To pay for my English classes at Hunter, I work part time at a bagel store on Long Island. However, this isn’t your ordinary bagel store, it’s an absolute madhouse. Serving several hundred customers on weekends, we go through our fair share of milk cartons, plastic and paper cups, paper plates and bags, etc. Not to mention bottles of snapple, soda, ginger ale, water, orange juice and many many more assortment of drinks. To my horror, I recently found out my boss doesn’t recycle. All that paper, plastic and glass goes straight into the trash, I’m talking hundreds of recyclable material. So, I recently convinced my boss to start recycling and offered to set up all the separate bins myself. Starting last week, I set up separate labeled trash bins and bags for cartons/ plastic, glass and paper. Now my coworkers and the customers that eat in, can properly discard items that can be recycled. These separate trash bins are set aside to be collected by recycling instead of thrown into the big dumpster in the back of the store.
The first weekend I implemented this new system of recycling, I had six large trash bags filled with recyclable material separated and labeled. They were picked up the next morning and sent off to serve a better purpose than sitting in some dump where they wouldn’t disintegrate for probably an eternity.
Environmental justice to me is simply taking an easy extra step to make sure something as simple as an empty carton of milk or a plastic bottle is recycled instead of thrown in the garbage. According to “Letters: Seeing benefits of recycling on LI”, Long Islanders only recycle 30% of their waste, which could easily be a larger number considering how often people use recyclable materials. Also, according to this article recycling may even save taxpayers money. Newsday writes, “Recycling costs money, but reducing the waste stream saves money.” In addition they write, “recycling saving about $100 per ton compared with disposal” which proves there’s no real downside to recycling and being environmentally conscious.
I think this new system of recycling at my job will be easy to maintain now that everyone is getting the hang of where to properly put things. My other coworkers were even excited to participate being that they thought it was wrong to not recycle so much of the garbage. I think my boss even feels better about himself as well.