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Talking Trash

Scavenge at will
Torontonians, in their very own passive-aggressive way, love doing two things above all else: writing public notices and sticking it to The Man. So naturally, after the city started mulling over the idea of actually enforcing the anti-garbage-picking provisions in its waste collection by-law (section 844-20 in this PDF), it didn’t take long for some homeowners to disagree. On Hopedale Avenue in East York, one recycling family has attached a sign to its blue bin authorizing scavengers to remove any reusable containers. When we peeked into the bin early on collection day, not a beer or wine bottle was to be seen. Either the scavengers were scrupulously efficient or the homeowner is just teasing them.
Photo by Val Dodge.


  • davedave

    I just don’t like ALL THE NOISE the little old lady makes on my street when she goes through everybody’s blue box looking for beer bottles.

  • paigesix

    good for them! city needs to totally eff off about this one…
    my favourite lady “scavenger” is the one who comes through Trinity Bellwoods to take away any bottles from illicit drinking picnics. convenient and good for the environment!

  • bigdaddyhame

    I separate the returnable bottles from my recycling before I put it in the bin, and then leave it out in a box (or boxes). The returnables are usually taken within 30 mins of my putting them out and I never hear any noise of bottles rattling as they don’t have to go through my bin. If the city gives me trouble for it I’ll put a sticker on the boxes saying “gift for scavengers – not for city recycling”.

  • David Newland

    This is a great idea, and I’m going to imitate it.
    I’ve chatted with one of the guys who takes bottles out of my bin (I usually put the returnables to one side, but he often checks anyway, and grabs ones I’ve missed) and complimented him on his work.
    He takes pride in being quiet and not being a nuisance. By contrast, the city recycling trucks, bless ‘em, are pretty darned loud…

  • Apricot

    The scavenger in my neighbourhood always gives me a friendly thumbs-up – for some reason she assumes that I am the person in my building that puts out multiple empty scotch bottles.

  • torontothegreat

    >I separate the returnable bottles from my recycling before I put it in the bin
    I do the exact same thing, works well!

  • atomeyes99

    oh lord. Hopedale residents have enough problems with raccoons turning the trash over.
    also, you all realize that the city “profits” off of recycling, right? the items are sorted and sold to companies that re-use the materials. and some recyclables are more valuable than others, right? if the more valuable recyclables are cherrypicked, the city will either stop recycling the less profitable items (type 5 and 6 recyclables) or your taxes will go up.
    so please let them scavange your bins…and also drop some extra $$ off at the East Your Civic Centre to pay for the green bin and recycling service you’re getting.

  • paigesix

    one could also argue that the city “profits” over these clever individuals finding a way to supplement their income–enough extra cash to perhaps divert gov’t subsidies out of their pockets?

  • Svend

    I spent over an hour separating the metal frame from the rest of a sofa bed, tied it up so it wouldn’t spring open and called the city for a date to have it picked up.
    For some reason the workers chose not to take it, I was in a mood to dump it in the fountain at city hall. Instead I took it with me up to the cottage where they welcome scrap metal next to their dump.
    I don’t have patience to deal with Toronto city hall any more on any issue.

  • jaymo

    On more than one occassion, I have seen my local sanitation employee in the parking lot of my local beer store sorting an absolute motherload of returnables.
    Personally, I return my own returnables. There is some value in tin cans though. Why should the city get that?
    I am disgusted by this entire bin program in the first place. I wasn’t even asked what size garbage bin I wanted – and a couple of weeks ago, I received one that is almost the same size as my house.
    These big ugly bins that we are forced to have are ruining neighbourhoods. There is a little old lady across the street from me who doesn’t have a driveway and has to keep hers on her porch. Ugly to look at, yes … but it breaks your heart watching her try to bring them down every week to bring them out to the curb.
    I would fully support any one who was willing to organize a mass dumping of all of these bins in Nathan Phillips Square.

  • spacejack

    I’d wager that ‘scavengers’ do more to conserve, re-use, and help the environment than our recycling programs do.

  • atomeyes99

    you want to tell that to John Clarke et al.?
    and i really wonder where the money earned from panhandling and scavenging goes…don’t you?