In my beloved state of Oregon, we pay an extra nickel for every can/bottle of any drink that we buy in the store. The state dutifully holds those nickels for you and will reimburse you your baggy of nickels when you bring them back to the store and recycle them.
I tend to just save all my recycling and do one long, arduous trip to the recycling center (which is outside almost every grocery store). I don't rinse out my cans/bottles, but I do try and get every drop out when we are done. Then we put the cans back into the box they came from - so for instance, if I buy a 24-pack of diet coke, we empty the box out into the fridge and then when a can is emptied, it goes directly back into the box. Then when the box is full, I put a little piece of tape on the opening to keep the cans all in there - very organized, right? And then we just stack the boxes in the back corner of the garage. Like a decoration.
I have been living in this house since the last weekend in May.
I have not taken recycling ONCE since I lived here! That's a lot of nickels saved!!!
About $35.00 in nickels.
It took almost an entire hour to unload the boxes into the recycling bins to be counted, but I got my nickels back!
AND - I live in a fairly affluent suburb (not that I'm affluent, I'm totally here by accident and the town council don't know I'm here-please don't let my secret out). We have a few regular homeless guys who you see about, sometimes we get a scraggler off the freeway nearby, but for the most part, it is just the same couple of guys who wander around with their big backpacks. They are friendly, except for that one shooting incident, but I think that was an accident.
Anyway, we also have this sweet little old lady who I see at least weekly wandering about with her grocery cart. I met her at least two years ago. She kinda hangs around the recycling area at Fred Meyers. She doesn't really talk - just stands about.
One time, she came up to me as I was crushing my empty boxes and she asked if she could have the few bottles that the recycling machine didn't take for some reason. I said, of course-but the machine won't take them. She told me that they are still recyclable and she knows where she can take them to be turned in. So I said, oh, that's great - definitely you can have them! And then she said to me: You are a good girl - that's good you are crushing your boxes.
I replied that I wouldn't feel right just leaving them there... and she told me that she sees a lot of people who just leave their garbage all about and again told me that I'm a good girl.
So I saw her today, she was standing near the machines while I was doing my thing and when one machine got clogged, she was right by my side and said, "use the one over there" and pointed me to the other one. Then when that one was full, she told me to go push the call button nearby and have someone come fix them. She'd come over and speak, and then she'd step back to her cart full of cans and bottles and look away.
I had to make three trips to the car to load up my cart full of cans. I asked her at one point if she was leaving soon and that I would have some rejects if she wanted them and she said, Oh yes, I'll be here awhile and will take all your rejects.
Mind you, it's REALLY cold out - like 55degrees maybe? And the wind was bitter cold. My hands were frozen. And she's just standing there - for who knows how long. Wrapped in a bunch of clothes and mittens and boots and just standing there watching over the machines.
I don't know her full story. I want to.
I know she lives in an apartment almost a mile away. I know she pushes her cart back and forth to the recycling place frequently. I know she is nice.
I gave her a full bag of cans and told her that I forgot my gloves and my hands are frozen and would she like the last of my bags. She said, I'll take anything you want to leave here with me.
And then I said, great, here you go....and then I started walking away and stepped back and said, I've seen you here before, what's your name? And her little wrinkly old lady face lit up like a ray of light and she said, Selma...I'm Selma. And I said I'm Kaylen and she repeated it, and then spelled it and then was very excited that she spelled it right and then she said it again. And then she said, it's very nice to meet you - and she sounded more genuine than 95% of the people who tell you that throughout your life. I shook her little dirty gloved hand and then we shared a smile and I told her to take care....and then I picked up dinner and came home to my warm home.
I wish I could make more of a difference in the world. For all the Selma's out there who just want to be acknowledged and who just want to be treated humanely - I should do more. I worry for her. I think I will keep a little package in the car for her and keep an eye out....I'd like to offer her a little holiday cheer...more so than just a bag of nickels.
California drought: then and now
4 days ago