This morning I stumbled across an article a New York City garabage man’s collection of treasures that he rescued from the trash. Over the course of of 34 years, he accumulated a collection over over 50,000 treasures that had been thrown away. As other trash collectors heard about the collection, they also contributed some of the best treasures that they had rescued.
The items are currently housed on the second floor of a Department of Sanitation garage in Manhattan. The treasures are grouped and displayed by theme. A CNN Money reporter was able to view the collection on one of the rare occasions that it was opened to the public. He described the collection as being “like the Antique Roadshow —on steroids.” The collection contains original Star Wars memorabilia, a book signed by singer, songwriter, actress Bette Midler and baseballs signed by almost every New York Yankee’s superstar. There are tables of vases, silver candelabra, working violins & guitars, clocks and hats. The collection is also home to stained glass windows that were thrown out by a church.
A Museum Full of Trash?
Mr. Molina calls the collection, “Treasures in the Trash.” Now that he is retired, he spends a couple days each week cleaning and arranging the items displayed. He hopes that New York City will allow the collection to be moved to a nicer building that can serve as a musuem to house the collection.
He believes a musuem would allow people to be able to view assorted collectabile items, it displays, in a big way, how wasteful people are. After all, ever single item on display would have ended up in the landfill had it not been rescued. Mr. Molina says, “We need to recycle more and waste less.”
Why Do People Throw “Treasures” Into the Trash?
Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do people throw away things that are still usable?”
Even though I’ve been a big fan of Goodwill for years, I only recently started asking myself that question. I’ve also tried to look at my own behaviors as I’ve searched for the answer. I think understanding what we are throwing into the trash gives us an understanding of what we value or what we do not value. If something is thrown away, the person throwing it away most likely doesn’t value the item. Granted, the rare exception would be the angry jilted wife that is throwing away her cheating husband’s prized collection of expensive golf clubs or whatever.
Anyway, what we, as American’s, value has changed over time. Fashions and trends come and go. Additionally, our attitudes have changed over time. My grandparents that grew up during the Great Depresson were frugal savers. As time went by, American became known as a nation of consumers. That said, the young adults that make up the millennial generation seems to be a group that places a high value on being good stewards of the environment and our natural resources. As result, sustainability, repurpose and recycle have become everyday terms.
Are Items Thrown in the Trash Because Fewer People Are Collectors?
Additionally, at one time people didn’t move around as much they do now. Many of our parents and grandparents lived in the same house for years. It is much more feasible for families that live in one house for decades to collect china, books, dolls or whatever.
I haven’t researched exactly when people started moving more frequently, but I know that I’ve moved a lot in my life time. I’ll be the first to testify that moving a library full of books or a big rock collection isn’t fun. The more you move, the more a person move’s, the more a person is inclined to get rid of unnecessary stuff.
Add to that, as time goes by advances in technology, manufacturing and distribution have allowed things to be produced in mass and sold cheaply. American’s became a society of consumers. If it broke or if you didn’t want it, the simplest thing to do was throw it away.
Many of the things we purchase are not made to last any signficant length of time. So, we have gotten in the habit of throwing things aways. It has become easy to rationalize throwing stuff away.
How I Rationale Throwing Stuff Away
Additionally, if we don’t like or care for certain things or styles of items, we are also inclined to think that no one else will. So, I personally find it super easy to rationalize throwing those types of items away.
Oh yeah….time. For most of us, our time is very limited. It is easy to rationalize that it isn’t worth taking the time to donate, consign or sell something. It is more efficient from a time standpoint to simply throw the items in the trash.
On one hand, these arguements can be very legitimate reasons to throw something away. On the other hand, some beloved treasures that might be appreciated by someone else might getting thrown away also.
What to do with unwanted items?
Do you have things laying around the house that you are thinking about throwing away? If so, consider the following alternatives:
- Donate them to a charitable organization such as Goodwill.
- Try to sell the items in a garage sale.
- Consider selling the items at a flea market. Many flea markets are like huge garage sales.
- Auction the items online through a site like Ebay.
- List the item for sale on Craigslist.
- Lis the item as being for “Free” on Craigslist.
- Find a way to repurpose the item.
Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? If so, feel free to share them.