1. Learn about how NYC plans to send Zero Waste to Landfill by 2030. This will help us live healthier, save money, lighten our carbon load, and lead us to a new consumption culture.
2. Take the NYC Zero Waste Pledge and get a free cutting board or reusable bag while supplies last.
3. Buy differently. Don’t buy what you don’t need, especially food. Buy quality. Consider how long your purchases will last.
4. #ThinkTwice before you buy single use disposables or other items destined for a quick trip to the landfill.
5. Get off junk mail lists.
7. Order coffee ‘to stay’. Patronize take-out restaurants that offer reusables.
8. Take a second look at secondhand — oftentimes it’s better than new! Local thrift and vintage shops near you at DonateNYC. Buy refurbished electronics at the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s E-waste Warehouse in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Find treasures at flea markets located all over NYC. Learn why reuse is so important Here.
10. Find out if your building is eligible for special NYC Zero Waste programs enabling in-building collection of clothing and textiles, electronics and organics (food scraps, yard waste, food-soiled paper). If not, drop off clothing and organics at local greenmarkets. Drop off electronics at various collection sites around NYC or return them to manufacturers.
11. Recycle on the go. Sort recyclables by ‘blue’ (mixed recyclables) and ‘green’ (paper), ‘brown’ (organics) and ‘black’ (trash) in public spaces. No receptacles? Take recyclables with you.
12. Learn how to recycle cell phones, home improvement waste, appliances, and ink and toner cartridges. Learn which plastics CAN’T go into the recycle bin. Bring plastic bags and other film waste back to retailers.
13. Buy products that are repairable, backed up by a warranty, and /or come with spare parts.
15. Host your own repair cafe in your school, senior center, temple or church.
16. Apply for up to a $2000 grant to start a repair project of your own via Citizens Committee and the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board.
Eat It All
17. Use the ‘sniff test‘ to determine whether food is fit to eat — not ‘sell by’, ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ labels (#Confusing). Store food properly. Download these A – Z Food Storage Tips Get More Inspo at We Hate To Waste.
18. Eat everything — including broccoli spears and carrot tops. Inspo from We Hate to Waste
19. Makeover the leftovers into new tasty meals with some of our favorite recipes.
21. Ordered too much at dinner? Ask for a doggie bag — and don’t forget the bread! Better yet, bring your own zipper bag or collapsible. At events, enable guests to bring home leftovers, or donate them to City Harvest and other food rescue groups.
23. Get a grant from the Manhattan SWAB, advocates for NYC Zero Waste, to start a composting center in your own community garden.
24. Learn to compost via the NYC Compost Project. It’s hosted by seven nonprofit botanical gardens and ecology centers that run small scale compost sites that process organics, and hold workshops and certification programs.
Borrow / Lend
33. Join Nextdoor.com and start to #borrow and #lend with others in your zip code, block or building.
35. #Donate art supplies to Materials for the Arts, construction and building supplies to Big Reuse, and electronics to the Prop Library at Lower East Side Ecology Center’s E-waste Warehouse in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
36. Download the DonateNYC app to locate more local thrift shops and other reuse organizations where you can donate and find used goods.
Give / Give it Away
37. Start a ‘Free Stuff’ box in your building or other community space — let neighbors ‘take’ and ‘leave’.
Buy/ Sell Used
42. Sell, buy, or exchange with others on Craigslist, eBay Letgo.com. 5Miles, OfferUp, AptDeco, Poshmark, KRRB, ThredUp, Chairish Create a Facebook ‘For Sale or Trade’ page. Check out yard and stoop sales.
43. Drop off items with mercury, medical waste, motor oil, CFLs, gas tanks, cosmetics, batteries, and some art supplies such as paints and glues and all other solvents, automotive, flammables, and electronics at a DSNY’s Safe Disposal Event or drop-off site in each borough.
44. Consult DSNY’s NYC Zero Waste “How to Get Rid of” page for how and if you can recycle or otherwise safely dispose of specific items including light bulbs, mirrors, Christmas tree lights, diapers, disposable coffee pods, luggage, bowling balls and more.
45. Consult Electronics Recycling Locations to learn where you can recycle electronic waste that cannot be disposed of or recycled via e-cycle.
Get the Low Down on Trash
Learn how Pratt Industries recycles paper right here in NYC.
47. Learn how to compost. Visit a compost site, urban farm or community compost garden.
Learn more about all the ways NYC deals with its food scraps in this NY Times article.
49. Check out DSNY’s NYC Zero Waste informational videos.
50. Visit the unofficial ‘Trash Museum’ in East Harlem.
Engage Your Networks
51. Teach kids how to grow food and compost.
52. Educate colleagues about NYC Zero Waste efforts, esp. how to prevent waste and sort properly.
54. Gently nudge others to align with NYC Zero Wastse efforts by encouraging them to reduce and recycle.
56. Encourage manufacturers to design products and packaging with more recycled and recyclable components and use less material. Inspo at WeHateToWaste.
57. Petition for less harmful chemicals and more transparency in product ingredients.
58. Press for more NYC Zero Waste drop-off collection sites for organics, support for thrift shops and Stop ‘N’ Swap, and expansion of Materials for the Arts and other reuse efforts for all NYC citizens. Support Right to Repair legislation in New York State.
59. Urge elected officials to invest in public education efforts like GreeNYC, and other NYC Zero Waste recycling, reuse, and waste reduction campaigns. Lobby for an high impact marketing campaign to inspire New Yorkers to change their consumption habits.
60. Lobby NY State elected officials to support a 5 cent fee on shopping bags in supermarkets.
We at J. Ottman Consulting, founders of WeHateToWaste.com are on a mission: change consumption culture through the prism of Zero Waste.
Spreading the word about how consumers can help their cities achieve zero waste is how we fulfill that mission. This guide focuses on our hometown of New York City and our own NYC Zero Waste efforts— but everyone, everywhere can get inspired by these ideas and initiatives. Please share with us what you’re doing in your own city.
Thanks to Sam Rosecan, Kathleen Emerson, Theo Stewart-Stand, Cait Harrington-Smith, Mariko Pietrese, Ashley Wolitzer, Ashley Felix, Shawn Dorman, Karen Jackson, Lili Guia for their help creating this page.
Image Credits: NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio announcing his plan for #OneNYC: Brooklyneagle.com; 0 x 30 Bag: NYC Dept of Sanitation; Repairing: Sustainable Flatbush; RefashioNYC: Pratt Institute; NYC Greenmarket, Stop ‘N’ Swap, Zero Waste Schools, Safe Disposal: GrowNYC; Paper Recycling Plant: Pratt Industries