All around the streets of our bit of New York I have noticed men in bright blue trousers and jackets emblazoned with the phrase ‘ready, willing and able’. There is a reference to the Doe Fund, which I assumed was the Department of Environment. Turns out it’s actually a charity that helps the homeless who have problems with drugs and alcohol get back on their feet through a 9-12 month programme with the Fund. The guys (I have yet to see a woman) in blue are picking up rubbish (that would be trash here) from the pavement (sidewalk) and emptying bins (trashcans). In one year they pick up 9,000 tonnes (tons) in the city. I can’t work out if they are under contract to the Dept of Sanitation who deal with residential rubbish, or if the city does this as well. As well as working, the guys in blue also get a lot of support to help with addiction and get themselves back on their feet and back into the workplace. It’s impressive. At the other extreme I have seen some people carrying, usually on a knackered old buggy (stroller), massive plastic sacks of empty plastic bottles and drink cans. They are getting to the bins before the guys in blue and picking out the bottles and cans from the general rubbish (trash) and then taking them to machines dotted around the place to make a few cents on each one. I am pretty sure this doesn’t exist in the UK. It seems very old fashioned to make money on old bottles and years ago you could get money back on returned bottles, but that wasn’t necessarily about recycling. I find it deeply depressing that in this city of wealth and the land of opportunity, people are driven to do this.