I’m reading Life of the Party a history of the Adams practical joke and novelty company. You know them, they make all those tiny Joy Buzzers and Whoopie Cushions you find on wire rounders in novelty stores. It turns out that their company was founded on a creative use of industrial waste.
Their founder work for a dye company that paid handsomely to remove the chemical dianisidine from the German coal-tar derivative they sold. He noticed that when people were around the chemical they sneezed uncontrollably. So, he packaged it in a tube (labelled Cachoo sneezing powder) and sold it as a practical joke!
So often, what other people dismiss or throw away is actually a good source of ideas or material. Adams built an empire on a waste product. There could be any number of valuable assets just waiting for you in the nearest garbage can.
One word of caution, despite being labeled “It’s harmless, it only makes you sneeze,” it turned out to be toxic and eventually be banned by the FDA. So, modern sneezing powder is just ground pepper.
The author of Life of the Party, Kirk Demarais, has a great blog with lots of info about the novelty and toy industries.