Shopping Cart Series: Scrap Metal Foraging

Early morning foraging for scrap metal. (Photo by Ray Johnson)

Wednesday is recycling day on East 19th Street and here I am.

My owner rolled me all the way over from beyond Flatbush. Every day, he takes me where there is recycling to rummage through, but this is the farthest he has ever brought me. Boy, are my wheels tired.

In 2008, the New York Times (yes, I can read) reported that the scrap metal business was booming, but one metal processing firm manager was quoted as saying that he doesn’t “accept shopping-cart guys,” making it seem as if all of us are thieves. I’m sure if the city was really interested in recycling, they have plenty of waste in their own offices and official buildings.

Sure, every now and then, you hear about copper pipe being stolen from someone’s home or a church or something, but I have nothing to do with such illegal activities.

My owner mainly concentrates on whatever he finds in the trash, with copper wire being the most coveted item. Plus, he’s got a heart, because he will only put loads into me that I can handle. I’ve seen him refuse offers of large pieces of metal, because they would break my back!

So, yeah, I know that there are some overworked mule carts out there, but I’m not one of them. As for the long days spent rolling around searching for valuable scrap metal, WebMD says the exercise is good for me. Plus, I’m doing a service to society by keeping some of this excess waste out of the landfills.


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