Adventures in Recycling Bottles and Cans During Summer Season
Can Do (or shall we say the Can Can?)
Money for nothing? I would hardly say so. Nor would I say "the chicks for free".
Recycling looks easy - but it does entail some work. Each bottle must be rinsed, turned upside down and dried in the sun, preferably, gathered up and delivered to the recycling center. The ugliest part of the job is the digging - but some places are easier than others. For example, recycling freshly thrown out plastic bottles and cans on the ferry boat is not such an awful job.
Living in a seaside community can be a little of heaven and a little of hell. Everyone knows your business. When people see that you pick up bottles off the boat - there can be 50 or more upon each arrival! - there is a little bit of shame attached to the dumpster deed. But a bottle is worth half a Croatian dollar (called a kuna) and it's money in the bank, brother. That same 50 bottles converts itself nicely into a roasted chicken a few hours later. So - many people grab a glove and a wooden broomstick and dig away, dumpster, boat, or wherever the bottles may lie!
Living in a summer resort town is a schizophrenic type of lifestyle. Summers here are heaven with the warm, clean and peaceful sea, landward breezes and palatable lifestyle, freedom and safety. Winter, on the other hand, has a loneliness about it. First the summer population shrinks down to 1/10th, seasonal businesses close (less selection and certainly less work opportunities) and the town goes on "maintenance" level. Although we don't have a severe winter, mostly mild, there are always the occasional icy cold gusty winds. But back to summer. The link to the mainland is our wonderful car ferry, momentarily full of vacationing tourists from all over Europe, Australia, North America, South America, Africa, Asia, the Balkan Peninsula - and - let's face it - the whole world. Since it is hot, guests are thirsty, guess what they've brought on the boat with them? Right - a plastic bottle or tin can as a refreshing drink, which will get dumped in the trash long before their 2 hour boat ride is finished.
Our Car Ferry (the Love Boat)
Holiday Time in Dalmatia
Tourism as a major economic indicator
People here take out loans, get credit to build additional apartments on top of their stone houses. Why? To host tourists - get some side money - and, if they're lucky, they succeed in earning an extra annual salary for the year. The cost of living here is comparably less, the sea is clean and warm, and the word is getting out that Croatia is the best place to be between June and September.
Kids want a piece of the pie
Moms and Dads wait by the car ferry, advertise on the internet, and restaurants open for the summer months. What's a school aged kid to do, besides recycle bottles?
Croatia has a great recycling program for each clean, washed, and Croatian-produced can or bottle. It also must be fairly recent, not ten or fifteen years old. This has helped the ecological situation a lot, since lazy drivers are less likely to throw a bottle out of their cars if it's worth thir time and trouble to recycle.
Retired people have started thinking of bottles as a supplemental income. Many older folks bring in the maximum number of bottles - 80 per person per day - and earn 40 kuna whenever possible. During the summer, collection is at its peak. The seaside walkway welcomes over a hundred sailboats filled with tourists, cruisers, and luxury yachts, all who seem to bring bottles with them. The Croatian government sticks to the policy of "Croatian bottles only". Although the water in Croatia is very fresh and good to drink straight from the tap, foreigners and even some locals buy the bottled water. Those who are truly organized get up early, at the crack of dawn so to speak, to collect bottles and store them in their wine cellars. They clean and bring in the bottles, little by little, much like chipmunks store acorns for the winter :)
Beer, Pivo, Cola, Yogurt, and Juice bottles are recyclable
When my son's fourth grade teacher decided that the class needed to save money for a much desired field trip, recycling was one of the first things that came to mind. The families and friends of the 18 student class began saving, rinsing, collecting and shall we say, hording bottles. Once a week the bags of bottles were brought in for counting and exchanging for cash. This continued for several months. Other fundraising ideas were used - bake sale, Christmas ornament boutique, etc., but the bottles were a sure thing.
Many young boys I know are quite fond of their Play Stations, but the only problem is there is always a new CD to buy. How does a ten year old get 40 kuna? By recycling bottles, of course! ;)