If you hang around me long enough, you’ll hear me say – in a strictly non-pejorative way, I swear – “Either you’re part of the solution or you’re part of the problem”.
Or something like that.
After writing about the pending increase in Oregon’s Bottle Deposit last year, I knew that I was a part of the problem and committed to action.
In my own charmingly procrastination prone style.
$.10 a can or bottle is a good chunk of change to literally throw away.
Fine, it’s a good chunk of change to figuratively throw away.
What I ended up with was a utility room chock full of empty cans and bottles. Heck, some were even non-alcoholic! I was even bringing home the empty soda bottles from my lunches at work. I was Xtopher in action.
Which, with the slightest amount of effort becomes: Xtopher inaction.
A new problem.
Luckily, attempting to live on a budget and save money on my…quaint lil paycheck finally lit the fire needed to get me to recruit The Silver Fox as a driver and haul my recyclables to the Safeway.
Call him conscripted.
I had fully intended to just walk to the Safeway every other week or so with a bag of empty cans and bottle jingling over my shoulder. I try to go every Friday to stock up on lunch supplies for the coming week, anyway.
I couldn’t shake the mental image of me doing my best homeless person shamble there the streets of Portland’s swanky Pearl District. My natural procrastination was well fed by this imagery.
Which is how I ended up in The Foxes SUV for a ten-ish block trip. He dropped me off, parked and made the most of the inconvenience by going inside the store for some much needed oranges…
“When life gives you lemons, exchange them for oranges!” – The Fox.
Ok, he didn’t say that.
But about the time he was walking down the stairs from the parking garage to the store, I was standing in front of the Pearl Safeway’s two reverse vending recycling machines.
Oh, excuse me…the two broken reverse vending recycling machines.
A homeless guy I’d woken up by walking in groggily said that someone had gone into the store to alert them to the crisis. That sounds helpful until you factor in my uncertainty in his ability to tell me what day it was.
A very nice employee showed up as I was hauling my bags toward the ramp to the parking garage and offered to hand count my returns for me. I gratefully accepted. Then she suggests moving somewhere less stinky.
So I’m standing outside on the sidewalk watching helplessly while she counts my empty cans and bottles.
Of course, a crowd of homeless people with a couple bucks worth of cans each starts to gather ’round.
Oh, the optics.
If I harbored any hope of a future relationship, this would be the time our paths crossed.
$11.40 worth of counting later, I’m on my way. I’m feeling rather unaccomplished and briefly consider drinking even less beer and soda than I have lately.
Wine bottles are somehow exempt from the Bottle Bill.
That night, I’m wandering by The Brodega by my house and notice their new taps are featuring Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack and make a date with The Fox to grab one the next night.
They also fill growlers.
That’s the key to my participation in improving the recycling issue: refillable growlers instead of six packs.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle after all!
So, in I walk with my growler the next night. They fill it with an extraordinary amount of waste, but I’m kinda ok with it since The Brodega is she-she expensive and this growler will probably cost $19, based on their normal over-pricing. By comparison, a growler fill at The Big Legrowlski is $16, I think.
That’s what my growler fill fist at The Brodega.
My favorite goddamned beer at bargain basement prices AND I just juked the whole bottle tax vs recycling conundrum.