Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

Waste in Focus

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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. 


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. 

Will eliminating trash trains eliminate Subway trash?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Yorkers, have you noticed fewer trash cans on your local platform? The MTA thinks getting rid of trash cans will reduce the need for subterranean garbage collection, thus speeding up late night operation.


Trash train, photo via

Yes, it’s devastating to be waiting late night, to hear that rumble of promise, only to discover it’s the freaking trash train. Delays suck. But really, will we throw less away just because we have no where to throw it? Sure, there’s evidence that if we don’t have trays to load up, we take less food in cafeterias. It seems like a leap, though, to apply the same logic to solid waste. Thoughts?

City of Systems: Waste Removal

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Urban Omnibus, a project of the Architectural League of New York, has a fantastic series of blog posts and videos out called City of Systems. The final chapter, Waste Removal, came out two months ago, though I hadn’t seen it until today. Thanks, Annie, for posting it to the the Facebook page. The video features an interview with trashie icon Elizabeth Royte, who gives a brief history of solid waste management in New York and shares what motivated her to write Garbage Land, a must-read for anyone interested in trash. Back in 2007, Royte was the first author in a week-long series of author interviews we featured here called Literary Trash. Check out that interview here. Might be time to revive the theme.

Portia Munson and other Debris

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Portia Munson makes plastic pretty by piling it up and placing it in musuems. Check out her stuff at Beautiful/Decay. Hers and other trashtastic work will go on display at the Chelsea gallery P.P.O.W. from March 20th in a show called Debris. More to come when the show opens.

Portia Munson

Thanks for the tip, Douglas!

Freshkills 2010 tour schedule

Friday, March 5, 2010

Attention NYC: The Parks Department has just announced a dozen opportunities for you to experience a guided tour of beautiful Freshkills Park.

Freshkills Park

Tours in April, May and June are currently open for public sign-up. The tours begin at the Eltingville Transit Center, 90-98 Wainwright Avenue in Staten Island, at 10am and 1pm on alternating Saturdays, and are free of charge. They will run through the middle of November. Here are the exact dates and times:

April 10, 10am and 1pm

April 24, 10am and 1pm

May 1, 10am and 1pm

May 15, 10am and 1pm

June 5, 10am and 1pm

June 19, 10am and 1pm

I plan to attend at least one of these dates myself. Who’s in?

New York City tra$h

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Does your city have a store? Mine does. City Hall augments tax dollars and offsets the cost of renovating and upkeeping by selling New Yorkers city-related stuff. What kind of stuff? Well, for example, if you get married at City Hall, you can pick up flowers, travel tissues, bride and groom rubber duckies, etc. All the essentials, really.

City Hall wedding souvenir

I am deeply conflicted about private/public partnership in this town. On the one hand, we have a beautiful park in the center of Manhattan. You may have heard of it, it’s called Central Park. But the Parks Department can’t afford to keep it fresh-smelling and bum-free on tax dollars alone. That would be a problem if there weren’t so many rich people who love the park and are willing to put their own money into keeping it nice. So they do. And in return, the park has a board of directors called the Central Park Conservancy that oversees official park business. Perfect synergy. Except: the park is also a popular gathering spot. A few years ago, the U.S. wanted to start this never-ending war in Iraq and concerned citizens decided to gather in the park to say NO. Unfortunately, the place they wanted to gather was a grassy lawn recently replanted on the Conservancy’s dime. So the Conservancy said NO, which is kind of scary when you look at it as a private board telling the public they can’t have a public gathering in a public space. Now, this story is not new to most of you and has lots of nuances left out. But it’s an example of the kind of questions this shit raises. Enter Oscar.

DSNY Oscar

The latest product launch at the City of New York Store is a series of stuffed Sesame Street characters dressed as employees of various city agencies. Oscar is a sanitation worker, of course. And the others seem to have been determined by fur color. Cookie Monster is NYPD blue. Elmo is a red fireman. And Big Bird Drives a yellow cab (which, as the daughter of a retired yellow cab driver I have to say is poor casting. Where the hell is that gritty muppet from the Caper?).

Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a financial crisis going on and that if this were a Gund campaign to save the pandas, I’d be cooing. There is just something that rubs me the wrong way about all these products going on sale to raise money for city projects. Part of the concern is the commercialization. Sesame Street is one brand, Gund is another that’s two companies mixing with the brand of NYC. This new product line, however, comes at a time when the city is greatly expanding semicorporate ventures in the name of development. Gutting and reconstructing Coney Island, for example. There is something unfair about the sentiment that grit defines this city and removing it is wrong, I know. But there is also something sad about these corporate ventures. They feel to me like giving up, like quick fixes for what local government should be able to do on its own and like poorly thought-through plans that can lead to private interest trumping people’s interests. Like the people who live in Coney Island now.

Anyway, this is a subject I am inarticulate and confused about. What do you think? Is it a good thing that Snapple is the official drink of New York and that somewhere in America, there sits a Taco Bell chair in Women’s Studies? All I know is that I really want an Oscar the Grouch sanitation worker doll and that I really don’t want to want one.

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