Pick up Picking Up in paper back

Friday, April 18, 2014 by

Back in January of 2008, I came across an NYC event listing that seemed to have been drafted just for me: a presentation given by a group of NYU anthropology students who had spent a semester planning a museum to honor the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY). Professor Robin Nagle, DSNY’s anthropologist in residence co-taught the course.

Photo via RobinNagle.com

Photo via RobinNagle.com

That’s how I discovered that such a position existed and that’s the first time I got to hear Nagle lecture on the history of trash in New York City. Her passion for the subject came across so clearly that I knew right away this idea of a museum honoring the sanitation department constituted more than a hypothetical class assignment. We discussed it a bit more one Trashtastic Tuesday; and a couple years after that I got her to join me on a panel about art and garbage that took place inside an RV parked on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Since then, I have kept up with Nagle mainly through social media (she has a badass Instagram feed) and by following the academic waste blog she founded, Discard Studies.

Then, a few weeks ago, my friend Oriana Leckert of Brooklyn Spaces asked if I wanted to join her at an event that merged her passion for unique creative venues with my passion for trash at the fabulous headquarters of Atlas Obscura. Nagle gave a fabulous lecture on the history of New York City’s struggle to deal with our trash. Highlights included amazing footage shot by Thomas Edison of sanitation workers loading a trash barge in 1903.  Did you know Edison took little slice of life vignettes of the city and that you can view them all on YouTube thanks to the Library of Congress? You’re welcome.

After the lecture, I went home and opened up my copy of Picking Up, Nagle’s wonderful book in which she chronicles her time on the job as a sanitation worker and puts a human face on the corps of people who deal with our trash once we throw it “away.”

 

picking up

Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City

The book is full of great anecdotes, personal stories and incredible facts. It’s a must read for all trashes and is now available in paperback. Go forth and purchase.

 

Waste in Focus

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 by

Glad (you know, the company that makes, among other things, trash bags) is teaming up with the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) for an Earth Day (April 10) unveiling of a photo series featuring U.S. families and the trash they produce over the course of one week. 

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Charlene Wimms and Donell Brant of NYC, New York, with their children Darius Brant, 9, and Terrard Wimms, 16, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 28.9 lb. Seventy-nine percent of it (22.9 lb) was landfill and twenty-one percent of it was recyclables (6 lb). Photo credit: Peter Menzel.

Photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio interviewed and photographed eight families across the country for the project, gave each family instructions to save their trash and recycling for a week, then Menzel and D’Alusio cleaned and arranged the waste for very special family portraits. I normally dread Earth Day, because as a trash blogger it means tons of extra email for weeks from companies pitching inane (and often not very Earth-friendly) products and campaigns. I have to say, though, that I like this project. It’s trash specific, artistic and informative. They call it Waste in Focus.

New Yorkers can see the photos this Thursday afternoon (April 10) on display at Union Square. 

Weekly Compactor

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 by

A long overdue roundup of trash in the news:

  • The search for the missing Malaysian plane brought to light many crazy facts. It also drew attention to the crazy amounts of trash floating in the world’s oceans.
  • Donald Robertson artwork brings new cache to trash, which he sells to wealthy New Yorkers.
  • Co.Exist featured some clever hacks around New York City that upcycle discarded items into useful objects for everyone.
  • I want one of these chairs.

Trashonomics and the power of good journalism

Saturday, March 15, 2014 by

This morning a friend shared this beautifully-written tribute to Matthew Power, a journalist who died recently while reporting in Uganda. I didn’t know Power’s work before reading this piece, but the author Abe Streep’s description of his friend compelled me to seek it out. As someone who works in global health and travels frequently to places haunted by thrill-seeking writers and photographers, I found this line particularly intriguing:

Matt traveled to hard places, but he didn’t court danger.

Clicking through to a link shared in the tribute, I found “The Magic Mountain,” a sprawling Harper’s article written with old fashioned take-me-there charm. In it, Power simply and elegantly tells the story of a giant trash heap that piled up in Quezon City, Philippines, and the community of people who now live and eek out a life in its shadow.

Polar Vortex Trash

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 by
Polar Vortext Trash

My friend John Kearney took this photo today in Prospect Park of all the broken plastic sleds.

In related New York Winter news, I can’t get enough of this girl and her dog.

Trashy Valentine’s Day!

Friday, February 14, 2014 by

Elizabeth Royte and her book Garbage Land were among my first and favorite discoveries as a garblogger. On Valentine’s day, it seems appropriate to share this recent piece she did for medium.com on “Sex, trash and nature in the city.”

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My favorite thing about this article is that Royte reserves her judgement for the littering, but not the public lovemaking, that goes on in our beloved Prospect Park.

Scarlett Johansson and SodaStream

Thursday, January 30, 2014 by

I’ve had my SodaStream Penguin since the company sent me one to try out in 2009 and, as reported on this site, I love making seltzer at home. Or at least, I used to love it. A couple of years ago, a politically active friend told me that the company operates in a West Bank settlement, a fact I found alarming and upsetting. It was also a fact I had trouble verifying in a cursory Google search. Since then my roommate and I, who both love bubbly water, have done a fair amount of research online and through conversations with friends working in the field of human rights. Verdict: SodaStream does operate in illegally occupied land in the West Bank and therefore will receive no more money from our housefold.

My first romp with the Penguin

My first romp with the Penguin

To meet our cravings for bubbles, we decided to find alternatives to purchasing SodaStream CO2 cartridge refills (SodaStream seltzer makers use proprietary cartridges, which theoretically require paying them and only them for more gas when the bubbles run flat). We haven’t quite figured out a way around this, though according to the internet, it’s possible to buy cartridges from other companies that fit the Penguin. In the meantime, we haven’t used the device.

