Recycling at FDR


Jeffery Doherty

Taken November 16th

The leaning tower of paper plates, left over food and cartons rose from a blue recycling bin in the lunchroom. Over a week ago, a New York City Department of Education employee stood at the bin and the buckets around it. The station the employee manned was meant to improve the recycling habit of the school. By the next day, the employee was gone.

The NYCDOE started a campaign to reduce landfill waste. Zero Waste Coordinators would be sent to schools to improve recycling efforts at individual schools. One of them is Joy Rifkin, who manned a recycling station at FDR. Rifkin manned a station that covered only one side of the lunchroom. When I talked to her, she described working at multiple schools, one of them being in the Bronx.

After talking with Rifkin, it was obvious the program was meant to deal with the lack of funding FDR had in doing proper recycling. “Underfunding” has been a problem for New York City schools for some time, especially how different funding is for most schools due to property taxes.

Students from the F train would walk past the garbage garage and be greeted by the smell of decomposing food. I would know this smell, because I am a senior at FDR who has taken the F train for three years. Rifkin has since been in contact with Mr. Bernardi, the advisor for the Environmentalist Club. There are plans of having members of the club man the recycling station. The greater question is, how will it look in the future?

Will there be more stations? Will students be manning the stations or will there be more coordinators assigned to less schools? No one knows, but it’s a sign that the NYCDOE and the city has plans to address the symptoms of school underfunding. In the end, the future of school funding and recycling is up to voters as well as members of the city.

For now, the best that can be done by students of FDR is this; recycling and properly throwing out trash, in the right bins as well as buckets. The plan won’t work unless we can change the “habits” of the FDR family. That right now, is our greatest challenge.