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Collecting bottles just to keep the heat running

Rene Bailey says it’s 15 to 20 hours of work he does each week to keep himself off the street.

Rene Bailey says it’s 15 to 20 hours of work he does each week to keep himself off the street.

The 44-year-old Halifax resident regularly goes out with his shopping cart collecting bottles and cans.

He says by the end of a seven-day week, he’ll have made about $125, which helps cover the cost of the electric heat for his one-bedroom apartment.

“I have no choice but to do this. If not I have to move,” he says after dropping off about $30 worth of recyclables to the Mitchell Street Enviro-Depot in south-end Halifax.

“If I didn’t do this, I’d be on the street.”

Bailey, who is originally from Newfoundland, has been living in Halifax for the last 10 years.

He says he’s unable to work full-time because he suffers from HIV, with most of his money coming from government disability payments.

And while he calls cart recycling a “competitive business” and even claims to have had $60 worth of recyclables stolen from him over the long weekend, it’s something he chooses to do over street-corner begging.

“I make just enough to cover (my expenses) and I’m happy with that,” he proclaims.

– with files from Ryan Taplin

 
 
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