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 2018



Purple patterned bag BEFORE   Purple patterned bag AFTER laundering  

Small plastic spider (for for comparison)

Valentine's toy ("I bring you my heart...?") BEFORE

  Valentine's toy AFTER a trip through the washing machine. (We removed the heart)   Three green balls. Tennis ball, lime and golf ball.  

Okay, technically we found this bike wheel at our gathering spot, but I'm counting it among the treasures this month.   An unopened package of antibacterial wipes.   A nice scarf. This is folded; it's actually 8 feet long and in near-perfect condition.  
A purse (nothing inside)   A cute child-sized hat.   A nifty idea they are using in Australia to capture plastic and other garbage before it flows into the ocean!  

November 2018



A child's quilt   The same quilt after washing!


A partial package of coffee filters.
I thought maybe the homeless camped by the freeway had tapped into a source of electricity and set up a coffee maker.

    A reader informed me that coffee filters are used in the production of meth.  

A single pancake in a plastic take-out container.   A McDonald's Pokemon toy.

  An clean apron for a hot pot restaurant in Cupertino (we returned it).  




A single sock - but isn't it cute!?


October 2018


First time volunteer Evelia scored with three sleeveless knit tops (still had the tags on them) she plans to wash and give to her nieces.   Two nice pairs of jeans will go to Goodwill.   Half-eaten package of Reese's Popped Snack Mix. Melted in the sun and pretty disgusting....  


This is a first: a decorative plastic tablecloth. The detailing on the right doesn't do it justice. It's a rather nice lacy pattern with purple and yellow bouquets. Unfortunately, it was ripped in several places, so it went into the recycling bin.




An old attachment for a belt, probably to allow you to hook on a carabiner.   A selection of RPMs (Raised Pavement Markers), more than usual this month.   Another single shoe. Some kid tossed it out the window?  

September 2018


A Spiderman backpack   A child's faux football   An unopened can of tomato sauce, which probably rolled down from an encampment.  

Three single shoes. I have looked into offering them on It's a website for footwear for leg amputees and others who wear single shoes. This site can also benefit those who wear one shoe of a different size.

  A pair of cutoff green shorts   A $5 bill stuck in a small hole.  

A protractor   An assortment of toys  
Fresh off the Highway.   After a trip through the washing machine.   A pair of jeans - in great shape!  


August 2018


Two work shirts, with the tags still on them. Unfortunately, they had been out on the highway too long and were sun-bleached.   A Brandy doll, still in the package. Though the package was dirty, the doll seemed fine. There is currently one in good condition selling on Ebay for $52.       An unopened package of Maja makeup.  
Dominos. One worker found the package;another found the dominos.   A refillable butane lighter (still had enough butane in it to light), wire cutters, and a roll of Scotch tape.   A XXL Calvin Klein faux leather jacket in great condition. These sell new for $70. Someone at the Salvation Army is going to get a deal!  

(LEFT) A old 7-ounce glass Squirt bottle. The reason I think it is old is because Squirt switched to the spiral bottle in the 1970s.There is a similar bottle selling on Ebay for $9 and the seller says it is from the late 1960s. How long has this bottle been sitting out on the freway?

(RIGHT) Glass New Amsterdam vodka bottles, six the same size and one slightly smaller. All found on the same on-ramp, scattered over about 50 yards.





July 2018


This is the first dental tool we have found in over 12 years of picking up litter on the highway.   This is NOT loaves of bread! Really had us fooled. They are blocks of styrofoam used for packaging. Why did they make them look like baguettes?     Cement ball. This is actually the second one we have found. We found a smaller one in March 2009. That one was about the size of tennis ball; this one is closer to a softball but it weighs almost two pounds. Why make a ball out of cement?
Plate as found.   Plate cleaned.   Nice looking sweater.
A can of green beans -- good through September 2020.   A cute little pouch......... that held a broken hash pipe.
A bag that contained two cellphones (broken), a utility knife, a notepad, and other assorted goodies -- and 23 cents in change!   An unopened Bike Inner Tube package.
  26 mini Bacardi bottles. They ALL came from the driver's side of the off-ramp from Highway 280 SB that leads up to San Jose City College. We last cleaned this off-ramp in September 2017. Somebody who uses this off-ramp regularly has an interesting drinking habit. That's an average of at least two bottles a month (assuming we found them all!)  

Two unopened packages of anti-short bushings. Don't feel bad if you don't know what anti-short bushings are. I didn't know what they were either, but one of our volunteers is an electrician and told me. He will be able to use them. If you're curious, look here.

June 2018


This is our success story of the month. Kelly found a backpack that had been stolen a few days earlier from an Olympic swimmer from Russia who was in the area for a swim meet in Santa Clara. The airline itinerary inside indicated she was scheduled to leave the next day.

Inside we found a phone number (that didn't work) and an email address. The woman responded to the email and we were able to reconnect her with her backpack.


The backpack no longer contained her passport but she could get another. What *was* inside was her irreplaceable Olympic journal in which she chronicled her memories of swimming in the summer Olympics. She was so happy!

She wrote us a nice email: Just another message to thank you and your co-workers for returning my backpack. I had a little bit of time today and went through my Olympic journal which I was writing every day training for 2008 Olympics. It includes all the impressions I had during the Games in Beijing and of course the training program, which I can use now for my athletes. Now you are part of my Olympic story!

