Rascal the dog was busy tidying his desk. The day before, together with Tola the kitten, they had prepared a gift for the kitten’s grandma and there were still many pieces of colourful cardboard, ribbons and empty cups of glue and paints left on the desk. The dog planned to separate the paper, glass and plastic for recycling. But when he started his tidying, he heard the sound of a garbage truck driving along his street.
‘If I hurry up, the garbage truck will take all the litter,’ he thought with satisfaction.
He gave up on the idea of separating the materials, swept everything from his desk into a bin and ran out of the house to catch the garbage truck.
‘Wait! I have one more bag! Can you take it?’
‘OK, but tell me what you have? Plastic, paper or glass?’ asked the Badger.
‘Oh, it’s mixed waste this time.’
The Badger looked at the bag with suspicion but didn’t have time to check its contents.
‘I hope you’ve checked this garbage. You remembered to throw wastepaper like old newspapers or paper packages into the blue bin, right? This kind of paper can be recycled – for instance into cardboard boxes. I’ve even heard that 6 PET plastic bottles are used to produce one polar fleece top. Are you sure you haven’t thrown out the litter that can be recycled?’
Rascal blushed and, just in case, didn’t say a word.
‘Ahh…’ the Badger sighed. ‘Today almost all citizens gave me mixed waste. I have to take it all to the rubbish dump. It won’t take long before we’ll run out of the place for rubbish.’
The Badger started the electric engine and said goodbye to Rascal.
A few hours later at Rascal’s home
‘Hi, Rascal!’ called Tola. ‘Are you ready for a walk?’
‘Yup, I’m coming!’ replied the doggy from his room upstairs.
‘Oh, and can you take the paper necklace we painted yesterday? I forgot to take it.’
‘Tola, I hope you’re joking now!’ cried Rascal, afraid. ‘All the litter from my desk was taken by a garbage truck today…’
‘What? Why? Didn’t you notice my necklace? You must have spotted it while separating the litter! What are we going to do now?’ asked Tola, also afraid.
Preparing another paper necklace was impossible.
‘We need to go to the place where the waste paper is stored! If Rascal threw the necklace into the paper bin, we have a chance to get there before they start to press paper,’ said Pola, rational as always.
‘We need to go to the rubbish dump,’ admitted Rascal, now truly sad. ‘This time I didn’t separate the litter. The Badger took it all right to the rubbish dump.’
Tola and Pola looked at Rascal with fear. Looking for the necklace in the pile of mixed waste was a real challenge.
Not wanting to wait any longer, the owl grabbed her friends in her claws and flew to the rubbish dump. Soon, they reached the place. The rubbish dump was huge, surrounded by a concrete wall. They saw plastic bags, old toys and mattresses cut into parts – in other words, piles of rubbish.
Inside of the fenced area of the rubbish dump there was a waste sorting plant – this was the building friends wanted to reach. Pola knew that before the rubbish is thrown out, workers of the waste sorting plant try to separate it. This is not an easy task. If someone, like Rascal, doesn’t separate their rubbish, all the materials are mixed. Sheets of paper get smeared with grease and plastic bottles are hidden beneath the piles of newspapers. Ants and beetles standing by waste sorting lines work very hard to carefully segregate paper, plastic, glass and metal.
Pola left her friends at the entrance of the waste sorting plant.
‘Rascal, look for the necklace around the waste sorting lines. Maybe the animals who pick up paper from the rest of the litter have spotted it. I will fly up higher, I’ll be able to look around.’
The friends began to look for the necklace. After a while, Tola and Rascal reached the place where ants and beetles were searching for paper among litter. Rascal decided to ask one of the ants.
‘Hi, ant! Listen, we’re in trouble.’
‘Looking for trouble? You’re looking for trouble?’
Not waiting for his reply, the little ant took a whistle out of her pocket and made a loud noise.
‘Whizz, whizz, whizz!!!’
‘Warning, intruders! This dog is looking for trouble. Trash-ants, help!’
Suddenly, the waste sorting line stopped and small ants started to appear around them. They were armed with toothpicks and fish bones, and were carrying bottle caps as shields. Within only five seconds the whole army of ants appeared in front of Rascal!
‘Attack!’ the little ant called, whistling. ‘Whizz, whizz, whizz! You need to save me!’
‘Wait! Woof, woof!’ Rascal barked to defend himself. ‘Calm down, little ant!’ he added. He spotted headphones on the ant’s head, so he quickly took them out and repeated.
‘I’m not looking for trouble. I said I am in trouble. I don’t want to harm you,’ said Rascal calmly, looking at the trash-ants who were ready to attack him.
‘Oh, that changes everything! Trash-ants, everything is under control! Lower your weapons!’
‘Come on, Felix, you’ve confused something again!’
‘Do you always have to call us without any reason?’
