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It all started with an innocent question: who owns all those big donation boxes that you see in parking lots all over town? They're everywhere. Turns out some of those donation boxes aren't owned by a non-profit raising money for charity. They don't even say it on the box. Instead, you're just giving stuff to a for-profit company.
But then Todd Baker from The Arc of Alachua County responded to our question with his own experience. He helps run a non-profit in St. Augustine, Florida that gives jobs to people with developmental disabilities. Todd said he decided to place a couple donation boxes to see if anyone would leave anything. Turns out they would. He's created an entire recycling/scavenging ecosystem that takes people excess waste and turns it into money and jobs for people who need it.
Todd tells us how they recycle paper, computers, metal, and glass. They provide a valuable service by shredding documents and destroying hard drives for the community. They then sell this waste in bulk (by the tractor trailer!) The slideshow above shows scenes from their warehouse. It's a serious scavenging operation.
And because he's an eBay seller in his off-time, he's teaching his clients how to sell computer parts, books and clothes on eBay. If he can get the system streamlined, they can potentially make much more money selling on eBay then selling by the scrap tonnage. And I can't think of a better skill to teach someone than how to live out of the waste stream by selling on eBay.
Enjoy the interview. You can donate here to his organization if you want to help out. I know they'd use the funds widely.