collecting bottles – a sad NYC sight

28 Feb

Something I’ve noticed a lot since moving to New York is what I found a strange sight at first, but now have grown accustomed to:

This is the sight of a strange army of bedraggled folk roaming the streets, usually with a shopping trolley in tow, on which are balanced precariously huge bulging bags of empty plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans.

It didn’t twig at first why it was profitable for people to go to so much bother to collect these drinks containers for recycling.

But then I realised why: It’s because New York State has a pro-recycling policy that means every time you buy a drink in a shop, you automatically pay a 5c bottle deposit. That way, if you are so inclined, you can return the drinks container at any time and reclaim your 5c.

Apparently this has hugely increased recycling rates in the Empire State (as New York State is known).

So now it all makes sense why these folk comb the streets for bottles and cans.

But I can’t help finding it a sad and poignant vignette to see people opening up its rubbish bins and sifting through the city’s detritus to gather together what must be, even in the best of cases, an extremely meagre income.



3 Responses to “collecting bottles – a sad NYC sight”

  1. Elle March 1, 2011 at 04:24 #

    I think it is good to read your article at a time when most people talk about the Oscars, which I personally find a bit disgusting and should not be as long as there is homelessness.

    One should only have the right to have one roof and not many as long as others live in the streets.

  2. alexei March 5, 2011 at 15:15 #

    Similarly, I have heard of a spate of ‘bottle muggings’ in which hapless people are mugged for glass bottles, whilst their purses are left untouched.

    I understand that three people have recently been murdered in NYC for small glass bottles of soda (which are the most sought-after ones, due to their weight/5 cent ratio being the highest)(or is it lowest).

    PS – I really disagree with Elle. Very strongly. Indeed.

    • Elle March 10, 2011 at 10:21 #

      Yes indeed. Exactly my point, homelessness should be resolved.
      If ask to leave living in abstraction and one’s cosy life, and get practical, people with money/greed will get ugly.

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