‘Oh, calm down, calm down,’ said Felix trying to quiet everyone down. ‘Thanks to those false alarms, we’re practicing alertness,’ he said, smiling wide, but the other trash-ants were not as cheerful as him.
As the ants were about to leave, Rascal called to everyone.
‘Ants, please don’t go! My friend has lost something in the rubbish. It’s a paper necklace for her grandma who turns 80 tomorrow. We need to find this gift. Can you help us?’
‘We won’t manage to find it on our own…’ added Tola, her voice sounding sweet.
The trash-ants looked at Rascal but didn’t answer. They were waiting for Felix’s decision. He was the chief of the guards.
‘Sorry, we have too much work to do!” exclaimed Felix. ‘No one is sorting rubbish at home so we have lots to do.’
‘But my grandma…’ wept Tola.
She didn’t finish her sentence because then, the army of ants moved to the sides, leaving the way for a big old ant to come closer. It was the queen of the trash-ants.
‘Felix! This kitten’s grandma must receive her gift,’ she said loudly. ‘Are you suggesting that we, trash-ants, can’t find a necklace?!’
‘We? We can, but…’ said Felix.
‘Enough! If someone who is in trouble comes to us, we have to help them. Kitten…’ the queen spoke to Tola, ‘what does this necklace look like?’
‘It looks like a grassland filled with flowers… it’s just several circles painted in various colours,’ answered Tola hopefully.
‘Great! Trash-ants, did you hear that? We’re looking for the necklace. When you find it, pass it here quickly.’
The trash-ants quickly went back to their places around waste sorting lines. Some of them jumped into huge yellow bins with the plastic and metal waste, others went into brown bins with organic waste, or chose white or green bins with glass. The rest of ants were looking for the necklace in the blue bin with paper.
The ants were constantly finding various necklaces in yellow, green, blue and white bins.
‘I’ve got a green one!’
‘Oh, I’ve found a glass one!’
‘I have a violet necklace!’
A pile of necklaces was growing in front of Tola. There were necklaces made of porcelain, glass and plastic. But none of them was similar to the one made by Tola and Rascal.
‘Oh, I’m afraid we won’t find it. Our necklace is made of cardboard and those gathered in here are from other materials,’ noticed upset Tola.
The ants kept on searching but no one found the necklace. Finally, when Tola thought it was lost forever, she heard Pola calling from above.
‘Hey, listen! I think I see it. It’s no longer in the blue bin with paper, it’s in the pressing machine! I’m too big to get it! One of the ants has to help me!’
‘Whizz, whizz, whizz!’ Felix suddenly whistled. ‘I will help you as the head of the ant army. Take me!’ he called.
Pola flew to Felix, caught him with her claws and flew back to the pressing machine.
‘Are you sure you want me to drop you there?’ she asked Felix. She saw from up high that the machine had already started to press paper.
‘If I was afraid of such a machine, I wouldn’t be Felix, the trash-ant!’ he answered courageously.
Pola carefully chose where to drop Felix to. When she released him, he landed right on the paper necklace. Felix lost his balance for a second but then, he pressed all his legs against cardboard and grabbed the necklace with his hands. Then, he tossed it so high that Pola had no problem catching it.
‘Got it! Felix! It’s your turn! Jump!’
Felix was about to jump to Pola, when the paper beneath him shook again. The little ant fell into the wastepaper.
‘Felix!’ cried Pola.
‘Oh!’ called other ants.
Felix disappeared under the wastepaper.
‘Poor Felix, he fell into the machine,’ wept the trash-ants.
‘He’s dead?’ Tola started to cry.
The animals were fearfully watching the machine pressing the piles of wastepaper. Suddenly, just before the last cardboard was pressed, Felix jumped out of the machine holding his cardboard sword and started to whistle.
‘Trash-ants! I’m here! It’s me, Felix!’ he called, landing on the ground.
‘What luck!’ the other ants were calling cheerfully.
‘Oh, little ant! How wonderful that you’re fine…’ Tola, Rascal and Pola sighed with relief.
‘Of course I’m fine! It’s me after all, Felix, the head of the ant guard,’ called Felix, very proud of himself. Other ants tossed him up with joy and brought him to the queen and the friends.
‘Felix, what can we do to return the favour?’ asked Pola.
‘You risked your life for us,’ added Tola.
‘Oh, it’s nothing! I had everything under control!’ said Felix, very proud that he had a chance to prove his courage. ‘It was an interesting experience, you know? If you want to thank me, start to separate your litter. Instead of sorting waste in here, I will have time to learn how to play basketball. I tossed the necklace so skilfully today; I think I could be the best player ever!’
‘Ha, ha! Felix, you’re never gonna change!’
The queen and other ants laughed.
That’s how Felix discovered his new hobby – basketball.
Will you help Felix find some free time to learn how to play it?