Recycling

Five Million Hi-Fives to Greenmarket Composters!

Spring, winter, summer or fall, New Yorkers are increasingly dedicated to building a collective compost pile, facilitated by Greenmarkets and community composters throughout the city.  In partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation, GrowNYC has diverted more than 5 million pounds of residential food scraps from disposal.  Material dropped off at Greenmarkets is distributed to a network of local compost sites, such as Earth Matter on Governor’s Island, where chickens get the first “peck” of the scraps, and Red Hook Farm, where unwanted scraps are transformed to nurture a new crop of Brooklyn-grown vegetables.   Whether your haul is large or small, we thank YOU for your contributions to this effort!  Learn more about food scrap collections at Greenmarket.    

           

Big Lift Winners Achieve Zero Waste!

Eleven Recycling Champions schools participated in this year’s Big Lift: Zero Waste contest. The schools blew us away with their uncontaminated collections that definitively showed what studies have told us: 90% of school waste can be diverted from landfills!

The Big Lift challenged schools to reduce waste and recycle as much as possible during one school day, aiming for zero waste to landfills from classrooms, offices, and the cafeteria. The first place organics collection school, PS 130M, achieved an astounding 93.60% diversion rate and the first place non-organics school, PS 221Q, achieved a 57.78% diversion rate. The average diversion of all participating schools in this year’s contest was 58.88%, exceeding the 50% diversion rate for schools targeted in the Mayor’s Zero Waste Schools program.

In preparation for the Big Lift, participating schools planned publicity campaigns that included announcements, classroom visits, pledge walls, posters, and even video “commercials” shown in every class. These impressive efforts increased student and teacher awareness about recycling, reinforcing classroom and cafeteria recycling practices put in place over the course of the school year.

Meet the winners and their tips for school recycling success:

 

PS 130 Manhattan, 1st place organics school—93.60% waste diversion
Best Practice: Principal involvement and classroom paper monitoring charts

Mr. Fong is a first year principal at PS 130 Hernando DeSoto in Manhattan. With all of the other demands of his role, he made recycling a priority. Mr. Fong’s hands-on involvement in the cafeteria as students mastered the new organics sorting routine, demonstrated to all in the school the high importance he places on school wide recycling.

Sustainability Coordinator, Wenmin Nicklas, worked with the Green Team to create a system to monitor and display the results of classroom paper recycling. Once a week, each class received a rating based on how well they are separating paper in their classroom. The weekly rating chart is displayed in the hallway by the main office for all to see, prompting students to look at their class’s rating and strive to achieve “smiley stickers” on each Green Team check in. 

 

PS 90 Queens, 2nd place organics school—87.60% waste diversion
Best Practices: School wide involvement and recycling monitors

At PS 90 Horace Mann recycling education extended beyond the students and staff to include a letter sent home to parents. Custodial staff were key in implementing successful cafeteria recycling, volunteering to monitor the stations until student monitors were assigned. Currently, PS 90 has a monitor system where students from their grades volunteer during lunch hour.

 

PS 221 Queens, 1st place non-organics school—57.78% waste diversion
Best Practice: Presorting at tables

For NYC's youngest students, sorting recyclables can be a balancing act - many are barely tall enough to see into the recycling bins! Sustainability Coordinators Danielle Rothenberg and Laura Arnold at P.S. 221 noticed that students understood which items were recyclable but had trouble placing them in the bin, so they created a system where students presort all plastic items. Each table has a blue, plastic basket and is assigned a student who transfers the plastic items in the basket to the recycling bins. Presorting has transformed the cafeteria by allowing students to focus just on emptying liquids from their drink cartons, recycling them, and throwing out the tray.

  

PS 197 Brooklyn, 2nd place non organics school—42.59% waste diversion
Best Practices: Tackling changes one at a time and showing appreciation

Sustainability Coordinator, Phil Richford, has two strategies for success: implement big changes one at a time and continually thanking everyone involved in making recycling a success. Phil implemented tray stacking in the cafeteria as a first step to reducing waste and increasing sorting. Once students were in the habit of tray stacking, the Green Team focused on making sure students separated recyclables from their landfill waste. It only took a few weeks before each habit was a part of the everyday routine. Now that the habits have been formed, students easily adapt to slight changes in the routine such as stacking the new, round, compostable plates introduced at the end of the school year.

Knowing that none of the school’s recycling success would be possible without the custodial staff, Phil always expresses his gratitude and encourages others to do so. Students made thank you posters for the custodians which are proudly displayed next to school’s Big Lift winner announcement.  In turn, seeing the importance of recycling to the school community, the custodians work patiently with Phil to problem solve any issues that arise.

