Archive for the ‘Garbage’ Category

Service of Why Should Someone Clean Up Your Mess?

Thursday, February 29th, 2024

The sign begins “This is not a garbage can,” yet some people still can’t walk a few steps to put their trash in a bin or bring it home.

A friend asked the other day “why do people leave their dirty dishes/trays/coffee cups behind when they exit a table at either a deli or shared office space? It’s really rude.”

She added that the remote workplace she shares is handsomely decorated and doesn’t deserve such treatment. She mentioned to someone in charge that the communal area needed policing and was thanked for the suggestion. She said that they are considering posting tent cards on the table requesting that people clean up after themselves—another of her ideas.

The used items shouldn’t have been left behind in the first place.

By the kitchen sink at one office at which I once hung my hat was a sign: “Your mother doesn’t work here. Please wash your dishes.” It was largely ignored. Who reads? Who cares?

The topic brings up so many questions:

  • Do glasses, dishes and coffee mugs dot the tables and counters of the homes of these thoughtless people?
  • Does a butler clean up after them?
  • Are these the same folks who litter sidewalks and roads with soda and beer cans?
  • Where do they acquire the entitlement to prance off leaving detritus behind without consideration of the next person?
  • Are they bothered when they enter a space that is full of litter?

Service of a Drop in the Bucket: Another Move to Heal the Environment Just to Make Us Feel Better

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

At the end of the month New Yorkers won’t be getting “single use” plastic bags from grocery and other stores.

I put quotes around “single use” because I use these bags for many other things. If I have leftovers I first wrap them in aluminum foil and cover the package in one of these bags, instead of a new one, so the food doesn’t leak in freezer or fridge. I also use them to hold wet garbage that I toss down a shoot in the garbage room.

I wrote the topnotch, smart apartment building manager to ask if he was going to alert the tenants about garbage protocol so they don’t use paper bags [which New Yorkers will now get from stores at 5 cents each unless they have their own bags] to send wet garbage down the shoot. These would drip on hallway carpets and mess up the shoot as contents break out of the weakened wet paper on the trip down as many as 38 flights.  I could tell he thought I was nuts and told me to buy plastic bags. I’ve lived here a year and haven’t bought a single one for garbage.

Articles about this environment-saving move report that there won’t be any more plastic bags but don’t mention that some put them to use and what to use instead. I heard a promo on NPR about a crisis for dog walkers who use the bags to pick up after their pooches. When I had a dog, that’s what I used.

Here are my objections:

  • I bought garbage bags when I lived in a house. They are of a far heavier plastic than the single use variety so where’s the savings to the environment?
  • Many NYC apartments have microscopic kitchens. They don’t have room for standard size trashcans. The small bags that fit the small cans are hard to come by—I haven’t found a box.
  • I ordered a cartridge for my printer from Staples because they didn’t have my brand in the store. It arrived in a large box with inflated plastic bags to keep it from rattling around. Speaking of waste! See the photos above and below. There are far more impactful changes to be made in my opinion.
  • A stack of single use plastic bags are easy for a deli or bodega to store. Paper takes up far more space.
  • Car owners keep a pile of bags in the trunk. Few Manhattan dwellers shop for groceries with a car. Returning home from work someone with a briefcase doesn’t usually have a bag in which to store a quart of milk so they’ll buy a paper bag which will translate into more voluminous garbage and ensuing energy to dispose of it.
  • We take home rotisserie chicken in large plastic containers with plastic domes. Like the big deal restaurants made of substituting paper for plastic straws, this move is another drop in the bucket with more PR than actual impact on the environment.

What do you think? Do you toss single-use plastic bags or put them to use?

Service of Because They Can Though Maybe They Shouldn’t

Monday, July 10th, 2017

The world seems to be divided between those who do anything they want because they can and those who factor in others. Since I wrote, last week, about the executives who don’t blink at charging exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs my mind continues in that track.

