Blog Action Day (BAD13)
Check out more Blog Action Day posts at or use #BAD13.
Blog Action Day is a free annual event that has run since 2007. Its aim is to unite the world’s bloggers by posting about the same issue, on the same day — October 16 — in order to raise awareness and trigger a positive global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all, raises awareness or even funds not-for-profits associated to the theme issue. This year’s theme is “Human Rights.” Make sure to read our other #BAD13 posts here. As I thought about this year’s Blog Action Day topic and how it related to recycling, I expected to write an article about human rights issues in a foreign country. It is heartbreaking to see photos of mountains of electronic waste in countries abroad and know the bulk of that toxic waste is coming from other countries, including the U.S. But, as I started my research, I stumbled upon a video that rocked my world. This video depicted inhumane conditions, substandard pay and health issues in a work environment. Workers were being punished for speaking out. It is a powerful piece that broke my heart and opened my eyes. Where was this horrible place located? It was a waste and recycling plant in Los Angeles. Right here in the U.S.
“Few industries have a greater impact on Los Angeles’ neighborhoods, residents, workers and environment than the waste and recycling industry. Because it touches so many aspects of our lives, basic standards for how it is managed are essential to limiting its harmful impacts. We believe that smart, urgent policy solutions, coupled with broad-based community engagement, will not only limit harmful impacts but ensure that Los Angeles and the entire region emerge as a national model for efficient, effective and safe recycling and waste management.”

Don’t Waste LA Coalition

I would love to believe that these working conditions are not indicative of the U.S. waste and recycling industry as a whole, but now I know that it is something I cannot take for granted. These jobs are a vital part of each of our communities and making sure the people working in these industries are treated with dignity and equality is simply a basic human right. From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23:
  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
“Human Rights are something we all have in common. No matter where we live, what we believe, the language we speak or how old we are, each and every single one of us has rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”