I'm thinking of giving some waffle irons to the homeless

In my city, many of the homeless collect cans and bottles to bring to the recycling depot, which I think is great. Normally, they get a shopping cart and attach some garbage bags to it to collect the stuff. Problem is, they’ll have like six big bags of cans tied to their cart which makes them difficult to maneouver and sets a limit to how many cans they can collect.

So, I thought I’d try to find some big old waffle irons from the Sally Ann to lash to the top of their cart which they could use as can and plastic bottle crushers. Then they’ll take up less space. Maybe modify them slightly to give them more leverage to make crushing easier and keep the cans from falling out during the crushing.

What do you guys think? Is there something cheaper or better than waffle irons to use?


I think that’d get pretty sore after the first dozen or so. That’s what I figured anyway since they don’t seem to be doing that.

Get a can crusher. We used to have one. They’re a pain, but they make your cans small. If only they worked on us middle-aged women! :wink:



Great. A wall-mounted can crusher.

Of course, if the homeless people actually had a wall to mount it on, then they presumably wouldn’t be homeless, and would not need to collect cans for a living.

“I think i’ll just mount it on the side of my shopping cart.”

Well, that’s a little more expensive than I was planning. I would be giving them away as this is not the most lucrative demographic to sell things to. Also, I wanted something that could do plastic bottles as well.

Come to think of it, I could just make something out of two pieces of plywood, a cut-down broom handle and a couple of hinges. Hammer a bunch of nails around the edges and bend them up/down. It would look like the mouth of a venus fly-trap with a lever on it. It could be tied to the top part of the cart.

Many homeless people are mentally ill or border-line intelligence or alcohol- or drug-dependent. They have difficulty hanging onto material things; anything of value will either be stolen from them or sold/ traded for food, alcohol or drugs. They have difficulty adapting to even minor changes in their daily routines.

If you want to pursue your idea, you might start with just one person and discuss with them whether or not they want a can crusher, and then watch to see what happens when they have it.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Give a couple away, and see if they catch on. It doesn’t really seem like the sort of thing that could be sold or traded for much and often shelters have safe-keeping lockers. If cheap enough to acquire/make, others can make their own, or the shelters can provide them.

I think you’re overcomplicating this.

Try a brick.

it may also be that the center doesn’t want them pre crushed, as it might jimmy the weight if you put, say, a few rocks in a few of them. Small rocks, just enough to add to the weight total …

I like your plywood idea, and I also like the idea of asking one or two people/giving one or two away and seeing how it goes. I don’t think “try a brick” is the answer, as they could probably get a brick if they wanted to, and they haven’t yet. The thing about the waffle iron, or the brick, for that matter :slight_smile: is that it would be heavy – and I’m sure they probably try to limit their load as they have to lug everything everywhere. Plywood’s probably lighter.

I think it’s nice of Balduran to try to help in this way, but my first thought was that “surely householders who care enough to send stuff for recycling would have the sense to crush it at home, thus, after all, making it take up less pace while awaiting the collector”.

Then, sadly, I realised, nope - my brother used to work for a recycling company, and the good burgers of the locality were often pretty dim about this. Really, even putting USED elederly person’s incontinence pads in with the paper recycling. :frowning: Yuk!

I’m not familiar with waffle irons, but I agree that having a small chat with one or two of the people might be the way to go. Good on you for trying, Balduran!

My initial thought about giving waffle irons to the homeless was that they would sell them as scrap metal at the recycling center. The immediate need is to raise money, not make life simpler. Waffle irons are one big chunk o’ metal that should bring more for metal content than the aluminum cans ever would. But now, I do not know if that is true. Would a recycling center accept a waffle iron?