It’s no surprise that people who collect garbage and dive in dumpsters find some gross sh^t, but what’s really compelling/exciting is when they find stuff that’s super valuable.
Yes, rich people throw away a bunch of expensive things for no apparent reason other than they’re rich.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at these 23 answers to the question that reddit asked, “What’s the most illegal, strange or valuable thing you’ve seen while gathering people’s trash?”
Oh, and do you want to know what pro football players throw out? That one is at the end. And it’s pretty nuts.
23. “They were BEDAZZLED.”
I’m a janitor in an office building. I’ve seen a lot of strange things in the five years I’ve been there. Bathroom trash is the weirdest – I’ve found empty bottles of lube, chicken wings stuffed into the tampon boxes, pregnancy tests at least a few times a year – but the lady with the bugs was the weirdest.
One of the floors in the building had a huge problem with bugs. One night I was collecting the trash off the floor when I noticed she had very carefully decorated a cardboard box to look like a hotel, and had a sign inviting people to drop any bugs they found inside. It was weird, but I figured she was just collecting proof of the bug problem to get management to do something about it.
A few weeks later, I turned the corner to her cubicle, and it was covered in bugs. There were about 20, tacked up all over with pushpins. And they were BEDAZZLED. Each of these godd*mn bugs had its own unique pattern.
After we told management about it they finally did bring an exterminator in! We still talk about the “bug lady” to this day.
22. “Ironically a bunch of brand new trashcans”
I’ve volunteered at neighborhood cleanups and have found some amazing stuff.
I was working the metal bin, but took home a couple nice GT bmx bikes for the kids.
A brand new in the box turkey deep fryer.
Ironically a bunch of brand new trashcans (Rubbermaid brute)
Perfectly fine honda pressure washer.
Commercial paint sprayer.
I grab it for myself and sell that sh^t!
21. “…in their own specialty shaped little recessed bits lay three large adult toys.”
I was doing waste analysis, collecting people’s domestic rubbish and sorting it into categories, producing data for recycling planning. Fairly disgusting job.
Anyway, I once found a nice wooden box with a hinged lid, lined with some sort of silky fabric, and in their own specialty shaped little recessed bits lay three large adult toys.
One was the size of a fire extinguisher. The thing was scary.
No idea why someone would throw them out when they’d clearly been cherished.
20. “So, he started a freecycling program…”
Not a garbageman, but in my college town dumpster diving was a regional sport every May with all the college kids throwing away anything they didn’t care to move.
My geography professor found a brand new, never used, pair of skis in the trash one year. So, he started a freecycling program, which was an assignment for my honors human geography class.
We picked up unwanted items from the dorms and Greek houses, and held onto them until school started in the fall, when students could have their pick of anything.
Certain items, like shoes, went straight to where my professor volunteered in Peru, and anything unused went to Goodwill or another thrift store.
Laziness does terrible things when you’re young.
19. “…the CEO doesn’t give a sh!t.”
My friend’s dad is the “do everything” kind of man for a CEO of a construction company.
He gets asked to throw away jewelries and expensive art artifacts.
He also had to get rid of old pick ups (sell them or whatever he could but get rid of them) he could keep the money the CEO doesn’t give a sh!t.
18. “I still have a 3 storage units full of house parts I picked up back then”
I have a (now deceased) friend who basically stocked his antique store with stuff he found on the side of the road.
I’m sort of ashamed to admit it because I feel like it was profiting off the misfortune of others but I lived in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina and I basically rebuilt my house from stuff that people tossed. I was amazed at the amount of stuff people ripped out that was above the waterline.
People would literally hire crews to gut their entire house and they would put everything, and I repeat, everything on the side of the road. At one point there
Some of the stuff I found: AC Units. 2-3 Sub-Zero refrigerators (compressor is on the top, people, there are no electronics in the bottom to get wet). A full room of paneling which I used to panel a small bathroom.
Marble flooring. Attic fans. Solid wood doors. A full vintage porcelain bathroom set (tub, sink, toilet and bidet). A skeleton shower from the 20’s ($). Hardwood flooring. Chandeliers. Cabinets. Lots and lots of cypress molding and structural elements.
Also found: TV sets. Computers. 2 grand pianos (flood had discolored legs but not reached the soundboard). 3-4 bedroom sets. A stack of paintings by a well-known LA artist ($$). Lamps. Stereo equipment.
