Trash-Picker Documentary Explores 'Recycling Controversy' in Brooklyn

By Nikhita Venugopal on July 2, 2013 8:51am 

Mettle
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Andy Arrow

COBBLE HILL — Andy Arrow realized he had stumbled onto a story when his old 100-pound air conditioner, which he had left on the sidewalk, was picked up almost immediately.

Arrow started talking to people who pick up bottles and cans off the street but soon found a larger issue – some of these individuals could often be charged $2,000 to $5,000 or even $10,000 in fines for “theft.”

“It sounded not even possible,” the Cobble Hill resident said.

In his new documentary, “Mettle,” Arrow, 57, investigates the issue of people who are fined, and even arrested, for collecting larger recyclable objects, like air conditioners, construction material or bicycles and other metal appliances from the sidewalk and moving it in a motor vehicle, he said.

“Why is the government so eager to prevent them from picking up your trash?” Arrow asks, in the documentary’s trailer.

From street trash pickers to City Councilman Brad Lander, Arrow speaks to locals, experts and elected officials for the 56-minute documentary, which will premier at the Jalopy Theatre, July 28, located at 315 Columbia St., he said.

Arrow, a graphic designer, followed Brooklyn “scrappers” and “gleaners,” terms for the trash pickers, in Cobble Hill and parts of Carroll Gardens, East New York and Brownsville, he said.

“They’re just people who are picking up garbage,” said Arrow, who called the documentary “Mettle,” referring to his subjects’ strength of character.

“They’re not hurting anyone.”

For more information on the film, visit this website.

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