reclaiming my trash

Street waste team and all their “reclaiming space” talk, got me thinking about my own bins of garbage outside my house. I take my trash to the can on the curb. It is “out of site out of mind”… until I see a modern day “picker” go through it. I often witness these brooklyn “pickers” go through my piles of plastic bottles and cans and feel quite uneasy. It is MY garbage. Ha. I suddenly feel a strong ownership of that trash, trash that just an hour ago I dumped in the can w/o a care in the world. Couldn’t care less where it was going and what would happen to it.  I guess, I wanted it handled by an official garbage representative. In fact, now I see, how those “pickers” will most likely do a much better job of proper recycling the bottles. Anyways, my attitude has shifted. I will now smile at the unsolicited men and women sorting out my trash :)




  jennykane324 wrote @

I think you can judge NYC’s economic climate by how many people you see collecting returnables from the trash – and recently, I’ve seen a lot more people with carts and more people lined up at bottle return sites. I try to separate returnables out of my recycling and just leave them on the street but people still go through all the bags (I noticed one woman, sometimes with a small child, pretty regularly). I don’t know if they’ll do a better job recycling than the DSNY but they certainly need the money.

I’ve always liked the informal re-use that happens all over the city — you put something you don’t need in your building’s hall, in front of the building, on a corner — and someone else comes along and takes it. Over the years, I’ve benefitted and contributed often to this system!

I recently had a sort of unsettling trash experience though — a neighborhood friend called me and said he had picked up a pill bottle on the sidewalk and found my name on it. I had thrown out some expired or un-used prescriptions when I was moving — (hadn’t found an easy way to recycle the empty containers), and it felt a little unnerving to think my trash had been sifted through. It also made me wonder about the careless way I’ve recycled so much mail and personal paperwork that have my name and address.

  Victoria wrote @

I also contribute to this informal system, especially living in manhattan where it’s not easy to find convenient recycling receptacles! The other day, a woman was carting around a big bag of plastics and glass and I stopped her, now we set up a system that whenever I have empty bottles I leave them in a specific garbage spot for her to pick up from. I’ve read articles where people have made a living out of collecting bottles in New York. It’s also amazing how much money we throw away.


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