They jokingly refer to themselves as two old men and an old truck, but for Cecil Bayliss and Abe Krause, their morning drives to pick up garbage on area highways and ditches has become an important tradition.
The two Grunthal residents, both in their mid to late 60s, grab a morning coffee, climb in the 1998 pick-up with over 400,000 kms, and spend part of every morning combing the countryside with one goal in mind.
"I’m sure a two ton truck wouldn’t haul all the garbage that we’ve picked up," Bayliss said.
While cleaning up the environment is an important reason for what they’re doing, they admit it didn’t really start that way.
"It was the COVID," Bayliss said.
Because the two long time coffee drinking friends could no longer meet in a local restaurant for their morning tradition, they decided to go mobile on April 1.
The two got large coffees to go, and started out on a mission.
"In the first month we just picked beer cans," Bayliss said, adding that helped pay for their fuel early on. "In the second month we decided to pick up everything, and boy oh boy we’ve done good."
Cecil came up with the idea initially, but Abe wasn’t too sure it was a good one.
"He thought it was crazy," Bayliss said with a chuckle.
The two don’t plan out where they’ll go ahead of time, and just go with where the moment takes them.
"We never know where we’re going, we just head down a road," Bayliss said.
They two started off doing this about two days per week, but they quickly became addicted to their new pastime and have been working five days a week, for about two hours, or as long as a large coffee lasts.
On Tuesday at the time of the interview, they had found about 24 beer cans on six miles of road. Their record is 75 beer cans found on six miles on Highway 59.
In addition to the cans, which they can get 10 cents each for, they pick up bags of garbage and other recycling.
"It’s not a moneymaker but that’s not why we’re out there," he said.
Pop cans, plastic bottles, six-pack rings, wood with nails, and glass are all things they try to remove.
"We pick a small bag of garbage a day," he said.
They’re saving the environment, but could also be saving some people big expenses as well.
Bayliss said they frequently remove boards with nails that could puncture tires, and have also found a larger steel shaft in a ditch that he said would have caused major damage to a mower used to cut the grass.
The two estimate they collect about 1,500 cans monthly, and are happy to make a difference in their surroundings.
"A clean town is a good sight to me," Krause said.
While the idea came about due to boredom, it continued because of the impact they were making on the environment. But there was also another benefit they hadn’t expected.
"I’m a diabetic and my health has improved," Bayliss said. "Abe’s got a bad knee and his knee has improved."
The two plan to slow things down as they enter July, but neither could say for sure if they’ll be able to entirely resist the call of the open road.
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