Posts Tagged ‘trash’

Roses of Seemapuri

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I have been meaning to share for a more than a week now the latest update from Rolando Politi, New York legend and founder of the trash worship movement. Rolando has long supported an all-woman waste picker’s collective in India and shares, along with these lovely photos, the news that you, too, may support their work by purchasing a flower made from salvaged materials.

Women making flowers

Women making flowers

From Rolando:

The co-op in seemapuri is known as “kabad se jugad” (waste improvs) . Right now  initial start up funds have all been spent for tools, supplies and rent. KSJ has decided to continue on the risky road of being all independent and self sustaining by the export sales of their unique flowers and mobiles!  The price for one flower is $30 (includes export shipping) but if you order multiples, the cost is only $25 each. To order please send mail to recycleandpray@gmail.comSpecify the quantities and your shipping instructions.
Bindi bulbs

Bindi bulbs

You need not pay until you receive the parcel in good order!  They make a great surprise gift for your loved ones. We ship anywhere in the world and a card from sender can be included! The number of women involved is directly proportional to the number of orders received and just one order for three flowers is enough for one women salary for one month!

World Cup Trash

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I love World Cup season. No matter where I am in the world, it brings me joy to find international clusters of people huddled around televisions and to hear multilingual cheers and sporadic honking in the streets. I also love all the colorful news coverage the event sparks, like this amazing story about Japanese fans in Rio sticking around to clean up trash in the stadium after their team lost to Cote D’Ivoire.

Photo via Sportskeeda

Photo via Sportskeeda

I love this story so much. Also, sorry I haven’t posted in a while, much more to come.



Pick up Picking Up in paper back

Friday, April 18, 2014

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

Photo via

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

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. 

Polar Vortex Trash

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
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

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 on “Sex, trash and nature in the city.”


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.

We send back music

Monday, December 10, 2012

Landfill Harmonic is a documentary filmed in Paraguay about an orchestra whose musicians—young residents of a slum built on top of a landfill—play instruments made from trash. Here’s the trailer, which opens with a beautiful quote from the orchestra director: “The world sends us garbage. We send back music.” Gives me chills. I can’t wait for this film to be released.

Like the project on Facebook, here. Thanks for the tip, Brigitte. I am sure we’ll be posting more on this project as the film is released.

Trashing Lebanon

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Al Jazeera English program Earthrise covers Lebanon’s trash mountain, Lebanese views on waste and consumption and the (B)IM Project performances featured here last Trashtastic Tuesday in the form of a Q&A with the creators.


Oh, Plastiksack!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The fabulous site inhabitat featured today Ida-Marie Corell‘s Ikea gown, the centerpiece of her installation in a show called “Oh, Plastiksack” at the Gewerbemuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland.

Ida-Marie Corell’s Ikea gown

In trying to find out more about both the artist and the show, I came across Corell’s wonderful Plastic Bag Blog, which I’ll be adding to the blogroll and trolling for content on the regular from now on. She also has a book out about plastic bags, German-reading trashies consider this an open call for a guest post review.

All Women Waste Workers

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Feeling philanthropic? Rolando Politi, founder of the Yanbuki trash worshipers, has launched a fundraising campaign to support a project with women rag pickers in Delhi, India. The idea: teach the members of the women’s waste workers cooperative to make and sell trash art.

Trash flowers

The campaign states two aims, to generate income for the women and to destigmatize their work by creating something positive from the materials they collect.

For more on waste, recycling and the informal industry of rag picking in Delhi, check out the documentary Delhi Waste Wars.

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.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just discovered the nifty site Replayground, the trash biz of designer Tiffany Threadgould who packages instructions and base materials for DIY upcycling kits as gifts for kids and families. She also leads corporate events and community workshops on upcycling. As regular readers are probably aware, I am quite skeptical of trash for sale. What I like about this venture though is the DIY section of the website. Free ideas! And some good ones at that. Also, redefining corporate skills and teambuilding events as an opportunity to discuss waste is ingenius.

Check out the Replayground blog for more free project ideas, some shared through adorable videos like this one.

Thanks for the tip, Aaron!

Recycle, comost or trash?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ever had trouble distinguishing among the above? McSweeney’s offers this helpful guide.

No Impact Man – the movie

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Earlier this week the team was invited to a screening of “No Impact Man,” a documentary about journalist Colin Beavan, a.k.a. No Impact Man, his spouse Michelle Conlin, their cute-overload daughter Isabella and the family dog Frankie. Behind the documentary are directors Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein, and producer Eden Wurmfeld.

