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Recycling Rebellion This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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“Risk-taker” is as far from my middle name as possible. I’m pretty outgoing with peers and most adults, but I’m the kind of person who is scared to death of getting in trouble. Getting people angry is something I try to prevent. Although, sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to save the environment.

When I got a job serving food at a local nursing home, the first thing I noticed was the lack of recycling bins. I feel like my whole reason for existence is to try to save the world, to convince people to embrace the earth for its natural beauty and realize that it’s our responsibility to take care of it and each other. To someone who is as passionate and sometimes borderline obsessed with the environment as I am, the amount of recycleable items thrown away during each shift was hard to bear.

So, I decided to take action and talked to my supervisor about putting a few recycling bins around the kitchen for cans and paper menus, but he wouldn’t make me any promises, something I just couldn’t understand. I begged my coworkers to refrain from throwing paper and cans away and began stuffing my apron pockets with recycling to the point that I’d look pregnant by the end of my shift, which became an ongoing joke.

But there was too much recycling to fit in my apron. I found an empty, unused cabinet and began stowing the recycling in there to take home for proper disposal. My supervisor found out and threatened to write me up if I didn’t stop recycling, but I continued, knowing that every item I saved from the landfills would make a difference. To me, being devoted to the environment is worth taking such risks. You can always find another job but not another Earth.

After my secret stash was discovered, I returned to stuffing recycling in my apron pockets. I can’t tell you how many times my uniform got soaked with dribbles from prune and vegetable juice cans or how often I hid behind objects to conceal my “belly of recycling” when my supervisor was around.

I persisted in my efforts to get an official recycling program started, and eventually my dedication paid off. Now there are bins all around the kitchen. Although I still sometimes have to pull aluminum cans out of the garbage when my coworkers forget, the recycling idea has been embraced. Recycling is simple and easy, it saves the world, and I’m proud to say I took the risk that started it all.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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