20 Times People Ended Up Finding Valuable Things In The Garbage
Despite what some people may think, trash doesn’t magically disappear as soon as you throw it in the dumpster. It’s actually handled by quite a few people before finally ending up in the dump – and sometimes those people manage to come across some pretty interesting things.
A little while ago, Reddit user wayne88imps asked garbagemen to share some of the most interesting things they’ve found thrown away, and received numerous answers that really give meaning to the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Read some of the most interesting ones in the gallery below!
More info: Reddit
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I found my wife in a pile of garbage while working on a garbage truck.
I was working being trained as a garbage man and one day a women was throwing out way to much good stuff, boxes of books and I could see she was trying to fill a car and mini van, so I figured she was moving and having to sacrifice good stuff. I talked to her and offered to come back later and help her move so she didn’t have to throw away so much stuff, and it ended up being a story that her husband left her for her best friend, and they moved in together, and she couldn’t afford the townhouse anymore as she was undergoing cancer treatment.
We got married one year later. I like to say I found her in the trash and fixed her up, but the truth is it is opposite. I was the trash she fixed up I.
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Grew up a small town so everyone knew everyone. Our garbage man (Lee) would regularly cull out items for us because he knew my dad would tinker on them. Lee gave me my first bike, which only needed to be painted, and so so many books.
He passed a few years ago. When I saw the notice I called up my sister and we had a bit of a nostalgic cry about what a nice man he was to us kids.
Image source: Glove_Compartment
My father was a garbage man when I was born. I don’t remember because I was like 3 months old. But my first dog was in the trash. My dad stopped. Picked up a box and heard some shuffling on the inside and there were two puppies. My dad kept one and the driver kept the other. They were brother and sister (my dad assumed). He kept the male and named him Jasper. He was literally my best friend growing up. I had him for 13 years and my dad tells me the job was worth it just for that dog. He called the police and animal control on the residence but doesn’t know what happened after that. All I know is I’m 37 and still love that dog so much. I’m so thankful my dad saved him and his sister.
Image source: Moldy_slug
Oh man, my time to shine! I’ve been working at a waste transfer station (“garbage dump”) for many years.
The worst I’ve seen (just garbage, not counting stuff brought to the hazmat department):
a freezer stuffed with a skinned, rotting, headless deer carcass. We nearly called the cops before we realized it wasn’t human.
Used needles. The worst being a tie between “porcupine couch” and the lady who literally handed me a paper bag full of syringes she found during a park cleanup.
large container of old crystallized picric acid. Bomb squad had to deal with that one.
a high end laptop in perfect condition except for a tiny crack on the lcd panel. Easy DIY repair that took $40 and 5 minutes, thing would’ve cost $1.5K new
enough brand new furniture to literally furnish my whole apartment
a high end military grade inflatable boat, brand new
a 1st gen platelet counting machine, complete with weird tubes of bright green liquid and mercury. When I was prepping it for hazmat disposal I had to call the company that bought the company that made it for some info… they never digitized the records but the oldest repair tech still working was super excited because he remembered servicing them 50 years ago.
coffin. No body, just the coffin. Couldn’t see anything wrong with it either.
buckets of testicles (from a ranch) that had been sitting out in the summer heat for a week. Smelled so bad my coworker hurled. That’s not the weird part… the weird part is the guys wanted their buckets back. Do you know how bad it has to smell to make a garbage collector puke? And they wanted them back?!
the $10k duffel bag. Lady came in super upset because earlier she threw out a duffel bag that she didn’t know her boyfriend kept cash in. Over $10,000 in cash. We never found the bag.
16 full size barrels of old vegetable grease some guy had saved up in his garage. He was planning to make a biodiesel car or something.
Edit: a lot of people are asking if we get to keep stuff. Officially, no. It’s not against the law as far as I know (except for illegal stuff like drugs), but it’s against our policy. However workers do salvage things… as long as it’s discreet and they’re not selling it, management doesn’t get involved. Selling stuff is a big no.
We don’t fight over stuff. In fact we’ll keep an eye out for things colleagues might need. Most of what we salvage is actually tools and stuff we use at the dump. I’ve also started a management approved program to give away free household products that would otherwise be hazardous waste (paint, oil, cleaners, etc). Some dumps also run thrift stores to divert materials from landfill, but we don’t have the space.
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I live in an area where there are many wealthy people. I’m the one that will take peoples trash, well not so much now because I’ve learned that less is more but things I’ve found- Perfect 5 channel surround with wireless rear speakers- now in my garage Several almost working riding lawnmowers. Usually need about $50 and some work and then I sell for 500-1000. Nice Yamaha kids gas 4 wheeler. Couldn’t get the truck there fast enough. Plastic roller coaster that both my kids played on for many years and gave us many memories. But after a while I started to get why people do it. It’s fun to see people excited about something free that they will use. So for a lot of things I will either put by the street and people will come ask if it’s really free or I will post it for sale and we will negotiate a price and then when they get here I will tell them they can have it. That way it’s something that someone really wants. I had a nice TV stand that this Mexican dude showed up for, we had agreed on $150, he borrowed a truck from a family member and drove over an hour for it. He had neck tattoos (I have some too but they were covered I say that to say I don’t judge people for tattoos but he definitely looked like a tough dude) and when I told him he could have it he didn’t understand why I would do that but when he finally figured out it was just because, he got emotional and wanted a hug. That s*** had me floating for like a month. Pay it forward if you can. You never know who’s day or week you’re gonna make.