We also found a wallet and we were able to return it to the owner. The wallet had been stolen in January (!) while she was eating lunch at the Panera on Coleman Avenue in San Jose. The thief was able to use one of the credit cards to buy a $3000 laptop at the Microsoft store. The owners refused the charges, so the store was out the $3000. The wallet went into the bushes along Highway 880 where it stayed until it was recovered this weekend.

A unopened bag of charcoal chips   A doggie bag..... take a closer look:   A close-up of the doggie bag
A glass bowl as found   The same glass bowl after a thorough washing.      A big roll of red tape.
A half-full bottle of pineapple vodka. Pineapple vodka??? I had no idea such a beverage existed!  

We almost always find tools, but what the heck is that pink thing? If it isn't a tool, what IS it?

  A Savers re-usable bag, with the price tag still attached.
    Added 10/22/2018: A visitor to this site wrote us about that pink thing." It's a left crank arm for an upper end bicycle!! The chain rings are attached to the 5 holes  with little hex keys! See here." Thanks, Eric!
  The round ones are the old Botts dots. The square ones are RPMs (Raised Pavement Markers). We find them all the time, and I've collected a total of 45 of them in the last six months. It's a wonder there are any left on the road!
The glass stopper for a carafe.  

May 2018

A tiny box of wax matches, ideal for camping or other potentially damp situations. The penny is to show the size of the box.   A Hamilton-Beach single-serve blender, still in the box. I like smoothies, so I'll give it a try!   A large panter stuffed toy. It's coat was full of burrs, but after they were picked off, it will make some child very happy.
Oh, the irony: a piece of a recycling bin...   Nine dark blue Bud Lite Platinum beer bottles. Normally I don't give a second thought to the empty beer bottles we find, but these were beautiful!   A heavy chain and some wire cutters.
Several women's shoes in a plastic bags -- two pairs and three single shoes.
Fifteen empty quarter-bottles of Gallo Chardonnay and 5 empty four-pack cartons – again on the off-ramp from Southbound 280 to Meridian Avenue. That means we missed five bottles in the high grass. Every time we clean this area we find these bottles and cartons.   A small plastic Halloween skeleton (we thought it might be the glow-in-the-dark kind, but no)
  A pair of "Spandex Fishnet Thigh Highs with Lace Top and Stain Accent Bow!" -- woohoo -- and still in the package! The person who found them didn't want them, but another volunteer won them in a "Pick a number between 1 and 20" contest.

April 2018

Two Christmas ornaments. I believe these are the first we have ever found.   Wells Fargo Guard Services clothing patch. Our volunteer found two of them.   A man's vest. Other than being a bit wrinkled, it was a good condition.
A 2017 tax return prepared by E&L, Inc. of San Jose. The preparers were closed when we contacted them. We left a message and hopefully they will call us back. Should we just shred it? Does the man for whom it was prepared want it? Did he lose it or was it stolen?   We found a small carry-on bag with a Bolvaint label, empty, in great condition. They are selling new on the internet for $200 or more. Shoplifted? Stolen?   A cute baby slipper. Unfortunately, we only found this one. We may see if our cats want to use it as a toy.

  A few pages of hand-written music, an arrangment of a Bach fugue. Perhaps it was someone's class assignment as there are some red marks that might be a critique by the teacher.  

March 2018

A doll that looks homemade.  

An orange one-eyed monster doll

Crista took it home, washed it twice, and put in batteries. Click here to see the video

  A small snail hanging ornament   A small metal file box containing DVDS.
The larger of the two camps, as the clean-up was starting.   The same site about an hour later.


Right, Brian and Diana tackle the smaller of the two camps. They filled 3 bags there, and then joined the rest of the crew at the larger camp where they helped fill 23 more bags.

Below, a closer look near the top of the camp


February 2018

A 2 rupee coin (worth about 3 cents) and a 50 drachma coin (worth about 18 cents). What are the odds you'd find any foreign currency on the highway?   A lovely Tyrolean felt hat in good condition.
That's a child's boot and a child's sock. Unfortunately we found only one of each.   A cute toy, just needs batteries.
A clearly fake $100 bill used for advertising. But we were fooled for just a few seconds!   A Nerf projectile - they whistle when they are shot from a special gun, Website
A binary sliderule, with the arms broken. A truly rare find.   Waaay too many of these business cards!

A black suede jacket. One shoulder is a bit sun-faded, but it would still keep someone warm.   Straws, straws and more straws. These are just the ones Sabine and I found on the two areas we cleaned. What a stupid product!
A white blanket. Other than a little road dirt, it was in good condition. We will wash it and donate it.   We picked up three bags of recyclable plastic, glass, and aluminum. After sorting, the winner and still champion: plastic bottles. Two of the three bags!

January 2018

A Sheriff Woody doll. Except for being a bit dirty, he's in good shape. Some kid browsing at the Goodwill Store is going to love him!   A container of spray deodorant, still plenty in it.
This month's collection of Bott's Dots   One of two hoodies in good condition.
An insulated tote, like a lunch box.   A Raider's antenna flag
All those little Gallo bottles - 39 of them!   The same Gallo wine bottles sorted into the cardboard 4-packs that were found at the same site.
  And two good pairs of shoes!



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

Photos from 2017    
Photos from 2016
Photos from 2015
Photos from 2014      
Photos from 2013    

Photos from 2008-2012     

For even MORE photos click here