Context Is Everything – Why No One Cares to Steal Your Trash Bins

March 2, 2021

What would happen if you put a good-quality dining room table on the curb at your house? If your neighborhood is anything like mine, it would be gone by sunrise. What someone will take off the curb is the ultimate test of value – but the value is always about context. 

If you put out a HomePod box complete with a brand-new HomePod inside, it won’t take long for someone to investigate and take it. If you put that same box in a trash bag surrounded by crumpled-up paper, no one will take it. 

No One Steals Trash Cans

Once a week, we all put out plastic cans at the end of our driveway, but nobody takes them. Those 95-gallon bins are worth anywhere from $150-250 apiece retail. Why do they stay out all night, week after week, without being stolen? 

A couple of obvious reasons:

  1. Everyone has one already.
  2. It’s a trash can, and we don’t perceive it as valuable.

The trashcan is more valuable to the trash company than the cost because they cannot service your address without one. That is why they provide them when you sign up for the service. 

Now, if a person desperately needed a trashcan, they might take one. (I’m sure it has happened!) But you get the point. 

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In one way or another, we are all creating value. It is best to put your work in the right context to provide the maximum value and receive the maximum reward in return.