Caught Up in Kondo? Don’t Spark Joy in Landfills!

March 16, 2019
Posted in Recycling | Tagged swap, reuse, donate, recycle, reduce


Making up just 5% of the world’s population, the US consumes 30% of the world’s resources and creates 30% of the world’s waste.  We have so much stuff that finding a place to put it is big business; the self-storage industry is booming. Today, it is physically possible for every American to stand at the same time under the canopy of self-storage roofing in the US.  It’s no surprise, then, that Marie Kondo, author of best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has started a de-cluttering craze.

On her Netflix show, Kondo teaches clients to make their homes more livable through her special organizing process. The result is large piles of garbage bags filled with clothing, home furnishings, and other items that no longer “spark joy” for their owners.  Read on for tips to break free of clutter, sustainably! 

The true solution to too much stuff, of course, is to consume less, buy better, and care for what we already have—this makes it easier to maintain a comfortable home, and helps the planet too!  Next time you put your stuff on the curb, consider that for every garbage can placed out for collection, the equivalent of 71 garbage cans' worth of waste is created in mining, agriculture and other industrial processes to convert raw materials into finished products and packaging. 

Tips to Responsibly De-Clutter Your Life:

1: Clear it out.  To achieve the highest use for unwanted items, choose to swap or donate what’s usable.  For items such as electronics, household chemicals, and personal documents, check out local resources and special events to recycle or safely dispose.   Need a little extra help getting started? Check out How to Declutter Your Home Fast: A Checklist for the Messy.

2: Get organized.When you’ve successfully pared down, reorder your home for daily life.Good organization keeps you from buying things you don’t need or already own, and can create a happier, less stressful living environment.Check out 10 Ways to Unclutter Your Life.  

3: Change habits.To remain clutter free, slow the flow of new things into your home.  Prevent future waste buy buying wisely—choose high quality items you truly need and intend to use.  Try out zero waste practices like repairing what you already own and love,  (see Fixers Collective, Mend It Mondays, Fix It Fridays) and buying bulk and package-free groceries.  Spend less time shopping and managing stuff, and more time on non-commercial activities like enjoying culture, spending time in nature, and volunteering.

Want to stay on top of NYC zero waste news and resources? Subscribe to our monthly NYC Recycling Updates!

It Takes a Metropolis

March 9, 2019


Every year hundreds of everyday heroes help guide their fellow New Yorkers down the path to zero waste by keeping clothing and food scraps out of landfills, reusing items too good to toss, and by adopting new habits to reduce waste and recycle more.  Check out our new video to peek into the exciting world of our zero waste volunteers and the invaluable work that they do! Itching to get involved? Follow the link to sign up for an upcoming orientation or opportunity: http://bit.ly/recycleopps

Host Your Own Community Swap!

January 2, 2019

Hosting a Swap is as Easy as D-I-Y with GrowNYC’s Guide to Community Reuse Events

We are pleased to announce the release of our new DIY Swap Guide!

Since 2007, GrowNYC has hosted 270 Stop ‘N’ Swap® community reuse events across all five boroughs. Our goal is to provide each of NYC’s 59 community districts an annual opportunity to find new homes for unwanted items that might otherwise end up in a landfill.  Still, the demand for reuse and desire to host and participate in community swaps extends beyond our program’s capacity. We created this guide to assist schools, community organizations, and passionate individuals interested in hosting their own swap events!

Whether you are looking to host a curated event for items such as clothes, books, or toys, or a big event where anything goes, the guide will help you identify an event location, map out your swap footprint, gather event materials, outline a training for your volunteers, and more.  We hope this guide will be a launching pad for more free reuse events across NYC.  

If you use our guide to host a swap, we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to send us a note at recycle@grownyc.org or tag us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@GrowNYC). 

Need further incentive to try out some creative reuse ideas in your neighborhood? Citizens Committee is currently accepting applications for micro-grants of up to $3,000 to resident-led groups working on community projects in the NYC, including those related to waste diversion. For more information, visit their website here.

Happy swapping! 

Handy Tips for a Sustainable Holiday

November 15, 2018
Posted in Recycling | Tagged recycle

 

Green Your Holidays

Making a list of how to green your holidays? Here are some of our favorite tips and events to cure the post-holiday blues.

