Garbage or Gold?

July 18, 2017

Garbage or Gold? The art of garbage picking

Maybe it’s a Midwestern thing or maybe just a ‘boy’ thing, but growing up in the 70s meant riding bikes, swimming pools, listening to records (remember those?) and garbage picking. Chairs, tables, license plates, golf clubs, stuffed animals, false teeth – all part of the ‘haul’ over the years. Today, whether it’s called up-cycling, free-cycling, dumpster-diving – all acceptable terms – there’s certainly an art and science to garbage picking. While not officially blessed by any official organization, here are the shortened guidelines for sorting the gold from the garbage:


  • Personal items that you wouldn’t touch on a dare (false teeth, old tooth brushes, dead plants)
  • Mattresses or box springs (you don’t know what’s living inside!)
  • Paint or chemicals (keep that away from your house, unless you’re in the market for peach-colored paint from 1988)
  • Electronics (most electronics that are thrown away are useless – e-waste is best handled by professionals)
  • Clothing (generally any ‘usable’ clothing is donated or handed down – clothing that is in the garbage is probably there for good reason)


  • Gently-used furniture (desks, chairs, tables – anything that has utility left in it or can be refinished)
  • Appliances can be a gamble since you don’t know their true condition (scrappers can find cash in appliances but only if they haul them to a recycling center)
  • Tools (it’s rare for tools to be thrown away, but it happens – good tools last a long time and can be expensive if bought new)
  • Toys (a pretty broad category but large, plastic children’s toys can save money in a pinch)
  • Books (maybe you’re not a reader, but even if you are, you may discover a treasure – not to mention a quick buck if taken to a used-book store)

Most likely, if you’re reading this, you’ve graduated from garbage picking and find your treasures at the flea market. And maybe you’ve wondered about cleaning out the attic or basement and are tempted to throw everything to the curb. Sanford and Sons has seen and hauled a lot over its 20 years in this business. We know when something is meant for the landfill and when something has a few more miles left in it. Give us a call and we’ll help start the process. But be smart and think twice before simply tossing that old chair in the alley. The false teeth? Yeah, best to throw those away…