Bottle Recycling Facility: It Takes its Toll

30 images Created 5 Nov 2020

On this election day, November 3rd, 2020, voters would decide who would lead this U.S. nation for the next four years determined who had the most to gain or to lose through either of their polices. It is laborers like these, who work in this recycling sorting facility in the East New York section of Brooklyn. They were a mix of undocumented immigrants and poor blacks, who are underemployed and lacked health insurance, that were the most affected. In my approach to their Supervisor to gain permission, they clustered about, pining and interest in my conversation, eying me warily. I heard someone say “ICE” with the suspicion I was an agent posing as a photographer. I explained I was an independent documentary photographer, putting a face to New York City’s invisible workers, which assuaged this concern. Mission accomplished. First, they hauled huge bags of plastic bottles from the truck into the facility. Second, they lugged bags of glass bottles into heavy bins, meant subjecting themselves to possible COVID-19 virus exposure, cuts and infection, even though they wore gloves and masks. Furthermore, the overwhelming odor of alcohol reeked, with the added burden to bend repeatedly over the bins to rip them open, and sort by color. If that was not enough to endure, the cascade of bottles reverberating in those bins was earsplitting. It is one thing to be a laborer, and then there is the sheer indignity to ply one’s effort on a city street. Their back-breaking toil, even for this chronicler to witness, won my sympathy. Biden better win for their sake.
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