Pre-cycle

Whether you're hosting a gathering or just giving and receiving, clearing out excess can make for a more sustainable holiday season.  Find new homes for unwanted items through clothing collections, coat drives, Stop 'N' Swap® events, holiday toy drives, or DonateNYC reuse partners--you'll have more room to celebrate, and an easier time recycling and reusing your post-holiday waste.

Sending cards?

Try e-cards or look for greetings made with recycled content (the more post-consumer content, the better).

Giving gifts?

Show some style when shopping by bringing your own reusable bags. Choose minimally-packaged items made with recycled content and give items that will be treasured, not thrown out before the next holiday season. Consider giving experiences, homemade, and vintage gifts. Find new joy in old favorites that are broken or need refreshing with Fixers Collective. Get hundreds of toy-free gift ideas for a more meaningful holiday here and here. Remember to wrap it recyclable by using old newspaper, paper gift wrap, paper gift bags, or reusable bags and containers that keep on giving all year. 

Preparing a holiday meal?

Look for items in recyclable packaging and buy minimally- or non-packaged fresh produce, like that from Greenmarket. Get meal planning and food storage tips from Save the Food, and read a thorough overview of sustainable Thanksgiving meal planning.    Easily compost vegetable trimmings by using drop-offs at select Greenmarkets and other locations. Serve your masterpiece on reusable plates and offer guests reusable flatware, glassware, and napkins.  Prevent waste by making small changes such as using recyclable aluminum foil rather than plastic wrap for food storage.

Stuck with clean up duties?

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.  If your curbside recycling day falls on Christmas and New Year's Day, here's when to set out recycling, garbage, and organics (if participating).  Foam peanut packaging and plastic foam blocks are not recyclable, but alternative paper packaging can be included in your recycling pile.  Foam peanuts can be reused at select shipping centers and Manhattan Mailroom locations, and cornstarch peanuts can be composted.  For those so inclined, even corks can be recycled—find drop-sites here

Too many leftovers?

Save take-out containers to send guests home with another helping.  Check the shelf life of open and unopened food and get storage tips to make the most of food and create less waste at stilltasty.com.

Post-Holiday Recycling Events to Cure the Winter Blues

Recycle Your Tree.

If you're putting up a real tree for the holidays, plan to chip in at MulchFest!  Trees (cleaned of stands, lights, tinsel and ornaments) will be collected and recycled into mulch for NYC parks at designated sites from January 4-13. Bring your own bag to select sites on January 12 & 13, and take home mulch for your yard, garden or street tree. Find citywide drop-off sites and mulch pick-up locations here. If you miss MulchFest, the city will pick up trees (also stripped of ornaments, etc) curbside from Jan 2-12, barring any snow disruptions.

Recycle Unwanted Electronics.

Certain electronics are banned from disposal.  When upgrading or unloading electronics, many recycling options are available at no cost, including curbside pickup for homes in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens WestFind more recycling resources here and check in with the Lower East Side Ecology Center, which runs the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse in Brooklyn and hosts "After the Holidays" e-waste collections in all five boroughs.

Loosen Your Drawers.

Clear out ill-fitting, outdated and otherwise unwanted clothing, shoes, and linens and bring them to one of GrowNYC's weekly collections for reusable clothing and other textiles.

Swap Your Stuff.

GrowNYC's Stop 'N' Swap® is the ultimate re-gifting party. Bring reusable items to share (portable items only) or simply bring a tote bag or two to take home things you can put to reuse. Unstuff your home at one of 4 swaps in December, or find winter swap dates and locations at GrowNYC.org/swap.

 

From all of us at GrowNYC, thank you for helping green our city by taking our "recycling challenge" at community events, volunteering as an Environmental Ambassador, dropping off clothing and food scraps at our Greenmarkets, attending our Stop 'N' Swaps, and more throughout 2018. We look forward to seeing you out at many of the great recycling events that will kick off a sustainable 2019. Happy Holidays!

For more tips on keeping your holidays green and merry, visit the NYC ZeroWaste page.

Celebrating Our 250th Stop ‘N’ Swap®

September 21, 2018
Posted in Recycling | Tagged swap, Stop 'N' Swap, reduce, reuse, recycle

Stop 'N' Swap 250

At GrowNYC, there’s no stopping when it comes to swapping!  In an effort to reduce NYC’s waste and help more New Yorkers reuse perfectly good items, our zero waste programs funded by DSNY set out to provide an annual swap event for every community district in the five boroughs. 

