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The Garbage Day Project has moved to its own blog. The entries from
November 7, 2006 - August 7, 2007 remain here.

I live in rural America in a subdivision that provides me with interesting fodder every Tuesday. It's Garbage Day and as far as the eye can see there is stuff, stuff, and more stuff waiting for the garbage truck to come and take it to the landfill. This can't be good.

I thought at first that I should "rescue" something every Tuesday. I did so the first Tuesday (see below), but the second Tuesday it dawned on me that my own urge to reduce was directly at odds with hauling more "stuff" home every Tuesday. So I will be taking photos every Tuesday and posting them here.

Let the Garbage Day adventure begin!

Tuesday, August 7 (2007)
Sometimes I think The Garbage Day Project could focus exclusively on corrugated cardboard. If you look at previous entries, you will see that it is a beautiful and malleable material. This photo, obviously, was tweaked in Photoshop.

Sorry, but this image was one of the most frquently stolen images from this blog. Please ask permission before using any copyrighted images.

Tuesday, July 31 (2007)

I had to laugh when I uploaded this photo today:


As long as we are going for humorous today, this sign was on a black plastic garbage bag (ah, the irony of it all):

And an addition to

Amazing Things That A Garbage Truck Can Crush

Tuesday, July 24 (2007)
Rebecca Carter is on a one-woman mission for a Greener Miami. One of her projects was to photograph and analyze her own garbage for a week; here are the results. When I inquired whether she ever wrote about garbage as art, she shared this photo from an EarthFest of an arch decorated with old shoes that a local art teacher had her kids bring in and paint.

I will say its easy to feel superior about our diminishing number of garbage bags due to our secondary recycling site until today when we put out two large garbage cans stuffed full of bags from three days of four guests. One step forward, two back in the quest for less garbage.

Today's photo is a bicycle helmet, looking very much like an abstract sculpture.

And an addition to

Amazing Things That A Garbage Truck Can Crush

Tuesday, July 17 (2007)
Updates: No, they still don't take water heaters. Last week's attempt went back up the driveway.

Winter Trellis: The goldfinches pulled all the loose fibers from the yarn for their nests.

Thwarted by a lightning storm this morning, so this photo is from the archives. It's a stack of plastic pots left by someone's recyling bin.


Tuesday, July 10 (2007)
Lots of news today in the world of garbage.
1. Mark, a trash collector from that mecca of garbage, NYC, sent me a note last week with a query about why women always stopped to watch stuff, especially furniture, being crushed in the hopper. My opinion: We're all thinking, "I could do something with that." I asked the weirdest thing he had to crush - a piano. Interesting factoid: A garbage truck hopper holds 10 - 12 tons. Thanks for stopping by The Garbage Day Project, Mark.

2. Craziest thing I saw today: Someone starting up a SUV, backing up 100 feet, unloading two bags of garbage, and then putting the SUV in the garage. Either that is the wrong kind of energy conservation or we'll let it go by if there's a disability involved.

2. On to today's photo; it's all about texture and line:


And an addition to

Amazing Things That A Garbage Truck Can Crush

Hey, it's gift-wrapped. This should be interesting as last time someone put out a water heater, it wasn't taken. I'll check it our tomorrow on my walk. These things weigh a ton.

Tuesday, July 3 (2007)
Well, that was quite a little break due to my summer travel schedule. But I'm back on the job and checking to see what crazy things are going out in the trash this week. It's usually too hot to cook in July, so this photo seems quite appropriate to the season

Too Hot

And an addition to

Amazing Things That A Garbage Truck Can Crush

Thursday, June 14 (2007) - Special Report.
I'm home for a few days and wanted to share this photo from my journey in the Boundary Waters. "Leave No Trace" camping in a wilderness area seems like common sense, but we packed out a ton of other people's garbage. This is my collection from one day on one campsite. I loved the oven mitt because an enterprising red squirrel had used it for seed storage; re-purposing at its best.

Tuesday, May 15 (2007)
*If you live near an IKEA store, they have large reusable shopping bags available for only 59 cents. We bought ten and are giving them the test. Here's an interesting New York Times article about reusable shopping bags. It notes that Ikea has seen a 95% drop of consumer use of plastic shopping bags in Britain by instituting a charge for the bags. The U.S. charge is a whopping 5 cents.

