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Opening My Eyes by Becoming a Binner

 Victoria Street Newz (Canada) 19 May 2019

(Originally published: 02/2010) "I don’t want to go to these “poor places” for freeloading & handouts. I want to keep myself safe and avoid trouble. I want to buy my food and stuff that they just don’t hand out at the free places." (1174 words) - By Kira

Victoria Street Newz

Kira and her cart (Photo courtesy of Victoria Street Newz)

Well, I decided to try this so called "dumpster diving."


Ain't it funny, more than a few people were surprised I started this up and I'd like to tell you why I did it.  The basics:  I'm poor, that's a common reason.  I'm stuck on the Disability system, for now.  I need more money.  I had seen so many other people doing it & ca$hing in so I thought, why can't I do the same?  I mean, big time this time.


Years back I had "dabbled" in the can collecting gig before, hey free money just lying around, and it does add up.  So I wanted it to add up some more.  I started heavier hauls playing around cleaning out a few "ca$h in" dumpsters and raiding recycle boxes, though getting tired of carrying a load on my handlebars or running shopping carts back to stores (my policy is return it to where it came from I am so sick of seeing abandoned carts littering neighbourhoods it looks awful).  So to save time and money, and thinking, "well if I'm gonna do it full-on, I better do it proper," bought a trailer from Tony's Trailers, called the "Street Legal Shopping Cart."


I was apprehensive at first, thinking how will I like it?  Will I really use it enough to justify the money I spent?  As it was, all my fears were blown away, I got a grant to pay for the cart and Tony was very accommodating and within a week after I used the trailer I was loving the convenience and freedom.  I could collect so much more so easily and money wasn't an issue.  Plus it is such a great workout.  Why pay the gym when the gym can pay me?   My only regret is that I didn't buy a trailer YEARS ago! I wish!  Goes to show how we can be so scared of change, even GOOD change, that it can hold a person back from good results.  It's true, you never will know unless you try...something good that is.  Plus being able to carry other heavy stuff like groceries or stuff I find on the side of the road is a huge help too.  I've only had to ask for a ride once the whole time I've had my trailer...almost 2 years now!


The second main reason I got into the collecting activities is talking to binners and hearing all these "horror stories," recurring complaints and the controversy that went along with being judged, stereotyped, and viewed a certain way by society as well as hearing about the rotten bunch or irresponsible notorious binners ruining it for the rest of us, I wanted to go experience & investigate this for myself and get BOTH sides and see what I can do to change peoples minds about how "dumpster divers" are viewed by being conscientious.


By the way, the biggest complaint:  people leaving messes, next is noise.  I am very happy when people clean up their messes they make it easier for the rest of us.  I know better than anyone not to leave a mess, that is my job - I work as a cleaner!  I think it's good to talk to people to see where they are coming from, not be "secretive" about it like I'm doing "something wrong."  The biggest thing I found that helps there: ASKING people permission, it shows respect.


As well, my next motivation is, just to prove to a certain "group" of people who were giving me a hard time, I'd figure since success is the best revenge, I'd make those haters even more mad by doing what they do but do it better!  I wanted to show I was different, that I could do this same activity surrounded by negative connotations and impressions, and take away the positives from it, like separate the positive from the negative, and show what can be done.  "Pull out the positive" from it.  Prove I could succeed honestly at producing my profit.


I'd like to think I am doing binning for the right reasons.  It's for a good cause, 'cause I like to eat well!  It's enjoyable to head to the bank with bills and change and turn that into even more bills and throw it in the bank, I like to say after I ca$h out:  "straight to the bank," or the grocery store.  Since I don't smoke, do drugs or drink I get to see 100% profit so that makes it worthwhile, and I am grateful I can make money this way.  I don't feel so powerless or helpless as much.


It's very gratifying to see people take notice too, hear a lady call after me:  "thank you for being responsible" when I clean up a mess or put down a lid, leave it the way I found it.  People see me helping myself and have started to save bottles so I don't go "on the hunt" as much as I used to.  It's not that much but I don't want to get greedy or obsessed and have this run my life.  It can be very time consuming looking and not finding much, it doesn't "balance out" as much as people would like to think.  I'd like to work at a higher paying job, really, and not feel trapped on a Disability Allowance.


As well, my "dumpster diving" has evolved into more opportunist endeavors.  Instead of literally "nickle-and-diming" myself picking here and there for bottles, I go to places that have the highest chance there are bottles, and lots of them.  If I see batteries or metals on the side of the road or bottles I'll grab them too, I still am on the lookout, but I don't really go out of my way anymore.  More if I'm "passing by."  The main reason too is it is turning into not being worth it.  It's discouraging and disappointing that most spots are so picked over so many times my exercise has turned into an exercise in frustration as I come up empty handed time and again at places there used to be even some bottles.  There goes more healthy food out of my mouth.


It wasn't like this even year ago ... I don't want to go to these "poor places" for freeloading & handouts.  I want to keep myself safe and avoid trouble.  I want to buy my food and stuff that they just don't hand out at the free places.  I can't expect everything for free!  The extra income I generate from bottles translates into more food, so less visits to food banks and free meals.  If I don't have to, I don't want to frequent these places.  It makes me more independent and help myself, gives me more power and control in my life so I don't feel so trapped and limited, gives me more choices, and helps keep my dignity intact.


I just hope I left a good impression & good example to whoever's ground I stepped on - or rode through.

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