Going into CUNY Baruch College, I knew that I wanted to major in psychology. However, it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized what branch of psychology I wanted to pursue. Taking an environmental psychology class in the fall of that year opened my eyes to the problems happening all around us like the issues of littering, climate change, and the fracking of oil and natural gas. Before taking that class, I was completely oblivious about the world around me, and never realized the real importance of the environment. Of course, I didn’t litter but it was simply because I have always had an issue with seeing trash lying on the floor. After taking this class, I realized that this was the branch I wanted to study further in depth; the study of how humans view the environment and how their actions in the environment provide harmful and dire consequences to their health, their lifestyles and everyone around them. I knew that I wanted to make a change in this world, for our future generations to thrive successfully and healthily.
Growing up in Queens, I’ve always perceived New York City as a city that focused so little on making the world greener and more on establishing new businesses and infrastructure for one goal only: money. I perceived people as those who only focused on what is going on today, oblivious to the impacts their actions provide for the future. Earlier in my junior year, I began looking for internships on my school’s website, trying to find opportunities to make New York City greener and eco-friendly. That’s when I stumbled upon a volunteer/internship opportunity with…GrowNYC.
I decided to volunteer with GrowNYC because I knew I wanted to make a difference in this world, and be a part of an organization that is aware of the troubles all around us and promote effective solutions. One of the things GrowNYC does is bring awareness on the importance of recycling to local residents and local officials. They address many issues that exist within the five boroughs in New York City and provide solutions to take on these issues.
One of the issues they tackled was how much clothes are disposed every year in the trash, instead of being recycled or donated. What I found surprising was that during the course of one year, NYC residents will throw away about 200,000 tons of clothing, from t-shirts to towels to handbags, simply because it is more convenient than going to a thrift store to donate old clothes. GrowNYC has sought to relieve this issue with their weekly textile collections at Greenmarkets throughout the five boroughs and coordinate special one-time collections in apartment buildings, special events, libraries and more. Having interacted with other GrowNYC volunteers and the staff, I was able to learn more about what compels people to participate and see their tremendous dedication in providing solutions that benefit us and the environment.
GrowNYC also works to connect people with resources such as the re-fashioNYC initiative of the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which funds GrowNYC’s recycling programs. Designed to make recycling clothing more convenient, re-fashioNYC places clothing collection bins in residential buildings and services them at no cost. See how easy it can be to recycle textiles with my infographic!