We collect residential recycling around York city centre, where you may have seen us in our compact electric vehicle or cycling around on one of our two bright yellow tricycles.

Read on to see what amazing and unexpected things we’ve found whilst collecting recycling around York.

As you would probably expect we do find the things people don’t like to think about in recycling containers, such as, rotting food waste, cigarette butts, bodily fluids (we won’t go into detail but yes, we find everything that you are thinking of), and countless spiders.

We don’t like it but we are pretty used to it and able to deal with it, usually in the form of a letter to the owner of the container (unless it’s a spider, then we perform a rescue and relocation mission!).

The best cases are when we find something unusual and or interesting.

Pet patrol

You never know what might be on the doorstep… Photograph © Vadim B

We are able to find and return these things because we sort by hand at the kerbside, aside from zero contamination rates of our materials it’s one of the best reasons to keep doing what we do, how we do it.

Within my first week I managed to help reunite a rather distraught little girl with her grandmother and a pub landlord with his kitten!

We also got to return a very excitable puppy to his owner, he’d only been in the house two days when he found out he could get out via the cat flap.

We found him wandering one of the streets we collect from. After door knocking to no avail we figured we’d take him to the nearest vets to see if he’d been microchipped.

Just as we were about to set off we heard frantic whistling and around the corner comes running a very relieved dog owner! We haven’t seen him since so maybe he’s outgrown the cat flap…

Wedding ring

One of the St Nicks’ recycling team in York city centre

We seem to find quite a lot of foreign money and photographs; we will generally leave it in the box or post them back through the door. Sometimes people are deliberately trying to get rid of things but most of the time they’ve ended up in with the recycling by accident.

More recently one of my team members found a wedding ring in a recycling box. He knocked on the door and the poor woman who’d lost it had been going besides herself, she’d misplaced it the week before and had given up hope of ever getting it back.

Being able to help people like this is definitely a perk of the job.

Occasionally our very generous residents will leave us presents in the recycling boxes, from books to biscuits and mince pies.

Reduce re-use, recycle

One very lovely lady found out that one of the team had recently got a kitten so donated things she didn’t need any more. We do always check that items were left on purpose.

Now we wouldn’t ever try and recycle a lost child or pet but if we collect your recycling and think you may have left something you meant to keep please get in touch with us. We might be able to help; even if it has made its way into our storage site it is not irretrievable.

From lost pets to money, jewellery and even photographs we feel like we cover most of the basis in terms of lost property!

Find out more at the St Nicks website