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I arrived in New York City two weeks ago, doe-eyed and ready for my fashion photography internship and my big city summer. The city is loud, vibrant, teeming with people, and while the street may smell, they certainly possess an odd sort of charm.
I am thirsty on my subway into the city, so out of desperation, I stop at a supermarket for a bottle of water on my way to my apartment.
I don’t normally buy bottled water because, not only is it a scam comprised of filling bottles with tap water and inflating the price, but it is also horribly wasteful.
Alas, I reassure myself that I will re-use it personally and then recycle it before the plastic chemicals seeps into my blood stream too much. However, that is when I realize…New Yorkers don’t recycle their plastic bottles.
In fact, aside from hairstyles, New Yorkers recycle almost nothing. There are recycling bins in most apartment buildings, and the hipsters of Williamsburg have them set up in the streets, but the more time I spend here, the more I realized this system is massively underutilized. I come from San Francisco, where if you don’t compost you’re a schmuck, and if you don’t recycle, you’re the devil. The money San Francisco makes off of collecting bottles and cans helps support the composting system, and overall it is a far more sustainable cycle. I have started asking my coworkers, family, and friends who live here whether or not they actually recycle, and (aside from my dear friend who carries every ounce of food waste she produces to the composting bin at Whole Foods) so far they all have nonchalantly replied, no, not really. Why is this?
As an avid fashion lover and collector, the thing I probably recycle the most is my clothing. I buy all my clothes used, and then cycle them off when I am done with them to other people in need or desire. I even won my high school speech contest as a freshman with a speech about why we should buy used clothes, complete with 9 outfit changes while I spoke. Fashionable New Yorkers are constantly buying new clothes, running out of space in their minuscule closets, and then moving on to the next fad. There is an obsession with new, with brand names, and with money here that I simply am not accustomed to. If this wasteful habit was turned into a thriving cycle of used consignment, thrift, and donation to those less fortunate, it would lessen the economic, environmental, and human rights impacts of the enormous clothing industry worldwide. Thrift stores are something very widespread is most of America, but their association is with dirt, grandparents, and the poor. If we can add more complexity to this cycle so that re-using clothing is something that everyone does (and perhaps is as excited about as I am), waste would be drastically reduced. and more people would have access to clothes that they either need or want. And street style would be far more interesting.
There are a lot of great startups, websites, small shops, and activists working on both of these recycling issues right now. I know that I will likely not be able to have an enormous environmental impact on the world in my every day life, but there are a few aspects of reuse especially that I feel devoted to and passionate about. In addition to all used clothing, I use canvas bags not plastic ones, use only ceramic plates and cups at work, and boycott anything that is individually wrapped. Honestly, these things make the world slightly better, and they also make my own life slightly better: do I really want another Walgreens bag in my house? Or to be caught in the same boring H&M dress as my co-worker? Do I want to be exposed to the risky chemicals in plastic water bottles?
This is only my second summer in New York, but I plan to be back and I will not stand for this low standard in such a fantastic and highly capable city. Perhaps when I am back again my Art and Computer Science degrees will have paid off and I can develop an app that will facilitate massive cheap clothing swaps in a community oriented, scam-free sort of way. Regardless, living here has given me immense appreciation for my city by the bay where, despite the many it’s many downfalls, I was at least taught to recycle properly at the age of six.
can you find me in here?
swear words 2013
Look at this fucking person.
dj up north soundzz hard at work on her setlist
Like a painting - Editorial by Paolo Roversi - Vogue Italia - Natalia Vadianova
ugh love love
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