This year we celebrate our 250th Stop ‘N’ Swap in NYC – all thanks to dedicated staff, our passionate volunteers, and diverse community partners, who make more than 50 swaps a year possible!

At Stop ‘N’ Swap, the public is invited to bring clean, portable, reusable items to share with those who can use them. No one is required to bring something to take something — you can simply show up with a bag and see what’s free for the taking. Clothing, books, housewares, electronics, and toys are just some of the offerings.  Recent memorable treasures include peanut butter and jelly pillowcases, pocket mouse, grass jelly, an amateur radio calendar, and plants potted just for fellow swappers (view photos).

Since 2008, more than 62,000 New Yorkers have attended a Stop ‘N’ Swap co-hosted by more than 135 different community partners and supported by over 1,200 volunteers.  In just 5 years, participants have kept more than half a million pounds of reusable items out of landfills. 

80% of products in the US are used once, then thrown away — find a Stop 'N' Swap near you and start reusing today!

Environmental Ambassadors at NYCHA

February 12, 2016
Posted in Recycling | Tagged recycle, volunteer, NYCHA, recycling



Over the past year, an exciting thing has been happening: recycling is rolling out at NYCHA developments citywide.  As a partner in community engagement, GrowNYC has provided recycling education at workshops and events, aiming to change the way more than 400,000 New Yorkers take out the trash. 

This winter, GrowNYC is launching a new volunteer program for NYCHA residents who want to see this program succeed.  Through our Environmental Ambassadors program, we will train volunteers to educate neighbors about recycling at their developments.  After completing two, 2-hour workshops, Environmental Ambassadors conduct 12 hours of local outreach to encourage participation in the NYCHA Recycles! Program.  Volunteer benefits include field trips, gear, gift bags and a certificate of service signed by the DNSY commissioner and a NYCHA executive. 

Live at NYCHA and want to make a positive change where you live?  Learn more and register today!

GrowNYC's zero waste programs funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. 

Have a More Sustainable Holiday

December 8, 2015

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--find drop-sites here 

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

For more tips on keeping your holidays green and merry, visit the NYC ZeroWaste page.

Five Million Hi-Fives to Greenmarket Composters!

August 3, 2015
Posted in Recycling | Tagged recycle, compost, greenmarket

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.    

           

Clothing Recycling Gets Legs in Chinatown Co-op

January 8, 2015
Posted in Recycling | Tagged recycling, recycle, textiles, clothing

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.   

#GivingTuesday is almost here!

November 26, 2014

#GivingTuesday is back and we're proud to be a part of it for the second year in a row.

Coming after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday acknowledges that we don't just take, take, take. We give back too! This year, on Tuesday, December 2nd, be a part of this growing global movement by taking action in a way that is meaningful to you. #GivingTuesday is about doing what you can to give back. It's about showing that all of us can do so much more with our wallets than just consume.

This year we have an extra special treat: the first $5,000 that we raise on #GivingTuesday will be matched dollar-for-dollar!

The #GivingTuesday campaign is a platform for you to contribute to your community and to help make this the biggest giving season yet. Your donation to GrowNYC helps give schools the tools they need to get learning outside, brings NYC's youngest to experience the outdoors through field trips to different urban farms, offers community leaders the tools they need to keep growing, helps New Yorkers recycle smarter, and supports new farmers and Greenmarket producers.

All of us here at GrowNYC know that you care about making a difference, and that's why we invite you to join #GivingTuesday. Donate, spread the word, volunteer for groups you care about (we hope that includes GrowNYC!) and encourage your friends to to give in lieu of gifts or just because.

Mark your calendar for December 2 and take action in ways that mean something to you.

Together, #letsgrownyc!
To learn more go to www.givingtuesday.org
Be sure to follow us on twitter @GrowNYC and use #letsgrownyc. We'll be sure to retweet you!

Here are some sample tweets to get you started on spreading the word:

  • Be a part of a new worldwide tradition of giving. On #GivingTuesday, #letsgrownyc.
  • Black Friday. Cyber Monday. What about #GivingTuesday? Together, #letsgrownyc!
  • Remember, it's not how you give or what you give, it's THAT you give. For the second year, #letsgrownyc on #GivingTuesday! 

Happy Giving!

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