“Can you spare some change?”
If you’ve ever been to New York City (or other large urban areas) you’ve probably heard this question before. Panhandlers are common sights on the streets. Sometimes they sit silently with a collection can and a sign imploring passersby for donations. Others stand in the intersections, holding small bouquets of flowers to sell to passing motorists. There’s even a fellow known as the Naked Cowboy, who hangs out in Times Square. Dressed only in a cowboy hat, boots, and his skivvies, he strums a guitar throughout the evening hours. For a small contribution you can take a picture with him. I snapped this photo in 2011, so I’m not sure if he’s still there or went on to bigger and better things…
We came across the gentleman pictured above (main photo) in the subway during our trip to NYC. He sat quietly, fashioning soda pop cans into artwork. They really were artistic and looked like some serious skill and patience were needed to create them. They were for sale, for whatever amount you could spare, and he had a large can for prospective buyers to place their money in. We made a small donation without taking any of the soda can art, since a walking tour doesn’t allow for much extra baggage.
I don’t remember if his cans had a specific function other than a decorative purpose. I found a picture on the Internet of a similar project that turns cans into hanging ornaments.
I was impressed not only with his creations, but with his initiative and entrepreneurial spirit. He could be like many of the others and sit with a sign and a can, but he found a way to earn some money and recycle at the same time!
If you’ve ever walked the streets of NYC on garbage night, you’d be amazed. The number of bags piled up curbside for pickup is like nothing this small town girl had ever seen. Knowing that so much of it is going into landfills, it’s refreshing that this gentleman is doing his part to recycle these spare aluminum cans; something that is easy to find in most trash barrels along the street.
The man selling the soda can art doesn’t have to spend money to make money. His materials are spares and readily available (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!) They only have to be washed and dried before being fashioned into the artwork we see above.
His resourcefulness and efforts to repurpose the aluminum cans are what prompted me to take this picture. I’m glad I did, as it illustrates the various meanings of the word spare, this week’s photo challenge.