New Yorkers create a lot of trash, averaging 4.5 pounds of stuff thrown out every day. Of that, only about 16 percent ultimately gets recycled in New York City, with well over 80 percent of all trash landing in the city’s landfills or otherwise clogging up the waste management system.

Currently, outgoing Mayor Mike Bloomberg is making one final push of his mayoral environmental campaign to encourage New Yorkers to better utilize existing curbside recycling programs and increase the amount of recyclables picked up curbside. 

Yet, recycling does not have to be limited to the paper, cardboard and other recyclables New York City picks up alongside the trash. Here are three programs that take recycling to the next level, helping New Yorkers cut down on their carbon imprint and keep recyclable resources from the city’s landfills.

GrowNYC’S Clothing and Textile Recycling

According to GrowNYC, New Yorkers throw away over 46 pounds of recyclable clothing and textiles each year, many still in wearable condition. To avoid sending the nearly 200,000 tons of cloth to the trash, GrowNYC offers a textile recycling program to encourage New Yorkers to give their clothes and bedding a new life.

New Yorkers can drop off their clothing, paired shoes, bedding, linens, hats, handbags, belts and fabric scraps at a number of Greenmarkets located throughout the city. Volunteers then sort the donations and grade them for reuse, offering them to secondhand shops and recycling markets that turn the clothes into usable rags.

E-Cycle NYC’s Electronic Recycling

E-Cycle NYC is an innovative program that provides New York City apartment buildings with a safe and convenient way to recycle electronics. Apartment dwellers can ask their landlord if their building currently participates in the program and what items can be recycled through the program. If your building does not participate, you can still recycle your cell phones, computers and other unwanted devices at community-based programs and drop-off sites.

Many thrift store programs such as the Salvation Army Thrift Stores and Goodwill are authorized to accept used electronics for recycling through the Department of Sanitation. E-Cycle NYC also offers annual SAFE Disposal events throughout the boroughs where you can drop off your unwanted items. After pickup, the Department of Sanitation works with a diversion program to make certain the items are responsibly recycled and do not end up in the city’s landfills.

BIG!NYC’s Building Supply and Furniture Recycling

BIG!NYC is on track to recycle 4,000,000 pounds of usable building material that would have otherwise ended up in a city landfill. The building supply and furniture recycling program gives homeowners, film crews and large-scale construction projects from throughout the boroughs a place to drop off their unwanted and unneeded building supplies and furniture to help give them a new life.

The salvaged supplies are then sorted by volunteers and resold at discount prices to savvy shoppers interested in repurposing materials for their own home or project, helping to reduce the environmental impact of their projects and save resources.

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Tamar Auber is a freelance writer whose work can be found on

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