Letter: Bottle picking

In the wee hours of the morning, Red Deer’s bottle picking community starts to work. You may not see them, but you may know they have been there as your local garbage bin or blue box is picked clean of bottles, cans and other refundable items.

When times get tough…

In the wee hours of the morning, Red Deer’s bottle picking community starts to work. You may not see them, but you may know they have been there as your local garbage bin or blue box is picked clean of bottles, cans and other refundable items.

There is indeed gold in those cans. Just how much you may be surprised.

In recent conversations with bottle pickers around the city, there are those who earn enough to buy a pack of smokes and buy breakfast up to those who earn as much as $2,200 per month! All of this is money above AISH, if the picker is on it, or EI as well.

However, the public attitude towards bottle pickers is quite varied. Many Red Deerians support these efforts to create an income by leaving bags of bottles outside. Some are ambivalent towards the pickers and ignore them as they drive/walk by. The entitled look with disdain and will verbally attack using words like ‘get a job,’ or ‘leave my bottles alone,’ and the toothless, ‘I’ll call the police on you!”

Not every bottle picker is created equal.

There are those who walk the alleys and pick blue boxes.

There are those who crawl in and around garbage bins and pick apart every bag they can touch, and earn an average of $120 per day for their efforts.

There are those who brazenly walk into backyards and steal bottles and other items placed on decks and close to sheds.

(This is NOT what most pickers do and this behaviour casts a negative glow to a hard working group of individuals)

There are those who drive our highways and clean the ditches.

Who are these people?

They may be AISH recipients trying to stabilize their income. They may be the unemployed struggling to make ends meet. They may be the retired going out for walks with a bag just in case they find some ‘gold’. They may be the drug addict looking for money for their next hit.

However there are several folks I would like to make special note of.

The un-named MS worker who drives the alleys gathers bottles to help the non-profit out. Kudos to you.

Larry, who walks the streets and alleys of Red Deer cleaning garbage while picking bottles. Thanks for your efforts.

Thanks to the great staff of Cosmos I and II and the south bottle depot for your dedication and support.

The next time you see someone walking with a bag down an alley, strike up a conversation with them. You might be surprised who you meet and how you may be able to help with as little as the couple of empties in your back seat.

Tim Lasiuta, Red Deer