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The Inner City Green Team make waves in New York

Words by Tess Becker

When you think of green living and conservationism, the last place you think about is a massive metropolitan city like New York. And for a lot of communities, particularly poor or communities of color, that’s the truth. 

Things like a lack of funding and government blind spots have led underrepresented communities in New York to lack common services like basic recycling options. To fill that gap came the Inner City Green Team.

Their first goal among all else is to help communities live a more sustainable lifestyle. 

“What we really want to bring to them is really increasing access and opportunity to be able to participate more,” Inner City Green Team co-founder John Johnson tells Smiley News.

They take that mission very seriously, even going as far as ensuring the New York City Housing Authority's projects were up to code, following New York City’s recycling laws. 

Even still, the Inner City Green continued to service those areas. 

Their services include everything from educational opportunities like teaching people about sustainability to recycling pickup to make recycling and green living convenient. They even help create jobs, which they call ‘green collar jobs’ for people that need them.

“It's against the law to throw away electronics in the waste stream in New York state so we make sure that there are opportunities for residents to participate there,” John says.

“We have textile collections, which is a huge thing, particularly given we're dealing with low income, high-density communities that produce the most textiles, so we’ll be able to receive that material and stop that from going to landfill. We have workshops on composting your food scraps.”

They just want to make people aware of the things that they can do to live greener lives.

On April 22, they have their annual Earth Day event which just brings everyone together to celebrate the community while providing all the aforementioned services.

“We also have what we call a reuse-a-palooza-thon,” Inner City Green Team founder Brigitte Charlton-Vicenty tells Smiley News. “Our reuse-a-palooza-thon is where we collect gently used clothing and we just distribute them for reuse and every time we have it, it's a great success. We collect hundreds and hundreds of textiles and various household items and it's a way for residents to go donate the unused materials and just create that closed loop.”

They want to create a ‘mousetrap’ of sorts to capture the waste material that is primarily exported out of New York City to states like New Jersey and the Carolinas. They want to give people a reason to be more sustainable in their community. 

“It's really rethinking how we look at waste as a resource, and how people can actually benefit from their participation in this program,” John says. “It's a holistic approach, and we look at the individual, as opposed to just give you a flyer and says, ‘Well, okay, recycle'."

Make sure to check out their event coming on the 22nd and to donate to Inner City Green Team where you can!

This article aligns with the UN SDG Climate Action.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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