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NYC loves and hates its trash

December 8, 2009

While in New York, I took a photo of an umbrella handle lying by a trash can after a heavy rain had obviously ripped off the umbrella top. Something else struck me while I was there–New Yorkers’ fascination with their own waste. This was humorously revealed when The New York Times headline for No Impact Man‘s project was “The Year Without Toilet Paper.”

Well while Colin Beavan was reducing his waste Justin Gignac was capitalizing on it. After a friend questioned the importance of packaging design, Justin set out to sell the most useless thing he could think of. He walked the streets of New York, picked up trash, placed it “artfully” in glass containers and sold the boxes for $100 a piece. And it worked. To date Justin has sold more than 1,200 boxes of trash back to New Yorkers who provided him with the free rubbish in the first place. I have to admit it’s clever marketing and he even has special limited edition collections like trash from a Yankees world series game or trash from Times Square after New Years. In the interest of not putting more plastic into the environment, these boxes will not be appearing on my Christmas list. (Justin, if you offer biodegradable versions, let me know).

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the IDEO New York team which envisions a garbage-free NYC (link below). Their video of spotless NY city streets is pretty tantalizing. Either way you look at it, New Yorkers have a complicated relationship with their trash. Should I mention that they’ve been shipping their garbage to New Jersey for years after the Fresh Kills landfill in Long Island closed down? Perhaps this is better left for another post.

NO TRASH NYC 2030 from IDEO on Vimeo.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 20, 2010 9:23 pm

    Environmental issue is always been a good and interesting topic. It portrays the negative aspects of human activity. Global warming is one of the result of it. I do think that if everyone of us has an exact knowledge on how to conserve and recycle things we can fight against it.

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