Archive for July, 2009

Junk to Funk call for artists

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Portland-based arts collective Junk to Funk is hosting its fourth annual recycled fashion show contest. Check out the call for artists for details, the deadline is October 14th.

Junk to Funk

Junk to Funk

Can’t wait to see what amazing trashion designs you people come up with. If we can’t rid the world of waste, we might as well wear it!

US car tra$h program to be boosted?

Friday, July 31, 2009

The US government Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), or as its been nicknamed, Cars for Clunkers, has just lifted off, but it looks like it will be running for a lot shorter period than the posted November 1st deadline. The purpose of CARS is to “energize the economy, boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation’s roadways,” through giving auto dealers the possibility to offer up to $4,500 discounts to people trading in an old car (which must be demolished) when buying  a new one. NPR (along with other news outlets) reports today that the program is running out of money. $1 billion is apparently small potatoes when everyone wants a hybrid. House Democrats now hope to add another $2 billion to keep this tra$hy car campaign up and running.

In Sweden, a program with similar ambitions existed up until recently, through which a $1,350 voucher was made available to those buying an “eco-car”, i.e. one of those supposedly less environmentally damaging ones. At the moment, it seems that instead of extending the program, buyers of eco-cars will be have their auto tax waived for the first five years.

Of course, the idea of eco-friendly cars is still more or less humbug. Further, scraping used cars produces a lot of metal trash (or rather, tra$h), along with lead, sulphuric acid and mercury, that needs to be taken care of. Whether this is included in the plans to energize the economy and boost the auto industry, I don’t know. Regardless,  I’d rather see another $2 billion invested in public transportation (starting with the horribly malfunctioning US railroad system).

Trash talk tomorrow

Friday, July 31, 2009

Don’t forget to come see us in Queens tomorrow from 1-3pm at the Sculpture center.

Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Filmmaker, photographer and location scout Nathan Kensinger publishes two photo essays per month on his blog dedicated to “the abandoned and industrial edges of New York”. In yesterday’s offering, he turned a gritty eye to the Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station, which was decommissioned with the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill, but is now open for bids from solid waste management companies should any be interested in retrofitting the space.

Courtesy of Nathan Kesinger Photography

Courtesy of Nathan Kesinger Photography

As it is summertime and as I am obsessed with this shit, I have been spending a lot of time lurking about the abandoned and industrial edges of the city. Luckily, I have friends who enjoy similar pastimes.

But in addition to a general interest in the waterfronts around my home, I have a particular soft spot for marine transfer stations because they were at the heart of my entree into the world of trash and subsequent life as a garblogger. As a journalism student at Columbia,  it was following the debate over whether or not to reopen a nearby marine transfer station that opened my eyes to the fact that New York had no longterm solid waste management plan and that the impact of that absence of planning hit poor people first.

I got REALLY into that story. Once, while canoeing on the Gawanus Canal, I even tried to paddle into the Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station. That was five years ago. And as Kensinger’s post points out, the thing is still standing there, useless and empty (he also brings up the whole superfund Gowanus deal, which is about the millionth reminder that I need to read up on that). Anyway, useless though it may currently be, this space sure does look nice in Kensinger’s photos. I recommend clicking through to see them all.

More on marine transfer stations and my trash as class awakening after the jump. Jump!

Trash night = sex night?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blogger Therese J. Borchard published an intruiging post today (also on Huffington Post) about how trash nights equals sex nights in her household (that’s Monday and Thursday). The post could also be seen as a story of how a dinner party gets swamped by discussions on different local policies on when trash is picked up. All in all its a bit weird, but one just have to love passages such as

A year or so ago, I got fed up with my mate’s constant begging for sex, so one night I asked him point blank, “What is the minimal number of times a week that you need sex in order to be satisfied?”

“Twice. Absolute minimum.”

“Fine,” I said. “You get Monday and Thursday. If you don’t beg any other night.”

It then occurred to me that Monday and Thursday evenings were trash night. We drag out all of our rubbish and recyclables from the last few days and leave the stuff on the curb … to be picked up at 5 a.m. the next day, when the trash truck compressors will try to wake up our slumbering kids.

Yes, trash night is sex night in our household. Clearly a “Seinfeld” episode in the making.

This concept … of a scheduled sex session … was so intriguing to the other birthday guests that trash talk dominated the entire conversation for the rest of the evening.

“What about bulk pick up?” one asked.

“And what if you miss a day?” asked another.

“Eric’s lucky,” said the guy crossing his legs. “Our trash is only picked up once a month.”

Maker Faire Africa

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Africa is getting its very own Maker Faire—modeled after the conference of DIY inventors, crafters and all around innovators started in the Bay Area in 2006—organized by the masterminds behind the blogs Timbuktu Chronicles, AfriGadget and MIT’s International Development Design Summit. The first African installment will take place August 14-16 in Ghana and will include tracks on Robotics, Agriculture & Environment, Science & Engineering, Arts & Crafts. Here’s a link to the event blog.

I cannot wait to see what inspirational designs emerge from this meeting. Prediction: upcycling like we’ve never seen it before.

