garbagegame.jpgThe Gotham Gazette has a fairly comprehensive overview of the unpleasant byproducts associated with densely populated living: garbage. The details are illuminating, 64,000 tons of weekly garbage that amounts to 7 billion pounds every year.

The feature is an examination of the accumulation of daily decisions that New Yorkers make every day about the things they consume and dispose of. Paper, plastic, food waste, electronics, and other things we throw in the trash add up to a lot of crap. The open question is what can be done to ameliorate the situation.

Whisking off the detritus of our daily lives costs the city government more than a billion dollars a year. More than 5,000 trucks carry our banana peels, batteries, battered tennis balls and discarded deli containers from one part of the city to another, belching diesel fumes all the way. Trucks, trains and barges haul our waste to landfills and recycling centers in other states -- and even other continents.

The economics of recycling are complicated, and the process of disposing of the indispensable byproducts of concentrated urban leavings are even more complicated. Recycling, exporting, incineration, dumping--they're all assorted options that carry weighted trade-offs.

In related trash talk: Last Night's Garbage matches discards with one-offs; a garbage transfer station finds its way to the Upper East Side; a lot of rodent problems are related to trash; a solar-powered trash compactor that saves on collection costs; a map on where to scavenge usable garbage.