Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Tips and Tricks for NYC Dwellers




Colin Beaven, Michelle Conlin and twoe year old daughter Isabella holding handing in front of a cartoon background with grass and trees

Is it possible to reduce your carbon footprint to zero? Even if you live, not on some farm somewhere, but here in New York City? Well, yes, if you're Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, who in 2007 embarked on a year-long experiment to see if he and his family–wife Michelle Conlin, then-two-year-old daughter Isabella, dog Frankie–could not only be less harmful to the planet, but at the same time improve their quality of life, all from their Fifth Avenue apartment. For an entire year, they would reduce the trash they produced to zero. Carbon emissions: zero. No elevators. No products that came in any sort of packaging. No plastics. No air conditioning. And, yes, no toilets. Did they succeed at this full-out reduce, reuse, and recycle lifestyle? Well, there's a book, a movie, and a blog that tell the whole fascinating, entertaining story, and are all definitely worth your time… but for a quick look at some things you can do today to reduce your impact, here's Beavan's list of 42 ways not to make trash

Colin Beaven and daughter Isabella riding around NYC on a bicycle with an attached seat

Of course, a simple action you can take to reduce your garbage output is to eliminate plastic (and paper) bags from your daily life. There are lots of alternative foldable, stow-able, portable bags on the market today (we like Bagu a lot, both for functionality and style), but a good place to start is the huge selection at Reuseit

Reusable bags by Reuse it - product samples in every color imaginable


Reuse just about everything, with practical, pretty results 


Reduce, Reuse, Recycled materials - left panel features wood buffet tables and stools right panel features patchwork wood cabinets and drawers and green and white checkered flooring


One of the easiest, most rewarding ways to cut back on your consumption is to reuse the things you already own, which, no small side benefit, is also a great way to cut back on your spending! There are tons of books and websites offering specific instruction and general inspiration on how to take what you have, but don't want, and turn it into something useful and new. Etsy, of course, is filled with great ideas on the crafty end of things–you don't have to buy, just browse and be inspired–and Treehugger is usually pretty reliable for practical, if cheekily delivered, advice. But our favorite reuse round-up has to be this one from our friends over at Apartment Therapy, featuring links to nearly 50 different posts on the topic, touching on items ranging from baby food jars to those plastic bread tags to tableware to wallpaper. 


Electronic Recycling in NYC 


Drawer full of various electronic cords and devices, perfect for recycling


Recycling your electronics in New York City–from TVs to computers to cell phones to cables to DVD players and on and on–has been getting easier in recent years. And if you're like us, and have a drawer overflowing with cables and chargers for gadgets and systems and equipment that you got rid of three upgrades ago, the time to actually get out there and get it done is today. Or, you know… this coming weekend, at the latest. 

 E-Cycle recycling bicycles logo - yellow background and text made from bicycle parts


There are a number of places all over NYC that throw terrific, semi-annual free e-cycling parties (sadly, we JUST missed the fall one at TekServe on 23rd Street!), but you can recycle most everything electronic any day of the year at both Best Buy and Staples stores, either one of which is almost guaranteed to be reasonably close to your home. There are rules and restrictions, and it's not always free, so check out the Best Buy and Staples websites for more details before heading out. Also: did you know that all cell phone providers are required by NYC law to accept phones for recycling at no cost… or, at a minimum, provide free shipping to someone who will? It's true.       


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