New York has a trash problem. It always has but during the pandemic things seem a lot worse. I think it is a combination of increased take out food, reduced sanitation budgets and just general 2020 funk. It’s been a tough year and it is showing along the beautiful streets and avenues of this lovely town. I just can’t walk past garbage and I have started picking it up as I tour my neighborhood and run errands. I even bought one of those trash pickers, special gloves and a reusable bag that I carry with me. I have been taking breaks from work lately and cleaning Morningside Park – especially the pond near where the homeless cats live.
I’m not the only one obsessed with trash. I started volunteering with a great group called One Block Upper West Side. They organize huge clean up events and several dozen volunteers scour the streets between the West 70s and 110th street. We fill several large bags and make sure to clean out the medians on Broadway. It’s incredibly satisfying and we get a ton of “thank yous” while we are out there. It just blows my mind that people can’t get their trash to the right place. There are literally thousands of trash cans and recycling bins all over this city yet the sidewalks are littered like there was no where else for it to go.
Come on New York! This is a beautiful place you have created. Let’s keep it that way. We have soaring skyscrapers, underground trains and beautiful parks all surrounded by wide rivers. This is all still so new to me and it amazes me every time I leave my apartment. My favorite adventure is a long run down the Hudson River greenway down to the World Trade Center for a fancy coffee at Blue Bottle. I walk around downtown and find new details in the old office towers and then take the train back uptown.
One of my buddies from One Block is named Linda. She lives down the street from us and we meet once a week and pick a few blocks to clean together. While we are walking together, she tells great stories about growing up here and about all of the secret places to explore around the Columbia University neighborhood. She loves this place as much as I do and it’s great to learn about her neighborhood. Linda is also really smart about all the animal habitats that are hidden all over the City. She has taught me about the importance of the underbrush in Riverside Park and how to keep the trees healthy that are planted along the sidewalks. She is my favorite trashy New York friend and with a few more like her we can clean up these neighborhoods together.