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! 

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!

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.

Green Your Halloween!

September 30, 2014

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. 

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