Trashy Ideas Transforming New York City

Talking trash may not seem like a constructive approach to addressing climate change, but, for a New York City-based not-for-profit, it is huge part of the solution. Talk Trash City, is breathing new life into the old mantra, “reuse, reduce, recycle”. The group is employing a fun and creative approach to address one of the city’s biggest climate-related problems: waste management.

Throughout the year, Talk Trash City holds local competitions; inviting presenters to pitch innovative ideas on how to keep New York City clean and reduce the amounts of trash that ends up in landfills.

During the competitions, after hearing pitches from trash innovators, witnessing live commentary from judges, and participating in discussions, audience members get to cast their ballot for the project they think will help reimagine New York City’s trash as resources.

The presenter that best exemplifies an idea that will reduce waste in the city takes home a cash prize to help promote or produce their idea.  Talk Trash City is finding environmentally responsible solutions to urban waste management problems while helping ambitious goals become real, sustainable progress.

“Talk Trash City supports innovators looking to solve NYC’s trash issues; reclaiming the value in what we throw away; improving social justice; boosting the economy; and helping to combat climate change,”

said Meredith Danberg-Ficarelli, Co-Founder of Trash Talk City. “We welcome anyone interested in participating in or attending our open pitch competitions.”

While drawing attention to how an abundance of trash contributes to climate change, Talk Trash City’s events create dialogue between industry experts, innovators, and audience members. 

“Talk Trash City’s is educating and engaging communities about how trash contributes to climate change in a way that complements OSI’s work to protect land for climate protection,” said Jessica Watson, the director of OSI’s Citizen Action Program. 

According to Watson, OSI is providing the group with mentorship and fiscal sponsorship, providing the group official not-for-profit status that allows donations to Talk Trash City to be tax deductible. 

Photo Credit: Talk Trash City Logo

“Our affiliation with OSI has given our organization credibility and security,” Danberg-Ficarelli added. “We have reached thousands of people because they gave us the launch pad that we needed to advance our mission.”  

Past event winners have included the creators of: hot beverage cups that are 100 percent compostable and reduce the environmental impact of using plastic lids; a fashion design company that uses discarded fabric scraps to create unisex clothing; and a start-up that collects and redistributes discarded clothing and fabric to divert textiles from landfills.  

With a goal of achieving 90 percent diversion of waste from landfills by 2030 and a current recycling rate of about 15 percent, New York City can use the help of groups like Talk Trash City to achieve its ambitious zero waste goals. 

Talk Trash City has been an OSI Citizen Action group since 2015 and is one of the many groups which OSI mentors. Participants range from community gardens and local land trusts, to environmental educators and promoters of nature-based arts and activities. 

Since the program’s beginning, OSI has mentored, trained and launched nearly 150 environmental grassroots start-ups in New York City and beyond. With support and guidance many of the groups flourish and many have gone on to become independent non-profits.

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