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Man's warning after finding $1,200 in Sydney bin

With the cost-of-living crisis hitting Australia hard, it might be worth checking what you're throwing out.

With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to punish the nation, one Sydney man is reminding Australians to be a bit more careful with their money.

Leonardo Urbano is a well-known 'dumpster diver' who made national headlines last year when Yahoo revealed he found a $3000 painting discarded in a pile of unwanted items destined for council pick-up.

The inner-city resident told Yahoo News Australia this week he has seen a rise in the amount of cash he is finding thrown out with people's waste.

Leonardo Urbano looks through boxes next to bins in Sydney
Mr Urbano says Aussies should double check items they intend to throw out. Source: Supplied

While some cases may be an honest mistake, Mr Urbano believes many are simply down to people being too lazy to check.

"I'm finding $5, $10, $20, $50 in clothes that people throw away or inside bags and hidden in books," he revealed.

But in one astonishing recent discovery, he unearthed $1,200-worth of foreign currency, mostly US dollars, in a small bag thrown into a residential red bin in Surry Hills. "This was my biggest find yet," he told Yahoo. "It looks like it came from an end-of-lease clean out."

Some of the cash Mr Urbano found in a Surry Hills bin this week. Source: Supplied
Some of the cash Mr Urbano found in a Surry Hills bin this week. Source: Supplied

Mr Urbano said he didn't believe it was accidental as a large amount of coins were "jingling" as he took out the bag, suggesting the person who placed it in the bin would have been alerted to the money earlier.

In March, he also found $350 in a bag placed in the street for council pickup.

Billions of dollars worth of notes lost and discarded in Australia

While the Reserve Bank of Australia says it is hard to calculate the amount of money lost or discarded in Australia, it says up to 10 per cent of all notes, up to $340 per person, are either lost, destroyed, forgotten about or are now in a collection.

In 2017, ING estimated $39 million-worth of coins a month are thrown out.

Mr Urbano, who goes by The Trash Lawyer on Instagram, saves furniture and electronics from landfill, often restoring them and finding new homes for them. He often gives items away for free or sells items for a nominal amount to fund his restoration projects.

Hundred dollar bills behind a cinema cushion and in a bag.
Two other large finds Mr Urbano has made. Source: Supplied

But it has become a hobby of his to unearth lost money and says he's found cash in discarded washing machines, behind cinema seats and even in a barber's chair.

He also says its common to find unclaimed winning scratch cards and lottery tickets, while he often unearths gift cards with money still on them.

And while the whole idea of his past time is to find treasures, he is warning Australians to think twice about what they're throwing out during difficult economic times.

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