Things he finds in the garbage


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.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

4 Responses to “Things he finds in the garbage”

  1. i am interested in scavenger ing in nyc but everything i look up takes me to big fines and trouble. Is it legal in the location which Martin scavenges?
    i went and bought a pick up truck for many reasons but this one was one of them.
    i want to do it for the planet, to donate and to increase my income.
    is sincerely appreciative
    551 404 5211

  2. I don’t know. You’d have to ask Martin. Contact him through his blog.

    I remember he wrote about police and legality (in Montreal) once.

  3. Dude says:

    I follow Martin’s blog-it’s great. To answer your question, he occasionally gets harassed by local police and sometimes is fined for trash picking. However, he soldiers on!

    I do a little trash picking myself, although most of my finds come from yard sales and thrift shops. I document in in my blog;

  4. Martin is a hero. ‘Tis my privilege to know him.

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