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. I have been cataloguing these finds since 2008.

If you want to see even MORE of them, click here for another page of photos.

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

December 2014

A plastic souvenir batting helmet, probably a give-away at an A's game.      We find dozens of empty cigarette packets, but this is the first we have ever found printed in Chinese.   Some of the dozens of Pokemon cards we recovered.
An unbroken glass wine jug.   You can't tell from the photo, but this is tiny child's jacket (sized for 24 months). It looked fine once we washed it and we will donate it.   A nice warm blanket that we will wash and give to Project Linus
  A crocodile hand puppet. There is an opening under his body and your hand goes into his head so you can snap his jaws. And what looks like a mouth with white teeth is actually a white zipper! [We found out later it is used as a pencil case.]     

November 2014

 At first glance, we thought it was a hand grenade!

Then we saw it looked more like a small clay pot.

Surprise - it's made of rubber and squash-able!

I googled "rubber pot" and "rubber flower pot" but couldn't find anything like it - how odd!

Oh, and it has a small white stopper, like a hot water bottle, but on the bottom is a small white design of a tulip.

Ear buds (they work just fine), a pillow that was once (judging by
the color of the side that hadn't been in the sun for a month) blue, and a tote bag
for carrying six bottles of Ridge Vineyard wines.

Left, some of the bottles we collected. All of them once contained alcohol -- except for one lonely Jarritos soda bottle. Right, 23 small bottles of Gallo Chardonnay.
Back in February we cleaned the off-ramp from 280 SB to Meridian and found dozens of these mini bottles and Gallo wine bottles. This month we cleaned the same area and found the same collection of bottles. Bad habits die hard!  

Left, two of the San Jose State University volunteers found $1 bills.



Right, part of our crew with 12 of the bags filled that day.

October 2014

This is the "severed hand" we found! It is used by jewelry stores to display rings but was sure a surprise spotting it in the bushes.    An electric bread maker on the freeway? Perhaps the homeless living nearby tapped into a source of electricity?    We were able to return this cell phone to its owner.
There were dozens of these coupons for Macy's scattered along the Saratoga Avenue off-ramp. Thanks, Macy's for the contribution to our environment. Surely there are better ways for you to advertise!   This a GIANT (that's the brand name) bike wireless computer speedometer. At least that was what the website said when I looked it up.   A colorful ribbon on a stick for twirling and swirling.

The dollars bills four of us found

  Nikki found a $5 bill    
BEFORE   AFTER photos    

September 2014

This looked like a $50 bill that had been torn in half. On closer inspection,
the back was BLANK. A forgery? A photocopy? Hmmmm!
The Izod sweatshirt was found inside out, which meant the outside was remarkably clean. The bright pink shirt had obviously not been out on the highway very long. Both will be washed and donated to Goodwill. A vacuum cleaner attachment? On the freeway?
An unopened package of Trojans on the same off-ramp as a pair of black speedos. Is there a story here?

This enormous piece of plastic was spread out over the rose bushes along several yards of the Winchester on-ramp. When it was picked up and squashed as small as we could manage it was the size of a soccer ball.

A "Go Giants!" hand towel.

August 2014


  1. A gag gift - a magnetized rubber strip that you put on a dent/ding on a car.
  2. A cute black-and-white stuffed toy dog.
  3. A Guardian Fall Protector.
  4. A Smurf toy and a red plastic ball with a very odd face painted on it.
  5. A man's XL black vest.

July 2014

Some of the security tags we found on one of the on-ramps. It looks like someone burned them off the garments to which they'd been attached!   A Beanie Baby skunk, a little diry from being on the road, but he cleaned up nicely, don't you think?
A knife and, a few feet along the roadway, the holster for it.   A yellow artificial flower in remarkably good condition considering where it had been.
A small unopened bottle of Purell hand sanitizer.    

June 2014

A like-new blue canvas bag distributed by with the message "Keep San Jose Clean" on it. Tossed out a car window....ah, the irony of it!  

