deeaherne deeaherne, June 27, 2017

One of the critical Roadmaps to reducing carbon emissions in NYC is the goal of getting to zero waste.  Why is that so important?

” In a 2011 report, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that, in 2007, about 1.6 billion tons of food were wasted. For comparison, about 6 billion tons of food were produced globally that year.

But an aspect of the food-waste issue that has perhaps received less attention is its contribution to global greenhouse-gas emissions. In the same report, the FAO estimated that in 2007, the global carbon footprint of all of this wasted food was about 3.3 billion tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents — that’s 7 percent of all global emissions. To put that into perspective, this is more carbon than most countries emit in a year. In fact, only China and the United States exceeded this amount in nationwide carbon emissions that year.”  (source: Washington Post)


We hate to waste

60 Tips to Getting to Zero Waste in NYC

Thank you to We Hate to Waste for an incredibly useful daily reminder of what it takes.

Full post & credit:

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.

6. Carry reusables like coffee mugs, water bottles, lunch bags, utensils, and shopping bags.  Get a free 0 x 30 Shopping bag for free at a DSNY bag giveaway.

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.


9. Sort your recyclable materials properly in your home / apartment building, at public events, and at work.

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 phoneshome 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.

14.  Get broken lamps, electronics, furniture, bikes and more fixed at PopUp Repair and Fixers Collective events in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

15. Handy? Fix items yourself with resources from

16. Host your own repair cafe in your school, senior center, temple or church.

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.

20. Heading out of town? Clean out the fridge. Moving? Let Move for Hunger donate your non-perishables to the needy.

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.


22. Arrange for collection of organics (food scraps, yard waste and soiled paper) in your building. Or drop off organics at GrowNYC greenmarkets, community gardens or other sites.

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.


25. Create a little free library in your building or workplace. Start a Sharing Closet to let neighbors borrow vacuum cleaners, ironing boards and more.

26. Share still edible food via a little free pantry, sharing shelf or community fridge. Pool leftovers with neighbors and friends — and create a new social occasion.


27. Swap clothing, housewares, toys, even canned goods, with friends and neighbors. One Upper West Side NYC building we know of hosts a swap event every spring in their lobby. Grab tips here. 

28. Bring — and take — gently used goods to Stop ‘N’ Swap, the free NYC Zero Waste community reuse events run in all five boroughs by GrowNYC.

29. Swap online. Check out Brooklyn Swap Meet and NYC Baby Stuff Swap or start your own.

Borrow / Lend

30. Encourage your local library to lend ‘things’ in addition to books. Get inspired by Sacramento’s Library of Things and Toronto’s Sharing Depot.

31. Handy? Borrow tools from the South Street Seaport tool lending library.  Looking for a job? Check out neckties from the Queens Public Library.

32. Join and start to borrow and lend with others in your zip code, block or building. 


34. Host a clothing or sneaker drive with Wearable Collections, a for-profit textile recycler. Founder Adam Baruchowitz shares his story.

35. Donate art supplies to Materials for the Arts, 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’.

38. Throw a re-gift party after the holidays. Celebrate National Re-gifting Day with office-mates.

39. Start a gift exchange among friends and family like Free Your Stuff NYC: Queens & Brooklyn Facebook groups.  Give away items online using sites like


40. Rent your stuff out using websites like Or just post the question on Yelp!

41. Rent a bike, baby stuff, formal wear, cameras, even graduation gowns.

Buy/ Sell Used

42. Sell, buy, or exchange with others on Craigslist, eBay 5Miles, OfferUp, AptDeco, Poshmark, KRRB, ThredUp, Chairish  Create a Facebook ‘For Sale or Trade’ page.  Check out yard and stoop sales.

Dispose Safely

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

46. Find out where the NYC’ Zero Waste ‘blue‘ and ‘green‘ bin recyclables go.

Learn how Pratt Industries recycles paper right here in NYC.

Watch this video to learn about Sims Municipal Recycling Facility who sorts all mixed recyclables for processing into new products by various manufacturers.  Schedule a tour.

47. Learn how to compost.  Visit a compost site, urban farm or community compost garden.

48. Sign up for the GrowNYC Newsletter to learn more about NYC Zero Waste efforts and Upper West Side Recycling Newsletter. 

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.

53. Engage with your superintendent, landlord, coop board members. Order DSNY’S Recycling Decals and other educational materials.

54. Gently nudge others to align with NYC Zero Wastse efforts by encouraging them to reduce and recycle.

55. Share your sewing, repairing and repurposing skills at Coursehorse and Brooklyn Brainery classes. Teach friends and family.

Encourage Industry

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.

Lobby Government

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 are on a mission: change consumption culture through the prism of Zero Waste.

Jacquie Ottman poses with GreeNYC’s Birdie advocate for NYC 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.

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Read Inspiring Stories about Reducing Waste in NYC

Learn about The 7 Facets of Our No-Waste Mindset

Invite Jacquie to Inspire Your Colleague


DSNY Zero Waste Resources for Residents – NYC

RethinkWasteProject –  Deschutes County, Oregon

Resourceful PDX  – Portland, Oregon

EcoCycle  – Boulder, Colorado

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