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Collecting cans and bottles off the streets is an honest, legal and eco-friendly way to make some income, but many still see “canners” as a nuisance and an eyesore. SURE WE CAN is an NYC non-profit that aims to change that negative connotation, or at least make it easier and safer for people, a good number of whom are homeless, to redeem cans and bottles for money. Their Brooklyn site – the city’s only licensed, homeless-friendly can redemption center – offers canners a welcoming atmosphere and a sense of community that is more than just a place to trade in bottles.
As you may know, New York State’s 1983 Bottle Bill allows people to return cans and bottles for 5 cents each, encouraging recycling and discouraging litter. The legislation has also provided some New Yorkers with a way to make a modest living by hunting through garbage cans and picking out recyclable containers. Despite being inherently green, the practice has come to be seen in an unpleasant light and as such, many supermarkets and redemption centers treat canners with less respect than they deserve, forcing them to wait for long periods of time to trade in their bottles.
SURE WE CAN was formed by a group of NYC residents including Eugene Gadsden and Ana Martinez de Lucois as a way to make canning a more viable and less demeaning opportunity for the homeless and others to make money. The non-profit now offers NYC’s only licensed, homeless-friendly redemption facility in Brooklyn with the goal of removing some of the hardships associated with canning. If you’re interested in donating to or volunteering with SURE WE CAN, please click here for more info.