New York

The World’s Capital Of Waste

By Andrej Mrevlje |

How does New York – this mega city – collect trash with no dumpsters on the sidewalks? This was one of my first practical questions when I settled in the Big Apple. The answer I got was always, “Plastic bags.” The dumpsters would not have enough space on the narrow sidewalks, said New Yorkers, who, as with many things, took the city’s garbage disposal methods for granted. They do not think that dumpsters could function in their city. Too awkward, too smelly in the summer, they say. The sidewalks are always full of people and traffic, they continue. An average New Yorker is too busy to even think of potential problems and changes. As long as things are working, everything is fine, so why bother? The neat, beautiful streets of Geneva and Berlin are boring and sterile. Who cares? Life is elsewhere – run!
But every now and then, when they shop for groceries, even the scurrying, busy population realizes that sometimes there is too much. Grocery stores are overloading you with plastic bags, which countries across Europe are banning as wasteful, unnecessary shopping tools. But here in New York, there is one plastic bag for chicken, a separate one for the red meat. They cannot touch each other, and they especially can’t, while raw, touch other, ready-to-eat groceries. Because of hormones, additives and who-knows-what else, the raw meats and eggs are considered poisonous. So at the end of your shopping trip, the cashier gives you a brown paper bag and puts it in another plastic bag to carry all the provisions. It is somehow understandable that the longer I live here, the less I pay attention to these kinds of problems, but reading Brian Merchant’s article on New York’s massive amounts of waste, I can’t help, but think: Could it be different? Read it, it is really impressive.

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