Trashswag Toronto

New site makes dumpster diving civilized & organized

There's treasure to be found on Toronto streets. Whether it be a miraculously bedbug free couch at the side of the road or a relatively sturdy bookshelf or table, people throw out all sorts of good shit. The problem, of course, is finding it. How does one make the hunt for such street-side treasures more than a matter of pure chance? The answer's actually pretty simple: you leverage the power of the crowd.

Created by Gavin Cameron, Trashswag is a website and affiliated mobile app built around a crowdsourced map that tracks salvageable trash on the streets of Toronto. Having done some work with architectural salvage in the past, the usefulness of a centralized tracking system became clear rather naturally. "I'm friends with some artists in the city and what was happening is that we would be texting each other picture messages of stuff along with the address or intersection," he explains. "Once you start keeping an eye out you become aware of how much is actually left out - the streets are paved with gold!"

How does it work? Somewhat similarly to a site like SeeClickFix, users report sightings of useful items, which are then plotted on a map. The site is also built to send push notifications to users when trash-as-treasure is reported in their vicinity. "The platform also has the ability to receive reports via email (reports@trashswag.com), via the form on the site, by tweeting a find using #trashswag and, hopefully soon, via text message," Cameron tells me. There's also a mobile app. "If someone downloads the free Ushahidi app on iOS or Android, they can submit reports via that app once they sync the app with the www.trashswag.com URL (downloaders are prompted to enter a URL when they open for the first time)."

As for the type of stuff you can expect to be reported, Cameron wants to ensure that the site features items that are a level above what might be characterized as junk. "I'm trying to maintain a certain level of quality of stuff - solid wood furniture worthy of restoration, as opposed to crappy manufactured wood based on glue. Dumpsters and construction sites in the downtown core are "fertile" ground for finds - the old buildings, when being remodelled, provide old growth woods from the 19th and 20th centuries."

In other words, no IKEA stuff guys. But lots of "gold" for all the DIY types out there.


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