Curbing Our Waste

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Looking for ways to cut back the amount of garbage you're producing? We have some helpful hints!

Edward Humes was on the Leonard Lopate Show on April 26 to discuss his new book Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with TrashGarbology opens on the topic of hoarders. Forced to move throughout their homes through makeshift tunnels of old newspapers, broken appliances, and disintegrating cartons and boxes, these subjects were literally trapped by their trash. While one Chicago couple was saved in 2010 by rescue workers in haz-mat suits in, the story of the Collyer brothers, hoarders who were crushed to death in their home in 1947, did not end so well. The scariest thing is that these classified hoarders do not produce much more trash than you or I.  In fact, the amount is pretty normal.  It’s just that we put our trash out to the curb every week where it disappears from sight before it’s essentially hoarded in landfills.

My own level of fear and concern about our trash crisis has only been made worse by the fact that many of New York City's efforts to correct our propensity toward excessive wastefulness have fallen short. Only 15 percent of the city’s total waste is currently being recycled, as literally tons of recyclable items are tossed carelessly into municipal trash cans everyday.

There is a bright side to all of this trash talk, however.  There are more and more events like Honest Tea’s first “Great Recycle” event. On Monday, April 30th, a 30-foot-tall recycle bin will loom over Times Square with the goal of recycling 45,000 beverage cans or bottles – the number of Honest Tea products that are sold daily in New York City.  Honest Tea’s aim is to boost awareness about recycling, and the collected bottles will benefit GrowNYC and serve as re-purposed gardening supplies. 

If you can’t make it to Times Square on the 30th, Garbology features Edward Humes’s own tips for living more sustainably:

           Refuse: Just say no to stuff!

           Go Used and Refurbished: These goods are cheaper, like-new, and have a fraction of the environmental footprint as their new counterparts.

           Stop Buying Bottled Water: Opt for reusable bottles instead.

           No More Plastic Grocery Bags:  Even though New York City has yet to ban them, pretend it has.

           Focus on Cost of Ownership:  Save up for durable purchases and avoid cheap items with short-life spans.