Sometimes, we just need to take a break from our advocacy hard work and showcase the activities on the ground. Recently, one of our Board of Directors, Tony Barron, took this picture of all the bottles he collected on one of his regular bike rides between his home in Mesquite and Gold Butte Road. Here’s his story:
The bottles were all collected along the shoulders (and occasionally even gutters) of streets on bike trips in Mesquite and along Riverside Drive thru Bunkerville out to the Gold Butte road and on up to I-15. And 1 very short side trip out the GB road, which is so rough that it’s no fun on a road bike. I figure that cans and plastic bottles, though unsightly, don’t cut tires, feet, hooves or paws and will be available for later pickup, unbroken. With a glass bottle though you may only have the one chance to retrieve it whole. So my obsession hobby is to pick them up when I see them.
On my first collection trip, I brought a couple of bottles home in the back pockets of my bike jersey. Upon thinking about that a little afterwards, I realized that carrying glass bottles right next to my kidneys was among the worst ideas I had ever had. I rigged a small cardboard carton so I could strap it to the back platform and it could carry a 6-pack carton inside. When I’m biking with others, I limit my collecting to whatever I can get and still catch back up. When I’m alone, which happens oftenish in the summer, I collect as much as I have room and time for.
Earlier this year, I was placing a mail order with REI and it came up to about $65 plus about $10 shipping. With a $75 order, members, which I am, get free shipping, so I could add a $10 dollar item and pay no extra. Nothing for $10 caught my eye but I saw a $20 bike bag that would fit on the back platform I already had. It had zip-down fold-out panniers. I can’t stand the noise of glass bottles rattling against each other and possibly even breaking so I thought of carrying an empty 6-pack to carry them in. Unfortunately, the panniers weren’t wide enough to hold a 6-pack carton but I was able to cut down 2 6-packs in half to make 2 3-packs and cut the ends of another off to make a 4-pack. The panniers are long enough and deep enough that I can lay 1 bottle down loose in the bottom, put a 3-pack on top and squeeze in another loose bottle on each end for 6 bottles on each side. The 4-pack goes in the top compartment of the bag and I can also squeeze in another couple of loose bottles in there too. That’s 18 and I can carry another couple in my handlebar bag so twice I have brought 20 bottles home on a single trip.
I’m getting ahead of the curve; bottles are getting harder to find. The stretch of Riverside from the GB road up to I-15 still needs work but in the rest of the riding area I’m mostly finding bottles further off the road, new bottles or very old ones that have weathered out of roadside berms and such. Sun angle is critical to spotting bottles that are further away from the road; if I can’t see a glint, I probably won’t see the bottle. So at different times of the year and different times of day, I see bottles that I couldn’t see before. I usually won’t stop just for cans or plastic bottles but if they are in the immediate area of a glass bottle I’m saving, I’ll get them too. They’re just not too photogenic after being squashed flat for carrying.