They got into the business, like many other unemployed New Yorkers, shortly after the recession hit in 2008. Carita’s mother originally immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong at the age of 18. For many years she worked as a seamstress in a clothing factory, but her eyesight began to wane from years of squinting at needles and thread, and then she lost her job when the clothing factory she worked at went bankrupt. With Carita’s father long out of the picture and no one else to support their 4-person family, her mom was struggling to make ends meet and provide even the most basic of things like money to take the subway to school. It wasn’t long before Carita’s mom caught on to what others in Chinatown were already doing: collecting cans for cash.