When dumpster diving pays off

Rubbish skip bins are in every basement carpark and building site, and most of the time they play host to rubbish and junk. But from time to time people throw away some gems, relics of years gone by that have lost their practicality but not their novelty factor or antique value.

Recently a woman tried to dispose of an old computer she thought was junk – that computer turned out to be a first generation Apple worth more than US$200,000.

Old Apple Computer. May look like junk but could be worth a lot

From time to time we see these stories in the news and we’re constantly in awe – how could that throw that away? Don’t they know how much that’s worth? But it isn’t always that easy to identify what’s trash and what’s treasure.

Here are a few tales of junk removal fails that have lead to some seriously lucrative dumpster diving.

Winning lottery ticket in the trash

83 year old American man Edward St John found a winning $1 million lottery ticket in the trash at his local convenience store. Unfortunately for St John the rightful owner of the ticket found out, a court battle ensued, and St John was left with $140,000 of the total prize money. Not a bad effort really!

Ancient artifacts

A junk removal operator in New York was working on rubbish collection job, removing junk from a Soho artist’s home. He took home a barrel of random items, assumed to be junk, but it was soon discovered that the junk was actually ancient Mexican artifacts. Totalling 60 items, the haul of figurines, bowls and jugs were dated between 300 BC and 500 AD and were valued at around US$16,500 total.

Lost Andy Warhol sketch

At a garage sale in 2010 Andy Fields found the bargain of a lifetime. Whilst at a garage sale he bought five painting for $5. When he got them home he lifted them out of the frames and behind one of them was a sketch. When valued by an art dealer it was valued at £1.3m.

War memorabilia

Earlier this year Northlander Audrey Leslie was making a standard trip to the local rubbish dump when she spotted a collection of 20 or so books. After pouring over the books with her mother, Audrey discovered that belonged to a man named Nigel MacKenzie Cotching who died in 2007 in Whangarei. Those books turned out to be an in depth collection of newspaper clipping, maps, and annotations that described Nigel’s wartime experiences.

War memorabilia and newspaper clipping may go in the skip bin, but could be valuable to collectors

Professional skip bin divers

The TV show Better Call Saul has an entire storyline around the contents of a rubbish skip Saul finds himself in. On the hunt for some corporate documents that were shredded by an unsavoury character Saul jumps on into the junk pile in the dark of the night to find the evidence he needs. He (eventually) finds what he’s after and uses the shredded documents to mount a legal case.

Saul from "Better Call Saul" the TV show, diving in a skip bin.

Though this is the work of fiction it isn’t too far from the truth.

When people don’t invest in proper waste removal and leave their rubbish skip open for the whole world to peruse, then they’re opening themselves up to all sorts of issues. Whilst skip bin hire is convenient, it isn’t always the safest options for waste removal.

Matt Malone is a professional skip bin diver. He found himself in this unusual profession after he was hired as a security specialist. When Malone is brought on as a security consultant for a business he has to try and break into the business systems to discover its weak points. And more often than not that Achilles heel is the skip bin in the carpark.

Dumpster diving while standing on the back of a ute.

Malone says that after he found all sorts of valuable information, and valuable items, in his clients’ trash he decided to go one step further and inspect neighbouring business’ trash. Once he started he never stopped, he was finding a whole bunch of valuable electronics and technology in carpark skip bins. After 9 years of professional dumpster foraging Malone says he makes more money on selling his trash treasures than he does in his day job.

Skip bin divers

We all know Wellington as a city overflowing with artists, musicians, and movie making talent, but evidently it’s also overflowing with junk. And for that reason, it’s also home to some of the country’s best dumpster diving spots. Dumpster diving, or skip binning as the experts like to call it, is about digging around in someone’s trash for any useful resource.

 Building site junk and household skip bins are a great source of scrap metal for many skip binning enthusiasts. And that scrap metal can often be sold to metal merchants for a tidy sum.

 Steph Miller recently made a film about Wellington dumpster diver Nobbs that follows him scavenging his way around the city’s junk piles.

But skip bin diving is just as popular in Auckland, and the growing population of freegans has begun conquering the rubbish bins and berm grown produce of Auckland’s city streets. Food Foraging West Auckland is a popular network for people looking for just that. Freegans are partial to a skip bin of discarded food and junk, but prefer to locate more sanitary produce i.e. the fruits of road side trees and abandoned vegetable gardens.

Junk2Go know their junk

We try to save items that look like they’re worth recycling. Our Junk2Go junk removal specialists will collect your pile of rubbish or garden waste where it will recycled safely and responsibly, either at our depot, transfer stations, or disposal sites. The team recently diverted a truck of unwanted furniture to an Auckland family in need who were over the moon! We love being able to do this whenever possible.

If you want peace of mind that your junk will be properly taken care of, and your skip bin isn’t at risk of being pillaged by dumpster divers, then give Junk2Go a call.

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