Season 2, Episode 1

From Brooklyn to Chinatown

Hear the personal story of Pierre Simmons, a NYC musician and canner

We’re back with Season 2! First up, our host Shilpi Chhotray meets with Pierre Simmons, an NYC-based musician, and canner, who shares his personal story about becoming a canner and how he creates a living from the empty glass, plastic bottles, and cans lying on the street that often go overlooked.

Pierre goes deep into his journey and expertise as a canner to understand how this essential work, primarily done by people of color, especially from the immigrant community, shapes the way waste moves around the city. You’ll also learn about ‘Sure We Can’, a non-profit recycling center that supports the lives of hundreds of canners in a challenging local political environment.

Tune in to learn more about Pierre and how some New Yorkers are paying rent with canning.

Don’t forget to subscribe to People Over Plastic on all major podcast apps and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @peoplexplastic, happy listening!

If there were ever a time to join us, it is now. Every contribution, however big or small, powers our BIPOC-produced storytelling and sustains our future. Support People over Plastic from as little as $1 – it only takes a minute. Thank you.



Pierre trades his glass, bottles, and cans for cash at Sure We Can. For several years, SWC's landlord has threatened them with eviction. SUPPORT the canning community to save the beloved community center.

You can also find out more about their work through media coverage by  The New York TimesCNN, and NBC.

To learn more about Pierre’s life watch the Story of Stuff documentary Glass, Metal, Plastic: The Story of New York’s Canners.

You can read the stories of other canners and have a visual experience of their journeys at  NYC Canners.

As Pierre mentioned, the Bottle Bill needs updating, including the proposed increase from 5c-10c. Learn more about a reimagined bottle bill here: Reimagining The Bottle Bill.

Check out Alliance of Mission-Based Recyclers for more on community-based non-profit recycling in the US.


Season and episode cover artwork by Greg Dubois @marvelgd

Season 3, Episode 1

Secret Sauce

Season 2, Episode 5

Not A Coincidence

Season 1, Episode 1


Want to get updated?

Sign up for up-to-date information on our Season 3 drop - big news coming!
© People over Plastic 2024
© People over Plastic 2023