Guy Polhemus and We Can

Guy Polhemus got the idea for We Can while working in a New York soup kitchen, where he saw homeless patrons carting around hundreds of aluminum cans. He learned that, despite a "bottle bill" requiring a five-cent refund on each can or bottle returned, few stores would give these people the full amount.

Nonprofit We Can pays a nickel for each can or bottle and provides employment for homeless people. Since 1987, it has paid out over $ 9 million to the city's poor and diverted 16,000 tons (14,512 metric tons) of trash from the waste stream. Other outreach services include information on area shelters and food centers, and help in finding jobs.


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