Recently, a wide spread effort from many places around the globe, caught my attention. Out the front window of my Mother's 1930's bungalow, I've been able to watch the steady parade of pickers who are trash gleaning in the Oleander area of down town Bakersfield, Ca.,
I was newly arrived from a place where the "Spring Cleanup" is generally conducted by the Boy Scout Troop, the Friends of the Library, the Takshanuk Water Shed Council, and various other service groups. There, there is a ferociously friendly competition for prizes to honor those with the most trash gathered, complete with the celebration dinner and a front page newspaper spread. It ain't Woebegon, but it's close.
So, early this summer I went to see what the BARC collection point at Magoo's Pizza on Brundage lane was about. It's one of several dozen recycling drop off centers in Kern County that are commercially owned and buy back harvested trash via the CVR, (Calif. Refund Value) incentive program.
The parking lot swarmed with folks from far away and all over. Some were new comers from distant lands. Many were from here, most from Kern County's streets and shelters. All arrive with tremendous loads gleaned from every imaginable source. Mine was a medium sized load, what my brother's bike could carry.
Pedal powered or push/pull carts, fashioned from infant strollers, grocery carts, bicycle trailers, and myriad other forms of wheeled device, are cleverly modified to double as an object to serve as home base, and /or work vehicle.
Cash returns are handed out as half a dozen employees shuffle overflowing, ever filling, 75 gallon plastic trash cans. Those are then emptied, two people to a can, into huMungus nylon fibered bags and commercially sized dumpsters. Glass, plastic bottles and containers, all shapes, colors and sizes, plus aluminum drink cans galore, each with it's own redemptive value, flow like rivers to the sea of solid waste.
While resting in the shade of 103 degree day, a gangling middle-aged fellow laughed and shook his head at current gas prices which were pushing past $4.00 per gallon.
As he straddled his well worn bike he said he felt proud that his morning earnings would feed him for the next few days with a smaller carbon footprint for his efforts.
I was glad to add that a tiny tributary had been diverted from the over burdened waste stream and would now be recycled thanks to his efforts. How's it go again? The "three R's"?
Reduce/ Reuse.....then ,IF there's still more left over, Recycle.
His mornings gleanings were hard to come by, miserably hot in the doing, but a highly honorable effort. I wonder what he's doing for Thanksgiving?