I’ve written about dumpster diving and other forms of admirable scavenging before. I said that I wasn’t personally excited by the idea because (a) I’m a minimalist, decidedly more likely to get rid of something than to salvage something and (b) I’m a squeamish nincompoop, seldom a stonesthrow from a thing of hand sanitiser.
But finally, something has arrived to get me properly excited about the ethics and practices of salvage.
Escapologists, I want to draw your gaze toward this blog, run by a fellow called Martin. It is unashamedly and amusingly titled Things I Find in the Garbage. It’s about things he finds in the garbage.
Martin walks and cycles around Montreal in search of objects prematurely discarded or abandoned by their former owners. He then cleans them up and in some cases repairs them. He’s a regular Womble and this blog charts his adventures. And it’s fascinating.
It is not unusual for Martin to find the contents of entire apartments on the street: the furniture, crockery, and record collections of people who have died. It often doesn’t look like much when its all piled up on the curb: the material sum of a life forlornly squatting in the elements. Bereaved family and friends don’t have time or energy to sort through a person’s former belongings so it just gets unceremoniously jettisoned by an efficient landlord. This is probably my favourite kind of garbage story: as a minimalist it reminds me of the pointlessness of too many material possessions. What will become of your treasured goods upon your demise, after years of dusting them and rearranging them and loading them into removal vans whenever you’ve moved house? Why, they’ll probably end up ditched in a street.
Now that the winter has been all but banished from our island city, Martin has decided to dedicate an entire spring and summer to his project. The point being to provide proof of concept for another alternative to ‘work’. He’ll also be committing to the three Rs by manfully intercepting things on their way to landfill. It’s a charming and funny blog destined to fully kick into life this summer.