Growing sustainability one can at a time

Montrose News, Gifts and Lotto's Manny and Georgia have been seeing hundreds of bottles and cans dropped off for cash since December. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS. 390701_02

By Mikayla van Loon

From saving a few extra dollars to supporting the health of the environment, the state’s container deposit scheme has proved popular in the eastern suburbs.

Montrose News, Gifts and Lotto has seen a steady demand since providing the service in mid-December.

“Our bins are full every week and they’re emptied out twice a week. There’s a lot of people coming in. The demand is there. I thought after Christmas and New Year, it might peter off but it’s just constant,” co-owner Manny Sarellis said.

Witnessing the push by the younger generation, Manny said there’s “a lot of kids taking it on board”.

“They record everything, they’re separating everything so they’re doing a lot of the heavy lifting and the parents and grandparents are just encouraging them,” he said.

Six-year-old twins from Millgrove, Annabelle and William, are doing just that; collecting, sorting and recording hundreds of cans and bottles each week.

Mum Sarah Marshall said as soon as the option to deposit cans and bottles was made available, the twins started collecting.

“They sort it all out and half the time they count it all as well then we take it down to the chook farm at Yarra Junction (Little Yarra Free Range Eggs),” she said.

“They’ve managed to save up a fair amount of money from doing it. They average about $200 a month.”

Annabelle said mostly “we pick them up on the ground when we’re going for walks” as well as getting family and friends to collect them.

Learning about sustainability and recycling at school, William and Annabelle said they understand the importance of cleaning up but also it is helping them in other ways as well.

For William, he said it has improved his counting and money saving.

Using the first lot of money they ever made to buy themselves something, William bought a basketball, while Annabelle bought a squishy toy.

But ultimately, the twins are both saving for riding accessories for their ponies.

“They really enjoy it. When we go shopping we take some of their money. All their money gets put into a jar to go into their bank and they can see over the course of the month how much they’ve made and how it grows,” Sarah said.

“We take it down, put it in the bank and they’re allowed to spend half each. So say they make $10 that’d be $2.50 each they can spend.”

Sarah said the kids collect and sort every week to make a deposit every fortnight.

On the other end for a drop off centre like the Montrose news agency, Manny said they too are seeing regular people bringing in hundreds of cans and bottles at a time.

“We have quite a few regulars that we’ve got from mums and dads, grandparents, young kids, to people who work in hospitality and they’re clearing all the bottles at the end of the day,” he said.

“People are falling into a rhythm now and they know what days we can cope with large amounts.

“Also [people are] being mindful of bringing in two tubs instead of bringing large amounts because some people just want to bring huge amounts to make it worthwhile, to get $40 to $50. We encourage them to bring it in a couple times and bring it regularly.”

Manny said while for some people it is a way of paying for a gas bill or groceries, for some it is a way of being able to provide for others.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people are starting to donate to charities as well. So Cancer Council, locally, the Montrose cupboard and the CFA…we’re seeing more and more of that now.

“We’ve got a couple of ladies that come in and they collect [for Montrose Community Cupboard] so they can provide programs to assist them in getting food to people that need it.”

Carrying on a legacy of sustainability and recycling instilled by Manny’s mother-in-law Georgia was the initial reason for signing up as a drop off point but now seeing the value and the benefit from the community, Manny said “the service is pretty popular”.