Update on Brazil returning UK’s trash

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This just in from Brazil’s Secretariat for Social Communications (SECOM): The hazerdous waste found in Brazil and shipped back to the UK last week may have been labeled as recycling materials, though the containers turned out to hold diapers, animal feed packages and other nastiness. In response, Brazil is envoking international law on the matter. According to Em Questao, SECOM’s online newsletter:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked Brazil’s Permanent Delegation in Geneva to report the traffic of hazardous waste from the UK under the terms of the Basel Convention. On July 23, 2009, Minister Celso Amorim spoke with British Chancellor David Miliband, who said the subject will be given the required attention. Amorim stressed Article 9 of the Convention, which says that the exporter shall bear responsibility for returning the illegal shipment to the country of origin. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Environment and IBAMA are still evaluating the need for additional measures.

FIDO fights trash

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Fellowship for the Interest of Dogs and their Owners (FIDO), “serving Brooklyn’s off-leash community” have had some trash-related gripes lately. Follow the drama here. Thanks for the heads up, Elizabeth.

More plastic in waters

Monday, July 27, 2009

Swedish Public Radio reports today that with the use of a new filter and new methods (such as taking surface water – plastic floats), a research team has found large amounts of plastic fibres in watercourses in Sweden. With previous findings being between 1 and 20 fibres per cubic meter (approx. 35 cubic feet), the preliminary results of 10,000 fibres per cubic meter are alarming, to say the least.

The research team is currently working on a theory which explains the existence of such high quantities with rubber tyres and synthetic clothes, giving off the fibers. Regarding natural clothes (cotton etc.), they too come steeped in plastic fibres these days, says Fredrik Norén, part of the research team. (Which incidentally is why I wash new clothes before I wear them, letting the big machines at the local laundromat worry about the problem…)

The clothes theory gives a troubling insight into exactly how much plastic we use these days, and for what. It also pushes us to ask “why though?” Any takers on that, feel free to post comments. When the research project is finished, I hope to follow this up.

[As a side note for the linguists out there, can you tell where in this post you find UK English? I had fun writing this up.]

Weekly Compactor: good news edition

Monday, July 27, 2009

This week in trash news:

  • City Room reports that Fresh Direct aims to deliver more food, less packaging;
  • Also from City Room/NYT: The electronics industry sues to block new recycling requirements (we take this as good news because that means the law is having an impact;
  • Wooster Collective posts trash-related street art from Flea;
  • Buffalo and Philly get Big Belly solar powered trash compacting recepticles; and
  • Missing Ohio kids found alive in the trash (morbid but true fact: while we almost never post them, we come across a lot of baby in the trash stories that end another way, it’s so refreshing to read a happy ending in this one).

The future, captured

Monday, July 27, 2009

Remember Dustbot, the cute little robots that are being developed to slave for humans who want their trash taken care of? They are now being demonstrated to the public in the Swedish city of Örebro. Swedish fabulous blogger Helena Bergman, originally from Örebro, has captured this for all to see. This is the future everyone (and as the New York Times wrote yesterday, some say this isn’t all fantastic)!

For Dustbot, cobblestone is a piece of cake

For Dustbot, cobblestone is a piece of cake

Kids watch in amazement as Dustbot makes a pick-up

Kids watch in amazement as Dustbot makes a pick-up

Dustbot makes a drop-off, back in his tent

Dustbot makes a drop-off, back in his tent

Meet the trashies

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Next Saturday from 1-3pm, us guys truly will be giving a talk and leading an interactive discussion on trash and the Internet at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City, Queens.



We hope to see all of you in the NYC area there and promise to post links and highlights after the fact. This event is part of the fabulous University of Trash program curated by Michael Cataldi and Nils Norman.

TRASHION ala Miz Metro

Friday, July 24, 2009

Heads up, New Yorkers, the city just got trashier. From 1-6pm, Wednesday through Sunday until August 21st you can check out Trashion, a new show up at Gallery 151 at 350 Bowery—part of the Urban Green Initiative.

Trashion at Gallery 151

Trashion at Gallery 151

I have a good feeling about this show since they dubbed the opening “Trashion Tuesday”. Alliteration, word creation and trash-related punning = my people.

Out of towners who can’t make it to the show will have to settle for the music video below by Miz Metro, a local personality who attended the Fame high school, used to host gypsy circus parties and now blogs, sings and “scat raps”. I can’t say I love this song, but I dig the Metro Card minidress, random trash accessories and the Beastie Boys-feeling intro.

Recycle LACMA

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I just discovered my favorite RSS feed of the summer via Flavorwire: Recycle LACMA. It’s the blog of artist Robert Fontenot who heard the  Los Angeles County Museum of Art was getting rid of a bunch of stuff in its costume and textile collection, bought up over 50 of those pieces at auction and is now reimagining each one into an entirely different object.

Hand woven linen textile wastepaper basket

Hand woven linen textile wastepaper basket

Checking out the blog each day is like an advent calendar of upcycling. Today, for example, he posted this fab wastepaper basket fashioned from an old piece of Turkish embroidery. Trashtastic.

Upcycled sky tracks

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The real it thing in lower Manhattan this summer seems to be the High Line. What was commercial traffic for meat packers et al. between 1934-1980, nothing between 1980 and last year, is now a hip, weed-ridden concrete-heavy park, with a view, stretching from Washington & Gansevoort to 10th & 20th. On top of this, more park is currently being developed.

Having visited said park Sunday night, I must confess I’m sold. You have to be impressed by such clever upcycling and the courage to plant weeds and not orchids. And of course, the echo of history is something else for a train nerd such as myself.

The development from 1934 to present day can be studied through these excellent image galleries. Admission is free, but if one wants member benefits (and to support the development of the park), there are alternatives ranging from $40 to $10,000. At $350, you get a key-ring.

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