Recycling on the South Side

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Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

What is recycling? According to Pennsylvania Recycling Guide, pay someone to write my paper recycling is “taking an item and the separation and collection of material(s) for processing and re-manufacturing into new products to complete.”
Just about everything is recyclable such as aluminum and cardboard, glass, newspaper, batteries and certain plastics.

Alisha Jacobs interviewing youth workers from the People for Community Recovery in CHA Altgeld Gardens community in August 2010, about recycling trash. Photo by Quintana Woodridge

The guide also gives reasons why people need to recycle: To save energy, improve environmental conditions, reduce pollution, save natural recourses, create economic benefits and recycle space for waste disposal.

Altgeld Gardens is a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) property that is located in the 9th Ward where the City of Chicago recycling trucks do not provide service, nor do the Streets and Sanitation trucks pick up the garbage.

A private company by the name of Waste Management picks up all of the garbage.

However, Altgeld has a recycling program which is managed by the Resource Center, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on reusing residential waste through recycling.

Aaron, a spokesperson from the Resource Center, said they pick up recyclable materials every Monday from the Altgeld area with a driver and a buyer. They stop at a variety of locations at different areas at scheduled times.

The Resource Center offers vouchers for sellers, which can be cashed at the Gardens Liquor store, the only food store in the area.
Nuf-Said, a group of youths from various media organizations, came together and conducted a city-wide survey on the Internet and on paper to find out what young people feel about housing, employment, violence, health and education.

Pollution is one of the health issues that 68.8 percent of the surveyed youths said is a problem in their neighborhood and 79.3 percent of youths said pollution comes from people leaving trash on the ground.

The recycling program in Altgeld is one way the residents are doing their part.

Cheryl Johnson, executive director of People for Community Recovery, said that the Resource Center has been picking up recycled material from Altgeld for over two decades.
She said that the Resource Center comes to pick up recycled material every Monday at three locations in Altgeld. One of the sites the recycling truck stops by to pick up is the People for Community Recovery office.

“Since the CHA Transformation Plan was put in effect, the residential population has changed,” Johnson said. “There are more new people who live in the community and they are unaware of this great program. People for Community Recovery is not an official drop-off site but we do our part in Altgeld. We’re trying to be protectors of the community.”

There are young people in the community that gave their thoughts on recycling. Travis, a young man from Altgeld, said that he heard about recycling but doesn’t do it. “It’s always good to recycle. It keeps money flowing in your pocket,” he said after being asked why recycling is important.

After informing Travis about getting paid for trash items being recycled, I asked if he would participate in recycling for pay. Travis exclaimed, “Yeah, why not, if they paid $1 per pound of recycled material?”

I also interviewed Tiffany, 19, who works at People for Community Recovery. She said that she knew about recycling because her mother recycles. Tiffany said, “I wouldn’t because it is too many possums and rodents by the recycling bins. But besides the rodents, yes, I would recycle.”

She added, “Recycling will lower the trash and save money, so it is good to recycle.”
Another Altgeld resident, Jamal, was at a restaurant. He spoke out against recycling. He felt it was a waste of time and it doesn’t work. He said he would recycle if it paid 75 cents a pound.

Patricia, another worker at People for Community Recovery, feels that recycling will help the environment. She said, “It will help out the community, period.”

Patricia said that she doesn’t recycle but she knows about it and will tell others that might want to recycle that it’s a good thing to do.

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