- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Broader thinking on green jobs
Last month I visited my aunt at Presbyterian Hospital. At one point I went to the cafeteria with my uncle. He got called off to talk to a doctor, and I was left alone.
The cafeteria didn’t sell any papers, there were no Metros, I didn’t have a book and my phone battery was dead. So I was left to contemplate my styrofoam container of limp lettuce.
And my plastic utensils. And my disposable cup. And the pre-packaged paper envelope of pepper. All over the cafeteria were food-related items in packaging ready to be thrown right away.
I got to thinking: Whatever happened to dish washers?
As much talk as there has been about climate change it sort of amazes me how far we are behind the curve on some of the basics.
Disposable plates and utensils, along with single-serv packets of ketchup and salt and mayonnaise and the like are wasteful, bad for the environment and they eliminate jobs.
These facts haven’t changes since the 70s or 80s or 90s when places like the Presby cafeteria likely got rid of their dish washing machines and dish washing staff.
However, unchecked, profit margins always trump labor and enviro concerns. I would guess that purchasing disposables saves money over the labor costs involved in hiring people to wash reusable dishes and to refill condiment dispensers. And especially because Presbyterian’s cafeteria is run by Aramark Corporation I’m sure it’s even cheaper for them to buy disposable items in bulk.
Who can you turn to when the market’s best interest are not in line with the common good?
Government. In fact, I even wrote a post here just a few months ago about the city’s decision to use extra Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money to provide capital to “creative economy” capital construction projects. Maybe they could redefine eligibility for that money to include the construction of dish washing facilities at places like Presby.
Think about it: if all the school, hospital and corporate cafeterias in the city stopped using disposables and returned to the use of reusable plates and dishes, we’d see some decrease, however small, in the city’s carbon footprint.
Possibly more importantly, what would it mean to create at least a coupe hundred new union jobs for Philadelphians? Especially for those without college degrees?
And maybe we don’t have to incentivize this idea. Maybe some non-profit leaders in the city—like Penn—could make changes like this on their own. After all, Penn’ s hospital system just found out that they are going to save more than $10,000 a month after a change in the city’s commercial storm water charging method.
Forgive me if this is too “100 things Kids Can do to Save the Earth” –y. I know that the role one city can have in addressing systemic causes of global climate change (which started with industrialization and likely will end with annihilation through globalization) is limited.
However, looking more carefully at waste and reuse in the practices of large institutions can have an impact.
Additionally, I worry that a lot of green job dollars are going to be spent to create work only for skilled workers (like building trades members). And even if that is not the case (I am thinking of how some of the green job training programs are helping unskilled workers receive training to get into construction) steering green dollars to portions of the economy that ultimately encourage more consumption (building a new building, no matter how green, is consumptive) is not a long-term environmentally sustainable solution.
My out of the box idea for green job creation may be weak, but the point is even if it is the Van Jones standby of weatherization, there are all kinds of green jobs to be had. It'd be great to hear about some other ideas too.