Confronting a car tossed bottle or can on a rural roadside is the event. It is not easy for me to pass by such a bottle or can discarded so by some uncaring individual. Besides being long time believer and supporter of environmental causes, most quite more profound than that of the local roadside, I have also been a serious runner and biker for 40 years always choosing leg power over fossil fuels. Thus the intimate and dual connection, thus the disdain: I am out there, they are in their cars. I see the same litter, identifiable by label, over and over unless I deal with it. If not, I burden myself with the guilt of ignoring the offence of others that I actually have the power to undo.
So I carry those ever present implements of daily life now, the plastic gocery bag to collect the containers. They do actually hold up well tied to my bike handle bar or stuffed full. Most cans carry a nickle deposit in NY but I will go for the now ever present non-deposit plastic water bottle also. I don’t do it for the money of course, but I must admit, I have made the calculations when I really should be enjoying more random thoughts that come with a workout. At 15 seconds a stop, that’s 20 cents per minute or $6.00 per hour. Well, barely minimum wage. The deposit really hasn’t gone up since that days I collected refillable Coke and Nehi bottles as a kid.
The NY State legislature still hasn’t gotten it together to mandate deposits on sports drinks, tea, juice and water as Maine and California have. Enlightened is a word I wouldn’t use to describe the leader of the NY Senate, a guy named Bruno. May he find the litter in his front yard.
Gathering beer cans can be a sociological study of sorts, a hint of socioeconomic staus and habit. Most beer litter is of cheap brands in a can: Old Milwaukee, Keystone, Bud lite, etc. I have yet to pick up a Sam Adams or Guiness , rarely a Saranac or Corona bottle. But what about store bought bottled water or Glaceau 50 vitamin water? Such are luxury items as I see it. Those folks, I presume concerned about their health, apparently have no reservations about roadside dumping. Interesting that they so often screw the lids on before tossing. At least with them there is not the gross-me-out factor: a beer can containing chewing tobacco spittle or rotting, beer engorged slugs is enough to make even me want to toss it back…
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