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Reflections on "Blikjes rapen voor beginners"

Reflections on "Blikjes rapen voor beginners"


April 26, 2024


In his article "Blikjes rapen voor beginners" in Vrij Nederland, Jan van Mersbergen delves into the experience of collecting cans for deposit, aiming to understand the reality of scraping by for money. He notes that only about half of the cans are returned, highlighting the challenges of this endeavor. Throughout his experiment, he grapples with the societal perception of collecting cans, feeling the sting of embarrassment as he realizes that while discarding cans is seen as cool, picking them up is not.

His largest haul, gathered from a hangout spot for young people, yielded €5.35, emphasizing the meager financial reward for his efforts. Van Mersbergen discusses the dynamics of cooperation and competition among street collectors, shedding light on the complex social dynamics at play in this unconventional pursuit.

His narrative frequently touches on the process of depositing cans into machines and receiving money in return, underscoring the repetitive and often degrading nature of the task. This experience parallels the ongoing discussions surrounding the reintroduction of deposit systems, like those proposed in Curaçao.

Reflecting on Van Mersbergen's account, it's evident that the challenges and stigma associated with can collecting are not unique to any one place. However, in regions with greater economic hardship, such as Curaçao, there may be a more nuanced understanding and acceptance of those who rely on this practice for survival.

Miguel Goede

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