Friday, January 11, 2008

An Open Letter To People Who Tip Over Recycling Bins

A few months ago the Ontario Powers That Be declared that empty bottles of alcohol were redeemable for a deposit. Whereas before you just recycled them and got no money back, now you could take them to the liquor or beer store and get a paltry sum in return.

I don't have a car so I don't bring my empty liquor bottles back to the store. Sure, I'd like to reclaim my deposit, but not at the expense of carting my bottles all the way uptown. Nope, I still recycle them, and many other people do as well.

So a cottage industry has sprung up: people -- generally homeless, as far as I've seen -- wander through residential areas and take recyclable liquor bottles out of people's bins. That's fine, I'd LOVE for somebody to get my bottles...but there's a catch:


The first time this happened to me, I started hiding my liquor bottles under all my pop cans, so they wouldn't be attracted to my bin. But then I'd see some scruffy guy come along and search through the bin, wasting a lot of time to determine whether or not I'd actually hidden anything underneath. And I felt bad for him. I thought, he could make a lot more money if I'd just put my bottles in an obvious place.

This week, my bleeding heart got the better of me. I put all of my Christmas liquor bottles into one half of the bin, and then put all my cans in the other half, and even SEPARATED the two sections with recyclable cardboard. I figured that this would help the hard-up people to quickly find what they're looking for, without needing to search through or -- as some of them do -- dump everything out and not put it back in.

So tonight I come home and discover that my carefully laid-out bin has been dumped upside down, my cans scattered up and down the street, and my liquor bottles claimed. I had to walk up and down the street in the rain, collecting cans and cardboard and putting them back in the bin, because some jerk decided -- out of obnoxiousness, I'm sure -- to dump the bin out onto the street. And take away 75 cents worth of bottles.

I will not reward people for doing this. Some of them are sweet and are willing to root through the bin to find what they're looking for, but a significant number of people are not. So I'm going to start throwing my empties in the garbage: end of story.

Bad for the planet? Yes. Vindictive? Only partially. If they stop finding bottles in my bin they will stop turning the bin upside down -- it hasn't been dumped since the last time I hid my bottles -- and I don't want to reward people for being a nuisance. Sure I want them to have that money, but not if they're going to be jerks in the process.

How frustrating is it to be punished for being NICE? Very much, yes indeed. There is simply no excuse for throwing garbage around on a person's lawn.


Anonymous said...

Sad to say, there does seem to be a recurring undercurrent of people being too damned ignorant to live these days.

No good deed goes unpunished is a cliche for a reason.

Anonymous said...

Of course this is most definitely a cultural thingy but still... :-)

... bringing liquour home is a strict no no. :)

Anonymous said...

put them in a liquor store bag BESIDE your recyling bin. better yet, watch for them to rut through your bin and run SCREAMING out at them to "STOP STOP STOP THOSE ARE MY BOTTLES! DON'T TOUCH!" to see what happens.

Adam Thornton said...

Sigh, inconsiderate people!

What do you mean, liquor at all, or just no liquor at home?

Adam Thornton said...

Thanks Bottlebabe, that idea occurred to me this morning. I also thought of putting a sign on the bin saying "if you want liquor bottles, come to the door and knock before 10pm."

Though your second suggestion is a good one, since I figure I'll end up being the "crazy person on the street" someday anyway. Why not lay the groundwork now?

Anonymous said...

Bringing it home. It implies drinking alone. :)

Adam Thornton said...

Oh, I see. I'm either drinking it with friends or -- more often -- drinking at home before going out to a bar.

So not TOO lonely or pathetic. :)