The deposit on a single alcohol bottle or can of beer isn’t much, but three nuns from the Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC) have found an enterprising way to make a big difference using negligible amounts of change.
To date, Sisters Margaret Hayward, Heather Broadwell, and Michael Trott, have donated just over $1,000 worth of empty bottles and cans to the Council of the North and the Anglican Healing Fund.
It all started when the three nuns moved into their apartment building and took note of all the discarded empty bottles and cans in the building’s garbage and recycling room.
Margaret recalls saying to Michael, “This is ridiculous—look at all the bottles here! We should take them to the Beer Store, get the money, then give it to charity or something.”
Today, the sisters are fondly known in their building complex as the ‘Dumpster Diving Sisters.’
“People know what we are doing and they usually call us ahead to drop off their empty bottles. And when the super[intendent] finds bottles, he will put them in the back corner of the garbage room,” says Michael.
The nuns usually wait until they have accumulated at least $5 to $10 worth of bottles at a time before they transport them to the Beer Store in shopper bags.
“It’s exciting when we get folded money, not just coins. Sometimes we even get purple folding money. That’s exciting!” says Margaret as she chuckles.
For more than 25 years, the Anglican Church of Canada has financially supported local, community led healing programs in Indigenous communities in order to support healing, education, and recovery of language and culture, due to the devastating legacy of the residential school system.
Once the sisters have collected $100 worth of notes and change, they then write a cheque of the heart centred gift to either Council of the North or the Anglican Healing Fund.
“Alcohol has done such incredible harm to Indigenous people that it is almost poetic justice that we are collecting these bottles and at least trying to make some small contribution towards helping relieve some of the effects,” says Margaret.
“We just have a burden in our heart for [Northern] ministry—for what we have done.”
For those that would like to kickstart a bottle collection initiative in their own communities, the sisters have a great tip on how to get the ball rolling.
“Get a tin or box or something…you don’t need to be doing something full-time—just collect your bottles.”
“Don’t let your money go to waste. There is money in those dumpsters.”