EcoTeen Action Network Proposes Reusable Go-Box for “National Landing”
|September 30, 2019||Filled under News||
In April 2019 at a celebration in Crystal City, VA, the Eco Teen Action Network (ETAN), a Global Co Lab Network partnership with the Smithsonian Conservation Commons asked the question, “What should environmental sustainability look like in a developing urban community like Arlington, VA?” The event was hosted by the Co Lab with support from Amazon’s landlord JBG Smith, which operates 20 million square feet of assets. Today the Eco Teen Action Network continues their work to build a focused local and global network of eco action student leaders with a bold initiative focused on reducing plastic pollution.
The Eco Teen Action Network Plastics Hub’s returned this summer with their newest initiative is a proposed reusable to-go box program at the National Landing, the surrounding area of Amazon’s new HQ2. Representing students from DC, Maryland and Arlington and Fairfax teen organizer Krithika Layagala opened the meeting by saying, “We are back and we’re ready to get to work”. Modeled on the success of reusable to go box systems in Portland OR, Durham NC, NYC and on university campuses across the country, such as Virginia tech, these students believe that there is a unique opportunity to develop a framework for the implementation of an affordable, sustainable, zero-waste alternative to the traditional take-out container. This is especially important in Virginia where the use of plastic bags, straws and styrofoam take-out containers is completely unregulated unlike neighbors in DC and Maryland.
The Eco Teen Action Network is proposing an initiative that is in line with the Livability Framework currently being discussed by residents of Crystal City. In a statement from Aurora Highland Civic Association President Scott Miles, he called upon the County for a “stronger commitment to recycling and zero waste goals” as a priority to the surrounding community given the increased density expected with Amazon’s move to the area. The reusable container and collection system is designed to help achieve these goals of reducing single use plastic waste and pollution in Arlington. Most restaurants tend to offer only single-use or compostable materials, citing both expense and ease of disposal. However, due to lack of capacity for industrial composting, both types end up in the landfill, incinerator or oceans. The reusable to-go box method has been proven effective in many locations across the country and internationally. It relieves the businesses and consumer communities of future responsibility for the material’s outcome after use. The current state of our country’s failing waste management systems has proved that without a reusable takeout container, waste will continue to increase along with population growth. One company model the teens have reached out to is GO Box, which operates in Portland and San Francisco, and whose corporate leadership has expressed interest in participating in an Arlington and Washington DC pilot. This model was carefully developed for an urban setting like National Landing to not only reduce plastic but cut back on carbon emission by utilizing an innovative bike transportation infrastructure. The method offers an affordable and effective way to make packaging sustainable and efficient without having to distribute environmentally harmful single-use food packaging to customers.
Utilizing a subscription for users and partnership with local businesses the app-based program is self-sustaining. It offers green jobs that can be part of a local workforce development program, both an opportunity for small business and a clear path to getting waste reduction. The to go box clamshell containers are made from durable #5 plastic that are reusable for an estimated 600 – 1000 uses. Retired containers can be recycled in Arlington’s current system. In addition to the environmental and social benefits, the collaboration with teen leaders demonstrates a commitment by National Landing to supporting and respecting teens worried about climate change and pollution. Brian Coyle an organizational mentor for Global Co Lab with Smithsonian Conservation Commons, one of the worlds largest conservation networks that offers training and collaboration to scientist said he was, “We are hoping to spotlight success stories of sustainability in the area and globally and present them in Washington DC at the 50th anniversary of Earth Day which coincides with the 2020 Earth Optimism Summit.” Given the efforts of young people on issues of pollution and climate change they are expecting the event to be bigger than the climate marches we saw in September 2019.
With many tens of thousands of new employees and residents expected in the developing area very soon, the proposed reusable to go box program could easily be created in and around the National Landing as the new standard for a closed loop food service packing system. It would have a powerful impact and message in the same way mass transit via metro reduces GHG transportation emissions in the area. In accordance with the goals for a sustainable Amazon HQ2, the National Landing will become an even more prosperous and environmentally conscious area. “Offering a solution to the chronic waste we see in food service is the kind of impact can really move the needle and show visitors from around the world that National Landing is not only an innovator in sustainable urban design, but also a leader in resource management” says Miriam Gennari, Mentor for Global Co Lab Plastics Hub. Eco Teen Action Network has connected with large corporations in this area to help execute and support this program, including Amazon, JBG Smith, Whole Foods, Eco-Action Arlington, OAR – Offender Aid and Restoration, BMS, Leaders in Energy, and Crystal City Bid. Many of these organizations have expressed interest and understanding that a need such as this exists. Their next step is to bring on the support of the local civic associations in the 22202 zip code and the school system. The Eco Teen Action Network is also planning to reach out to regional counterparts in the DC Metro area.
If you are interested in committing your school, organization or business to this exciting development contact ETAN Plastic HUB Leadership at firstname.lastname@example.org