Also in the meantime, Scarlett Johansson‘s decision to serve as a spokesperson for the company — and to defend its business operations — has brought a lot of attention to the topics of homemade seltzer, celebrity endorsements, human rights violations and peace in the Middle East. I have to say, on a personal note, I find her stance surprising. Before this move, I have admired her progressive politics and outspoken support for reelecting the President, defending women’s health and rights in the U.S. and reducing poverty around the world.

For more background on this brouhaha, here are some handy links:

The Volta

Thursday, January 2, 2014 by

Happy new year, trashies!

The Volta has a fabulous trash issue up, which I suspect you will want to read in full. First of all, there are separate sections and each have names, including a section entitled Landfill.

Some highlights:

For those of you feeling a little academic in 2014, check out this thought-provoking essay by Ted Mathys on how we depict and describe garbage and waste pickers and why it matters.

Dana Maya has a prosy poem called Trash Talk that’s worth reading.

There’s a feature on artist Alice Notley, who makes fans from trash, a photo slide show of Dead Horse Bay and all kinds of other good stuff.

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Alice Notley fan made from trash via The Volta

Tony Feher at the Bronx Museum

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 by

This past Friday, the day job took me to the Bronx for an immigration-themed event hosted by the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Before the film screening and panel presentation, a rep from the museum got up to welcome the crowd and invite us to visit the exhibitions (free), attend their annual holiday party (free) and enjoy the food they served there (also, free). In sum, “Everything we do is free!” she said.

Now that’s my kind of museum.

Unfortunately, I had to rush downtown that evening and did not get a chance to check out the art. Today, in an absent-minded internet search for “trash art,” I came across a review of Tony Feher‘s work on display at the very same museum and kicked myself.

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Photograph by Jason Mandella, via http://www.bronxmuseum.org

Here’s a description of his work via the Bronx Museum website:

Tony Feher came to prominence in the 1990s, inspired by the generation of minimalists that preceded him. Using materials in new ways, Feher turned his attention to the sculptural qualities of the everyday. Taking advantage of the generally overlooked and discarded, he highlights their formal qualities while simultaneously imbuing them with personal meaning. His careful consideration transforms and re-contextualizes these items into unique works of art.

I hope to check out the current exhibit before it closes on February 16th. Who wants to go the Bronx?

Denimite

Saturday, November 30, 2013 by

Holy shit, people. I just learned via inhabitat that Iris Industries has created a new “sustainable composite” — a textile created from heat pressed recycled denim and eco-friendly resin. The end result: a lightweight, hard substance that can be used, among other ways, to create furniture, counter tops, wall paneling and jewelry. Did you get that? Counter tops from your old jeans? I want to redo the kitchen immediately.

71 Square Miles

Friday, September 6, 2013 by

Artist Jennifer Maravillas created a cartograph of Brooklyn representing each block with a piece of trash collected on that block.  This project — http://71squaremiles.com/ — combines so, so many of my favorite things into a massive, tidy, beautiful collage. Check out the work in progress here. Prints of past, equally political and whimsical for sale here.

via 71squaremiles.com

via 71squaremiles.com

Thanks to Oriana of Brooklyn Spaces for pointing it out to me.

My grandmother’s closet

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 by

Zady, the company I told you about in this nepotistic post, is now live. Among the stories behind the brands featured on the site you will find an everydaytrash.com essay on my incredible grandmother who hated waste and who would be so proud of my sister and her friend Maxine for the business they launched today.

Chewing Gum Artist Finds Tiny Canvasses Everywhere

Thursday, July 25, 2013 by

I love this street artist, turning discarded gum into canvasses, trash into an opportunity for whimsy. You are welcome in New York, Ben Wilson.

 

Chapeau, Douglas Brodoff. Thanks for sharing this video.

Building a slow fashion movement

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 by

In nepotistic news, word broke yesterday that my little sister, Soraya Darabi, and her friend, Maxine Bédat, will soon launch an ecommerce startup called Zady. You can read more about it here, here and here, among other places. These impressive young women have teamed up to pool Soraya’s experience in the tech world with Maxine’s experience running The Bootstrap Project, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a sustainable platform for global crafts. The result: a thoughtfully curated collection of fashion and homeware focused on quality, craftsmanship and, most importantly, supply chain transparency.

Of interest to trashies: Zady evolved in reaction to the “fast fashion” epidemic. Investing in high quality clothes and goods means throwing less away in the long run; and some of the designers the company features include brands breathing second lives into recycled materials.

Zady_dawn

 

 

Federico Uribe: Fantasy River

Monday, July 1, 2013 by

My mother recently moved to Westchester County, New York, and in no time at all has discovered all the best stuff to do, see and eat. We had an amazing day yesterday visiting some secret Persian Gardens and had a lovely dinner on the waterfront at a new place in Yonkers (thank you, Groupon). In between, we stopped by the Hudson River Museum to check out the wonderful and whimsical Federico Uribe: Fantasy River exhibition. As the dude at the front desk put it “What’s great about this guy is that he’s not just creative, he’s innovative.”

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Uribe has transformed several rooms into a fantastical jungle habitat full of amazing creatures: huge birds constructed from tropical colored sneakers, a crane made of old crutches, a lamb comprised of ping pong balls screwed together, a doe made of bullets, trees made of books or rakes or corks. What makes the scenery so playful and dynamic are the dimensions. The artist has painted scenes on the walls then allowed them to pop out into sculpture: a 2D head attached to 3D hindquarters. Sourced from junkyards, donations and scavenging, the show takes recycling to new heights.

Go see it if you can. If not, here’s a video of the artist.


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