Monday, October 1, 2012

Taking Out the Trash

Taking out the “Trash”
By Eric Bryan
Signal Hill resident Manuel Mejia shakes his head over the overflowing dumpster behind his apartment complex, a trash bag full of recyclables hanging limply from his right hand.
“You’d think it’d just be second nature at this point, you know? You just have a recycling bin.”

A mixture of recycleables and trash, just hours after trash pick up.

Mejia’s problem is not unique. Throughout several lower income areas in the greater Long Beach area, there is either no provided recycling can, or there is such low maintenance of it that the environmental incentive is lost.
“We had bins at the Wrigley place, sure,” says former Wrigley resident Eve Knezevich, “but there was no upkeep. We’d put our bottles and cans in the bin, and either it would get picked over in the night, or we’d find just regular trash over it anyway. After a while, we didn’t bother.”
Certain aspects, residents admit, cannot be controlled.
“I guess I didn’t really mind when the homeless would take the cans or whatever,” says Knezevich, “but the amount of trash that got strewn in the process was a mess the recycling and garbage guys wouldn’t pick up. And we didn’t want to, so it just sat there.”
However, in other cases such as Mejia’s, the problem of not having any receptacle at all is much more pointed.
“I’ve put in calls to my landlord, and didn’t hear anything. I put in calls to the city and got nothing back either. I go to the recycling centers sometimes, but I don’t have time usually.”
The city of Long Beach recently instilled the Recyclebank program, which provides coupon incentives to recyclers in the city, hoping to instill “green values” in residents throughout.
“That sounds like a great idea,” says Mejia, “but I’ve never heard of it.”
This was a problem throughout poorer areas. While there has been made a significant online campaign made, many residents of lower income areas, lower Signal Hill and Wrigley in particular, who may not have access to the internet, have not even heard of the program. A search through both Mejia's apartment complex, and Knezevich's neighborhood found very few citizens aware of the program, and none of them with any sort of documentation of it.

"I guess that wouldn't make sense, to have flyers," said Knezevich, "but I think more people would know about it if there was something tangibly given out.
“I’d be more than happy to try a new way to recycle, whatever the incentive,” says Mejia, tossing his cans and bottles into the dumpster, “but it’s got to work for everyone.”
Information about Long Beach’s branch of Recyclebank can be found at

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