Thursday, February 20, 2014

Collecting Cans While Walking

Cans Collected
While Walking
Walking home from the bus stop, I usually spot at least one aluminum can to pick up and toss in my spare trash cash. This satisfies my sense of order while neatening the neighborhood a little and, unlike most trash collecting, can make enough money in a year to buy me a beer.
There are four routes from the stop to my home, and I try to vary the route so that have a better chance of spotting something. After a while, patterns in the stream of trash become apparent. It looks like it flows out of the package stores on 16th and proceeds uphill, like salmon climbing a fish ladder, with some cans falling by the wayside when exhausted, and others reaching a pool or a gyre at any unimproved lot on 14th.
In picking up cans, I recommend:

  • Avoid getting splashed by leftover content by picking the can up by the base and pointing the top down and away. As you walk let it drain into the grass rather than onto your pants.
  • Crush the can with one hand as you walk along. This is a bit of useful exercise, and it means you can fit more into the collection point.
  • Bend your legs, not your back, to get down to where the can is. Unless there's something wrong with your knees, you can pick up a can while keeping your back vertical and your attention alert, instead of bending over with your butt in the air and your attention unable to notice oncoming traffic.

When the cans fill the can of cans, I pour it into a couple of garbage bags and take the lot to the local scrapyard, which pays more for bags of cans than for most other kinds of scrap. It's not vast wealth, but it's a nice reward for helping keep my neighborhood neater.
There is, of course, plenty of other trash items, especially the day after a windstorm. I'm not comfortable picking up paper unless I have a bad to put it in, but I don't mind snagging a plastic bottle or two. Simply picking up one or two items every day seems to keep the route in good condition and it's not really any extra effort, since I walk that route anyway.
This is a satisfying way to integrate neatness and environmental awareness into my existing lifestyle, with a minimum of effort. If you regularly walk your neighborhood, why not add this habit? (And if you don't regularly walk your neighborhood, as yourself ... why not? It's good to know the neighbors!)

I was inspired to write about this by this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge
"This week, pick up litter and dispose of it properly. As you go through your day, pay attention to the area and clean as you go. You might see trash as you walk between your car and your office. Perhaps you'll see plastic bags, etc. in the parking lot of a market. If you enjoy nature walks, browse the side of the trail. Get your kids involved and take litter walks or organize a neighborhood cleanup of a local park. The idea, this week, is to rid the area of litter!"
CTWW presents a new challenge every week, and it's fun to try to meet the challenge. Check it out!

1 comment:

Small Footprints said...

I love your migrating salmon analogy. It's curious how that happens but, now that you mention it, it's true. There must be some scientific explanation for this phenomenon. :-)