Composting: Packer and Beyond
According to Mayor Bill DeBlasio, sustainability has become one of the biggest issues facing New York City. DeBlasio’s stance on climate change has caused many policies to come into effect in an attempt to adjust the status quo of our sustainability standards. One example of this is the “Zero Waste” program that was established in February of 2016 and has since caused New Yorkers to change the way we think about waste.
Though the program promised that landfill size would decrease by 90 percent in 2030, there have been many setbacks since the launch of the “Zero Waste” program. In 2018 alone, the city allocated nearly $16 million toward the program and has earned $58,000 in revenue from the sale of compost. This may seem lucrative, but pales in comparison to the 2.5 million tons of trash which reportedly cost $411 million to export. It has been reported by the New York Times that this price will have raised to $421 million by 2021. Sustainability is, without a doubt, a costly endeavor for New York City.
Similar sustainability attempts have been made at Packer and quickly exceeding the standards of most NYC institutions striving for zero waste. “Sort it Out” posters, which instruct students on which pieces of waste to throw where, line the halls of the school. These demonstrate to students how easy it is to recycle paper, plastic, and compost. One of the greatest enforcers of this, often found in the commons helping students “Sort it Out”, is Luciean Bennet. He is an essential asset of Packer’s maintenance staff, known for his iconic smile and friendliness to everyone he meets. Most importantly, Luciean deals with Packer’s trash every day. Whether he is clearing out all of the landfill, recycling, and compost bins in the student center or helping garbage trucks load our waste, taking care of waste is his job and he does it well.
“I like the program,” Luciean says, regarding the “Zero Waste” project, “it could use some changes though… I think the way they have us store the compost could be better. Maybe find a way to make it odorless and it would become much more efficient.” He continued, “the fact that the drivers and people who work to like take the trash and compost and recycling really care about it is good, and a good sign.” He appreciated the program and had many positive things to say about it, especially that “many students work hard to help compost and stuff… the difference from where we were last year,” referring to students participation, “and now, is much different. I think that if more and more students and people across the world help with composting, the earth will look a lot better.”
Though it seems there is a lot of change that must happen between now and the city’s goal, it is people like Luciean who see the progress every day and stay optimistic about what we can accomplish.