Obligatory not a garbage man but once many years agoI was asked to deliver books leftover from a church rummage sale to a minnumum security woman’s prison. The books almost filled the bed of my pick up. When I got there six inmates were assigned to unload the books. You would have thought all those musty paperbacks were made of gold. The women were delighted and very grateful.
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When I was a kid I found a couch. It wasn’t very big, but thats why it was so great. 10 year old me was able to carry it all the way home by myself. (About a block and a half.) This was before kids having cell phones were huge so I didn’t call my parents about it first and they were at the store anyways. So I took the couch home and put it in my room. It was pretty dated… Made of some material I’ve never encountered again so far, but I thought I was THE S***. I had a whole couch in my room. How many 10 year olds had couches in their room? Well my parents came home and clearly weren’t happy, but given I carried it up to the second story and got it into my room they let me keep it. (My down stairs neighbor helped me.)
I felt like a king. I had a couch. I had a big box TV for my play station. I had it all. Simpler times.
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A Lane cedar chest. I was helping my dad clean out this lady’s garage and she said as long as we were there, we might as well take that, too. She said she always hated the smell of cedar but her husband wouldn’t let her get rid of it and now that he was dead, she was sending it on its way!
The veneer was never in great shape but it still keeps my wool items safe. I’ve had it for over 30 years now.
My grandfather use to work for the city garage and would repair alot of the trucks, including the garbage truck. He once found a jewelry box that had cheap jewelry in it but he noticed there was a lose stone that looked like a diamond so he kept it. 20 years later he finally took it to a jewelry store to see if it was real. It was and it was worth 3,000 dollars so he made it into a new wedding ring for my gram.
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My father was a garbage man who also did clean-outs for homes and businesses, where they’d rip apart the entire building and throw everything out in their dumpsters. He worked on a ton of really massive houses, some worth 10s of millions of dollars, one was worth 40 million and wasn’t even the permanent residence.
Best things I got as a kid: A pretty much unused trampoline with a net and everything.
A go-kart that my dads friend was able to fix up and we used all the time (I live on a dead end).
And once he cleaned out a deli that was closing down, and we no joke had unlimited Snapples and Sodas of every flavor for almost a year. I’d drink the Snapples while out on the trampoline. I used the hell out of all 3 of those things in my childhood
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Not me but my brother. Someone apparently threw out grandpas stuff from the attic after he passed away. This was the last scheduled pickup at the house and everything was already moved out, nobody living there. Driving an automated (claw to grab and dump) truck, my brother was irritated there were these 2 bowling bags he had to get out to throw in the truck. He realized they seemed a bit heavy, so he opened them to see why. Inside there was real silver silverware/flatware. He ended up selling it for scrap prices to a jeweler and got $3000.
Not a garbage man, but someone dumped a 6’x3′ patch of drooping agapanthus on the side of the road.
Managed to get it into the back of a rhino atv to get it home.
I sawed that monstrosity into like 18 patches. Most lining my yard, and some potted.
I was so excited. It really helped get me started into gardening. Now I’m propagating bird of paradise, jade, and some other plants idk the name of. I also potted two ash tree seedlings for future transplant, but I might try to bonsai one.
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My little brother was emptying out a client’s basement and everything was going to be thrown away so my brother was told to keep anything he wanted. He saw a nice looking bike and took it. Turns out it was a Dahon mu p8 30th anniversary limited edition and in perfect condition. From what I found on it, it goes for over $4K.
Not a garbage collector, but here’s a cool story about how garbage collectors in Ankara, Turkey gathered a bunch of books that were thrown away. They then bring them back to the depot where there’s a library’s worth of books now. They’ve saved about 20,000 books from the incinerator.
One person’s trash, is indeed another’s treasure: It’s always trash can, and never trash cannot.
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Not a garbage person, but I live in a large apartment complex. I could have furnished multiple apartments with all the stuff that gets thrown out here (and partially furnished mine), but the best thing I’ve seen in the pile was one of those grandfather clocks you can make from a kit. Still looked very nice, but it needed some fixing to get it to run again. I’m still waiting to find a piano (I would like a piano).
before I was born my mother found a huge painting of mushrooms. it’s blue and yellow and certain parts of it glow in the dark, it’s one of the few things I have of her and it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and my description gives it no justice :)
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in the early 2000’s my best friends dad was a garabge man. I used to hang out at their house a lot and i remember him finding uncut sheets of hologrpahic dragon ball z trading cards in the trash and bringing them back. They were super dope to see.
My dad was a trash man when I was growing up. He would always be bringing cool stuff home to us. He used to always say that the “poor” neighborhoods had the most trash and they threw away literally everything.
The two best ones that I can think of was a brand new BMX bike and like 20 Nintendo 64 games that he found at a video rental store.
Also once at the transfer station one of his co-workers found a “dummy arm” in the big pile of trash. He pulled it and it ended up being a dead guy, the police later determined that it was a homeless person that got picked up and died when the trash truck compacted him.
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In the eighties I picked up a number of Philips colour tvs. I had a few, so fixing them was just a question of swapping parts. I then sold them cheaply or gave them away to fellow students.
Worked cleaning apartments one summer in a college town. Foreign students are notorious for leaving lots of valuables behind. The most outlandish item I came across was a brand new BMW that they left abandoned in the complex parking lot.
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