Eco-Nun’s Non-Profit Specializes in the Three Rs

The Tablet | 1/16/2020 | Allyson Escobar
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BUSHWICK — At Sure We Can, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

The Catholic-founded nonprofit recycling center is not a smelly junkyard in the shadow of a hip neighborhood in Brooklyn, but a processing center fueled by a motto: reducing, reusing and recycling.

Heaps - Recyclables - €? - Plastic - Glass

Here, heaps of recyclables — neatly sorted into plastic and glass bottles, soda cans, and single-use plastics — fill the heavy shipping containers, scattered throughout the yard. In the back, there’s a sweet-smelling community garden and composting site. Urban graffiti art lines the colorful walls, with impactful messages like “Earth day, every day” and “Keep your coins; I want change.”

Co-founder Sister Ana Martínez de Luco, SFCC, walks through the yard greeting the dozens of “canners” — people who work at the facility, sorting through collected recyclables day after day to earn their keep. She says she knows many of them personally.

People - Somebody - Name - Sense - Belonging

“When people come here, they have somebody who greets them by name; asks how they’re doing. Here, it’s that sense of belonging,” Sister Ana, a member of the worldwide Sisters for Christian Community, told The Tablet. “We advocate for the care of our common home the earth and caring for those who have no home in the community.”

Founded in 2007, Sure We Can receives anywhere from 8 to 11,000 recyclables each month. (Last year, the site collected 11 million.) The nonprofit redemption site, one of at least 100 around New York City, sees hundreds of full and part-time canners each week sorting through glass bottles, plastics, and soda cans; many of them collected from city streets and businesses.

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(According to the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation, the national average recycling rate is about 33 percent, and 70 percent in New York.)

At least 10,000 people are estimated to be collecting cans off the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Tablet
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