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.


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.


Photograph by Jason Mandella, via

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?


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 — — 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.



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 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.




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.

Calvino on consumption

Monday, June 10, 2013 by

This month on the New Yorker Fiction podcast, Robert Coover reads Italo Calvino‘s short story “The Daughters of the Moon.” In his conversation with New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, Coover says he teaches this story to expand his students’ understanding of straight narrative. It’s a rule-breaking story that feels both ancient and modern and covers many topics. Chief among these is waste and consumption.

In this world where every object was thrown away at the slightest sign of breakage or aging, at the first dent or stain, and replaced with a new and perfect substitute, there was just one false note, one shadow: the moon. It wandered through the sky naked, corroded, and gray, more and more alien to the world down here, a hangover from a way of being that was now outdated.

Have a listen and check it out for yourself.

Digging Out

Monday, May 20, 2013 by

This week’s Moth podcast deals with life, death and trash.

Eco Brooklyn

Friday, May 17, 2013 by

Eco Brooklyn Inc. is a contracting, landscape and design firm run by Gennaro Brooks-Church, who relies nearly exclusively on reclaimed materials and coined the phrase “Build it Forward.” In the corporate world, “Live the Brand” is a phrase you hear a lot. Brooks-Church embodies the concept. He and his family live in an ever-improving green show house implementing and testing creative ways to eliminate waste (grey water systems), breath second and third lives into discarded building materials (beautiful reclaimed wood floors, an old fire escape fashioned into stairs), and create a space connected to the neighborhood and local environment (a natural pool). A while back, I took a tour of this whimsical space complete with a roof garden and bee hives, a project by


Photo via

Ever since, I have followed the company Facebook page, where I recently learned they have stocked their pond with local fish and frogs. Track new projects undertaken by Brooks-Church and his team of interns via social media, or schedule a tour and head over to Gowanus to check it out for yourself.

Soup, Salad, Tacos, Slaw

Monday, April 15, 2013 by

World renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson has a blog and you should read it. In a recent post entitled “By the Numbers: Food Waste” he shares key stats on our wasteful nation as well as four great recipes for using up leftovers.

via Samuelsson's "Food for Thought" section of his website.

via Samuelsson’s Food for Thought blog section of his website

In addition to advocating freezing, composting, cooking with wine and saving bread for various recipes, Samuelsson imparts one recipe each for a delicious-sounding soup, salad, slaw and taco. I love this combination of recipe ideas as a mantra for anyone with a bit left over after a meal—especially tacos. I often make soups or salads out of surplus dinner party fare, but tacos just make leftovers sound more fun!

The whole post reminds me of my grandmother who, borrowing from the tradition of Samuelsson‘s home of Sweden, would occasionally declare  a smorgasbord lunch.  She would empty out the fridge and put out little bits of this and that, some served cold and some served hot, left over from the amazing array of gourmet offerings created in her farm kitchen each week.


Landfill Harmonic

Sunday, April 14, 2013 by

“The world sends us garbage. We send back music.”

If you haven’t already, watch this video. Then head over to Kickstarter to ensure this trashtastic documentary is widely released.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013 by

Do The Green Thing has a fantastic Facebook page where they routinely post such wonderful finds as this array of pockets upcyled as wall-mounted storage.

via Do the Green Thing

via Do the Green Thing

Having just moved apartments and hemorrhaged my savings into a range of unforeseen costs and untold hours of unregulated Etsy surfing, I find this DIY project utterly charming. It reminds me of that kids book, Katy No-Pocket written by Emmy Payne and  illustrated by the same dude who drew Curious George. Did you have that one growing up? It’s about a kangaroo who has no pocket with which to tote her kid.  She consults other animals about how they carry around their babies before scoring a sweet pocket-covered apron from a handyman. I am sure there is an important conversation to be had about the White-man-saves-the-day theme, but man did little me dig that apron.

Katy No-Pocket's badass utility apron

Katy No-Pocket’s badass utility apron

Stay tuned, this may inspire a longer series on the global need for more pockets in women’s clothing and how to upcycle our way out of that crisis.

Fuck Yeah Upcycle

Friday, February 15, 2013 by

This. Happy Friday.

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