This is how we actually started earning (some) money on the road while also doing something against the human caused pollution along our route.
Food is expensive in this part of the world and I was living on a budget. Since I started this cycling trip in Germany I saw that there’s still a lot of rubbish beside the roads. Even on the smaller and more remote ones.
In Germany you get a 25 cents refund for a can and 8 cents for a plastic bottle. As I was already cycling along the Swedish coast heading north I didn’t know if there would be a similar refund system in Sweden. I checked some bottles and cans and some of them had a 1 SEK sign on it which is approximately 10 euro cents.
We ate quite a lot of chocolate on our trip so far and I tried to reduce this consumption so I decided that from now up I would be only allowed to buy myself sweets if it would be with refund money. Another reason for this decision was that chocolate got way more expensive since we left Germany and it wouldn’t get better as we were heading to Norway. Nice side effect of this idea was of course that I would remove some undecomposable trash from the roads.
I was not in a rush because I had quite a lot of time left until I had to catch up with David in Gothenburg so I took a plastic bag and started collecting. By far I haven’t collected every bottle I’ve seen. When I was cycling too fast it wasn’t worth it to slow down and stop every single time but when I was going slow or uphill I often stopped to get myself a little closer to a tasty piece of chocolate.
I told David about my idea when we met again in Gothenburg and we decided to continue it. As we started to collect bottles together we recognized that we were able to collect more than we would need just for a chocolate. We thought that we could seriously reduce our daily cost with the refund money.
On this day we decided to start collecting properly for exactly one hour. Why one hour? We didn’t want to destroy the rhythm and flow of our cycling constantly because enjoying the road, the scenery and the cycling should be still the main things on this trip. It would also need more energy to constantly do a stop and go cycling.
After one hour of collecting we had three full bags of cans and bottles. Already curious about how many we got we went into the next supermarket. 73 SEK (approximately 7.80 Euros)! Maybe not much when you think this would be an hourly payment of 3.90 Euros per person for one hour of work. But this wasn’t a job!
Getting paid by the cashier felt great and we’ve been happy with our result. We collected 73 bottles and cans in one hour which was enough to cover most of our food costs of this day.
With the time we got better and faster in collecting our food money beside the road. When there wasn’t too much traffic we even checked both sides of the road and sometimes we started a competition.
This didn’t only work in Sweden. We also collected in Norway and Finland and it always saved us some money. Even on the most remote roads we cycled we were able to find some bottles and cans. No matter where you find trash beside the road it is always a bad thing but it felt even worse to us on those remote roads.
Apparently everywhere where humans can get you will find some rubbish. Only a result of people who don’t think about what they’re doing or even a conscious disrespectful acting against the nature and her beauty?
Maybe picking up a single bottle isn’t much but after three months of cycling and collecting this will definitely save you some money which you can use for a next trip or to travel longer.
It also gives you something to do when you’re bored and will distract you for a while when you’re struggling with yourself.