A New Year's Project

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Editor:

I propose an easy project for the new year that does not require sacrifice, pain or tremendous will power. It takes a good eye and a plastic sack in the back seat of your car. You can start it at your office/workplace. You can start it in your neighborhood.

For the office/workplace, get a white trash container and paint black (Dalmatian) spots on it. Or just get a trash container and place a "Put Clean Cans Here" sign on it. Then you line the container with a large trash bag and take it to the area where the (aluminum) cans are likely to be discarded. Ask everyone to place their empty cans in the container. Be polite, but firm.

At home, have a special trash container (lined with plastic) just for cans. Promise your neighbors you will collect their cans either on demand or on a scheduled basis. Be polite, but firm.

There are two Dalmatian Stations where you can donate your can collection: Town Hall and the Payson Humane Society on South McLane, south of Main Street.

There are so many benefits to collecting aluminum beverage cans. You get good exercise while hiking to the favored littering sites on the side of the streets, highways, roadways, in the parks, trails and shopping center parking lots. There is a bonus when gathering the cans from the streets and parking lots, they come pre-smashed and generally empty.

You meet very nice people. I stopped my car on the shoulder of South Vista the other day to get about three cans I had seen while driving 25 miles an hour down the hill toward the golf course. I got out and started hiking back up the hill when I noticed a blue truck had stopped up ahead. When the backup lights came on I knew I was toast. The young man backed his truck down to where I was and politely asked, "Need any help, ma'am?" (There was a time when that "ma'am" thing grated like fingernails on a blackboard.) I took a deep breath and confessed to retrieving (aluminum) cans. There was no reason to attempt further explanation; his first impression was already formed. But then, being an "older" lady has its advantages -- we are forgiven many peculiarities. I thanked the young cutie and assured him I was fine. I'm sure he would have challenged that, but was too polite. I continued on up the hill where I was rewarded with the mother lode of aluminum treasures, seven cans -- three pre-smashed.

Another time, while walking my dogs, (I carry poop bags, too. Now, that's not peculiar, that's just common courtesy.) I discovered a secret hiding place for the weekend drinkers. I had to hurry home for reinforcements; I knew a mere Wal-Mart grocery bag wasn't going to be enough. I banked a cool 24 empty cans that day.

There are many reasons to make this your New Year's project. When people see you collecting cans with your plastic bag, it makes them more aware of our huge litter problem. (OK, some just see a weird old lady out in a field. But those folks will have to be hit in the head with an empty, pre-smashed aluminum can to get the message.) Best of all, it helps support our humane society. Last year (2006), more than $20,000 was raised from collecting aluminum cans. Every time you pet your pet and can your can, you can bet you'll smile. And you'll get used to the rattle in the back seat of your car.

Nancy Ward

Confessed Can Collector

and Avid Dog Lover

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