One local man finds treasure, and value, in trash

One man's trash is another man's treasure and one local man doesn't just say it, he lives it.

The stories Ogbonna Hagins tells can be troubling.

"I was getting some shoes and some radios out of the trash, or what people call trash, and someone said something to me out the window," Hagins said.

He has an unusual way of making a living, going through trash to find "treasures" but not everyone is supportive.

"He said 'Get out of that trash, what are you doing?' And, I turn around and I'm like, 'Hey, I'm just getting this stuff out. I'm gonna tie it back up, no problem.' And, he did like this and showed me a gun," Hagins explained.

Those situations are rare, but for Ogbonna Hagins, Philly Green man, spending every day in and around things people throw out has given him a different outlook on life.

"We say we're poor, but then you have a closet full of clothes and then you have, under your bed, 10 or 15 pairs of sneakers or shoes that are barely worn, you're not poor! You're misappropriating your economics," Hagins stated.

Looking through trash for treasure didn't start for reasons one may assume. Ogbonna wasn't without options.

"I worked for architectural firms four years. I taught school nine years, published a magazine, did radio," he said.

But what turned him to this was two-fold. First, he had young kids he wanted and needed to be an active part of their life.

"If it's a parent teacher night, I can go there without worrying about taking off without rushing. I can take my son to school, every day. Pick him up, every day," Hagins stated.

And, he said he's long been upset by environmental issues and materialism that makes those with less money feel less valued.

"I can make a living off of it, I can keep it out the landfills and somebody else who would want something that would be otherwise out of their price range, they can get it for little or next to nothing," Hagins explained.

But, the whole concept only works because of the value of things that are readily thrown away. Bicycles, designer shoes, even a computer all found in the trash.

He finds and sells things that most see no value in and has now expanded beyond environmental advocacy. Shoes he finds, he sells for minimal cost to a company that ships them to Africa both for people who need them and small businesses that sell them to become self-sufficient.

He has also taken to training ex-offenders to recognize that they have options.

"It's an unlimited opportunity for people who can't get hired because they have a criminal record," Hagins said.

He makes a living going through trash, but said it's more than that. He's also trying to change what he calls materialistic priorities and let people know out of life's trash can come a life of treasure, for goodness' sake.