I still have a 3 storage units full of house parts I picked up back then that I have slowly been incorporating into my current home renovation. It was truly a shame to see all this great old stuff be tossed and replaced with Home Depot cr*p. I could have filled 10 more units with stuff I saw and couldn’t store.
17. “…to hear the most satisfying “pop” you’ve ever heard.”
Brother owns a trash company which I worked a lot for during summer breaks.
I’ve found a live possum, which hissed at me. Dead mice. Lots of adult videos. Blow up doll.
The most valuable thing to find is glass handles of vodka. We used to save them in the cab, throw them as high as we could at the dump to hear the most satisfying “pop” you’ve ever heard.
Gotta find little enjoyable things that make you smile while working a literal sh*tty job.
16. “I mean like small scale professional level stuff.”
Not a garbage man, but we used to hang out at the dumpster of the local U-Store type place (before the whole Storage Wars thing happened) and first of the month you could find the coolest sh*t in that dumpster.
I remember we got an entire wine making set. And I don’t mean a little one, I mean like small scale professional level stuff. Wine corks, multiple heavy glass bottles of all different colors, those huge glass bottles, the hoses and valves, everything.
Basically looked like someone had an entire micro-brewery setup and forgot to pay the rent on his box.
15. “This man just threw about 30k in the trash”
I worked as garbage man last year as a summer job. One day a man came by who said he lost a high sum of money and he wants us to look for it. The money was in an envelope and he said it was € 10.000+. He said he wanted to bring the money to the bank and stashed it between some old newspaper he wanted to get rid of (yeah, what a genius, right?).
Anyways, we were about 10 men at that time and he promised to give all of us a fair share if we manage to find it, so, obviously we started the search.
As you can imagine, that sh^t usually takes a while to find because you have to literally look through every paper container (about 20) for a small envelope.
Well, the luck was on our side that day, after about 10 minutes a coworker called out that he got it. Awesome. He looked inside and told us later that it was definitely more than 10k (more like 30k).
Everybody got a 100€ bill and it was pretty much the best working day ever.
This man just threw about 30k in the trash and found it like 2 hours later. Should’ve went to the casino that day.
14. “Others were sold on eBay for 4 times what I paid…”
I’m a major thrift store scavenger. I found a tiny hole-in-the-wall junk shop in a town just outside a big Tennessee city, near Amish country. Most of the stuff was old vending machine cr*p, and stacks of old magazines etc.
I saw a big plastic bag full of (what looked like) old, torn towels that had “donate” written on it and scratched out, and “whole bag $10” rewritten on the bag. I started peeking through it. Under the torn towels were incredibly beautiful hand-embroidered bed linens and pillowcases, some with crocheted or hand-tatted lace trim.
Most were incredibly soft linen, or beautiful cotton. I’m a crafter so I immediately saw the value. My guess is that someone’s mother/grandmother passed away and they threw her whole linen cabinet into a bag without looking closely. I got up really quickly so the store clerk wouldn’t see how excited I was and guess that the bag had more than towels in it. I paid the $10 and ran to my car to unpack.
In that bag were 8 pairs of pillowcases (all different, all flawlessly embroidered ), 6 embroidered woven dish towels , a 1950s style apron, and many small items like handkerchiefs..and 2 torn towels. Down the road in the antiques shopping row, I saw a pair of nearly identical pillowcases going for $50 a pair.
A bunch of the stuff is currently on my bed. Others were sold on eBay for 4 times what I paid for the whole bag.
13. “Guy had left computers, tvs, a f*cking mercedes…”
Friend’s uncle owns some apartment buildings. Guy from China was living in one of the units and ended up needing to leave the country for Visa issues.
Eventually got in touch with the guy somehow (email likely) to ask what was going on, why no rent paid, etc.
Guy explains and says that he can’t give money for rent, and to just sell off anything in the apartment to make up for it.
Guy had left computers, tvs, a f*cking mercedes, etc.
Cleared way more than the $1600 for two months rent, plus kept the security deposit.
12. “He tells Dad that the foot was likely removed as a warning to someone…”
Not me, but my Dad was.
