Not only can the Little City claim some of the wealthiest, healthiest and best educated residents in the land, but it’s got the most industrious teenagers, too.
Brothers Danny, 14, and Jonathan Oppenheimer, 17, are both students at George Mason High School and have seized the opportunity to rescue residents who no longer enjoy the luxury of curbside glass pickup, a service the City terminated last month.
For a fee of $5 for once a month service or $10 for two monthly pickups on the first and/or third Wednesdays, these environmentalists will pick up the glass disposed by City dwellers and cart it to the Falls Church Recycling Center on Gordon Road. They even take payments by cash transferring app Venmo.
Although the boys are busy with school as well as sports — Danny with lacrosse and Jonathan with track — they still find time to help the planet and work for Mother Earth.
Just a few minutes after returning home from a wedding in Texas, they spoke by phone to the News-Press and Jonathan emailed more information.
“We started Glass House Recycling to both provide an environmental alternative to throwing away glass waste and to generate income,” he wrote.
While Jonathan drives the family car (thanks to supportive parents), Danny hops out, picks up the glass, tosses it in their minivan and returns the container, if there is one, to the curb.
For fuel, Jonathan said they use “the gas that’s in the tank” adding that “our parents would not be adverse” if the two used profits to help restock supplies. Profits are still in the planning stages along with preparing a launch of pickups for commercial establishments.
To track invoices and payments, they use spreadsheets and emails.
“We don’t have hundreds of customers right now and this is just a few hours [of work] and organization and management,” Jonathan said, sounding rather like a good candidate for business school, although he denies thinking that far ahead. “I have no personal interest in that, but things certainly can change.”
As for Danny and college: “It’s far away for me. I am only 14” and not yet able to drive to pick up glass but he sure can step and fetch it.
The two credit Tom Clinton, the Falls Church commissioner of the revenue, and their mom with helping the team secure business permits. The brothers will visit City Hall soon to finish up government requirements to operate their new company.
They began their work as soon as the City announced it was stopping curbside glass pickup.
Falls Church has joined Fairfax County and Arlington to make recyclables “cleaner” and more appealing to manufacturers. Glass pieces can contaminate cardboard and other paper, and they can break machinery and cut hands. Danny found this out on their first run when broken glass was not so easy to handle. That’s when he got “special gloves.”
Falls Church glass goes to North Carolina and Fairfax County which has equipment to turn the glass into sand and gravel. Transportation costs are offset by money earned from the discarded glass.
Not only are the Oppenheimers helping recycle glass, but their one vehicle produces less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions than several vehicles would make, thereby lessening the effects of global warming and climate change.
Besides, according to Danny, “It’s kinda fun.”
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