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Trash or Treasure?

  • Zulequa Husain

Cities across the United States spend millions of dollars hauling away trash. But one man in Washington D.C. has discovered a way to persuade people to pay for things other people throw away. For Urdu TV's Imran Siddiqui and Zulequa Husain, Jim Fry has more.

Christopher Goodwin has discovered a new way to recycle: he collects interesting pieces of trash and sells them in gumball machines. "Life is full of possibilities and I look forward to exploring it," he says.

Goodwin approaches life with the attitude that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Each morning, he drives his dump truck through Washington, D.C., picking up garbage.

Some of that trash will go home with him, where he will sort through it, looking for unusual artifacts.

"For whatever reason, I've always had an affinity for things that are overlooked. And some things I think are just worth looking at again and just thinking about because everything has a history."

And that is how Trashball started. To attract interest, Goodwin placed his Trashball dispensers in two restaurants in Washington, D.C. "I've almost sold 3,000, so I think that works out to $750."

Buying a Trashball is a gamble -- it can contain nearly anything. Put in 25 cents and be surprised!

Kristine Benjamin comments on the hit or miss treasures. "A lot of times we toss so many things away that are valuable to us and other people can find something inspiring or just interesting about it. I think it really shows you a different perspective on what other people's lives are like rather than just being so focused on yourself. You get a little glimpse, like somebody's shopping list, into their lives. So I think it's really interesting."

Goodwin's plastic creations are also archeological artifacts. What people discard can be just as telling as what they buy.

"Last year I found two receipts in a park. One receipt was for a very high-end natural foods store. Somebody had bought very expensive beer. Somebody had bought all these organic vegetables and had spent all this money on just a little bit of stuff. And then right next to that was a receipt from a 7-11 convenience store, that was paid, and you could see on it, it was paid for with food stamps and it was a 99 cent purchase. And so here in this one square foot, were these two stories about the socio-economic divide here in the nation's capital."

But Goodwin's passion for trash is not just about art or archaeology. First and foremost, he is an avid recycler. " We try to recycle as much as we can, divert as much stuff from the landfill as possible."

America generates over 208 million tons of trash each year. Even one person's efforts to recycle can make a difference, albeit one Trashball at a time!