On the job
Won't get the blues from bottles

by Marty Brown
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 07/97) - Matthew Grogono is importing empty rum bottles from Hay River.

The owner and one-man operator of YK Glass Recyclers just can't find enough empty 26-oz. Bacardi Rum bottles to turn into fashionable glasses.

During the past year Grogono has washed, cut, ground, sandblasted and polished over 2,000 empty rum bottles and sold the finished products. And that's a lot of empty bottles.

Are there more rum drinkers in Hay River than in Yellowknife? No, but they're more accessible, Grogono said.

Greg Rowe, the manager of the liquor store south of the lake, came to the entrepreneurs rescue. He runs a bottle exchange and he handles lots of Barcardi Rum bottles -- full and empty.

But it gets better. Rowe also owns a retail recycling outlet. And so the two entrepreneurs exchange materials, bottles for glasses.

This makes Grogono happy. The man who quit a well-paying job as a mechanic is delighted people are going green, learning to recycle and saving landfill space. He's also delighted people are purchasing his finished product.

Two years ago Grogono fashioned a grinder out of a washing machine and set up an outlet at the City Market.

Before Christmas Grogono had 150 catalogues printed and started giving them out to customers from out of town who spent more than $50 on his products.

In a month he'd ran out and he's now into reprints.

Recycling is hip and Grogono is becoming well known as an expert. He's been asked to put together an exhibit at a Pollution Prevention conference in Yellowknife this month.

YK Glass Recyclers will have a booth alongside Envirotech and Environmental Services Association Alberta. Not bad for a one-man show.

Not only does Grogono make vases, lamps, glasses and bowls out of old bottles, he's been asked to design a trophy for Environment Canada from a bottle.

Rather than throw empty rum bottles in the dump and fill the landfill site up, drop them off at the City Market, especially round blue bottles and Barcardi Rum, the 26-oz size.