Friday, July 27, 2012

Green Teens are Getting Trashy!!!
By Diana Benlevy, Sustainability Initiatives Intern

This summer, the interns from the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s Sustainability Initiatives Office have teamed up with interns from Arsenal West as well as the Green Teens in northern Manhattan to focus on one important aspect of environmental stewardship: public recycling! In an attempt to promote an anti-litter campaign, the group decided to obtain accurate measurements of exactly what kind of trash is being thrown away in Anne Loftus Playground, Dyckman Fields, Payson Playground, and Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan. In order to find out what gets accumulated in the trash bins, the team has been conducting biweekly waste audits where they sort through trash bags in certain areas of the parks (baseball dugouts, children’s playground, soccer field etc), and divide the accumulated trash into the following categories: plastic, metal, and glass (or mixed materials), paper, and actual trash. After sorting the trash, it is weighed with a sensitive digital scale and the measurements for each bag are recorded on a spreadsheet.
The Waste Audit Team posing with the recycling they rescued from the landfills!

Northern Manhattan Green Teens collecting data.

Sorting through the garbage to collect recyclable bottle and jugs.
The project will take place over three weeks. The first week, trash was sorted and baseline measurements were taken. After the first week, recycling bins will be strategically placed in locations throughout the park where the Green Teens found a lot of recyclable materials (park entrance, picnic spots, etc). To measure whether the recycling bins were effective, the team will then conduct another waste audit on the trash bins near the recycling bins. After the second week, the team will spend a weekend in northern Manhattan Parks engaging in outreach for the community. This will include public education, recycling games and prizes, demonstrations, and a visible cube of garbage. ((Curious about what that is? Come to our outreach day in Dyckman Fields on Sunday August 5th at 3pm!)) To measure whether outreach day has been successful in promoting public recycling, the team will conduct their last round of waste audits, where they hope to find diminishing amounts of recyclable materials in the trash. This project is currently taking place, and if it turns out to make a successful impact, hopefully it can be expanded and passed on to Green Teens in other boroughs!

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