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By Diane Small
Awhile back, when I was a youngster, I remember collecting glass bottles to return for a deposit. I’d scour the woods behind my street, look in bins, go to the parking lots where teenagers hung out, and put everything I found in a huge black rubbish bag.
It was a thrill to collect trash and be rewarded with actual cash on the spot–usually more than enough to buy enough junk food to last a week!
Now, collecting trashed bottles could receive an even bigger reward–if you live in Uruguay, that is. For a limited time only, South American shoemaker Mamut is accepting plastic bottles as a form of payment for their funky, heavily platformed shoes. Of course, once you deposit your bottles, they’ll be recycled, in this case, by the Cooperative Juan Charpa.
It’s an excellent idea, but Mamut Shoes isn’t the first company to have thought of it–one of Eluxe’s favourite brands, Eileen Fisher, did something similar in the past, as have Marks & Spencer, Patagonia, and the North Face. All of these brands offered discounts on new purchases for having collected and recycled some trash.
Indeed, Mamut’s shoes aren’t entirely paid for by the bottles, either–customers can only finance up to 40 percent of any shoe from Mamut’s “Native” range. In terms of economics, each bottle represents 100 Uruguayan pesos, or around $4–a lot more than those glass bottles were worth when I was a kid!
Now, if only Beyond Skin or NAE would do something similar, we’d be behind every pub and restaurant skip hoping to restock our wardrobes…