ISSUE 001 - MONEY: Haircuts, Beer Cans & Rockstar Bartering.
According to Recology, San Francisco’s trash collector, over 1,400 tons of cans, bottles, cardboard, plastic, electronics, foods scraps and God knows what else were disgorged as garbage everyday in 2016. For those prepared to roll up their sleeves, extracting an income from this messy motherlode can happen one of three ways.
First is the street recycling of aluminum, glass, paper, plastics and other materials with an official California Refund Value (CRV). It’s a reliable earner, but wrestling 100-pound shopping carts down the highway to the Bayshore recycling district isn’t everyone’s idea of an easy buck.
Second are various street retailing enterprises based around the salvaging of discarded items to be either publicly resold, bartered with other vendors, or privately transacted. Separating trash from treasure is part Antiques Roadshow, part CSI Miami.
From old porno DVDs to Ouija boards, phone chargers to harmonicas, valuables must be excavated from an often throat-gagging mass of dirty diapers and used needles.
Third is the black market. Credit card statements, prescription drugs, and even hastily discarded handguns can be fished out from our collective Mount Everest of waste. Many illicit goods and services also spill out on streets in back alley, side glance and sign language transactions.
CRV recycling, street retailing and the marketplace of illegal shit blend like the shadows of pedestrians on Mission Street. It is an ecosystem in flux, one linked to the cycles of daily consumption and civic life.