We are proud of what these schools accomplished on the day of the Big Lift: Zero Waste contest. RCP worked with 90 schools in the 2014-2015 school year, helping them to implement lasting recycling programs. Thank you to all of our schools for your efforts to recycle, for making NYC a greener place for all, and for a great year of partnership!

“¡Recicla, Boricua!” Float Cleans Up Puerto Rican Day Parade

GrowNYC and the Sierra Club of Puerto Rico "floated up" Manhattan's Fifth Avenue at the festive National Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, June 16. The green team volunteers hauled clear bags stuffed with recyclable materials collected from the audience onto the float, giving some 2 million spectators a remarkable snapshot of waste reduction efforts at the event.  Volunteers collected more than 489 pounds of recyclable materials--a 54% increase from last year. 

GrowNYC's free event recycling services included volunteer recruitment, outreach to parade float participants before the event, education on recycling rules and the creation of an event recycling plan to reduce waste at the parade.

 

Clothing Recycling Gets Legs in Chinatown Co-op

The weekend before Thanksgiving, residents in one Chinatown complex took time to “unstuff”—closets and drawers, that is—bringing 2,500 pounds of unwanted clothing to a special collection in their building. 

In 2012 GrowNYC hosted an Earth Day textile collection as part of a larger community event in Chinatown, attracting residents from the nearby Confucius Plaza Apartments, who asked for more convenient opportunities to recycle unwanted clothing, shoes, linens and other textiles.  With the help of our Manhattan Recycling Outreach Coordinator, the co-op held the first of what is now a bi-annual collection at the 762-unit apartment complex.  GrowNYC advised management on the logistics of setting up a collection, connected them Wearable Collections (who also collects materials from Greenmarkets) and provided outreach and education assistance, from promoting the collection to educating residents about recycling with the help of bilingual volunteers.  In the past two years the building has hosted six events and collected over 6.5 tons of material that will be reused or recycled into new products. Plans are underway to establish more frequent collections as resident demand for this service shows no sign of slowing, and building staff appreciate the lighter loads they must manage when taking out the trash. 

Want to recycle textiles in your apartment building?  Check out refashioNYC to see if you are eligible for a free collection bin, contact Wearable Collections about in-building programs or find a Greenmarket drop-off site near you.   

Have a More Sustainable Holiday

You've made a gift list and planned the menu, now here's your holiday recycling checklist:

  • Wrapping paper, gift boxes, cardboard and other paper packaging can go out with other paper recycling (remove tape, ribbons and other decorations). 
     
  • Eggnog cartons, wine bottles, olive containers, cookie tins and hard-to-open rigid plastic packaging are easy to recycle alongside the rest of your metal, glass, plastic and cartons
     
  • Block Styrofoam and foam peanut packaging are not recyclable, but alternative paper packaging can be included in your recycling pile.  Styrofoam peanuts can be reused, and cornstarch peanuts can be composted. 
     
  • For those so inclined, even corks can be recycled-bring to any Whole Foods and find other drop-sites here

Visit our Holiday Tips page for post-holiday tree collections, electronics recycling events and community swap events. 

Need more recycling help?  Use this search tool from the NYC Department of Sanitation. 

Green Your Halloween!

Green HalloweenWith Halloween 2014 coming on the heels of the BoxTrolls movie, recycled (and recyclable) cardboard costumes are sure to be in high demand.  Even if you won’t be creating one of these characters, we’ve got great tips for greening this season of ghosts and gourds.   

* Make crafty trick-or-treat sacks using recyclable paper bags and paper scraps or put removable decorations on tote bags or pillow cases for an extra sturdy, reusable option. Find great ideas for decorations, party planning, costumes and more at planetpals.com.

* Create costumes from items you already own and avoid purchasing unnecessary single-use items. Find new-to-you ensembles and donate your old ones at GrowNYC's Halloween Costume Swaps on October 25 and 26 or try your local thrift store for inspiration.  Get great recyclable costume ideas for all ages from the Cardboard Costume Challenge and Inhabitots.

* When you're finished showing off your costume, recycle it! Use your building's textile bin if you have one or find a Greenmarket collection near you.

* Compost your jack-o-lantern in your backyard or curbside collection bin, at a Greenmarket food scrap collection or see if community groups and gardens near you accept scraps for composting.  Make it a family affair, complete with snacks, at a Pumpkin Smash 2014 event, sponsored by the NYC Compost Project.  

* Too much candy?  Find a local dentist participating in Halloween Candy Buyback, where kids can get prizes or even cash.  Candy is donated to Operation Gratitude, for inclusion in care packages for troops overseas. 

