My trash is not just anyone’s treasure

I missed the “blue binners” controversy in this paper by a few weeks. I was busy having a binner controversy of my own.

I am startlingly lazy, which means I don’t return wine and beer bottles and cans to the store for whatever refund they nickel-and-dimed me for when I purchase them. I have no interest in building a stash until I lump them all to some place, usually managing to leak onto the carpet of my vehicle so it smells like a beer parlour. Instead, I put them out in recycling.

As a kid, gathering up beer empties was a source of income. I used to scour the local parks on Saturday and Sunday mornings, grocery bags swinging from the handles of my bike as I scored two cents a bottle and felt like a Pilsner princess. My father was immensely proud; he had no problem building a wall of beer empties himself and would add my grungy collection to his horde and, more often than not, let me keep the entire reward. The best day of my young life was finding a 24 case intact, and balancing it home on my handlebars. My father was bursting with pride; my mother ran and hid.

For several years now, I know a man has quietly come and retrieved my empties. This is OK with me; hell, this is a variation of what I used to do. I try to separate things out for him, even. He uses a cart and he is incredibly tidy. Have at it, Recycling Man, I say to myself.

At Christmas, there was an envelope tucked under the wiper blade of one of the cars in the driveway. It was a card from Recycling Man, thanking us. I took it as a sign he appreciated my thoughtfulness; my sister said it was a sign the household drank too much.

But a couple of weeks ago, a car pulled up outside my house. I’d put my blue bins out perhaps an hour before, and as I watched from inside, a couple rifled through them and also snagged a couple of 12 packs I’d neatly stacked beside the bins. For my Recycling Man. Not for some couple who were driving door to door. Don’t ask me why I cared who took away something I was chucking out; that is not the point. For some reason, that is not the point.

The other evening I was still out front when the familiar car pulled up to my curb, yet again. Out hopped a woman who immediately grabbed my bins and began to hand bottles and cans through the open door to the driver. I stared at her.

“I’m taking all your beer empties for you,” she said.

“I see that. But they’re not yours.”

I could have told her they are technically now the city’s, or still mine if they’re on my lawn. There is a never-enforced fine for people raiding blue bins, and the city has a return policy with a contractor for my empties. No, I wasn’t bothering to argue that she was breaking the law.

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6 responses to My trash is not just anyone’s treasure

  1. g.kane says:

    My empties sit around the garage until I can’t stand it any longer. I think its the trepidation of
    drawing the ire of the beer store girls for not properly separating the different types of booze containers that I manage to bulk load into the back of my Patriot.

    Or it could be the parking lot sorting and the fact that the Beer Store’s cart will never sit in one spot given the slope they insist on building into new Beer Store lots these days.

    Happiness, though, is a bottle drive being conducted in the lot where I can offload my unsorted empties to cheerful hockey teams who don’t care that a crushed tallboy is caught in the same bin as an empty bottle of Shiraz.

    Cheers!

    • Pat says:

      Here, at the transfer station; we have to bring our garbage there, the nice man removes any bottles of value, and they are picked up by the Kinsmen for use in community projects. Cheers!

      • g.kane says:

        I’d gladly give my empties to a worthy cause but the last few years the bottle drives have been in the Beer Store parking lot….I liked it better when they canvassed the neighborhood as it was less work for me.. See, it was actually laziness masquerading as a noble cause!!

        Cheers.

  2. Sandy says:

    We have a person who rides around with a bike, pulling a trailer and those huge blue Ikea bags on the handle bars, that goes through the blue bins.
    She creeps me out and I just don’t put my stuff out until I hear the truck coming since it hits my place about 7:05 in the morning.

  3. Ydnew says:

    Did you know that, before dear Dalton introduced the deposit on booze bottles, a recycling charge was already built into the price? It is for this reason I absolutely refuse to waste gas / increase global warming by taking empties back to that privatized monopoly, the Beer Store. Do the powers that be seriously belief that we think that they are going to ship the empties back to Australia, Scotland, Chile , France or whoever our favourite tipple originates. No. It is just a circuitous route back to same place that the empties would have gone if we had simply put them into our blue bin!

    Oh, I do feel better after ranting about one of my pet peeves!

    At my old house, and when I used to drink a lot more than I do nowI too, used to separate my empties so that it would be easier for the guy that used to come around on his bike. I’d have been really mad if someone had tried to horn in on his patch.

  4. Christina says:

    Here in Orangeville we can donate all our empty cans and bottles to the SPCA. The animals win big time!

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