Along with the trash (mostly paper and plastic), we always find a few treasures, tidbits and oddities.

Below are samples from the most recent litter pickups.

Want to see what's in a bag of trash? What's in the bags of recyclables?

I have been cataloguing these finds since 2008. If you want to see even MORE of them, click here for another page of photos.

December 2013

A BIG fuzzy blue die (with a Las Vegas casino logo on it)    The base of a coffee maker.    A pair of jumper cable in good condition.
A full pack of cigarettes. We find HUNDREDS of empty packs; this is the first full one anyone has every found.  

The contents of a very worn wallet. Despite all my efforts, I could not find the owner.

  The contents of one of our blue recycle bags, all from one abandoned homeless camp.

November 2013

"Daddy's Little Love Bug" is missing his/her onesie. Remarkably clean child's sweater.

Clear plastic tote - still had the tag on it.
Silver bangles and a bow tie. Some of the several hundred unsold raffle tickets for a raffle held in October. A small felt bird, perhaps an ornament because the head piece had a tiny hole, like a string might go through it so the birdie could hang. (He's cleaned up and hanging in our kitchen window now.)
A paint roller in pretty good condition A stuffed cupcake (?)
Some of the down from a comforter that ripped open at the Leigh off-ramp Another of the hundreds of clumps of feathers at the Leigh off-ramp This is what the feathers looked like in the Adopt-A-Highway bag.

October 2013

    A black metal basket for a bicycle     An infant's life vest     A straw sombrero
    A toy gumball machine with the "Happy Easter" tag still attached.     A reloadable prepaid Master Card.   A very large bolt. That's a quarter next to it for comparison.

September 2013

Yes, we find cash on the freeway all the time, but usually $1 bills and $5 bills, and an occasional $20. This month we found this $100 bill, along with a $20 bill and a $1 bill on the Leland on-ramp. By the end of the day we had found $327 in cash, including three $100 bills! A check for out-of pocket expenses prepared in 1983.
Some of the photos we found on the Leland on-ramp. It seems a shame to lose these
photo memories. Can you help identify this man, now probably in his early 50s, named Tim? I would love to return these photos to him. Contact me a if you think you can help.


July 2013

A woven hat A bag of bagels A Panera Danish still in the box
Three felt bags with round bottoms, like they
would be good for carrying a drum. What were
three of them doing on The Alameda off-ramp?
Five Great America Seasons passes for one family for 2012. A odd-looking tool, some type of hammer?

June 2013

A cloth shopping bag (they threw out the
plastic bags, now they are throwing out the
cloth bags); a nearly new roll of blue painters
tape and most of a roll of clear plastic
packing tape
Business cards for a cleaning service --- oh, the irony! Another of those empty electronic cigarette packs (see April 2013 below)

A Christmat potholder

Light switch covers, labeled unbreakable. Both were broken. I guess the manufacturer didn't imagine they were going to be run over by a car or two.  
Charlie snapped these two photos on The Alameda off-ramp from northbound Highway 880. Charlie cleaned up this mess in about 10 minutes. It doesn't take much time to make a difference! Thanks, Charlie.

April 2013

E-Cigarette Pack A thank you card with a sweet message inside: "Age is just a number, may I take you to dinner?"
A tire gauge A Sharks antenna flag A woman's purse (empty)

On Saturday, April 13, 5 volunteers filled 27 bags with litter and 2 bags (above, left) with recyclable plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and glass bottles. I sorted them into piles, making one pile of just the plastic water bottles (above, middle). I counted them as I put them back into one of the two bags (above, right). There were 198 empty single-serving plastic water bottles and 5 larger sized bottles. Half of the recyclables we picked up was just empty water bottles. I did a similar analysis in August of 2012.

March 2013

An adorable toy car A odd stuffed toy - big lion head, small body... A $1 bill in play money

A big green heart? Why? It was made with foam adhered to a board and painted green. You can see how large it is from the chair it is resting on.

Two tiny bottles of Hello Kitty bath bubbles An opened paint roller cover
A Christmas card someone edited to turn it into a Mother's Day card This huge piece of plastic filled with odd bits of paper filled about half of one of our Adopt-A-Highway bags.  

February 2013

Size 13 Adidas sneakers A tiny little stuffed penguin given away by See's Candies A beige wool scarf
According to the tag, a "Tactical Drop-Leg Holster" regularly $23.99 on sale for only $18.99 A pink and gray knitted blanket A HUGE piece of plastic.



Compare two piles of bags. The one on the LEFT was collected by ONE worker (me) in TWO hours while picking up a relatively small section of the Southwest Expressway/Meridian interchange in November of 2007. The pile on the RIGHT (there are 22 bags in that small pile) was collected by NINE workers in THREE hours cleaning northbound Highway 280 between Meridian and Saratoga. What a difference San Jose's ban on plastic bags has made! Too bad all the local cities can't pass the same ban. Too bad there are still businesses (like restaurants that sell take-out food) allowed to provide them..

January 2013

Shiny new nail clippers  

A loaded shotgun shell. We turned it over to the police.

  A satchel containing a man's wallet with some credit cards, several sheets of postage stamps, a 2012 diary, a set of keys, some business cards, eye drops, and a few other items. The ID Card had the same name as one of the business cards, which provided a phone number. We called the owner and he was astonished ("This is fantastic!"). We drove to his workplace to present him with the satchel. He said it had been stolen from the back of his chair at a restaurant. A happy ending!

I have been cataloguing these finds since 2008. If you want to see even MORE of them, click here for another page of photos.

Photos from 2012-2008         For even MORE photos click here