GrowNYC and Sierra Club Puerto Rico Team Up to “Recicla Boricua” at Puerto Rican Day Parade


Over 100 bags of recyclable materials were collected by volunteers. 

The highly celebrated National Puerto Rican Day Parade that descended upon Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on Sunday, June 8 was red and white and green all over. A plan to educate participants about waste reduction, reuse and recycling resulted in more than 318 pounds of recyclable materials collected by GrowNYC and the Sierra Club Puerto Rico chapter. 50 volunteers trained by GrowNYC’s office of Recycling Outreach and Education marched in the parade alongside the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Sierra Club in an effort to help an estimated audience of 2,000,000 keep it green. With signs and banners within in hand, volunteers approached spectators to collect beverage bottles and other recyclables for the duration of the event. GrowNYC’s free event recycling services included volunteer recruitment, outreach to parade float participants before the event, education on recycling rules and the creation of an event recycling plan to reduce waste at the parade.

Recycling at Greenmarkets as Bountiful as the Produce

GrowNYC Greenmarkets are opening for the season throughout the city, bringing with them not only a bounty of fresh regional products, but also expanding weekly opportunities for New Yorkers to recycle textiles and compost food scraps. 

In 2007, GrowNYC’s newly-created Office of Recycling Outreach and Education began testing a program to collect clothing and textiles at Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets.  Tax-deductible donations of textiles such as Sustainability Center at Greenmarketclothing, shoes and towels are collected and later sorted for reuse, or recycled into new products such as wiping rags and insulation. We quickly discovered New Yorkers’ dedication to living sustainably and have met their demand for more recycling--36 Greenmarkets now offer this service, with 10 new locations starting up this spring and summer.    

Since 2011, GrowNYC has worked to complement existing Greenmarket food scrap collections run by BIG!Compost and the Lower East Side Ecology Center, to meet the growing chorus of Greenmarket shoppers wishing to bring back trimmings from their weekly market haul.  Today, in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation and community partners, 38 Greenmarkets host food scrap drop-offs at least once a week.  Material collected is transported to one of several local sites in the five boroughs where it is transformed into compost, a fertile soil amendment for use in urban farming and gardening programs.

GrowNYC has collected more than 2.7 million pounds of textiles and 2.85 million pounds of food scraps at dozens of Greenmarket collection sites throughout the city.  Together, food scraps and textiles comprise 23% of NYC’s waste, making efforts like these critical to reducing the big apple’s environmental footprint. 

Find a list of Greenmarkets accepting food scraps at www.grownyc.org/compost and a list of textile collection sites at www.grownyc.org/clothing, or call 212-788-7964.

GrowNYC Receives “Vivacious Volunteer” Award from Baruch College

Last night, GrowNYC’s Stop ‘N’ Swap® coordinators, TK Zellers and Carl-Harry Nau, received recognition for their work with the Sigma Alpha Delta Honor Society at Baruch College Society's Induction Ceremony.  Affectionately known as our “swapateers,” TK and Carl have provided nearly 200 hours of community service opportunities to help Honor Society members achieve their goal for the year. “This award represents our appreciation for GrowNYC’s hard work and endless dedication to Sigma,” said Ly Bach, chair of the society’s volunteer committee. “We would not be able to give back to the community without your help with volunteering events.” 

Sigma Alpha Delta seeks to provide continuous support for its members in their pursuit of valuable communitarian contributions, with a focus on diversity and for the betterment of present and future generations.  Sigma members have volunteered at numerous Stop ‘N’ Swap community reuse events, helping to sort and display items dropped off and ensuring a smooth operation from start to finish.  Sigma Alpha Delta is one of many groups at Baruch that engage with GrowNYC by volunteering at Swaps, other events, and by working with our sister Greenmarket program. This is just the beginning, as GrowNYC looks forward to providing even more opportunities for Baruch students next semester.

Want to volunteer at a Stop ‘N’ Swap or other activity?  Check out our volunteer opportunities here!

Green Living Team Unites Residents and Staff to Revive Recycling

WSFSSH Green Living Team Unites Around Organics Collection

Food has always been common ground that brings people together.  Now, some New Yorkers are uniting over the scraps. This year the West Side Federation of Senior Supportive Housing (WSFSSH) hosted a Living Green Team Awards Ceremony, to celebrate and recognize superintendents and building managers who set the standard in energy efficiency and water conservation, among other environmental initiatives.  In April the 24-building, 1,800+ unit housing and social service agency honored five representatives of buildings that partnered with GrowNYC to improve solid waste management through recycling and composting. More...

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