Canadians are big on returning their cans, bottles and tetra packs. I am not sure whether it’s a dedication to the environment or the conflicting nature of their relationship with money that drives them*.

If it is liquid here, it’s taxed. Given the the overall distaste for letting the government have any of their money, Canadians return their drinkables – and other people’s too.

Unlike Iowa, where I used to live and returns for deposit were taken back to the grocery, here we have “bottle depots”. These separate businesses collect and refund a fraction of the deposit to the consumer. The return is so small – fueling my cheap theory – that it is hardly worth the effort of rinsing and storing and hauling to the centers, but people do it anyway. Unlike us, however, most people I have seen at the bottle depots wait until they can fill the backs of their trucks and SUV’s before making the trip. I have even seen vans stuffed with stuffed garbage bags**. It’s the only way to make this pay, but I couldn’t stand the pile-up. Of course with us it would take months and months to accumulate a truck load even given that we must go through more rice milk tetra packs than anyone we know given the lactose situation in this household.

Visiting the Bottle Depot in The Fort is always an adventure in waiting. The drop-off is behind the building and accessible only through a narrow drive that semi-circles it and once you drive into the loop – you are stuck for the duration. There is no backing up and out or scooting around vehicles ahead of you. There is simply no room to do that.

The business is operated by immigrants – Chinese, Rob thinks – which is no surprise.  Many of the less desirable jobs and services fall to enterprising people from elsewhere when you are in boom times. The place gives off a sticky, smelly, bug-crusted feel from the goop covered table out front to the stained cloth bins that are visible from the drop off window.

The owners are very stringent about closing time, ordering waiting cars to back up and leave when they perceive they are in danger of missing that deadline. However they are loose on the concept of opening. I guess if I were doing such mind-numbing and dirty work all day, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to open my doors either. Yesterday, as an example, the Bottle Depot didn’t open until about 10 minutes after the posted time despite the line of vehicles out to the street.  But I have lived in Canada long enough now to recognize the lax Canadian mind-set on time when I see it.

Canadians believe time is fluid. Arriving anywhere for any reason on time is a concept that in my experience only Mexicans are more liberal with.

My sense of “when” and my punctuality has not been improved by living here. BabyD, for example, is the girl whose mother never gets her to school on time.

It’s funny how you get used to things. So much in Canada is just a hair off my American experiences that it still gives me a Bizzarro world feel though.

* They will spend money on Holiday trailers and multiple vehicles and acreages – gawd they are insane for faux country living here – but they will cheap-cheap over GST and text messages and at the check-out in the Safeway for what amounts to pennies.

** Soda and alcohol returns mainly. Stuff we only rarely consume.

I am now a contributing blogger at Moms Speak Up which is a collaborative blog of writers from various backgrounds. We write about the environment, dangerous imports, health care issues, food safety, media and marketing as it affects us and our children, education, politics and any other hot topics of concern. We are more than writer/bloggers. We are women, parents, consumers, and most importantly – voters. The “business as usual” attitude of our politicians and the business world is not serving us or the generations who will follow us. We believe it is time for us to speak up and be heard!

My first piece is up today. It talks about the difficulty of being a recycler. My inspiration was Rob, who else? He wrote a piece on his own blog about the frustrations involved when trying to be a conscientious consumer in a world full of stupid people. Of perhaps just confused and worn out consumers like himself. Very hard to know the difference sometimes between the dim-witted and the merely defeated.

If you have a moment, click over and give my piece a read and then share you own thoughts on recycling. Good, bad and ugly, I would love to hear what you have to say.