is a two time winner of
the prestigious Quill and
Tankard writing award
for humor from the
North American Guild of
Vince's column is now
a regular feature of
Did you ever want to be a Garbage Anthropologist? Me neither but it seems some do as the
University of Arizona is proudly (?) conducting a study called the Garbage Project and has
done so for the past several years. According to their findings the bottles, cans and food that
we throw away can be very revealing. So far they have reached the following conclusions:
Now I’m sure those revelations were well worth the program’s cost as long as it was less than
$3.25, but I am proposing a new study to the University of Arizona and any other institution,
think tank, or individual with money they have no need for. Specifically, my study will answer
the burning questions of what does a garbage can filled with empty beer bottles tell us about
that person? Wait, we don’t use garbage cans to throw that sort of stuff out anymore, we now
put them in recycling containers –a garbage man’s dream. Now he only carries half the load
for the same amount of money.
To validate my proposal I conducted a small pilot study at my own expense. Hey, what can I
say, I’m an amateur Garbage Anthropologist at heart. I began by jogging through randomly
selected locations on their recycling day. I thought about driving but wanted to try out the
exercise program I discovered right here on BeerNexus called “KO Your Beer Belly”. No, no, I
don’t have a beer belly I was just making sure BeerNexus would never publish false
Off I went. The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t notice anything. Seems a lot of people do
not recycle. Don’t they know that recycling prevents global warming? According to a new U.N.
report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted which is pretty bad
since they originally predicted it would destroy the planet. The planet heats up and eventually
everything is boiled away. Don’t worry, I have long advocated a sure way to prevent the
doomsayers’ predictions of record high temperatures - just switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius!
As I turned the block I saw my first pile of stuff. There, neatly placed at curbside, were nearly a
dozen empty bottles of Coke Zero and three pizza boxes. This was an easy one to figure out –
the guy’s diet was failing and he doesn’t like beer. Right next to that pile were three more pizza
boxes and six empty bottles of Miller 64. Conclusion: same as the first guy- diet failed and he
As I moved my jogging pace up an Olympian caliber 19 minutes per mile I was soon
confronted by nearly a dozen plastic bags lining the curb outside an apartment building. Inside
the bags was not a single beer, wine, or whisky bottle but instead bottle after bottle of water,
and not any particular brand either. There were bottles of Nestle Pure Life, Aquafina, Dasani ,
seltzer water, Smart Water, tonic water, and more waters with “mountain” in their brand name
then there are real ones in the Alps. They were all stuffed next to discarded boxes of Lean
Cuisine, Healthy Heart, Diet Right, and other sorts of healthy prepackaged foods; not a
McDonald’s wrapper was in site. Conclusion: this was the headquarters of the Jenny Craig
Bring Back Prohibition Foundation.
At the next corner I next came upon a large tub of plastic coffee cups, brown paper bags from
Chipotle Mexican Grill, six Yoplait yogurt containers, and several Heinz ketchup bottles. All
were stacked on three cases labeled “Sam Adams Lager”. Conclusion: the person who lived
here was a Republican. Yes the Sam Adams was the key to deducing the person’s political
leaning. Well it was that and the large “Romney for President” sign on the lawn.
Farther down the road I saw several garbage cans topped off with Red Stripe, Molson and Dos
Equis bottles. Conclusion: The Most Interesting Man in Canada is really Bob Marley.
Three houses away I found what had to be 2,000 Coors Light cans left out for recycling, each
with decidedly un-blue mountains. They were haphazardly placed in front of some fraternity
house from Wossamotta U. No surprise here; just typical frat boys engaged in a vain attempt
to get drunk in the Silver Bullet Train’s bar car.
Fatigue from all this jogging and analyzing was setting in when I came upon a bag with 14
bottles of Chardonnay, two bottles of Absolute, and a bottle of what seemed to be Chilean
wine. Ah, no beer. That seals it - my first Yuppie sighting of the day.
Further down the street was a small open bin marked “recycling” loaded with Budweiser
Select. Conclusion: this person is in therapy for feelings of inadequacy. Look at it this way, if
Budweiser is the equivalent of Pepsi and Bud Light is like Diet Pepsi what then is the point of
Budweiser Select? Is it supposed to be Bud Heavy despite its 4.2% alcohol level? I don't
know. No wonder this guy is seeing a shrink. If only they hadn’t ended the Bud Bowl all his
questions would have been answered and he’d already be on his way to mental health.
Farther down the street were bottles of Corona and Corona Light. There were so many bottles
that this could mean only one thing – someone had orchestrated a taste test to see if they could
tell the difference between the two. Right, it’s the label.
My mission had worked. Checking what people recycle is the pathway to understanding who
they are. I had proven my point but a nagging question tugged at my consciousness. Do those
recycled beer bottles come to a good end once again containing beer or do they suffer
unfathomable indignities? A little research showed that, sadly, some meet a fate even worse
than being filled with pumpkin beer.
Some are converted into jeans. A firm in New York City uses a fabric blend of cotton and
recycled brown beer bottles to produce what they call "eco-swag jeans" – pants perfectly fit for
crazed but decidedly wealthy (they go for $350 a pair), country club environmentalist. A few
bottles become just another brick, that is bottle, in the wall. Maybe the best example is the
monks of the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple who built a complex of 20 buildings utilizing
one million beer bottles in their construction. That’s a lot of drinking even for monks. Just think
if they had turned all those bottles in for the deposit they could have paid for a real building.
There’s money in depositing bottles, you know. California alone currently spends $50 million
dollars a year to buy beer bottles and cans at the rate of 5cents each. Let’s see, at 5 cents a
bottle divided into $50 million multiplied by all the beer I drank last year.... hey, that's a lot more
than a person gets paid being a beer writer.
I was ready to continue my research but had exhausted both my budget and myself. It was time
to relax and have a beer. Fortunately, the things I learned in my pilot study gave me the wisdom
of what to do with my bottle after finishing it while preserving my anonymity from some
recycling detective or garbage anthropologist.
Just make it into a lamp.
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