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

Below are samples from litter pickups in 2015. 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 2015

A child's book in what appears to be Arabic.   A McDonald Happy Meal Pokemon Toy   A child's necklace
Sport bands, still in the package, inside an opened Amazon package  

A darning egg

  Sabine rescuing three stuffed animals abandoned on a hillside.


Before and after photos of the three stuffed toys we found-- a panda bear, a bunny and a unicorn. They had been out the hillside long enough that they had grass growing out of them!


November 2015

A plastic water bottle full of emptied sunflower seeds   A nearly full pack of cigarettes, slightly damp     A plastic pitchfork, probably for a Halloween costume

ITEM RETURNED: What a small world!

We found this briefcase full of important-looking papers. We looked through them and quickly found the name of the person to whom the briefcase belonged. Then Sabine noticed the name of a school where a good friend of ours is an administrator. We called our friend, who knew the owner of the briefcase and gave us her phone number! We called and, upon hearing that we'd found her briefcase, she burst into tears, started speaking in very rapid Spanish, and handed the phone to her husband. He arranged to pick up the briefcase that had been snatched from her car in a parking lot (the thieves smashed the window). The only bad news is that we did not recover her laptop or the thumb drive on which she kept her backup files. [Note to self: DO NOT keep your backup files in the same bag with your laptop.] What are the chances we would be only one contact person away from owner of that briefcase?

ITEM RETURNED: After three weeks!

The iPhone 4s was dead when we found it, but unbroken and in good shape. When we got home, Sabine found the appropriate charger and plugged it in. It took the charge was soon operable. On the locked home screen was a text message, presumably addressed to whoever had stolen the phone from the owner. In essence the message was he'd pay $80 to get the phone back and there was a number to call. We texted the number and related how we came to be on possession of his phone and he called back almost immediately. It had been missing three weeks! He came over from Santa Cruz to pick it up a few days later.

Three shirts - yes, they were still on the hangers - in great condition. They had not been out there very long!   A Batman toy, with wings that fold.   Sheet music for "New York, New York"

On the left is a view of the sidewalk along Moorpark that was littered with dozens of packets of two strawberry soft-chews Rolaids. They were strewn over 75 yards and, when they were picked up, they made quite a pile (photo on the right). The plastic water bottle is for perspective, so you can see how big the pile was.

Graciela and her two children have joined us three months and clean the section of Moorpark and Parkmoor that act as loooong off-ramps and on-ramps along our stretch of Highway 280.


On the off-ramp from Highway 280 SB to San Jose City College we found dozens of these mini-bottles of Seagram's vodka. (Keep in mind that this off-ramp is about less than 100 yards long.)

I had the little bottles in a bucket (which we also found on the freeway), but then I decided setting them out would be more impressive. You can see that's six rows of 10 bottles plus 2 extras on the right, plus a few other brands of vodka and some Jose Cuervo just for variety.

That's over 60 bottles, and I'm sure we didn't spot all of them among the weeds and other trash.

According to my records, we hadn't cleaned this particular off-ramp for a year. That's an average of over one bottle per week. I wonder if it's someone's Friday night reward....

October 2015

Someone left four full jugs of used motor oil (the white jug is empty) on Moorpark across from City College where we meet and collect our gear. Our first stop was O'Reilly's Auto Parts to drop it off.   A protective sleeve if you have to stick your arm in a clogged toilet. Says right on the package: "Free sleeves to keep the crap off your arms."     A water bottle with water in it and a water bottler with .... you guessed it ... pee in it. This was NOT thrown out of a car window by a woman!
A (still working) flashlight   A Bilt pouch, probably to hold repair tools   A baguette. We broke it up and left it for the critters.
Originally that was bright red caution tape, now pink and fragile from being in the sun waaay too long. It almost disintegrated when touched.   A loooong love note (both sides, single-spaced, top to bottom), written by a Mitty High senior girl. He was a great kisser!  
A photo taken at the encampment on the land between 280 and the ramps from Stevens Creek Blvd to 280 NB and 880 SB. Map below.
  That's 880 on the right going north-south and 280 across the bottom. Going toward the upper left corner (northwest) is Santana Row and Westfield Shopping Mall. In that red circle, hidden in the trees is a village of tents, household furniture, shopping carts, bicycles, and bags of garbage.

September 2015

A lovely wooden fan. The inscription, in Spanish, says it was a souvenir of the wedding of Claudia and Joaquin just a week earlier - Sep. 5, 2015.   Rattlesnake Eggs? In a plain manila envelope (2" x 3")? Yes, really! They are a party novelty that sell for $.55 per pack, $4.69 for a dozen.

    Two hard-back books, one of them a Harry Potter.



A hillside before and after we cleared off two entire bags of trash. There were huge pieces of cardboard up at the top, and probably another two bags worth of trash that we had to leave. We ran out of both bags and time.



Photos taken of an abandoned homeless encampment hidden in the shrubbery just off the ramp leading from Southwest Expressway SB to Meridian NB. That's a child's toy car and full-sized stereo speakers! No photo was taken of the couch.


The 52 glass bottles we picked up. Two Jarritos bottles, three Starbucks bottles, and one lemons-flavored tea -- the rest of them originally contained alcohol.

By the way, these are not being tossed out of car windows. The homeless roll them down the leaf and pine-needle strewn hillsides from their makeshift shelters. It also looks like groups gather under the trees to drink and then leave the empties behind for us to find. (Well, it's not like there are any trash containers out there...)

