Sure We Can This episode was produced by our guest contributors, Michael Premo and Rachel Falcone.  If you have a story, click here for more information on contributing it to the Podcast.

In 1983 New York State implemented the Returnable Container Act requiring a 5 Cent deposit on carbonated beverages sold in glass, metal and plastic containers. Commonly known as a “Bottle Bill,” the act is intended to reduce litter, ease the burden on solid waste facilities and encourage recycling activity.  To date, 11 US states and at least 14 countries have enacted similar legislation.

In addition to its intended environmental impact, the Bottle Bill has unwittingly created a necessary and important source of income for homeless and impoverished people. In New York City, people who collect and redeem containers for a living refer to their vocation as Canning. They can be seen around the city reclaiming bottles and cans from commercial and residential waste, contributing to the amount of recyclable materials diverted from the waste stream. They stack what they find in carts they call “wagons.” A popular wagon is a grocery store shopping cart, known to canners as a “$60 wagon” because of the average value of the amount of containers it can hold.

This is an audio portrait of a "canner" named Eugene “The King of Can’s” Gadsden and the work that he and his friends and colleagues Ana Martinez De Luco and Drew Swope are doing to improve the conditions of their community.

This audio portrait takes its name from the not-for-profit organization founded in 2007 by Eugene Gadsden and Ana Martinez De Luco. For more information or to contact Sure We Can, email Drew Swope at drew.swope (at)

For more information about the producers and other stories, visit

Photography by Michael Premo

Direct download: Sure_We_Can.mp3
Category:Idealist Community -- posted at: 7:38pm UTC