars. Do not place any items under low hanging tree limbs or power lines
  • Austin Resource Recovery only collects bulk items from its residential trash and recycling customers
  • Items will not be collected if they are in an alley in any area, including Hyde Park, in front of a vacant lot or in front of a business
  • Do not put items in bags, boxes or other containers. Bulk collection is for items too large to fit in containers. Bags will be treated as extra trash and are subject to extra trash fees

Separate Items into Three Piles

  1. Metal items – Includes appliances (remove doors). These are taken to our Resource Recovery Center for recycling
  2. Passenger car tires – Rims must be removed. Limit of eight tires per household. We cannot collect truck or tractor tires. Tires will go to a tire recycling facility
  3. Non-metal items – Includes carpeting and nail-free lumber. These items go to a landfill. Austin Resource Recovery is working on plans to salvage reusable items from bulk collection to help meet the City of Austin’s Zero Waste goal

Because these piles are collected by different trucks, they may be collected at different times throughout the week.

At one point I managed to catch one of the “pickers” as he was going through my items, he was completely courteous about it and simply asked if it was okay for him to take a look.

As I had already decided it was worthless to me I had no qualms with it, but I did have a question.

I asked him what he would be doing with it or what he was looking for.

His reply was simple, “scrap metal”

We had a short conversation about his business venture and he said that he could make  several hundred dollars in a weekend on scrap metal alone.

Bravo for him, that is definitely one way to make a little extra scratch!

Then I began to think about it, and took a walk up my street to see what some of my neighbors had decided to toss out.

Several sets of tires- that could be used for container gardens
A lawn mower that may or may not have worked ( the most common problem with a tossed lawn mower is a bad spark plug- a simple $2.00 fix, or a clogged air filter)

pallets and scrap wood that could be used for small construction projects

yard and gardening tools.

I have to admit, any prepper knowledgeable enough to know the pick up schedules in each neighborhood could save hundreds or thousands of dollars in a few hours of picking.

Think about it, you have instant access to presorted materials!

A word about etiquette coming from myself as a home owner- If they are outside when you pull up, Please introduce yourself and at least ask permission, it is extremely rude not to even acknowledge me as you sift through trash on my property.

Also DO NOT just begin tossing items around, I had to ask one person to leave as they began tossing items across my yard and into the street. I don’t mind you taking these things but I am not OK with paying a fine for littering because you were careless.

Be kind, courteous and quick, and you might be amazed at what you will find.

My wife had me on a short leash for the weekend, so I wasn’t able to bring anything in, but I’m curious to know if any of you have ever used bulk trash pick up and if so what is the coolest or most useful thing you have found?

Let me know in the comments below!

*As a final note, the above listing is based on my area. Be sure to check local guidelines for bulk trash pick up as it may be different where you live.

Learn more with these related articles from our site:

How to Make Rope from Recycled Plastic

The Many Uses of Shipping Containers

Make a DIY Raft Out of Trash Bags

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48 Comments on "Picking Through Trash to Find Gold"

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Dale
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Dale
3 years 6 months ago
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I’m a recycler, aluminum cans, shelves, and other odds and ends. Depends what it is and if myself or someone esle I know can use it.

Emma
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3 years 6 months ago
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It is not only the trash pick up where you can make out big time. For years our children went to Cornell University when the students were moving out and furnished apartments, got computers and many other things to sell. When the semester is over many students toss out their books. My son gathered them and sold them on ebay. He always had more money than he needed for his own books for the next semester.

Walt
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Walt
3 years 6 months ago
0

I have a friend who has done this for years at UT. He never schedules anything during finals week for the fall and spring semesters.

Brian
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Brian
3 years 6 months ago
0 I used to do security for a relatively expensive apartment complex which included the garage area. As I was patroling the garage one day I saw that this door was open when it usually wasn’t. As I got close enough to inspect it I noticed that there was a lot of interesting stuff being thrown way, I had found the trash bin for the apartment complex. As I went in and looked around I found a jewlery box that was made of wood and the only thing wrong with it was a hinge had came off. Well I’ve always… Read more »
Del
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Del
3 years 6 months ago
0 In Mad Town Taxconsin every mid-August is “move out day” for all the college students. They have a one-day mess all around the UW campus as students are forced to move out for a day, then move in (usually to a different apartment) the next day. Pickers have trouble trying to get it all there is so much. Furniture (St. Vincent has a field day picking up furniture!), small kitchen appliances, electronics, cleaning supplies, clothes, fans, dorm fridges – it’s all on the curb. If I’m in the area I’ll grab what I can use, then just load up… Read more »
Mariowen
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Mariowen
3 years 6 months ago
0 Oh my, my husband and I will stop where someone leaves out things that they no longer have use for. We pick up anything we can use or repurpose into something else. Anything wood that isn’t stained or painted or varnished can be used as firewood. You can never, ever have enough firewood. Recycle what they aren’t wanting to recycle. The house next door was being cleaned up because the man had died and the bank was repossessing the house. As they did the clean up and clean out, we were there and took out a whole pickup load… Read more »
Janice Hoover
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Janice Hoover
3 years 6 months ago
0 We have a friend who used to refinish furniture as a hobby. After he retired from his full-time job, he became a “picker” at neighborhood garage sales and by driving around early on junk pickup days. His garage was stuffed with a wide variety of items that he thought had potential. He was always fixing and refinishing and when he had enough items completed would have his own garage sale. Everything was profit because he got it free. Equally as important, his activities gave him purpose and kept him active — he is in his 80’s and going strong!
B
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B
3 years 6 months ago
0

When we have things that we no longer want, need or may need repair, we just set them on the curb and they are usually gone by the end of the day.

Wayne Hennie
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Wayne Hennie
3 years 6 months ago
0 I used to have a morning paper route growing around Cleveland Ohio.. on “garbage day” my Mom would check my paper bags as I can home to see what SHE had to throw away.. I loved going through peoples trash as they cleaned out their garages and basements.. one thing I found an still have is a pair of old ice tongs.. and a brass army trumpet , which I used to blow from our garage rooftop and annoy the hell out of my nosy neighbor. I was on a dive trip in the Bahama’s one time years ago… Read more »
Jackson
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Jackson
3 years 6 months ago
0

I have been a trash/rubbish picker from an early age. I remember one occasion when I was about 5 or 6 years old I brought home to my mother a discarded peanut butter jar that still was about 1/3 full of peanut butter. Needless to say, that item was in our trash the next pickup day. Perhaps my best find was a discarded washing machine which I repaired and used for many years until it was worn out.

Ned
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Ned
3 years 6 months ago
0

For over a year I worked in a recycling center, where the city’s trash was sorted. Workers were forever finding cash and jewelry (one man found a purse with $2500USD). ALWAYS check pockets.

Evangeline Williams
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Evangeline Williams
3 years 6 months ago
0

My husband and I have done all of the obove. He is now very sick and I cannot leave him long enough to do any but we do have some very good items that we picked up. Also many that we gave away, sold or other wise put to use. Good going.

Mariowen
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Mariowen
3 years 6 months ago
0

We drove by a storage place and they were giving away all the stuff from a shed where the renters hadn’t paid for a long time. All the stuff was placed outside by the road and we became the fortunate owners of a lot of stuff. One thing was boxes and boxes of clothing that was in great shape. I brought it home, washed everything that was washable and now have clothes to donate to those in need. What a great find.

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