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Learning on the Job

Last month, we welcomed Joey Bacon to the GO Box team. Joey, who is interning with us this summer in partnership with the VertueLab Intern Program, is a dedicated student and lover of the outdoors.

At University of Portland, Joey is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in entrepreneurship. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, Joey has fallen in love with the small local businesses that give the region such flair. Joey’s passion for environmental issues stems from his connection with the outdoors. When Joey isn’t working, you can find him out rock climbing in the Gorge or hiking in Forest Park.

We asked Joey to document his experience working with GO Box in a series of posts and this is the first. Thanks Joey, we’re glad to have you here.

I’m like a lot of young people who are sensitive to issues regarding justice and who want to protect the environment. The media I consume and the experiences I’ve had paint pictures of widespread ecological degradation. Between the Netflix documentaries we watch and the things we’ve learned at school, my peers and I are doing the best we can with the information that we have. This summer, I’m lucky to be a part of the GO Box team and see the inner workings of an important movement. 

While we don’t have control over government policies and the actions of multinational corporations, I’ve learned that real environmental change can begin at the local level. We protect what we love. Buying into circular systems like GO Box within our community creates ripple effects that extend far beyond it. If every GO Box container checked out represents a disposable container never used, then we have made a huge impact. 

The social justice implications of the plastics problem never struck me until recently. No one ever tells us where the unsorted materials we throw in the recycling bin end up. We have to look far beyond the borders of Multnomah county to see the communities that really pay the price for our plastics addiction. All too often, people overseas are exploited to work dangerous jobs sorting and disposing of our waste materials. The majority of the materials are never recycled. If they are not thrown into landfills, the incineration of these plastics creates health problems for surrounding communities. The leakage of waste into oceans and watersheds is an unacceptable consequence of this exploitative system. The picture is bleak and the truth is hard to bear. 

For me, maintaining hope and gratitude is difficult when the problems I face are overwhelming. This one isn’t. The problem of plastic waste in Portland is far too large for any one person to change. Yet, participating in systems like GO Box allows each of us to make a significant difference. As Portlanders, we are enthusiastic about progress. The reuse option within a properly ordered circular economy makes too much sense for us to ignore. Here at GO Box, we are working to improve access to reuse so that we can tackle this challenge as a community.