Nonprofit collects recyclables from canners

- New York's so-called canners are anonymous and often ignored. But when they roll into a massive and crowded recycling center in Bushwick, Brooklyn, they get more than just their 5 cents a can.

Ana Martinez Deluco is a Catholic nun who opened Sure We Can in 2007.

Eugene Gadsden, her co-founder, brought the real-life experience. He says people call him the king of cans. Gadsden says he spent nearly 30 years working the streets for cans and bottles. The work is not easy and pays just 5 cents a pop.

To put a day's work into perspective: one worker's haul of about a thousand bottles and cans equals $50.

Gadsden and other long-timers pass on what they've learned to newer canners like Angel Rodriguez, who often stumble into the work as a last resort.

Sure we can is the only nonprofit redemption center in the city. While its primary function is collecting the containers and selling them back to distributors they also create and sell compost, grow fresh vegetables, and bring in local students to learn about the environment.

They offer support to the 400 or so canners who come here whether through practical tips or advice on how to deal with police or landlords who try to shoo them away.

While canning may be a different form of redemption than the kind you learn about in church, Deluco says it feeds the spirit all the same.

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