Who’s your distributor?

Like many New Yorkers, Jen and I have gotten pretty good about segregating our recyclables–returnable glass in one bag (or bags) and nonreturnables in another. Pretty much as soon as the recycling goes out, you see older folks with granny carts, collecting the returnables to get back the deposit. I don’t care that I lose the deposit–it’s 5 cents a bottle–and I figure it’s a small pittance of a donation to people who need a little extra money. So we segregate our recyclables, happily.

So this afternoon, I took some bags of trash and recycling out to the curb. In our nabe, the stuff gets picked up Monday morning, so you take it out on Sunday. As I was hauling the bags out, up comes this guy with a granny cart. “Yo! You always drink the imports! Why’s that?!”


Granny man: “Where you get ’em? Where you get those imports?”

“Uh, well, FreshDirect, usually, but…”

Granny man: “Who’s the distributor? Reason I ask is, distributors ain’t always takin’ back the import bottles. If they distribute the Buds and the Coors, they ain’t takin’ back the imports. Why you gettin’ imports, man? I can’t do nothin’ with them bottles! I have to pick through, and leave the imports here!”

“Hey, listen. I already separate the returnables from the non-returnables. You want me to separate the imports from the domestics as well? No way I’m doing that.”

Granny man: “Hey, man, it’s cool. Someone else’ll come along and pick them up.”

So, here’s the future face of recycling in NYC: paper in one bin, plastic in another (but only the 1’s and 2’s ferchristsake! no 5’s or 6’s!), cans in a third, non-returnable brown glass in a fourth, nonreturnable green glass in a fifth, returnable domestics in a sixth bin, returnable imports in a seventh….