Recycling

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...

A Volunteer’s View


Ladiny Partoredjo volunteers with
GrowNYC's Office of Recycling
Outreach and Education

Going into CUNY Baruch College, I knew that I wanted to major in psychology. However, it wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized what branch of psychology I wanted to pursue. Taking an environmental psychology class in the fall of that year opened my eyes to the problems happening all around us like the issues of littering, climate change, and the fracking of oil and natural gas. Before taking that class, I was completely oblivious about the world around me, and never realized the real importance of the environment. Of course, I didn’t litter but it was simply because I have always had an issue with seeing trash lying on the floor. After taking this class, I realized that this was the branch I wanted to study further in depth; the study of how humans view the environment and how their actions in the environment provide harmful and dire consequences to their health, their lifestyles and everyone around them. I knew that I wanted to make a change in this world, for our future generations to thrive successfully and healthily.

Growing up in Queens, I’ve always perceived New York City as a city that focused so little on making the world greener and more on establishing new businesses and infrastructure for one goal only: money. I perceived people as those who only focused on what is going on today, oblivious to the impacts their actions provide for the future. Earlier in my junior year, I began looking for internships on my school’s website, trying to find opportunities to make New York City greener and eco-friendly. That’s when I stumbled upon a volunteer/internship opportunity with…GrowNYC.

I decided to volunteer with GrowNYC because I knew I wanted to make a difference in this world, and be a part of an organization that is aware of the troubles all around us and promote effective solutions.  One of the things GrowNYC does is bring awareness on the importance of recycling to local residents and local officials. They address many issues that exist within the five boroughs in New York City and provide solutions to take on these issues.

One of the issues they tackled was how much clothes are disposed every year in the trash, instead of being recycled or donated. What I found surprising was that during the course of one year, NYC residents will throw away about 200,000 tons of clothing, from t-shirts to towels to handbags, simply because it is more convenient than going to a thrift store to donate old clothes. GrowNYC has sought to relieve this issue with their weekly textile collections at Greenmarkets throughout the five boroughs and coordinate special one-time collections in apartment buildings, special events, libraries and more. Having interacted with other GrowNYC volunteers and the staff, I was able to learn more about what compels people to participate and see their tremendous dedication in providing solutions that benefit us and the environment.

GrowNYC also works to connect people with resources such as the re-fashioNYC initiative of the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which funds GrowNYC’s recycling programs. Designed to make recycling clothing more convenient, re-fashioNYC places clothing collection bins in residential buildings and services them at no cost.  See how easy it can be to recycle textiles with my infographic!

Growing Recycling, One Building at a Time

Jamie Towers General Manager, Victor Berrios, stands with the growing piles of recycling.
Photo: Jamie Towers General Manager, Victor Berrios, stands with the growing piles of recycling  

GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education works with apartment buildings throughout the five boroughs to identify their challenges to recycling, improve recycling setup and educate all who live and work in the building.  Take the Jamie Towers Cooperative Apartments, for example.  For the past year, GrowNYC has worked with this 4-building,  600-unit complex in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx. We began with a “chute room makeover” on all floors to ensure that recycling areas had the appropriate signage, labeling, bins and bags. We then provided recycling trainings for all maintenance workers and workshops for building residents, who received sets of our Sort & Store recycling totes to help separate materials in their apartments. With the success of these initiatives, the property has gone from producing two bags of recyclables to a veritable mountain of material recovered for a second life. With our help, the building also established an on-site textile recycling collection and became one of the first buildings in the Bronx to collect electronics through the city’s e-cycleNYC program.  Want help for your apartment building?  Send a message to one of our recycling coordinators!

Unexpected Benefits in School Wide Recycling Initiatives

How do you improve recycling in NYC schools?  Involve the whole school in the effort!

Recycling protects our environment, stimulates economic development creating local jobs, and reduces global warming gases, benefitting the entire community.  At these K-12 Staten Island schools in the Recycling Champion Program , involving the entire community was the key to increasing recycling and environmental stewardship, but the additional benefits experienced have been an added bonus.
 