For several years now, Beavan has been updating the world on his No Impact Project—his endeavor to spend one year wasting as little energy and as few resources as possible—via his blog, No Impact Man. The documentary follows Beavan, Conlin, daughter and dog over the course of the project, from November 2006 to November 2007. Throughout four phrases, the family gives up more and more, starting with taking non man-powered transport of any kind, buying anything new (including toilet paper), eating meat, using the elevator. Finally, they shut off the power in their apartment and attempt to live without electricity.

The No Impact Project is framed as a family project, but as the movie reveals, there’s no doubt that its really all about Beavan. As Conlin puts it “It’s called No Impact Man,it’s his project, it’s his book and he’s No impact man, but…the project is our family is doing this.”

Without going too much into detail to spoil the movie for those who plan to see it, we can tell you that the documentary is not so much about how to live without causing further damage to the planet (if you already have a flat in a posh condo and have bought all the laptops and bikes you need that is), but about a marriage in which one partner is very driven to embark on something that affects everyone in the family. Here’s the trailer:

And, as there are two of us, please find below two reviews:


Why make a documentary about how a family tries to live emissions-free for a year, but not give you the results on screen? The concpiracy theory would be that the team didn’t want to give out spoilers from the coming book. I don’t think so, I rather believe that Gabbert/Schein/Wurmfeld realised that watching people live eco friendly isn’t terribly exciting on screen (the most action-ridden moment being when the family tries and fails to build an Nigerian pot fridge). What is exciting is the struggle with the contemporary context they’ve locked themselves into. In the end, it boils down to how much of a crazy person you are ready to be percieved as. Easier as freelance writer (Beavan) compared to Business Week writer (Conlin). The message we are left with from No Impact Man is that you probably need very supportive friends.


As a documentary about a marriage, “No Impact Man” is pretty entertaining. As a lead-by-example environmental statement, it’s a bit muddy. The film skips along, touching lightly on some of the quotidian debates of the green movement: are cloth diapers really better for the environment than disposable? What are the outer limits of eco-chic (yes to reusable shopping bags, no to no toilet paper), without really saying much. If anything, it’s a nice ad for biking and eating locally. The Union Square green market features heavily and the family spends enviable amounts of quality time scooting and biking around town. Conlin’s transformation from a Starbucks-addicted shopaholic to sustainable supermom is the real story. As she whines then copes and decides what she can and can’t live without, we make the same assessments about our own lives. How embarrassing would it be to mooch ice from the neighbor because you are consciously living without a fridge; or if the whole office knew your husband air dried his bottom as an attempt to save the trees?

Remarkably, there is very little trash in “No Impact Man.” Right away, the family stops creating waste, so little time is spent tracking where waste goes when it leaves the 5th Ave co-op and what impact the family is averting. Aside from some arty close-ups of trash bags and a brief cameo by Sustainable South Bronx founder Majora Carter, trash plays a small role in the film.

Anyway, as someone constantly asked “but what should I do about it” I admire the notion of living out one’s own ideals and the attempt to make personal the huge and often eye-glazing topic of lessening our impact on the environment. But there is a difference between personal and personality-driven and I found Beaven’s project off-putting in its self-absorption. Kudos to this family for eating locally, biking everywhere and spending lots of quality time together not watching TV. At one point Beaven says that when people ask what one thing they can do to make a difference, he says volunteer at an environmental organization because the erosion of community is what is killing us all. THAT point should be better underscored on his blog and in the film. A first step might have been calling the film “No Impact Family”.

(Paired with the documentary is Beavans book No Impact Man – The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process. The book and film are to be released September 1st and 1st respectivley.)

More on trashy video games

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I forgot to mention this morning, that Trash Wars joins a motley crew of trash-themed video games. There’s the Japaense game Trash Panic now available from Play Station, there was that kid who made a Donkey Kong-like garbage collector game for a school project, and then there was the TrashCade, a more literal take on the subject. Know of any others? Send them our way!

UPDATE: I should have Googled before hitting publish. Trash, the game, has a post-appocalyptic theme wherein trash is used as building material. And check out this amazing overview of how trash cans are used in video games from the user-edited site Giant Bomb.

In video games, Trash cans do not serve their tradition purpose. Relatively few games employ a mechanic for the disposal of trash. Rather, whenever trash cans are featured in video games, it is mostly for the purposes of weaponry or cover.

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