He found his share of cool stuff. he worked from 1969-1989 for the DSNY. I still have a lamp made from an old brass fire extinguisher that he found, like many others, he found lots of TV’s, some new clothes (usually at Christmas time – that is why we always went through the wrapping paper), baseball cards by the box, wish I kept those, some WWII stuff, most notably an SS Dagger –
but one of the wings of the eagle was broken and attached with scotch tape. Stamps, cause I collected them when I was a kid. I have a Hitler postage stamp somewhere from this.
I wrote this before, but here it goes. The creepiest thing was in the early 1970’s, Dad and the other 2 guys (at the time they were 3 to a truck, one drove, the others loaded the trash), were in East New York, an area of Brooklyn that is really sh*tty (and still is today).
They come across a very large human foot that was black (as in it came from someone who was black). Not knowing what to do, they put it in a paper bag and drove to the nearest police precinct. They walk up to the desk Sgt and place the bag in front of him. He asks what is this about?
He gestures to look inside. Desk Sgt does. closes bag up, looks at Dad and his partners, and tells them “Cycle it” (By cycle, he meant just run it through the truck with the other trash).
He tells Dad that the foot was likely removed as a warning to someone, that they (the police in that precinct) had seen it before. It was likely drug related. Even if they did find the owner, he wouldn’t talk, and the foot couldn’t be attached back. By moving the foot, they pretty much ruined a crime scene.
They cycled the foot.
This was the 1970’s – NYC was in a downward spiral at the time.
11. “The most valuable would have to be an assorted allotment…”
Very wealthy neighborhood.
I tossed 4-5 bags into the hopper, the fifth one ripped… sweet sweet mary jane. Although it was just trimmings.
I laughed and kept going.
The most valuable would have to be an assorted allotment of unused Winsor and Newton oil paints.
Nothing too spectacular. But as an artist it was valuable to me.
10. “…wondering if people knew that I could read all of their medical records…”
As a kid, I can chime in what rich people threw away, even in the 1970s. None of this would make that much sense anymore, but the number one thing that I found that was surprising were clock radios. They were perfectly functioning clock radios, they just weren’t the new LCD models. They were the flip kind, or they would have a gear that would slowly turn and show the time. Are used to clean them up, and then sell them to other neighborhood kids for like five bucks. My mother caught wind of this, and put an end to it because she didn’t like the thought of her son digging through someone else’s trash.
Decades later, I went dumpster diving with some friends once in a while to get computer equipment from the back of failed business operations. It’s how I built my first few computers. I remember looking at one of the contents of the hard drive, and wondering if people knew that I could read all of their medical records or private email. :/
I am told that it’s better handled now. Almost every company I’ve worked for in the last 20 years has some sort of technology recycling service, but I always wonder if they’re just paying someone else to throw it in the dumpster for them.
9. “The rich guy hands him the keys, title,”
My uncle’s friend picked up trash in Grosse Pointe in the 80’s. There was a rich client who would often meet him by the curb just to talk every day. One day, he up and asks, “Hey, you know anything about cars?” Uncle’s friend happened to be working the trash job to save up to open his own car shop, so he replied, “Sure do!”
The guy then asked him what he thought about the Ford Escort, and uncle’s buddy replied that he thought it was cheap, but reliable. The rich guy hands him the keys, title, and tells him to pick it up after his route, he had bought it brand new for his daughter, but she hated it, and he was going to get her a different car.
The odometer had less than 500 miles on it.
8. “Easily have gotten over $5k worth of makeup products…”
I enjoy dumpster diving from time to time even though I make enough money to live comfortably – I grew up in the poor parts of San Diego and would dumpster dive as a kid with my friends for fun and the habit never really wore off.
Back when I was a preteen/teen there was a fairly well off family in our apartment complex who had 4 kids and every month or two, their parents would get PISSED OFF at one of their kids and throw out ALL of their toys. This happened like clockwork every 2-3 months with one kid one month, another kid another month and sometimes 2or 3 kids in one sitting. My friend and I would dumpster dive and pull out EASILY $500 worth of toys each – sometimes brand new stuff with price stickers still attached.
One time, they threw out their kids Harry Potter collection stuff out. Got a few of the books, some limited edition golden Harry Potter bookmarks, unused journals and this brand new and unopened. I still have it over 15 yrs later.