The driver of a supersized SUV turning into 45th Street from First Avenue didn’t take his foot off the pedal for one second and almost ran me over. Why? Because he could—nobody stopped him and even if he’d hit me, he’d have been off and running for the same reason. The light was fully in my favor [as in the photo above] and I was crossing at just the right place [unusual for some New Yorkers].

The driver felt big, important and on a mission. I was an irritating pedestrian in his way, slowing progress. This scene happens countless times a day to thousands all over the city. Over the weekend we were in a cab that missed being slammed by a zigzagging driver who treated Lexington Avenue as though it was a super highway. Sometimes the threatening vehicles are bicycles driven by thoughtless, entitled individuals.

The SUV incident happened two days after NJ Governor Christie sunned himself on Island Beach State Park in front of the state-owned summer house [photo right]. This beach—and all state parks in the Garden State–were closed to other citizens June 30-July 3 because of the second government shutdown in that state’s history. Christie’s beach time wasn’t illegal—the house has access to the beach—though when he and the family were captured on camera by a news helicopter, it didn’t look good [no pun intended]. As Christie put it at a news conference in which he was criticized: “Run for governor, and you can have a residence there,” according to

He claimed that he’d promised his son that he would celebrate his birthday at the beach. But just because he could didn’t mean he should when his constituents had to cancel their picnic, swimming and sunning plans. “Do as I say, not as I do,” doesn’t set well with most. In fact, his selfishness may have ruined it for future governors. There’s talk about selling the house or renting it to generate income for the state.

For the most part, the people I know and work with are thoughtful, caring, empathetic, courteous and cordial—because they choose to be. The men at the transfer station in Millbrook, NY were so gentle and understanding when I showed up on a recent Saturday with a car filled with garbage, paper and bottles. I was wringing my hands because I didn’t have my ticket [the first time ever]. I felt overwhelmed by their kind, understanding response. “Not to worry,” they said, “We’ll get you next time,” and they grabbed for the bags and bottles and moved them to join like refuse in the three separate sections. Wet garbage costs $5/bag.

In your life, are there more SUV drivers and Christie-like characters or more people like the men at the transfer station?

Service of Things We Never Use

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Balcony nobody usesWe were having lunch at a NYC rooftop restaurant on a flawless, sunny, mild Saturday afternoon when it struck me how many apartments have balconies and how many people pay premiums for them and almost nobody uses them. There wasn’t a single person on any of the hundreds of balconies I could see from my perch in this midtown neighborhood.

I’ve been told by Jacuzzi owners that they rarely use theirs. I always wondered how you’d keep the nozzles clean and although I’ve remodeled three bathrooms I’ve not been tempted to own one.

After years of seeing shoes take up closet space I have tossed an embarrassing number that don’t fit comfortably that I’d hoped would.

There was a time that I’d fall for the amazing sale and buy a remarkable bargain that I ‘d end up never using and couldn’t gift. Helped by the economy, I’ve outgrown this tendency.

I’ve heard countless women in dressing rooms trying to squeeze into slacks, a dress, blouse or skirt, promising themselves that by thus and such a date they’d lose enough weight to fit into the garment for a wedding, birthday or anniversary party. Bet many of these wishful purchases go unworn. (Walking around the city I can attest that many wear them regardless of fit.)

Have you thought you needed something and when you owned it, never used it? If, unlike a balcony or heavy appliance or fixture, the item is portable, how long does it generally take you to give it up?


Service of Unintended Consequences II

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Let’s Face it

Facebook sent printed invitations to media, delivered by messenger, for a product launch. Hmmmm. Is social media already passé?

Fertilize New York

We learn on “Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed expanding a successful pilot program recycling food scraps to more single-family homes, high rise buildings and schools. Within three years, the Bloomberg Administration says, the hope is that recycling food scraps will be mandatory and as much of a routine as recycling glass, metal and plastic.”

While I love the concept of a food scrap composting initiative, I think the Mayor needs to first address the way city food is sold and the space constraints of millions of residents. We buy much of our meat, fish, fruit and vegetables packaged on Styrofoam trays covered in plastic wrap so off the bat we need two kitchen trash receptacles.

