British Columbia

B.C. couple donates nearly $13K to charities over 7 years by recycling cans

Okanagan farmer Raymond Imbeau and his partner Barbara Kitz have been collecting recyclables during their backcountry vacations for seven years, donating refunds from recycling depots to local charities.

This year they made a cheque out to Okanagan Search and Rescue for $3.2K

Kelowna, B.C. farmer Raymond Imbeau and his partner Barbara Kitz gave $3,200 to to Central Okanagan Search and Rescue from the 32,000 cans they collected during their backcountry vacation this summer. (Submitted by Raymond Imbeau)

Leftover garbage is hardly part of anybody's good memories about their backcountry experience, but a Kelowna couple has managed to collect and recycle an impressive amount of it during their vacations.  

And, over the seven years they've been doing it, they have donated all the proceeds, nearly $13,000 from hundreds of thousands of returned cans, to local charities. 

This year, Okanagan farmer Raymond Imbeau and his partner Barbara Kitz made out a cheque for $3,200 to Central Okanagan Search and Rescue after returning 32,000 cans that were collected over the past 12 months.

Half of the cans were collected along their summer trails in the Okanagan and Similkameen region from June to October of this year. The other half was collected in downtown Kelowna from last October to this June.

Imbeau crushed all the empty cans at home before dropping them into 111 separate garbage bags, making numerous trips to recycling depots.

It's the largest amount they've ever collected in a single year during the seven years they've been picking up recyclables on their all-terrain vehicle.

Imbeau and Kitz have been using their all terrain vehicle to collect empty cans left in the backcountry for the last seven years. (Submitted by Raymond Imbeau)

It turns out there's no shortage of empty cans in the backcountry.

"We found Bud and Bud Light and Milwaukee [beer cans]," said Kitz.

But the pair also discovered other kinds of rubbish during their trips, which they couldn't pick up. 

"This year, [there was] a microwave, bread machine, a barbecue … mattresses, a leather couch," she said. "[This] just makes me sick to my stomach … People are literally just dumping their refuse."

Imbeau feels that he has the obligation to clean the trails. 

"I spend all my time outdoors and I just didn't like seeing all the garbage thrown out," he said.

In the previous two years, the couple recycled a total of 28,000 cans and also donated the proceeds to Central Okanagan Search and Rescue. Before that, they donated their recycling refunds to other non-profits, including the Salvation Army.

With files from Brady Strachan