November 15 is America Recycles Day, a day intended to raise awareness about the importance of recycling. Sponsored by major corporate brands, the day is promoted heavily on social media with the individualistic “I recycle” brand.
Instead of simply joining the social media conversation, activists around the country who are involved with the national Transforming Trash campaign decided to disrupt the mainstream, corporate-dominated messaging that emphasizes personal responsibility for recycling. In many places throughout the country, recycling programs are very weak or simply not available.
“Recycling isn’t just about individual choice—cities and waste companies have to set up smart systems that benefit communities and create good jobs,” said Hays Witt of the Partnership for Working Families.
The groups just launched the #weRecycle campaign on social media to promote the idea that recycling is not only good for the environment, but can also create good jobs and healthier communities for low-income communities and communities of color that are overburdened with trash. Leading up to America Recycles Day, advocates are posting facts and personal stories about recycling that emphasize the economic and environmental justice benefits. On November 15th, they’ll use a “Thunderclap,” to send a loud, unified message on Twitter to disrupt the #AmericaRecyclesDay conversation.
“We are hoping to change the conversation about recycling and generate grassroots pressure to create stronger recycling programs,” said Kristi Barnes, Deputy Director of ALIGN. “Here in New York City, the commercial waste sector has largely been neglected, and as a result, recycling is nearly non-existent, wages and working conditions are horrible, and three low-income communities bear the brunt of the entire city’s trash. The City has got to do better.”
As part of the Transforming Trash campaign, ALIGN and its allies around the country are working to transform local recycling programs to show that recycling can create good, safe jobs for workers, remove waste-related pollution out of low-income communities and communities of color, advance climate justice and cut greenhouse gas emissions, and generate new revenue and costs savings for cities.
Local advocates have made progress on transforming recycling programs; most recently, the Don’t Waste LA campaign helped win sweeping changes in the commercial and multi-family waste handling system that will help Los Angeles meet its zero waste goals.
To follow the conversation, visit #weRecycle on Twitter. To learn more facts, including how recycling creates twenty times more jobs than landfilling or incinerating waste, or how New York City’s recycling efforts compare to San Francisco’s, visit facebook.com/ALIGNny
ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York’s mission is to create good jobs, vibrant communities, and an accountable democracy for all New Yorkers. Our work unites worker, community, and other allies to build a more just and sustainable New York.
The Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition is a growing coalition dedicated to transforming New York City’s commercial trash industry to reduce waste and pollution, foster clean and healthy communities for all New Yorkers, and create good jobs.
The Partnership for Working Families is a national network of leading regional advocacy organizations who support innovative solutions to our nation’s economic and environmental problems. The Partnership coordinates the Transforming Trash campaign.