Time to Recycle, MTA

A woman reaches out for a newspaper in front of the Astor Place Station in the East Village before heading down the stairs for her morning subway commute.

By Donna Somboonlakana

New York City, with its magnificent people, structures and convenient transportation system, is in need of recycling bins for glass, plastic, cans and paper, just about everywhere.  The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has the ultimate opportunity to make significant improvements in the way everyone views and manages the waste we all generate each day by living and working in NYC.  In an effort to create a more pleasant environment for everyone, the MTA could easily reduce enormous amounts of waste, produce green jobs, generate income, and make NYC a more livable city by simply placing recycling bins onto the platforms…what an incredible thought!  So, how can we get the MTA to give us a recycling program?

A recycling program appears to work best when there is a continuous supply of recyclable material.  In 2010, the annual ridership on the NYC subway systems was 1.6 billion people. I say that is a match! I understand that change is a hard thing to do, but sometimes it pays off. I made a simple commuting change when I first began working for EPA 21 years ago which resulted in my saving over $40,000.  Born, raised and still residing in New Rochelle, I used to take Metro North, then take the 4 or 5 subway to work.  Now, I drive only one extra mile to the Bronx, park for free and take the 5 train all the way downtown without having the stress of rushing to catch another train. Sweet.

Extending that a little bit, can you imagine the change we could accomplish together if we all decided to recycle our reusable products as part of our daily lives? Next time you look at your empty bottle or can, please give a moment of thought to the fact that it can be made into a new product.  Remember that you are reducing the consumption of new materials and that you are reducing energy usage to make all of those bottles, cans, newspapers and plastics.  Know that you are also reducing air pollution when we don’t have to incinerate our used products and that you are also reducing water pollution caused by landfills.  It should make us happy to know that each individual can help create a more productive and pleasant environment with each and every product that is recycled.

So, how can we convince the MTA to make a change for the better and start a recycling program?