Over the last few days I’ve been trying to set up things to buy cans from a young man we know, Rowan Johnson. Rowan is eight years old and he (with help from his parents) has set up a job for himself. With permission from the Little Fort Husky, Rowan has set out 5-6 recycling containers at the store/gas station/Subway and every few days he collects these cans and sorts them for bottle returns.
I’ve known his mom, Jackie, for a few years; we share a love of good books and have a meeting of minds on lots of different things whenever we bump into each other at our kids’ activities.
Jackie told me via Facebook (who said FB wasn’t good for something) that Rowan wanted to DONATE some pop cans to our house. He is saving for a dirt bike and horse. Well, I couldn’t let him do that. Capitalism has strict rules in my book!
After a few phone calls with Jackie I was told that there was already a bag sorted that I could buy, but I’d have to wait until they got through the 20+ bags that have been collected and put aside while other summer activities took priority. I think also, that the amount to be sorted was a bit overwhelming for even the most entreprenurial eight year old. I know that if I leave something too long, and it builds up, it often takes even longer to get to it!
Being in a mad rush, I offered myself and a few Newtons up for a few hours of sorting. This went over very well and an offer was put forth by Rowan, via Jackie (and I suspect suggested by Jackie and Rowan’s father, Duncan). In exchange for the help sorting, we could take all the pop cans free of charge. I was assured that there is a smaller percentage of pop cans so it was still steps forward to the dirt bike and horse.
At first I wasn’t going to accept the cans without paying for them, even under this scenario, but after thinking about it, I realized this is what I would have put forward if it were my child. Good lessons about doing business.
I thought I was stunned by the vastness of used tires; I was shocked at the amount of garbage and waste that comes with bottle/can recyling. FULL bottles of unopened water and pop (and no, I didn’t take them home to drink…ew, that’s taking it too far, even for me). Despite the fact that Rowan’s bins clearly indicate recyclables, we found: coffee cups, milk containers, food (a half chewed pizze piece comes to mind), a diaper (yuck), old maps and newspapers and candybar wrapper. A really disgusting smell came from one bag, the source of which I never located, but the smell lingered for a bit even after we sorted the bottles.
Duncan warned us not to empty coke bottles that had apple juice in them. Apparently this is urine! (Oh, double EW and three barfs!)
At the end of an hour or so we walked away with about 600 cans and there was at least three times that in glass or plastic bottles.
Thanks Rowan, Jackie and Duncan.