|Barney Shapiro, Tenleytown Trash COO, stands next to truck.|
Barney Shapiro, our COO, is known for his philanthropic heart. With the words "tikkun olam" (heal the world in Hebrew) written on every one of our trucks, it's no surprise that he created a $2500 Tenleytown Trash Scholarship for recent graduates at Capital City Public Charter School - Peabody Campus (a Tenleytown Trash customer).
|Winning Essay Finalist - Colby Bosley-Smith|
It is often difficult for humans to fully grasp the true nature of this concept. How can it be said that matter never disappears if every day we put what we no longer want in trash bags to be taken away to landfills where it is buried under the earth? We live in a society trapped in a cycle of consumption and waste. We buy, we use and we discard. We are led to believe that matter is created and destroyed.
"Our processes of getting rid of waste have resounding impacts on our surroundings..."
A few months ago I visited a landfill on the eastern shore of Maryland. Manmade hills rose up from the surrounding flat landscape and a distinctive odor in the air was an ever present reminder that these hills were created from garbage. Seagulls littered the ground picking at rotting food and a nearby wetland did not seem to be thriving. The reality of landfills are pushed to the outskirts of our communities, as far away from the lives of upper class citizens as possible. Without exposure to them it is easy to understand how we can put the trash out each day and believe that it will simply disappear. This trash becomes someone elseâ€™s problem. Therefore, it is permitted to exist in the low-income communities where people lack the power of money or in natural environments where plants and animals lack the power of speech. Waste never truly disappears.
"Waste never truly disappears."
Evidently, our processes of getting rid of waste have resounding impacts on our surroundings. Our trash in landfills releases enormous amounts of methane into our atmosphere, significantly propelling rates of climate change. The daunting realities of climate change are not the realities of some distant future but are affecting us now. Far too many people in the world seem to be trapped in a dream that despite our enormous populations and ability to live everywhere, we are able to have no impact on our environment. Instances of unusual extreme weather, observations of quickly melting glacial ice and heightened numbers of species extinction should be enough evidence that yes, our actions really do come with consequences. These consequences are currently affecting us all. Recycling appears to be one easy way to limit the severity of our environmental harm.
At the same time, we struggle with the notion of limited resources. Everything is of a finite supply. Therefore, the ability to recycle, reuse, and repurpose something is incredibly useful. We cannot create matter so we must reuse it. Objects like recycled notebook paper, recycled plastic and paper bags, recycled aluminum cans or plastic water bottles are the only ways people can continue to live in a world of finite materials.
The concept of recycling is much broader than the plastic, paper and aluminum products that we put out in blue bins each week. Recycling is giving up on plastic and paper grocery bags and investing in reusable ones. Recycling is buying second hand clothing and stepping out of a consumer mentality. Recycling is biking or walking to school or work to conserve our underground resources. This sort of recycling is more nuanced and thrives on creativity and ingenuity. It often proposes complete changes to lifestyles yet can be very simple to maintain. This type of holistic recycling is the key to sustaining the vitality of this planet.
So why do I recycle? I recycle because I understand that nothing really ever disappears and nothing is ever really created. Our trash can exist in a state that harms the environment or it can be repurposed into something that is once again useful. Likewise, we can exhaust the boundaries of our finite matter or we can reuse this matter and live in the world of the infinite. I recycle because it is so easy to do and has enormous benefits. The real question is not why I recycle but rather, why doesn't everyone recycle?
Tenleytown Trash is DC's only locally-owned and operated, CBE waste management company in Washington, DC. Serving DC and Maryland for regular trash and recycling service, bulk-removal, and dumpster drop-off/pick up, we're large enough for any haul but small enough to take your call! Click for more information and affordable rates.