New Yorkers’ microscopic kitchens—especially those in Manhattan–are the brunt of jokes and jibes. In mine there’s barely room for one tiny garbage can which works as we put out garbage daily in the morning and it’s picked up in front of the door. We keep empty bottles on a counter and put them out for pickup separately. A second can to capture just food scraps will be a challenge for space. Devoting more countertop to hold garbage is more than unsightly, it’s a health hazard and potential rodent attractant.

In giant apartment houses with hundreds of tenants, renters send garbage to the basement via a shoot. Color coded bags–blue for compost, white for paper, green for bottles, pink for plastic and yellow for other garbage–would solve the one-shoot-in-tall-buildings issue if tenants could be bothered to buy them, keep them straight and comply.

Only in New York

Some New Yorkers are using the bike sharing Citibikes for exercise in the fresh air. Seems they pedal in place without anyone having to slip in a credit card or join the rental system. That’s a New York kind of moxy that makes me smile.

What’s in a Name?

The “Borghese v Borghese: Battle for a Royal Name” story in The New York Times seemed different from the usual intellectual property fights. In her article Christine Haughney cited a law professor who mentioned examples that I thought only underscored the dissimilarity. One was Chick-fil-A, known for the slogan “Eat More Chicken,” that sued a folk artist who tried to trademark “Eat More Kale.”

While I think that example is a stretch, an even bigger one is to ask a family to drop its name and heritage.

Revlon bought the Borghese cosmetics brand, according to Haughney, along with “the words and phrases BORGHESE, MARCELLA BORGHESE and PRINCESS MARCELLA BORGHESE” and subsequently sold the Borghese Company, now in private hands.

The first problem occurred as a result of a press release about one of Princess Marcella Borghese’s grandchildren. He was to appear in a TV program. His grandmother was mentioned as well as the fact that she “started the famed self-named cosmetics line, Borghese Inc.” The grandchild was warned against “causing any false impression in the marketplace that there is a connection or relationship between yourself and Borghese Inc. and our cosmetics products.” The next hiccup between the Princess’s descendants and the company came when the grandson applied for a trademark for pet shampoo and conditioner—La Dolce Vita by Prince Lorenzo Borghese–to be sold by PetSmart. The Company sued.

Am I reading too much into the symbolism of a social media giant choosing a traditional form of communication? Should tiny NYC kitchens and the way food is sold and tossed in giant apartment buildings stall a compost program? Do you know of other typical out-of-the-box takes on services like NYC bikers using parked vehicles for exercise? Should a family member be forbidden to sell his/her name and others prohibited to use that last name in business forever?

Service of Garbage

Monday, August 13th, 2012


Waiting in line at Staples I noticed that for 79 cents a pound, the company will shred your papers [photo above]. I’ve seen trucks that perform this service parked around the city. I hear portable shredders whizzing in the office.

Out-of-date campaign posters represent costly trash. Two candidates paid–or soon will–hefty fines for their removal–$300,000 to half a million dollars by Bill de Blasio, NYC Public Advocate and NYC Comptroller John Liu, respectively.  Liu’s fine, according to the Environmental Control Board, represented 7,000+ illegal posters from his election campaign three years ago. De Blasio has paid his fine and Liu just learned he can’t slip out of his.

Disrespect of plants in the East 60s.

Disrespect of plants in the East 60s.

Garbage is expensive business and no doubt, because it is garbage, so many people–even politicians–forget it costs money to make it disappear. Maybe that’s why folks are careless with theirs, which, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, drives me nuts. These photos illustrate just some of the instances I’ve seen lately.

I couldn’t resist including the tossed red box-turned lounge in which the cat spends much of his day near the cash register, basking in the center of attention.

There are so many crisis-level issues to address that garbage is low on the list. One person’s selfish, lazy garbage toss costs others both visually and financially.  Have you ever said something to a person you’ve caught tossing garbage in the wrong place? Do you think funky looking garbage cans might catch the attention of these people?

Tissue left behind on commuter train seat.

Tissue left behind on commuter train seat.

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