*Never give up hope. Our curbside recycling is only corrugated cardboard, #1 and #2 plastic and aluminum. But check this out:

The bins are at the prairie preserve where we go walking; we just never stopped to check it out. Phone books, magazines, junk mail -- I'm in heaven.

*I'm adding a new category: Amazing Things That A Garbage Truck Can Crush. Today's photos are below the regular TGDP. I see lots of things that just don't make interesting photos, but the fact that our lone garbage guy has to heave them in the truck for crushing is amazing. I have seen bicycles, exercise bikes, a refrigerator, and couches. The only thing refused, so far, was an old hot water heater.

Tuesday, May 15 (2007)
Cardboard continues to be an important source of inspiration for The Garbage Day Project. This was a very pristine stack of boxes sitting at the curb looking pretty.

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

Amazing Things That A Garbage Truck Can Crush

Tuesday, May 8 (2007)
A lovely morning for a stroll about the neighborhood. This chair was sitting in front of a glossy wood fence and it looked like it had escaped, but had suffered a few losses in the process. Wonderful contrast between the hard, glossy finishes of fence, chrome and seat and the softness of the grass and dandelions.


Tuesday, May 1 (2007)
Just when I believe that my neighborhood garbage has sunk into garbage mediocrity, this treasure appears. One of my rules is that I can't touch or move anything to make the photograph more interesting, so this was a lucky one.

Checking the List

Tuesday, April 24 (2007)
Used bricks with a touch of color from a well-used tennis ball. I bet the garbage guys loved hoisting this into the truck. A great study of shadow, texture and form.


Tuesday, April 17 (2007)
Ah, the irony of it all.


Tuesday, April 10 (2007)
Chairs are one of the most frequent furniture garbage items and they almost always become garbage holders at the curb. These were two voluptuous wicker chairs. An interesting hierarchy of texture.

Sitting Pretty

Tuesday, April 3 (2007)
I was in California last week and the garbage there must be highly regulated. It was all sealed up in matching garbage cans; so disappointing when I expected some interesting California garbage.

We are in the midst of a thunder storm with plenty of lightning, so this photos is from the GDP archives. Cardboard has to be one of the loveliest materials on Earth. Oh, that's right -- it's fiber.


Tuesday, March 20 (2007)
My neighbors aren't the only ones creating lots of garbage. I feel badly that every three months, in spite of using filtered water, we have to throw out our coffee maker and buy another due to the lime content of our well. This one was will now keep me company in my studio. The pot is filled with yarn ends (think warm and fuzzy) a friend gave me. The basket will be a nice place to store chocolate-covered coffee beans. I have, without success, been trying to reduce my coffee intake for some time - what a love/hate relationship.

The Garbage Day Project will be taking a little break next week. May I encourage you to use the time to make or order some reusable shopping bags?

It's Like Love

It's Like Love (detail)

Tuesday, March 13 (2007)
I actually had to think what this was - record player, no. Turntable, yes! I notice how much more interesting older equipment is than the new - very ornate and sculptural. I did wonder if I should take this home and see if it worked.

Take a Spin

Tuesday, March 6 (2007)
This was the brightest garbage in the neighborhood today. A box of clothes on a brisk 11 degree day. We will be re-visiting this particular pile of "non-garbage" garbage in the future as there was lots of interesting stuff.


Tuesday, February 27 (2007)
Although I started the Garbage Day Project with a focus on garbage as art, I am finding garbage cans to be quite interesting also. Action painting.


Tuesday, February 20 (2007)
I love the time of year when the garbage is the prettiest view around. We have had beautiful snow this year, but now along the streets all the snow is dirty and muddy. So hats off to this festive pile of garbage.

October 2009. I have removed this photo as it has been used
without my permission on numerous personal and professional blogs. Who knew garbage bags would be so interesting?

