I come from a long line of garbage pickers. When I was a kid we used to rent a cottage in Sauble Beach and there was a large, pink, entertainment pavilion across the road. On Saturday nights there would be a dance, and we would sneak out of the cottage and go lie in the spectacular sand dunes on the shores of Lake Huron, and listen to the sounds of the music drifting out from the open windows.
The next morning my ship would come in. My financial net-worth of the week would triple, as would my father’s estimation of me, due to the fact that I could find a half-submerged beer bottle in the dunes, like nobody else could. My dad would take me and whoever else was eager to increase their financial portfolio, and we would go around the country roads picking up beer bottles. I can’t remember what they were worth back then, but to a 9 year old it was liquid gold, when we would cash them in, and those pennies would add up (yes, pennies, those little brown things) and I would get to keep some of the money from the returns. Chi ching!
When my son Greg and I needed something to do at the cottage one year, I introduced him to my childhood passion of collecting bottles and adding up the cash. We would go to the local marina and Greg, the clever utilitarian that he is designed a pole with a hook on it that we could lean down into the large garbage cans and pick up bottles from their farthest corners. If people came in the parking lot to drop off garbage or bottles, we would stand innocently around looking like we were there doing the same thing, and then the minute they drove away we gleefully took sometimes whole cases of beer bottles, and popped them into the car. I stopped encouraging this when my car ended up smelling like a brewhouse, and I was terrified that the police would pull me over thinking I was drinking and driving.
Garbage picking and dumpster diving is the same serotonin uptake feeling I get when I vacuum a dirty carpet. I happen to love vaccuming, as it is almost instant gratification for a job well done. One minute you see dirt on the rug and the next minute gone! Yippeee! While garbage picking I am channeling my inner Marie Kondo. I have her book, The Illustrated Guide to the Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up, sitting on my bedside table along with about 30 others that I never have time read, but hope I am absorbing through osmosis, while I sleep. Another plus of Covid 19 captivity, I may read a few books. Does anyone out there share this incredible feeling of quick gratification from vacumming or tidying up, purging stuff, getting rid of it?? I would love to hear from you.
As I mentioned in the blog The Mindful Caterpillar, I have been walking the highway in northern Ontario, practicing social distancing and really being able to sing without fear of anyone hearing me. I am out looking for signs of spring, but am shocked at the amount of garbage that is along these pristine roads, now uncovered as the last of the snow has disappeared. I have taken to picking garbage and recycling items, dragging my bags along the way. In my survey so far Tim Horton coffee cups and lids and plastic water bottles are the biggest culprits. The amount of plastic I pick up every day is astounding. We all know the problem with plastics and how it is in our oceans and everywhere else in the environment. I don’t think we should get rid of plastics, but instead treat plastic with so much more respect, because it is truly an important substance and part of the everyday running of the world. But we need to respect it more and dispose of it properly, and not use it so often when it is simply not necessary, but more a convenience.
Let me know if you think the same way I do.
Another thing I think about the mindfulness of Covid 19 is that many of us have more time to reflect and take stock of what we see in our lives. When we come out of this, I hope we can all understand some things we can personally and corporately do to continue to improve the planet and look after each other better. The garbage along my small stretch of highway is ridiculous and the fact that we can’t have large corporations developing recyclable coffee cups is very sad. Let’s make that happen. It should have done a long time ago.
I have also been astounded at how much money I am going to cash in on with the sheer number of beer cans and other alcohol containers that I am sorting and keeping until the recycling stores open again. It is a shocker though that in this day and age people are still drinking and driving and tossing their cans out the window. I am truly hoping that isn’t the case, but instead it is more hopeful to believe that the blue boxes get windblown and containers of all sorts fly down the highway and into the nooks and crannies of the bushes before the garbage trucks come by.
In my book I talk about my childhood mentor and how she always would say, “Gaye just do your part and the world will be a better place for it.” Walking the country highway dragging my bags of garbage is causing people to wave, smile and honk their horns. I think it is a friendly honk. We are all desperate to see other faces than the ones we are cohabiting with. My hope is that people seeing the garbage extraction will go home and get the kids suited up and go for a mindfulness garbage walk down the road, together as a family. Just don’t take all the beer cans away from me!
I plan to put all the alcohol container return money into my retirement fund that has sadly, like everyone else, gone down the drain.