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Gifts from the Garbage Truck


“I love this book because it is about finding beauty in the most unexpected places.”

Illustrated by Oriol Vidal

Sourcebooks/Explore, 2024

ISBN 9781728283517


Gifts from the Garbage Truck is the story of a New York City sanitation worker who, over the course of his career, upcycled over 45,000 objects that he found along his route.  He thought of them as treasures in the trash. He created a museum to put these treasures on display and to invite us to think about the things we keep and the things we throw away.

As a child, Nelson Molina enjoyed picking up discarded items, repairing them, and turning them into gifts for his siblings. As a man, he collected garbage in two ways. His job was to take garbage bags full of trash left by New York City residents and load them into a dump truck. But his mission was to discover treasures in the trash and take them back to the office, where he cleaned, saved and displayed the ones that seemed worth keeping. 

With themes of upcycling, anti-consumerism, love for community, and finding joy, Gifts from the Garbage Truck inspires kids to think creatively and to consider how the little things we do can make a big difference.

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