Brooklyn – We all see New York for its rush, opportunities, and diversity, but while those qualities are strictly intangible there is something physical that makes New York itself and that is the its litter. Filling the streets with garbage and making New York a real city or at the same time, a real mess.
But Greenpoint, Brooklyn is lucky. With Curb Your Litter community members like Caroline Bauer, director and Alan Minor, Outreach Coordinator, the streets are cleaner and the environment smarter.
Founding Curb Your Litter: Greenpoint in March 2015 Caroline and Alan wanted to, “change peoples behavior around waste,” says Caroline, in “an effort to reduce litter and waste in the neighborhood by improving infrastructure and behaviors,” adds Alan.
Two friends bonding over too much trash in the area came to winning a three-year grant from the Greenpoint community environmental fund. The project took off and successfully hosted eight “clean up days” in addition to hosting four more in the coming year.
Curb Your Litter has three steps: analyze, educate, and update. Ultimately, the goal is to engage community members and with this three step process Caroline and Alan work to, “come up with a more efficient process of collecting waste, but also to make residents of the community more aware of negative impacts of litter and waste,” says Alan.
The mission starts with analyzing the problems and the situation. This is done by dividing the neighborhood into four quads and focusing on different areas; analyzing the amount of trash, type of trash, and level of work required.
The next step is to educate and provide outreach to the community; mainly completed by getting everyone involved. Hosting “clean up” days is one way the community can help, other than signing a petition on their website (curbyourlitter.org) and/or getting local businesses to donate/set up more trash cans in the area.
Another great resource for educating the neighborhood on its trash is a documentary that the group put together, also on their website.
While working to educate and get the community involved Curb Your Litter also strives to update the infrastructure in the neighborhood. This starts with placing more trashcans in the area and stops for cigarette residue.
The project sparked with the concept of putting in trashcans; after being at a concert in 2012 Alan describes how he had to walk nine blocks to find one can to throw out a Vitamin Water Bottle. “This is odd, to not find a trans can for nine blocks in this area,” he thought to himself, before contacting the Dept. of Sanitation and proposing a project.
One year later, eight clean up days later, and the team/project continues to grow, exponentially and successfully. On Saturday July 29 the team gathered together a group of around 20 volunteers at Java Studios to complete another clean up day.
Successfully collecting 250 lbs. of litter of which 28% was recyclable the team helped clean Greenpoint and provide a community with awareness to a matter that needs attention.
“Ideally, [we want] Greenpoint [to be] clean…we want this project to change the way this city operates and the way neighborhoods operate in terms of solving issues like this. We want this to become a model to replicate through other neighborhood,” says Alan.
It’s about, “making you think about what you are doing when you are throwing away trash,” adds Caroline.
You can find more information, including an interactive map, on their website curbyourlitter.org.
*Interviewed By: Caroline Krawczynski & Grace Rinaldi, Written By: Caroline Krawczynski