New York City Fights Scavengers Over a Treasure: Trash | Source: New York Times, Mar 20 2016 |
The video begins with ominous notes from a piano and an image of crime scene tape. The camera pans to men hunched over garbage pails, sifting for bottles, and a stoop-shouldered woman towing a shopping cart full of cans. Some might feel sympathy for these collectors, but the video makes clear that the New York City Sanitation Department, which made the video and posted it online, wanted them to be seen as something else: common criminals.
“Scavengers are putting the Department of Sanitation’s recycling program at risk, by removing the most valuable recyclables,” a voice-over begins. “Nobody wants to be perceived of as picking on the little guy, but the lone scavenger is now an organized, sophisticated mob of scavenger collectives that systematically removes valuable recyclables,” it continues. “Recycling is the law. Scavenging is a crime. Don’t allow scavenging to steal recycling’s future.”
The moment refuse hits the curb it becomes the city’s property — and the city’s problem. From there, materials like metals, cardboard and plastic are supposed to enter into the vast web of the recycling process, a network of carters and sorters, compactors and remelters. The theft of such items has long been an issue, taking a toll on the city’s curbside recycling, or diversion, rate. The problem has peaked and fallen over the years as prices for commodities have fluctuated.
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Posted created in 1940 by John Buczak for the US Federal Art Project. Collection Library of Congress
During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the US Government launched a series of economic programmes collectively known as the New Deal. The largest of these programmes, run by WPA, the Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration), employed millions of unemployed people to carry out public works projects. Most famous was the WPA Federal Art Project (FAP) that employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.
The FAP created over 200,000 separate works including 2,000 posters. Shown here are several posters promoting sanitation and hygiene from the WPA poster collection of the Library of Congress.
6 October 2011, Day 21 of Occupy Wall Street.. Photo: David Shankbone / Wikimedia
Protesters participating in the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York have constructed a greywater treatment system to recycle dishwater contaminants. The filtered water is used for the plants and flowers in Zuccotti Park where the protesters have their base camp.
The Wikipedia entry on Occupy Wall Street has a separate section on sanitation, which was becoming a “growing concern” according to the owners of Zuccotti Park, Brookfield Office Properties. “Sanitary conditions have reached unacceptable levels”, they said, claiming that protesters were refusing to cooperate to clean up the park since their arrival on 17 September 2011. The protesters do, however, have a “sanitation working group” that sweeps and picks up garbage. In a comment on the Occupy Wall Street forum, one user said:
The Brookfield statement explains that they usually hose down the plaza and they have not been able to since the protestors are there. That’s about the only thing the protest is preventing.
Members of the OWS Sanitation Working Group. Photo: @wesupportoccupy / Twitpic
In a report on the popular US satirical programme the Daily Show, owners of nearby restaurants and delis voiced their irritation among the growing number of protesters using their toilets.
Source: Wikipedia – Occupy Wall Street ; FoxNews.com: Zucotti Park (User Submitted), OccupyWallStreet Forum, 07 Oct 2011 ; John Del Signore, Gothamist, 07 Oct 2011