One person’s trash ...

Discarded cans could help Habitat for Humanity build a house in Kingston

Adam Alexander plans to scour the Ghetto for cans following Homecoming weekend.
Adam Alexander plans to scour the Ghetto for cans following Homecoming weekend.

A campus group will spend this Sunday cleaning up Aberdeen Street with the hope of collecting enough empty beer cans to help build a house in Kingston.

Adam Alexander, ConEd ’08 and co-founder of the Habitat for Humanity Queen’s chapter, hopes to collect as many aluminum cans as possible this year in order to compete in Alcan’s annual aluminum can drive.

Every year, Alcan awards $60,000 to the three Habitat for Humanity affiliates that have collected the most cans. They use this money towards the building of a house for those in need.

Because this contest is only open to city chapters of Habitat for Humanity, the Queen’s chapter will donate its cans to the Kingston chapter’s efforts.

Last year, Kingston placed second in Canada and was awarded one of the $60,000 sponsorships.

“Our goal this year is to win one of those $60,000 house sponsorships, because in Kingston, the price of building a Habitat house costs roughly $60,000,” Alexander said. “So if we win one of those sponsorships, we basically win a house.” Alexander said he sees Homecoming weekend, notorious for the alcohol consumption it entails, as a gold mine of cans.

Teams from Habitat for Humanity will be out Sunday morning, Alexander said, cleaning up Aberdeen Street and collecting all the cans they can find.

The group is looking for aluminum cans, which could be beer cans, pop cans or juice cans. On the Sunday morning of Homecoming weekend, Alexander is hoping to have a crew out collecting cans, particularly on Aberdeen Street.

“We thought about maybe being there the night of [Homecoming] but there’s no point in risking safety,” he said. “No one knows how crazy it will get. The worst thing that could happen is someone trying to help out getting injured.”

The contest ends in April, and Alexander said the Kingston Habitat affiliate, with help from the Queen’s chapter, has already collected more than half the number of cans they needed to win the sponsorship last year.

ResLife has agreed to donate all the cans in residences to the Habitat for Humanity Queen’s campus chapter and each week, a truck will arrive to collect the cans.

Sandy Berg, executive director of the Habitat for Humanity Kingston chapter, said their group is glad to have Queen’s students involved in the contest.

“The Queen’s campus chapter and Queen’s residents helped us enormously,” she said.

The creation of the Habitat for Humanity Queen’s chapter last year resulted in a significant increase—from 8,000 to 280,000—in aluminum cans collected for the contest, Berg said.

“Not that anyone in our community or in our organization is at all endorsing the concept of street parties, but in the event that it seems inevitable that something is going to transpire over Homecoming weekend, it seems like a responsible and very pragmatic approach to try and minimize any sort of trash, if you will ... and try and capitalize on that waste,” she said.

Alexander said the can drive will shed a more positive light on students after the negative press brought on by Homecoming.

“The work that we’re doing is good work and we’re Queen’s students and it’s ultimately going to help a needy family in Kingston,” Alexander said.

“I think it’s important for the Kingston community to see that we’re not defined by this one night, this one party, because there are students who appreciate the community and they’re working hard to help people out.” Anyone interested in volunteering to help collect cans Sunday morning can e-mail Adam Alexander at

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