Spring is here (ok, almost)! That means Spring Cleaning, which entails all of us trying to dispose of a wide assortment of items that should not go into our trash cans.

Luckily, New York City residents have expanding options for getting rid of everything from used medication to clothing to yard waste.

The City is actively trying to both 1.) minimize the amount of waste that it trucks to landfills and incinerators across the country, and 2.) find ways to dispose of toxic substances more safely.

Here are three major categories of waste that no longer need to be buried in a landfill in Ohio or Virginia, or sent to our neighbors in Newark, NJ for incineration.

1.) Organic material- one third of our residential waste stream

Spring Cleaning aside, it is becoming more feasible for New Yorkers to stop putting food waste into the trash.

The City is gradually expanding its curbside organics recycling program. Organics means food scraps, paper towels and yard waste. Residents already recycle glass, metal, plastic and paper.

There are questions right now about where the organic waste collected by the Department of Sanitation is actually going. Nonetheless, if the DSNY can successfully expand organics recycling to every neighborhood, this would cut the amount of solid waste New York City sends to landfills by almost one-third!

No curbside organics recycling in your neighborhood yet? Consider taking your compostable material to a drop-off site, like your local Greenmarket.

2.) Clothing and other textiles

You can drop off clean & dry clothing, paired shoes, bedding, linens, hats, handbags, belts, fabric scraps 36″ x 36″ or larger, and other textiles at your local Greenmarket.

Do you live in a building with ten apartments or more? DSNY will help you set up a clothing and textile recycling bin in your building!

3.) Hazardous Household Items & Electronics

DSNY hosts SAFE (Solvents, Automotive, Flammables, and Electronics) Disposal Events throughout the year in all five boroughs.

Items that Can be Dropped Off

  • Electronics
  • Personal care items like medicines or cosmetics
  • Thermometers
  • Syringes (clearly labeled and packaged in a “sharps” container or other leak proof, puncture-resistant container)
  • Household products such as pesticides, paint, hazardous cleaners, spent compact fluorescent lightbulbs
  • Automotive products such as motor oil, transmission fluid, and spent batteries


What Happens to Items Dropped Off at a SAFE Event?

The City says that materials collected are “either recycled, blended for fuel, or sent to licensed hazardous waste treatment facilities for safe disposal.”

Electronics are recycled or refurbished for reuse through e-cycleNYC, the City’s on-site electronics recycling service for apartment buildings with ten or more units.

Unwanted medications are “managed by environmental police and incinerated to prevent unintentional poisonings or entry into the water supply.”

Can’t make it to one of the SAFE events listed below? The City also has drop-off sites for batteries, paint, fluorescent light bulbs and other hazardous household items. Check here for details.

And there are even more options for electronics recycling. Remember- you can no longer put electronics- from mice to TVs to tablets- in the trash.

Check out DSNY’s website for more information on other recycling and re-use options.

2015 SAFE Events

(This list is updated as more events are scheduled.)

Events are held rain or shine, from 10 am to 4 pm. Be prepared for a line, says the City.

Only NYC residential waste is accepted at SAFE Disposal Events, and no commercial vehicles are allowed. Residents must provide proof of NYC residency, such as a NYS driver’s license or utility bill.

Staten Island
Saturday, April 11
Midland Beach Parking Lot
Father Capodanno Blvd and Hunter Ave

Sunday, April 19
MCU Park, Surf Ave Parking Lot

Saturday, May 2
Orchard Beach Parking Lot

Saturday, June 20
Cunningham Park, Ball Field Parking Lot

Sunday, June 28
Columbia University/Teachers College
120 St between Broadway & Amsterdam Ave

  • jtancil

    Great information, thank you Sarah!

  • KKF

    So helpful! Thank you

  • http://www.advancedchemical.net/ Cami

    Hazardous waste disposal is very important. It seems like a lot of states in US are doing programs as these, I just do hope that people will be more aware of how important it is to do proper waste management – this is not just for ourselves, our families, our children but to our Mother Earth as well.