August 2015

A teensy baby bottle, probably a prop for a baby doll - 2" high   A McDonald's Happy Meal mini-frisbee and a Burger King toy book - both still in the plastic sleeves.

    A cell phone case, with slots for bills and cards. Too bad we couldnt' locate Jaime Gomez.

That cute little yellow bug we found is the size of one of quarters we also found.

A red toy hot-wheels car   A PG&E Diagram for the Mabury Substation. You can't tell from this photo that it's 18" by 24" in size.  
A Release on Own Recognizance form issues in Nevada County.        

July 2015

A pair of adult socks and a child's shirt in good condition. We donate clothing that we find to a local second-hand clothing store.     A pair of copper bracelets, still in the packaging. They will also go to the second-hand store.
Change Your Life - 52 Great Hints and Tips. Tips include "Clear the Clutter" and "Do the Work You Love" and "Get a Library Card." We put it in the Little Free Library in front of our home.   A small colorful rubber ball.   And a smaller, really hard ball. It was heavy and felt like it was made of concrete. Not a billiard ball. Hmmm. Any ideas?
  The bad boy this time - what was left of a Kelly Moore Colorstudio Collection of paint strips. On-line information said its "1,721 new colors present endless color combinations." Once it landed on Highway 280 and the pin holding the strips together broke, those 1,721 strips spread out over 200 yards. We found them between Meridian and Saratoga!  
That's a verrry over-sized $100, coated in plastic (with an advertisement on the back). The $1 are the ones we found, to show comparative size.

June 2015

Parts of a mechanical toy dinosaur. We looked on-line and found them selling for around $20.     That looks like some kind of octopus, but it's actually a pile of light brown rug scraps that were spread out all over one off-ramp.     A roll of 500 feet of sheetrock tape.

We find so many tools, it's hard to catalogue them all.
This is one that will probably go in the recycle bin - too rusted to be useful.

May 2015

Oh, the irony. See the date? Our trash pickup was on May 16!   A watch and a rubber spider   Men's size 12 shoes
An unopened can of tuna     A cute pincushion - with pins!     A plastic basket
The two $20 bills we found. We thought the blueish color was because someone had washed it with some blue jeans. However, when we took it to the bank and were told it was counterfeit - a good one, but fake nonetheless.   Two fruit trees - an apricot tree on Highway 880 NB just beyond The Alameda interchange and a plum tree on the Meridian Avenue median south of 280. Small hard fruit now, but perhaps we'll see some ripe fruit later in the year.

April 2015





A pretty basket

A patch for the "3rd Muslin Camporee" held in Willits, California in 2013   When was the last time you saw a 3.25" diskette?


A tiny (about the size of a walnut) blue plastic pig.   An odd plastic toy puzzle.  
A packet of three car air freshners.   A quilt, maybe designed to use by movers, but it cleaned up nicely.   See the funny money next to a dollar bill the size of ballpoint pen?
Typically about 10% of what we pick up is recyclable plastic, glass and aluminum. If we fill 30 bags with trash, there will be 3 additional bags full of recyclables. This time it appeared that someone lost a bag or maybe two that they were planning to take to a recycling center and the bags ripped open, strewing the contents all over our section of highway. We only filled 18 bags with trash but filled *4* bags with recyclables. One entire bag was plastic water bottles - 226 of them. I counted them!
Here are the four bags we filled with recyclable plastic, glass and aluminum.   This is a pile of 175 empty plastic bottles. I was counting them and had only emptied three of the bags. Eventually there were 226 of them!   I built a cube with PVC pipe and mesh - 12" x 24" x 30" or roughly 5 cubic feet - about the size and shape of one of our bags.I put the 226 plastic water bottles in it.

Soooo... four bags of recyclables turned into one entire bag of just those individual size plastic water bottles, plus three big plastic water bottles, about a half-bag of aluminum cans, a third of a bag of other plastic bottles, 28 glass bottles, and 8 milk-plastic bottles. The Winner and Still Champion - plastic f***ing water bottles!

March 2015



An Apple employee's backpack that we were were able to return. The laptop was gone, but he recovered his passport!   Two sets of credit cards that we were able to return.   A glass bottle that originally held tequila.
It will make a pretty vase.

Two non-regulation soccer balls that we gave to kids in the neighborhood   We don't pick up *plastic* shopping bags any more, but we do still find bags.   Phony money
Boxed wine - about half full.   The front and back of a photo. Billy thought at lot of Wendy...
A Trackside ("Quality Motorcycle Products") Universal 12 volt power adaptor, still in the package showing a price of $19.99.    








A doll's head - spooky!   A DVD box, unusual because it still has the DVD inside.


A magnetized sign to stick on a car. I hope they were done selling cookies for the year.

This oscillating 10-inch table fan is a Soleus Air FTM-25. It is missing the front plate that says "Soleus Air" on it and it doesn't work (we plugged it in). A little research and we found a new one on-line selling for $35. You have to wonder how it wound up in the bushes on the freeway...



January 2015

(two pickups this month -- our regularly scheduled monthly pickup,
and a special arrangement with members of Temple Emanu-El in San Jose)

Big soft blanket in really nice condition.   Cute bib

       Cellphone cover
Size 3X plaid shirt   Cute black boots - dirty, but they cleaned up nicely

  Brown wig - the only one we have found in over 10 years of picking up trash on the highway



Very tall skinny vase   Both sides of a cigarette pack. I wonder who added the warnings....
    Divers watch. Appeared to be in good working order.   Odd shaped tool.

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

Photos from 2014      Photos from 2013      Photos from 2008-2012     

For even MORE photos click here