“The Trash Walker” Finds Treasure in New York City’s Garbage

Working at an investment bank in New York City in 2010, Ann Sacks was living the life — just not the life she wanted. Sure, she was happy, but she wanted to do something that felt important and was fulfilling on a deeper level. Some people seeking meaning might read a self-help book, try recycling, or perhaps volunteer a few hours a week. Sacks did something a little different. After wondering what was actually in all those bags and recycling bins on the curbs of New York City streets, she began making trips around her neighborhood, picking through garbage for reusable items. Soon, her trash walks expanded to include corporate dumpsters. Surprisingly, she discovered a wide array of really great stuff — clothing, designer accessories, dinnerware, and food. Under the name The Trash Walker, Sacks quickly gained popularity for her educational, funny and surprising videos that highlight the problems of consumerism and shared information on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The lesson from Ann's trash walking isn’t just that we need to produce less stuff. It’s that we need to stop tossing perfectly good items in the trash too. Trash walking has given Ann a nearly endless supply of clothing, food, appliances, dishes, glassware, flatware, books, picture frames, candles, and artwork. Some she keeps for herself, but at this point, her own home is pretty well stocked, so she focuses on distributing much of her hauls to others. The concept is simple: Walk around your neighborhood and look through the garbage and in dumpsters, then rescue usable items.