NYC Trash Facts

New Yorkers spend $221 per year to throw away 3700 pounds of trash

The New York City adopted budget of 2021 was $100 billion. $1.8 billion is on sanitation, or 2%.

Of the $1.8 billion, the majority — $1.2 billion — is spent on collection (42%) and exporting trash out of the state (23%) i.e. landfilling.

The city does have a budget for Waste Prevention and Resuse. It’s $56 million. Or 3%. That’s 20x less than sending

Source: DSNY / Mayor's Budget

New Yorkers spend $12 million on rent storing tote bags

The average one-bedroom rent is $3,900 and size is 850 square feet. Or $4.60 per square foot. The size of a tote bag is 1.2 square feet. Thus, $5.52 of rent to storing a tote bag. There are 2,183,064 rented apartments in NYC. $5.52 x all those apartments equals $12 million.

Source: Cues

The average American throws away 4.7 pounds of trashy daily; while New Yorkers throw away 4 pounds

4 pounds is about a loaf of bread + two empty wine bottles + a sweatshirt + a few wet diapers + some batteries. Though besting our compatriots in the trash game, we lose when it comes to recycling. They recycle about 32% of trash whereas we only recycle 17%. We still have work to do.

Source: DSNY Annual Report 2021


Graphic representing a trash can

New Yorkers only recycle 17% of the city’s possible recyclables

We have one recycling center in the city: SIMS. They do tours. You should go. They’re run by a lovely woman named Kara. On the tour she says it best about why recycling is so poor in NYC:


“There’s way way too much stuff. The sanitation workers will not recycle anything if it’s in a black bag, even if it’s recyclable. So stuff ends up in the landfill. The bins aren’t easy. Who do you know with a green bin? We take plastics, but there are seven plastics. A lot of mixed materials -- most people don't know that a soup box is recycled as a metal, not paper. All these design issues let us miss stuff we should get and receive tons of stuff that should have gone to the landfill.”

Source: Politico


The average New Yorker throws away 46 pounds of clothing a year

Or about 110 t-shirts. Of this, 15% of household textiles are diverted with the remaining 85% of our used clothing entering landfills and incinerators. When we do divert, here’s what we do: 45% are reused as clothing, 20% are recycled into fibers and 30% are reused as wiping cloths, according to the DSNY.


Source: NY State Department of Environmental Conservation


Graphic representing 110 t-shirts 

More guides

Patch your pants
A good formula for guaranteeing ripped clothes is buying a somewhat tight pair of pants...
The Climate Problem is an Energy Problem
 89% of all Greenhouse Gases are tied to the 4 "Cs": Cows, Cars, Cooling, Crap