Garbage is a Growth Industry

Garbage is a Growth Industry
Dan Gould
  • 4 february 2009

Garbage is a hot commodity. Whether reclaiming recyclable materials from the waste stream for profit or more altruistic reasons, re-using stuff practically or as an artistic medium, more people are realizing there are a lot of alternate uses for what we’ve previously considered junk. Even edible food can be sourced from the trash according to the Freegans.

Corey Doctorow has conducted an interesting interview exploring the life of a professional connoisseur of garbage. Darren Atkinson is a full time dumpster diver, making a living selling what others throw out.

Doctorow reports:

Atkinson has built an empire collecting high-tech junk out of corporate trash bins, repairing it and selling the second-hand goods to customers worldwide on sites like eBay and Craigslist.

It started when a punk-rock neighbor in his rooming house tipped Atkinson off to the amplifiers to be found in the dumpsters at Bose. As a marginally employed drummer recently arrived from rural North Ontario, Atkinson was motivated to check it out for himself–and thus began an illustrious career in garbage. Before long, Atkinson was recovering dozens of 386 motherboards–the 486 chip had just come out, making older machines obsolete–and selling them at garage sales. This connected him with a network of smart, broke, geeky students and early new-media types who helped him learn what was worth keeping and was just junk, and before long, Atkinson was making money hand over fist.

Forbes: “It’s Just Garbage”


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