Garbage Crisis in Flushing

Flushing, Queens has a mouth-watering food scene. But in April, Happy Food, a popular restaurant around the corner of 40th Road and Flushing Main Street was issued a fine of $1,200 for violation of sanitation rules. According to Queens Tribune, “the violations were for trash being put out too early, sidewalk obstruction, a dirty area and loose rubbish.” Since then there have been more concentrated civic efforts to improve the sanitation in the neighborhood. But how much have they helped create awareness?

Vivian Lin has been living in Flushing for six years. She is a working mother and she’s concerned.

Lin said, “You can see there are a lot of restaurants, in front of every restaurant, it’s so messy and smells so bad. I really don’t like it, even in the child play ground, and it’s everywhere you can see.”

But Tianming Zheng, the owner of Happy Food, thinks the restaurant does a lot to solve the problem.

“We got a lot of waste oil in our restaurant, when bags break, oil spills. Department of Sanitation gave us 100 bins to carry the garbage, so it won’t spill now.” And he added, “I spend six–seven thousand dollars a month for garbage disposal only.”

Mark Chen, a local Christian community leader who organized Flushing Clean Up Day back in July 16, says government should do more than just fining the restaurants.

“You gonna use “carrot and sticks”, right? But if you keep fining them, punishing them, then they use a different way to play with the system, but they do not have the understanding of the health concern. If people get sick, their business would suffer too.”

Ravie & Tian, Columbia Journalism School

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