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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