Snow White

Tuesday, February 13 (2007)
Back from a glorious month-long residency in Texas and into a true Midwestern winter. I am beginning to believe The Garbage Day Project may have to take a break until conditions improve. Today it is a much-improved 18 degrees, but it is snowing with 15-30 MPH wind. Basically a ground blizzard. But here's a photo from the archives and maybe next week will bring better weather.


This is our fourth bread machine going to the great junk heap. It looks like a little space ship ready to blast off back to the mother ship.

Wednesday, January 3 (2007)
Once again a delay in Garbage Day due to holidays. Everyone must buy new lamps during the darkness of December. Lamps everywhere today. This is the type of garbage that makes me think, "Hello, have you heard of Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vinnies?" I heard on the news the other day that Illinois' landfills will be full in nineteen years. The photo is exactly how the lamp was lying in the grass with the early morning light on the shade. Since the Garbage Day project will be taking a break for a month (see note above), I've included several photos today.

Earthbound #1

Earthbound #2
It's always about texture for fiber people.

Still Life with Lamp
Could I have arranged this still life any better?

Wednesday, December 27
A delay of one day in Garbage Day due to the holidays. But lots of good things to photograph. You will probably see more photos of this treasure if there are slow garbage days in the future. It is a cracked plastic mat for underneath a rolling office chair. It was rolled up and duct-taped. The red bin behind it gave it a pink cast. It reminded me of a sea shell or sea urchin.


Tuesday, December 19
Rogue garbage truck! The garbage truck came at 7:22 this morning. I wasn't the only person running to drag garbage cans to the curb. The weird thing was that an empty garbage truck made the rounds at noon looking for garbage to pick up. So, recycling bins are my source AGAIN today. There seems to be some confusion on what can be recycled curbside. I will have to call and check, but previously only newsprint and corrugated cardboard were accepted. In any case, I love this fuschia paper.


I'm not sure how long the link will be good, but Linda Branch Dunn shared this online story about a program to link artists and dumpster diving in a serious way in California. Nirvana!

Tuesday, December 12
Once again, the recyling bins come to the rescue. A nice mixed-media collage with what seems to be little stitch marks running up one piece of cardboard. Beer cases provide nice color.


Tuesday, December 5
What is it about cold weather that makes people put the tops on their garbage cans? And make less garbage? There's a topic for a Ph.D. dissertation. We have 12" of snow on the ground (see photo update for Day 1 below) and the light is very bright today. I'm happy that today's photo comes from the recycling bin and it reminded me of a giant book, bookmark included, ready for someone's big novel.


Tuesday, November 28
Lots of good photo opportunities today due to Thanksgiving garbage, but also many neighbors out putting up their holiday decorations. This made me laugh out loud.

Natural Habitat

Tuesday, November 21
A furnace filter. I was happy to see this -- another study of light and shadows.

Shadows #2

Tuesday, November 14
In a neighborhood where everyone knows you at least by sight, what can you say when they are out walking their dog and you are photographing their garbage?


For more than you probably want to know about styrofoam in the landfill, here's an article by Professor Andrea Kremer: Cradle to Grave: The Life Cycle of Strofoam

Tuesday, November 7

This is my first find, four metal pieces, and I almost couldn't "rescue" them as the homeowners had just pulled in their garage. But I could hear the garbage truck coming, so I decided to walk briskly over to the garbage cans and do it! The garbage truck was so close that I had to wave to the driver. What a heart attack; dumpster diving has not really caught on in rural suburbs.

I'm thinking they are beautiful as sculpture in their simplicity and can be re-configured many ways.

But that was too easy. I took one in the house and washed it off. Ah, it's a frame for a fabric construction. I decided to build a textile piece on the frame using only the contents of this drawer:

Here's the result:

Winter Trellis. Wool and cotton yarn, fabric ends, wooden skewers, found metal frame. Crochet, weaving, twining.

Winter Trellis, detail

I placed Winter Trellis so that I can see it from my kitchen window. It will be interesting to watch its dissolution thoughout the winter.

Update: Winter Trelllis on December 5 after 12 inches of snow:

© 2006 Virginia A. Spiegel
Photos: Virginia A. Spiegel
All images and materials on this site are protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced
in whole or in part without the express written permission of Virginia A. Spiegel.

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