26 November 2013

one man's trash

it's a weekly routine.

tuesday is garbage and recycling pick-up day in my neighbourhood.  out to the end of my driveway i lug my one-bag limit garbage, our green (compostables) bin, our gray (paper) bin and blue (other recyclables) bin.  this is the time of year that it gets tricky sometimes as the snowbanks can grow to seven or eight feet high ... but it's not december yet, so it's not yet an issue.

anyway, like clockwork around 9:30 i often see the same person - almost all year round - come by, rummaging through the blue bins in search of returnable wine and beer bottles.  in the drier months he'll swoop by on his loaded-up bicycle, but in this sloshy-snow he travels like the post carrier on foot.

i don't know just how profitable it is or isn't to collect the deposit from a suburb's worth of bottles.  what i do know is that it can be a tricky business.  bottle collectors can get territorial, and there have been times when i've seen two of them just about come to blows because one's been encroaching on another's turf.  and other times homeowners can become pretty ornery about someone rifling through their stuff, even though discarded - and i suppose that in the era of the threat of identity theft everybody's guard is up.

it's to my discredit that i've never stopped to chat with our local bottle collector.  i don't know his name, his story, where he lives, or how long he's been at this gig.  he may collect out of necessity, out of OCD, or out of interest - like people who comb the beaches with their metal detectors.  

what i do know is that i've no problem with him dropping by to sift through (i do try to leave the bottles on the top of the bin) for a contribution to his weekly take.  as a first-world society i feel like the least that we can do is to not be so tight-fisted as to interfere with someone else's initiative to turn trash into cash.  i think that we'd all be a little less materialistic and a little more altruistic if we paid attention to the hebrew scriptures which say 
"When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God." [Leviticus 23:22]
i'm all for recycling and saving the planet.  if this is one way that it can happen, let him go to town.
. . . . .

oh, and for all of you who might be disappointed that this isn't running-related content, let me just point you toward a few organizations that are making a real difference in the lives of others through the culture of running - because like my friend lewis often asks, "how can this be about saving lives?"



  1. I've tried commenting on this before, but my computer is messing with me. We all should be more altruistic as individuals and as a society and stop blaming the victims for their misfortunes...

    1. thanks for your comment anna! i hear you ... i think that we can do more good in the world (and in our own lives) when we focus on what's in our control to do. being giving and forgiving is just as much about how it nurtures our souls as it is about what it does for others.