Getting to Zero will give New Yorkers opportunities to visit sites across the five boroughs to learn about how New York City has been shaped by its waste removal infrastructures over time, as well as to hear firsthand from experts and leading thinkers on waste-related subjects about the challenges that we face. In addition to attending public programs, we recommend the following resources to provide context, and to deepen your understanding of how New York deals with its discards.


  • #OneNYC – Zero Waste: The de Blasio administration’s official long-term vision for New York City includes a section focused on the goal of eliminating waste sent to landfills by the year 2030.
  • DSNY – Zero Waste: The NYC Department of Sanitation’s website outlines the various programs and initiatives that are related to the DSNY’s ongoing 0x30 campaign to divert waste from landfills.
  • 12 Things New Yorkers Should Know About Their Garbage: This 2014 report by the Citizens Budget Commission outlines the basic shape of New York City’s waste management system, explaining everything from the divisions between public and private carting to the costs associated with different parts of the waste stream.
  • Discard Studies: This digital compendium serves as a knowledge-sharing hub for the emerging interdisciplinary field of the same name. The Discard Studies website contains a wealth of articles, essays, and links to more resources across the web, from videos to art installations to academic research.
  • The Story of Stuff: Annie Leonard’s original 20-minute video exploring “the underside of our production and consumption patterns” has grown into an organization producing digital content about the larger costs of throwaway culture and advocating for change throughout the system.
  • New York’s Trash Challenge: This robust series of articles produced by City Limits in the spring of 2015 explores the high costs—financial, environmental, and social—of New York City’s existing landfill-based waste management system, and considers possible alternatives for the future.
  • Fusion Series on NYC Waste Infrastructure: Penned by self-idenfitied “garbage enthusiast” and journalist Cole Rosengren for Fusion, this series of articles delves into the systemic and social changes needed in order to transform New York into a zero waste city.

On the Page

  • Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York: Ted Steinberg’s recently published book charts the history of how human beings have re-shaped the coastlines and wetlands of New York City and its metropolitan region—largely through the strategic dumping of trash. New York has, quite literally, been shaped by garbage, and Steinberg tells this story in extraordinary detail. (2015)
  • Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City: DSNY Anthropologist-in-Residence Robin Nagle spent a decade with sanitation workers of all ranks to learn what it takes to manage Gotham’s garbage—even taking the job herself! Picking Up offers an insider’s perspective on the unseen and oft-overlooked work done by the people who keep the city clean. (2013)
  • Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage: Journalist and filmmaker Heather Rogers’ authorial debut not only provides an overview of the ways in which contemporary societies deal with waste, it also details the history of how modern throwaway culture was engineered, and at the social and cultural systems that support our wasteful way of life. (2006)
  • Fat of the Land: Garbage in New York – The Last Two Hundred Years: The history of New York City has been shaped by the various systems—grand and piecemeal, legal and otherwise—that New Yorkers have devised to keep their streets clean. Benjamin Miller’s authoritative history of how the modern system came to be is one of the best-known on the subject. (2000)