Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recyclables and reusables found Saturday, October 11, 2008

  • 4 aluminum cans (1 Diet Pepsi, 1 Tropicana lemonade, 1 Miller Lite, 1 roadkilled Budweiser)
  • 3 plastic bottles (1 Deer Park Eco-Shape water, 1 Gatorade, 1 roadkilled Crystal Springs water)
  • 3 glass bottles (1 Arizona green tea, 1 Modelo especial beer, 1 St. Ides mixed fruit malt liquor)

  • 3 small plastic bags (1 drug store bag, 2 dark plastic bags of the kind used by liquor stores)

I don't usually pick up lemonade cans like the one listed above, because they so often contain ants. This time, I saw the can on a street I'd already cleaned up just a few hours previously, so I knew it couldn't have been there for long. Thankfully, there were no ants inside it.

Another aberration in Saturday's collection of recyclables is that I picked up a bottle, the Deer Park Eco-Shape bottle listed above, that wasn't on the ground. It was teetering on top of an overflowing trash can, and was almost certain to blow off before the next trash collection.

I haven't previously taken recyclables from trash cans, but have been wondering whether I should start. I go past dozens of trash cans each day, and could divert countless recyclables from the landfill if I pulled them from the trash cans they're in. The mere thought is daunting. There's no way I can carry home all the recyclables I pass that are in trash cans, and I don't want to run out of space in my bags for the recyclables I find on the ground. Many of those recyclables will end up polluting the nearby river (and ultimately the sea) if I don't pick them up, so they're a higher priority.

Another deterrent is fear of how I will be perceived by people who see me going through the trash. Let me be frank here. I'm afraid people will think I'm homeless. I realize there's no shame in being homeless, especially in the current economic climate, but homeless people are treated so badly that I'm afraid to be seen as one of them. I already get enough weird looks from people who see me collecting recyclables that are lying on the ground.

Does anyone else go through public trash cans collecting recyclables? I'd love to hear from anyone who has done it without becoming overwhelmed or experiencing anti-homeless harassment.

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