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Recyclables or How I Combined Exercise With a Second Job

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The infamous recycle triangle

The infamous recycle triangle

On This Day In History

To those in the future who may one day read this, I have to start off this narrative by letting everyone know what strange things are happening now.

In some places people are gathering at sunny beaches, and in breezy parks, aware that they are violation of Federal, State, and local ordinances. Police with batons have to stop crowds of people who carrying American flags while chanting into megaphones. No one can stand next to anyone now and there are lines in the stores, gas station parking lots and public toilets that provide maps for any pedestrian traffic to follow.

And of course the masks and gloves. Some people are wearing them everywhere they go while others try them on and then decide to decorate the parking lot with them.

In a few words, the social climate outside my door - is absolutely crazy.

Current laws require any creature that breathes wear a protective mask

Current laws require any creature that breathes wear a protective mask

Some people like to decorate parking lots with used gloves

Some people like to decorate parking lots with used gloves

Hit the Road Jack (or Jill) - Even If Your Name is Something Else

Well, one of the things that happened during these times is that many places were required to shut down. This included night-spots such as taverns which makes drinking in public impossible. Fast food restaurants are requiring everyone to use the drive-through - which for many people isn't an inconvenience since taking the time to walk from your car to the restaurant has been unfashionable for the last thirty years or so.

Along with necessary businesses such as bars, eateries, smoking stores and adult-entertainment venues, they decided to close down the gymnasiums.

This is not only a disappointment but a direct threat to your cardiovascular health. You could no longer go somewhere and run on a treadmill, dance on a ski machine or pump yourself up - in full public display at least.

Which meant one thing to me...

Take it to the road.

A Pleasant Walking Path

A Pleasant Walking Path

The First Step is the Steepest

During my first few treks - when I dared to venture outside - I would take quick walks, carrying my water bottle with me. I was wary of passing cars - particularly if they were of the law enforcement variety - and other pedestrians.

I actually forgot what it was like to move around on your feet through neighborhoods, along thoroughfares, past markets - most of which were closed. I had become accustomed as I moved into adulthood and through middle-age, to the luxury of having a car. You could get places quicker and carry things with you if you needed.

Through my walks though, I began to notice things: the aroma of cooking from houses, yards full of manicured lawns and gardens, disheveled yards piled with old bicycles, barking dogs.

And litter.

And among those piles of litter - cans, bottles, and plastic refuse.

Discarded items threaten a storm drain

Discarded items threaten a storm drain

Lightbulbs Above My Head in the Brilliant Spring Sun

I first passed these items by and shook my head a little bit. I imagined a driver, turning a corner, sipping a cold soda, and tossing the can out the window. I thought about some kids, lacking a ball or rocks, kicking a plastic bottle as they headed to the local hangout.

I thought about the garbage island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the stories I read about how many of the items traveled there from places like Cheyenne, Wyoming, entering storm drains, moving through local waterways, landing on a beach, only to be pulled away from the land by the ebbing tides.

And then I got to thinking of how I would occasionally see a glistening penny or if I were lucky, a shiny new time and happily stoop down to pick it up, even though it hurt my body to bend over.

I realized that every one of those items I saw, was a coin in disguise.

I started noticing more of these curiosities and then I got an idea.

One bag is enough to carry - one

One bag is enough to carry - one

Every Penny Counts Towards the Almighty Dollar

I realized that I was passing up money.

Did I feel a little guilty about adopting this new career? Slightly, because I knew there were a number of transients who I would be competing with. This is why I made sure to add rules number 1 and 2. I would not go into any refuse containers or take anything that someone had collected and left alone. I would not go into anyone's yard - items within arms reach of the sidewalk were fair game.

I made the rationalization that I would actually be doing everyone a favor by helping keep the streets clean. I would occasionally get some strange stares and sometimes sympathetic looks, but that happens to me anyway. I would also be helping myself out a little.

After all, there are one hundred pennies in a dollar and each item I found was worth five or ten cents. One full bag could represent a dollar or more.

This is what a million pennies looks like

This is what a million pennies looks like

How Much Can It Be Worth To You?

Average Recycling Value of Items (California prices)

Container TypePer ItemPer Poundper ton (2,000 lbs)


5 or 10 cents




5 or 10 cents


quite a bit


5 or 10 cents




.001 cents

.025 cents






A Ton of Alluminum

A Ton of Alluminum

A Ton of Plastic

A Ton of Plastic

Making Cents from Sensibilities

I realized that I was walking by a gold mine every day. Well, maybe a copper mine. Well, actually, it would take me a lot of walking...and several days, weeks, months years.

But every penny counts.

And I always pick up a penny if I see one.

Isn't that the sensible thing to do? I wasn't hurting anyone. I am not stealing. I am picking up things that other people tossed away.

Remember, each can is worth about five cents - ten for the taller ones.

It would only take about a dozen or so to have a dollar.

And I realized after one day, that I picked up a lot of garbage and that was after only about a mile and a half.

On One Evening

On One Evening

A Car, A House, A Dream Vacation, and a Cup of Coffee

I started to appreciate my love of math.

If on one day - walking about two miles - I find 20 cans, that makes about a dollar.

After a month, that would be $25 - I don't walk every day. Which translates into $300 a year.

If I could walk ten miles a day - I could find perhaps 100 cans - which would be $250 a month. I don't think I would walk ten miles in one day though. So let's forget this option.

In ten years I could probably buy a one-way ticket to someplace like Milwaukee, Wisconson and I don't even want to go to Wisconson.

In one-hundred years, I might have enough to buy a car and in one-thousand years, I could buy a small house or even a trailer.

The possibilities are endless. Add a mile or two - or walk more than once a day and your prophet margins increase.

Wow, I better keep my feet in motion.

Dream House - $100 Raffle

Dream House - $100 Raffle

Dare I Say, I Dare You To. C'mon, I Dare You!

Well, I have to say that I hope this piece didn't offend anyone. I was only trying to have some fun with it. I know that the Coronavirus Pandemic has put a lot of people out of work - especially gym employees - and I feel for you.

I also know that there are people who are struggling, who spend all their waking hours collecting cans and bottles. Honestly, it can be a profitable business if you put your mind to it. In an hour, I am sure that some people can rival near minimum wage and if the effort is kept up, there will be money to be made.

I cannot imagine doing this all the time though, and after a while, you will run out of places to store and carry your items. And you have to find a recycling center and you have to be patient and wait in line.

Is it really worth it for me?

I could always use an extra twenty dollars a month. That would mean a little bit of gas, lunch at a fast-food restaurant, a lottery ticket.

However, I am not really making money, since I paid the CRV tax on them to begin with. I don't even think I am getting back what I put originally.

Maybe I should just forget the whole idea.

The $5 Meal From Arby's

The $5 Meal From Arby's

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