It’s Still a Busy, Busy World

Now There's Something You Don't See Everyday

Now There’s Something You Don’t See Everyday

That’s exactly what a woman in the vicinity said to me with a chuckle when she spotted me photographing this character.  This slow pedaling cyclist hiding beneath a sugegasa seemed to be collecting aluminum pop and beer cans from the residential recycling bins along Barton Street East, and its side streets.

Pilfering metals from bins is a very low paying, tax-free, supplementary source of income for many who don’t have jobs for whatever reason.

3 thoughts on “It’s Still a Busy, Busy World

    • As with most things I see it as a dichotomy. The positives are that the mashed up hat and grabage bag, improvised as a rain-slicker, on this squat figure riding down the sidewalk is humerous to look at; as the lady nearby did point out, plus the fact that this person is trying to do something to stay in the rat race.

      The negatives are that this clearly able person does not have a legitimate job, and that this activity is typically carried out by people who either can’t or even won’t get off of welfare.

      I think the dichotomy of the circumstance is why citizens aren’t exactly railing about the dozens of individuals who scavenge the Lower Hamilton neighbourhoods this way virtually every day. Most really don’t like to see this going on but they don’t really know what to do to stop it, and try to see the silver lining in it. It’s also not high on anyone’s list of municipal improvement priorities.

      This obviously isn’t the city’s curbside recycling collection program. This is what some people do for some extra cash. Technically, the only recyclable containers that an average citizen can take to a store for a returned deposit are beer, wine and liquor bottles and cans as permitted by the Ontario Provincial Government. According to the City of Hamilton’s Solid Waste Management By-Law, it’s also illegal to collect someone’s garbage or recycling from the curb – like this individual was doing in the Gibson neighbourhood, if your not contracted to do so with the city. Such restrictions are generally referred to as curtilage in US cities.

      Some small recycling plants in Hamilton’s industrial sectors, nonetheless, allow people to drop in with collected aluminum and steel beverage cans and cardboard which they can make money off of. This takes money away from the major recycling outfits connected to municipal Blue Box curbside recycling programs but those smaller operations aren’t exactly going to question where the shopping cart pushing and trash bag stuffing street collectors goods are coming from. The receiving establishments, in turn, resell the commodities on the metals and recyclable materials market for the going rate which fluctuates often.

      It’s not a dirty little secret by any means but this underground business relationship keeps poor street collectors making enough money to buy a few groceries, more beer and cigarettes, and the small recycling firms making a little money to survive amidst their bigger competitors.

  1. The dichotomy is all I understand about the situation. It is a huge “industry” in NYC but I’m not sure what the legalities are. I have spoken to one woman who has her regular patch and she was very upfront about the good money to be made and the fact that everyone has their particular patch, set of buildings. She actually spoke with a certain sense of pride and job satisfaction. I also know people (residents) who complain about the noise they make with the rattling tin cane and bottles and the way they take up so much room on the footpaths and at the stores where they go to cash them in.

    Yes Allan, it is indeed a busy, busy world!

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