Interviewed by Lara Saavedra.
How long have you lived in Hyde Park?
My husband Anthony grew up in Hyde Park. After we got married, we bought a small house here together in 2005 that’s close to the Neponset River.
What efforts do you make to keep Hyde Park clean, green and beautiful?
Since I started a small business of pet care (walking, visiting, and housesitting for cats and dogs), during client appointments, I often will notice and pick up trash on the streets and especially storm drains where I walk every day. Once I started, I found it hard to stop noticing and I can’t stop collecting it.
This routine of littler collection led to me becoming an activist in my own small way! Last year, on a nice day, I was inspired to create a costume to wear made of the trash I’d collected and wore signs (pictured) and I walked from Mattapan Square to Morrissey Blvd. All along the way, residents in cars and on foot appreciated the effort, honked to cheer me on, told me stories of their own frustration with the trash in Boston, and said thank you. I plan to do this again at least once a year and have been dreaming up plans for when the weather improves.
What inspires you to be eco-conscious?
A few years ago, I decided to change to a vegan diet and soon after, my eyes were opened to a lot of things I had taken for granted before. While shopping, I couldn’t help but notice how much plastic is in the grocery store. Suddenly it was the only thing I could see. It’s everywhere. Everything is bottled or contained within plastic now. Even things that used to be in cardboard, like laundry detergent, are now in plastic. I don’t understand why consumer products use so much plastic. A lot of people don’t realize that although Single Stream Recycling accepts plastic, a lot of it is actually not recyclable and gets discarded for the trash during sorting.
One of the shifts I made, after going to a vegan diet, was to buy less plastic. I don’t even have plastic shampoo bottles anymore. There’s a great Zero Waste movement on social media that I actively follow, and there’s starting to be a few Zero Waste stores in Boston. My favorite local source for bulk foods with no plastic at all is Supply Bulk Foods (https://supplybulkfoods.com/) which you order online and pick up at Commonwealth Kitchen, 196 Quincy Street in Dorchester.
But the other thing is I became aware of how much plastic water bottles, liquor nips, and plastic beverage cups I find on the ground, and I collect it.
What do you like best about our community?
Neighbors and many workers at local businesses are wonderful here. They are friendly and know me. Whenever I go to Dunkin Donuts, Stop and Shop, Walgreens, I have favorite people to chat with, and who are always glad to see me, too.
I was thrilled about Keep Hyde Park Beautiful’s efforts to collect 10,000 nip bottles and get a donation from Kelly’s Liquor.
What solutions could you imagine are feasible to reduce waste on the ground?
I would like to see legislation passed that requires businesses who produce a lot of single-use trash (Liquor Stores, Convenience Stores, Fast Food franchises) to be responsible for litter within a certain amount of feet perimeter around their business and stiff penalties for lack of cooperation.
I would love to see a ban on Water Bottles like some communities have introduced. I would love to see a grant for businesses to offer filtered water to consumers, and for consumers to bring their own reusable water bottle. Perhaps an organization like AmeriCorps could distribute free water filters for reusable water bottles as an incentive to not purchase single-use plastic water bottles. Water bottles and nips are the most frequent thing I find discarded on the ground, in addition to cigarette boxes.
I urge everyone I know to consider buying things that are not in plastic containers as much as possible. At the grocery store, choose produce that’s not in containers. There’s lots of laundry detergent online that is powdered and still comes in a cardboard box, like it used to! And it’s more effective at cleaning, too.
Is there anything else you would like to share with neighbors?
I have a few book titles to share, that have been empowering for me:
Nominate yourself or someone in the community for a Humans of Hyde Park story; nominees can remain anonymous in the story or use their first name only if they prefer: https://goo.gl/forms/qgTj1Rh8t2bSbh973
Quiana first came to Boston as a college student, graduating from Wellesley College in 2002 and returned in 2016 to live in Hyde Park with her husband and two children.