Boston Builds Solutions

This is the third in a series of blog posts leading up to the People’s Climate March that highlights grassroots solutions. It is based on an interview with Alex Papali, an organizer with Clean Water Action and the Boston Recycling Coalition; and Lor Holmes, a cooperative worker-owner and business manager at Cooperative Energy Recycling and Organics (CERO) in Boston.

Imagine a city where all products are reused, repaired, or recycled, and all workers make a family-supporting wage. Where just, sustainable, and inclusive systems have replaced waste and pollution.

Boston, Massachusetts is on its way.

This morning I had the privilege of talking to Alex Papali and Lor Holmes from the Boston Recycling Coalition. In March, the coalition submitted a a set of “Zero Waste Recommendations” to the city government detailing a proposal for Boston to vastly expand their recycling and composting programs, with the ultimate goal of a 90% recycling rate. Most of Boston’s waste is currently burned in incinerators. The mayor’s office took the recommendations seriously, and the office is examining ways to implement the proposal.

The plan is not just good for the planet, it’s also good for people. The plan was created by workers and advocates together, and is designed to create safe, family-supporting jobs for those that will be doing the work of actually implementing this plan– mainly recycling workers.

This model is already happening at CERO, a worker-owner zero waste coop that is at the forefront of fighting climate change while creating good jobs.

According to Alex, “We’re calling for a zero waste master plan in the city of Boston that’s inclusive and brings all different constituencies to the table including workers, communities that stand to benefit, advocates from communities and small businesses, and innovative new projects like CERO that can create opportunities in low income communities of color. These are all people that should be at the table – and haven’t been so far – and our master plan provides a place for all of this.”

For people like Alex and Lor that work at the intersection of climate change and social justice, the People’s Climate March is a symbol of hope not just for the planet, but for the progressive and environmental movements. It is historical not just in its size, but in its inclusivity and diversity.

As Lor puts it, “This march is about solidarity. People are really seeing the connections around the globe about what it means to fight for the planet and sustainability, but also justice. Inequalities and injustice affect us all and we have to take it all on. This is a moment that I’ve never seen in the environmental movement. It’s an amazing march that signals an unstoppable global movement for justice.”

If you’re going to be in NYC next week, please be part of the grassroots solution.

Author: Antonia Bruno
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