Two stiff bruhes ("Perfect for cleaning the scum off the bird bath!" I said)



A tool for removing a hot grill from a barbecue. We didn't know this, by the way, and found out only because a friend was visiting and we showed it to him. He said, "Oh, I know what that is!" He barbecues a lot and we don't....
An air filter still in the box A teeny gold and pink shoe that (I'm guessing) is for a Prom Barbie. The two pennies show the relative size. Eagle-eyed Sabined spotted it. See more of Sabine's tiny finds below.
An expired (2005) passport for a woman from India        

May 2014

A small green toy frog and an even tinier green plastic chameleon. That's a dime so you can see how small they are. How did Sabine ever spot that chameleon?   An unopened package of Maruchan
Instant Lunch noodles.
  A dark gray Columbia fleece pullover.
A single peacock feather A Power Grip Vacuum Cup used to hold large pieces of glass. It didn't appear to be broken.




A roll of tape that was specifically designed to stick in cold weather. Who knew!?




An unopened bottled of chocolate-flavored Nesquick

A small pink apron.        

Yes, we do find cash on the freeway!

  A odd-looking gear about the size
of a half-dollar. We found out the following month from Charley that it is a motorcycle gear shifter.

April 2014

A nice rubber ball. We washed it and gave it to Goodwill.   Someone dumped about a dozen used syringes by the side of the road. A purple inflatable frisbee.
A cardboard box for a large standing fan. Guess what we found pieces of spread out all over the freeway near the box??    A $1,000,000 bill in play money (darn!) If you are over 50 years old you probably remember these old pull tabs on soda and beer cans. They were phased out in the 1970s because they detached from the can. People stepped on them in bare feet, bird and fish tried to eat them, and they clogged drains. How long had it waited on the freeway for someone to find it?

March 2014

Six gloves - three pairs plus two mismatched gloves. All were found within about 100 yards.    An adult-sized lifevest, dirty but still usable. Lavendar strapless party dress.
Mens size 10 tennis shoes, like new! 16 empty mini-bar sized plastic bottles of vodka. Four are just plain old vodka and the other 12 are "pink lemonade flavored." They were all found along the same on-ramp.
Who knows? White plastic balls connected by a blue loops of stretchy rope. Buoys? The teensiest skateboard ever! See the quarter next to it?

February 2014

An unopened can of Modelo beer   A sprinkler bottle for Parmesan cheese    A pair of Hunter sprinkler head.
A tiny gray toy horse   A red plastic plate   A rubber chicken (usually found attached to the bumper of a car)
A black plastic bag full of kitchen garbage? Garbage from someone's car? You never know....   Full of empty plastic water bottles somebody was probably planning to take to be recycled. At $1 per pound, this was probably $8-$10 worth!  
This was the start of a pile of mini-bar sized bottles of Jose Cuervo tequila that we found on the WEST side of an off-ramp. We found a collection of Smirnoff vodka bottles on the EAST side of the same off-ramp. It was so unusual a find that we collected all the bottles, took them home, and counted them.

The final score: 43 bottles of Jose Cuervo tequila on the WEST side of the off-ramp and 14 bottles of Smirnoff vodka on the EAST side of the same off-ramp. The glass bottles are 7 bottles that survived from two 4-packs of Gallo white wine (we found the cardboard containers too).

There was absolutely no cross-over! We found not a single Smirnoff bottle on the east side and there were no Jose Cuervo bottles on the west side. We imagined someone coming home late at night, drinking from these little bottles. The driver prefers tequila and the empties go out the window night after night. One bottle per work night for two months would come to about 43 bottles. The driver offers a ride to a friend once in a while and the passenger prefers vodka - and out the window go the empties.

January 2014

This is what happens when rolls of toilet paper are released on the freeway.
The same shot above - after the cleanup. See the rolls of toilet paper that wound up in the median instead of on the side of the highway? Want to guess how long they will stay there?

A Dixon clamp - heavy sucker!

A plastic toy hippo. That's a quarter next to it to show the size. The head of a cooked shrimp - just the head. An untouched, uncrushed, unopened bag of Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream potato chips!
A pile of bags dumped on the Merdian median. We stuffed most of it into white Adopt-A-Highway bags and hope that Cal-Trans will pick them up. The City said it was not on City property so it wasn't their responsibility! A book about Karma Yoga written in Bengali  

I have been cataloguing these finds since 2008. If you want to see even MORE of them....

Photos from 2013      Photos from 2008-2012     For even MORE photos click here