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Picking Through the Scraps

This past weekend was bulk trash pick up and as such I spent the majority of saturday morning pulling out any and all junk that was cluttering my garage and any other storage space I had.

by ‘Above Average’ Joe, Managing Editor of www.SurvivalLife.com

When I bought my home, I used an alternative method to purchase it and because of this, the person who lived in the home before me left a good chunk of items and junk.  This was a pretty big windfall when my wife and I first moved in as it included a fully functioning lawn mower, gardening tools, and patio furniture.

Unfortunately she also left tons of ceramic and plastic pots, construction materials leftover from A/C work, and a shed full of items that are useless to me.

The past year I happened to be out of town both times when the  bulk trash pickup happened.

This year, I made sure that I would be home to finally get rid of all this junk…. or rather my wife made sure that I would.

As I began toss my unwanted items out on the curb I witnessed a live action version of the old adage “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

There were some items that were gone before I even made it back with another armful.

Check out this list below to see some of the items that are

Bulk Items Include:

  • Doors
  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Appliances (remove doors)
  • Passenger car tires (remove rims; limit eight tires per household)
  • Lawn mowers (remove gas/oil)
  • Railroad ties (cut in half)
  • Pallets
  • Rolled fencing
  • Nail-free lumber

Bulk Item Collection Crews Cannot Collect:

  • Brush, household trash, cardboard boxes, hazardous materials, mirrors, automotive chassis and bodies, motorcycles, trailers, boars and tires that are still mounted on rims
  • Sheet glass and other construction and remodeling debris

Collection Guidelines

  • Place bulk items at the curb in front of your house by 6:30 a.m. on the first day of your scheduled collection week
  • Separate items into three piles as described below
  • To prevent damage to your property, keep items 5 feet away from your trash cart, mailbox, fences or walls, water meter, telephone connection box and parked cars. Do not place any items under low hanging tree limbs or power lines
  • Austin Resource Recovery only collects bulk items from its residential trash and recycling customers
  • Items will not be collected if they are in an alley in any area, including Hyde Park, in front of a vacant lot or in front of a business
  • Do not put items in bags, boxes or other containers. Bulk collection is for items too large to fit in containers. Bags will be treated as extra trash and are subject to extra trash fees

Separate Items into Three Piles

  1. Metal items – Includes appliances (remove doors). These are taken to our Resource Recovery Center for recycling
  2. Passenger car tires - Rims must be removed. Limit of eight tires per household. We cannot collect truck or tractor tires. Tires will go to a tire recycling facility
  3. Non-metal items – Includes carpeting and nail-free lumber. These items go to a landfill. Austin Resource Recovery is working on plans to salvage reusable items from bulk collection to help meet the City of Austin’s Zero Waste goal

Because these piles are collected by different trucks, they may be collected at different times throughout the week.

At one point I managed to catch one of the “pickers” as he was going through my items, he was completely courteous about it and simply asked if it was ok for him to take a look.


As I had already decided it was worthless to me I had no qualms with it, but I did have a question.

I asked him what he would be doing with it or what he was looking for.

His reply was simple, “scrap metal”

We had a short conversation about his business venture and he said that he could make  several hundred dollars in a weekend on scrap metal alone.

Bravo for him, that is definitely one way to make a little extra scratch!

Then I began to think about it, and took a walk up my street to see what some of my neighbors had decided to toss out.

Several sets of tires- that could be used for container gardens
A lawn mower that may or may not have worked ( the most common problem with a tossed lawn mower is a bad spark plug- a simple $2.00 fix, or a clogged air filter)

pallets and scrap wood that could be used for small construction projects

yard and gardening tools.

I have to admit, any prepper knowledgeable enough to know the pick up schedules in each neighborhood could save hundreds or thousands  of dollars in a few hours of picking.

Think about it, you have instant access to presorted materials!

A word about etiquette coming from myself as a home owner- If they are outside when you pull up, Please introduce yourself and at least ask permission, it is extremely rude not to even acknowledge me as you sift through trash on my property.

Also DO NOT just begin tossing items around, I had to ask one person to leave as they began tossing items across my yard and into the street. I don’t mind you taking these things but I am not OK with paying a fine for littering because you were careless.

Be kind, courteous and quick, and you might be amazed at what you will find.

My wife had me on a short leash for the weekend, so I wasn’t able to bring anything in, but I’m curious to know if any of you have ever used bulk trash pick up and if so what is the coolest or most useful thing you have found?

Let me know in the comments below!

*As a final note, the above listing is based on my area. Be sure to check local guidelines for bulk trash pick up as it may be different where you live.



  1. Scrapping has helped me make those extra dollars I need to help purchase the supplies for the future. This does come at a price though, that of the gas being used to travel around canvasing the area.
    Some days are good, others, no so.

  2. This makes me think so much of my grandparents and the lessons I learned from them. Do you remember that old saying….Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without? That was my grandparents. If it was or ever could be useful it was NOT thrown out. That is why when a neighbor needed some lumber or a certain size bolt – my granddaddy usually had it and gladly gave it so the neighbor would not have to buy it. If it was something that might be useable later, it found a nest in the garage/workroom. Old clothes were cut into patches to make quilts, any jar that would fit a Mason lid was kept for canning. When you don’t have money, or very little of it, you have to get creative. Loved the article….and also love flea markets and garage sales too :) America’s underground economy!

    • Your GRAND’S were very wise, indeed!
      They grew up in the Depression or soon thereafter. But the real truth, remains the same today. In this toss away mentality we have all become accustomed too, it’s a wounder we have so much junk to toss away.
      Myself, I’d love to find an Old, Manor , ready to be condemned, sitting alone on a cliff somewhere.
      A person bought such an house on the cost of Washington State, It was a mess, He invested $12,000.00 for it & another $6000.00 in back taxes & it was his. He next spent another $20,000.00 fixing this old Death trap up & guess what he found, rusting away in an old attic? Not a darn thing!He had dreams of finding & selling the Antiques you’d fine in such old homes, but his was cleaned out years ago!
      Why this story? Hold on, Disappointed, he continued to renew this old house & in the end, found a treasure in the library, No Gold, No Silver or Precious Jewelery, Nothing but books, Books & More Books, books Behind Books, All Rotting & Neglected. AND MANY FIRST RUN COPIES! After contacting the right collectors, this Man & his Family walked away with a Fully Restored Mansion & Nearly 12 Million in profits, All from those books!
      So it brings up another OLD SAYING I’m sure your Grand Parents Knew Full Well; ONE Man’s Junk IS Another Man’s Treasure!

  3. Years ago I came across an old boys bicycle. It was pretty rugged. The next few weeks my young son and I scraped it down, repainted it fire engine red, polished all the parts and ended up with the best looking bike in the neighborhood. The real benefit was helping my young son and working with him on this father-son project. He also learned that treasures are not always purchased in a store.

  4. I am a long time , committed “alley shopper” and “dumpster diver” ever since I lived in Greenwich Village and furnished my apartment with things left on the curb by others.If you live in a city or town with a college the areas around campus at term end are a mother lode as daddy’s money gets tossed. Monitor Freecycle if you have that in your town, I just got a nice desk and had a shot at a moped needing work. Abandoned bicycles are a good cash source if you can repair them. Don’t buy it if you can make it, don’t make it if you can find or convert it.

  5. Were those Wild “boars” the bulk items crews cannot collect? I can see why! Sorry. Just a little (warped) humor.

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