More recently though I’ve found a F*CKTON of crafting supplies – mainly really expensive beads and beading materials to make necklaces/bracelets. I’m talking like 30 lbs of beads and beading materials in one big box – split it up into parts and sold them for $100 on ebay each.
Also found a set of really nice fireplace pokers with the holder, a few used brand name handbags, a bag full of Iron Maiden gear including shirts, CDs, random cutouts and printouts of Iron Maiden’s Eddie and a huge cloth iron maiden flag all from the same dumpster (on different occasions).
Also, when I go out of town to big cities (or when I go back to visit my family in San Diego) I like to go dumpster diving at makeup stores since they tend to throw out perfectly near new condition displays ALL THE TIME.
Easily have gotten over $5k worth of makeup products over the years by diving in their dumpsters.
7. “sold them all online for like $600 pure net profit…”
Not a garbage man – but at work there was this big cleaning spree in our storage room (IT place)
Rummaging through it because I was bored and noticed there were a LOT of brand new sealed in retail box Lexmark color ink cartridges. I don’t have an inkjet but this was going to get thrown on a pallet and tossed.
I scored probably 25 or 30 brand new boxes (tricolor packs) and sold them all online for like $600 pure net profit (after fees).
Turns out people are willing to buy those things when your price is 20% less than everyone else online.
6. “8 year old me f*cking LOVED bin day.”
My dad has been ‘on the bins’ (working for the council doing refuse, blocked drains, street cleaning etc) for about 30-odd years.
He brought a load of books home once, all hard cover Terry Pratchett’s, that someone had just tossed in to a bin in a shopping centre.
He used to do tip runs, collecting stuff that had been dumped illegally and taking it to a tip (landfill?) and he used to come back with all sorts of sh!t. Mum would just bin it all again as soon as he was at work. “Look at this!” he’d say, dragging something utterly horrid in to the house “Can you believe someone would throw this away?!” Yes dad. We can believe.
Bonus points – his mates that worked our route would let me press the button on the trash compactor!
8 year old me f*cking LOVED bin day.
5. “a Raleigh 753 tubing road race bike.”
Dumpster diver: Fender Telecaster, rusted strings but unplayed;
Sony short wave radio;
washing machine & dryer;
silver ashtray, spoon, and chopsticks, a set;
unopened whiskey and brandy bottles;
a set of old handmade carbon steel kitchen knives with ebony handles;
3 Sony Trinitron monitors;
books, lots of books;
several 30-40 year old passports;
a Raleigh 753 tubing road race bike;
a top-of-the-line DeLonghi espresso machine.
4. “…found $40,000 hidden…”
Not a trash story exactly, but….a couch was donated to a charity.
It went onto the sale floor at a thrift shop and sat there for 2 weeks.
Since it reached the time limit for sale they were throwing it into the dumpster.
A last second inspection found $40,000 hidden inside.
I didn’t see one red cent of it, but it went to charity so I guess thats cool.
3. “It’s hard to imagine what rich kids throw out.”
I grew up near a very wealthy prep school, and at the end of every year I would dumpster dive for all kinds of things.
Electronics (mp3s, graphing calculators, etc…), brand new camping gear from the one overnight trip they do, desks/desk chairs, money, you name it.
I’d sell some on craigs, keep some, and donate what I didn’t need.
It’s hard to imagine what rich kids throw out.
2. “He just kept saying heads, heads, heads…”
A normal day at the landfill was interrupted by a scream of terror from the dozer driver who came running full tilt and white as a sheet up to my me.
He just kept saying heads, heads, heads, over and over again.
They went back to his dozer and found a garbage bag torn open with ten bloody heads spilling out of it.
Somebody had thrown away ten mannequin heads that had been used in a local haunted house.
1. “…contracts and just about all the personal information that one would need to actually become Ricky Williams.”
When former Football player Ricky Williams briefly retired to become a spiritual guru in the hills he moved into a place that was on my recycling route.
I noticed a box he tossed once and grabbed it to see if there was any memorabilia or football items related in it. It looked important.
What was in it was team doctors papers, contracts and just about all the personal information that one would need to actually become Ricky Williams.
I felt weird that this was out there, so I took it home and burned every piece of it in the fireplace.
Felt guilty even looking at it as I tossed it.
Moral to these stories? If you’re Ricky Williams, you need to get a firepit and burn yo sh^t! #truth