New Dorp High School
New Dorp High School improved cafeteria Organics Collection by launching an outreach campaign. Principal Deirdre De Angelis emphasized the importance of student participation before televising a recycling video in every classroom, featuring their mascot, the Cougar.  Custodial staff installed movie theatre style stantions next to the recycling station and additional staff instruction reinforced sorting. The Green Team sustained the effort by putting up posters and offering prizes for exemplary stewardship.  Cafeteria recycling and organics collection increased by at least 60%.

Students really appreciate the added bonus: the cafeteria is much cleaner, and is a more pleasant place to eat.  Cafeteria staff doesn’t mind the change either, since they were cleaning up after the students!

 

P.S. 30 Westerleigh

P.S. 30 dramatically increased recycling across the school by creating a Green Team that helps with cafeteria monitoring, and also communicates with the student body during morning announcements.   They kicked off their efforts with a school wide contest to decorate all their classroom paper recycling bins. The faculty enthusiastically supported the contest through their artistic flare and integrating recycling into lesson plans. The school’s overall diversion rate improved by 31%, with paper recycling rates increasing by 63% in just a few week.  Parents volunteered weekly to assist the Green Team with their own educational presentation.  According to Sustainability Coordinator Clare Mitchell, participating on this selective team has increased not only ecological literacy and stewardship, but has also proved to be an effective tool to improve attitude and behavior – improving overall academic performance.  

 

P.S. 21 Margaret Emery Elm Park

P.S. 21 created Dr. Seuss-like trees made from milk cartons, soda bottles, and magazines, to reinforce recycling, but also give students a creative way to practice their writing skills.  Students wrote “their story” on individual “leaves” which were strung on wire bases to create the trees.  Decorating the school at holiday time, Principal Gina Merino’s enthusiasm for the project helped student vocabulary “grow” along with school pride and awareness of environmental issues.  The Recycling Champions Program science class lessons reinforced the three RRR’s, which overlap with many requirements in the science Common Core and Regents exams.

Stakeholders in these schools increased recycling by working together, sharing the responsibility to teach and encourage environmental stewardship.  Improving recycling programs benefitted not only the NYC community, but their own school community as well.  For more information on how to improve recycling at your school visit www.grownyc.org/recyclingchampions

GrowNYC Community Compost Partner Profile: Gowanus Canal Conservancy

GrowNYC collects food scraps and other organic waste at various Greenmarkets around the city to distribute to local compost partners in the surrounding area. With the help of community volunteers, New York City’s recycled food scraps are transformed into a nutrient rich soil amendment for farming and greening purposes throughout the five boroughs.

A few minutes’ walk from the F train, Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s (GCC) Salt Lot hosts a monthly compost windrow build for volunteers from around the city. November’s volunteers included about a dozen students from the Brooklyn Technical High School’s Red Cross Club, a group of elementary students from a Bed-Stuy Charter School, and a myriad of volunteers simply happy to enjoy an outdoor-community activity.

Sam and Maria Pruden of Harlem join GCC monthly to participate in composting. Behind Sam and Maria is an illustration of the compost build and process.

The volunteers arrived ready to tackle the record-breaking 10,000 pounds of food scraps that had been collected from four Greenmarkets the day before. The bins of food scraps are dumped and mixed in a large pile on the ground with leaves and yard scraps, taking about 4 hours. The pile, or windrow, will sit for two weeks, and then be turned by a GCC staff member once a week for the following four weeks, before it is sifted to make a final product. At the end of these six weeks, GCC has a fertile soil amendment for tree pits and rain gardens that help prevent polluted water from entering the canal.

Two students from Brooklyn Technical School’s Red Cross Club carry a bin of food scraps to the compost pile to be mixed with leaves and other dry yard trimmings.

GCC Coordinators Jared McGuire and Christine Petro, sift processed compost to make final product with a Bed-Stuy group leader.

Christine Petro has been volunteering with GCC for almost two years and has noticed a steady increase in the amount of food scraps being delivered from the weekend markets over the past three months. Salt Lot is just one of many community compost sites around the city. Asked about the objective of these local projects, she says, “The objective is twofold: to have a positive environmental impact for the surrounding community, and also to teach the practice of composting for educational and applications going forward.”

Jared McGuire and Christine Petro, GCC Volunteer Coordinators.

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