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Justin Green: Founder and Executive Director of The Big Reuse

The Big Reuse is on a mission to make NYC a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable city. From composting, to reuse programs, to street care, The Big Reuse tackles the waste crisis from all angles. Learn more about their work to better the planet here!

Can you tell me about The Big Reuse’s philosophy?

We’re a nonprofit focused on fighting climate change through community based circular economy projects. Typically, waste is shipped off to landfills, incinerated in poor neighborhoods, or sent to other countries. Our approach is to recognize the value in things that are treated as waste, add value back to the community, and take the burden of waste off of others. It’s a solution for waste that is the most climate friendly. All the material energy is preserved and it doesn’t end up in a landfill, which is the best way to reduce the climate impact.

What kinds of programs do you offer?

We have several initiatives that stem from taking the waste we are putting into landfills and putting it into use in communities. We have a reuse center that is basically a mega thrift store that takes in furniture, clothes, appliances, materials— anything reusable that we can try to find a second home for. We also have community composting sites that take 2 million pounds of food scraps and put it back into the Earth. We also get people to participate in the curbside composting program and do street tree care.

Can you tell me about the importance of managing waste sustainably?

We’re making a lot of progress in transitioning to clean energy, but we need to move faster. There are mountains of garbage thrown out every garbage day in New York City. City residents produce 1 million tons of waste per year. A third of that is compostable, and we hope to divert that waste from ending up in landfills. A lot of people don’t have cars and can’t transport items to donate, so it gets thrown out or left on the street. There isn’t a great infrastructure in place for reuse, and we’re attempting to fix that.

What are ways that individuals can better the environment?

Waste is one of the many things we have to reduce to fight climate change. Easy first steps are talking about climate change, voting for people who want to address climate change, and eating less meat. Try not to waste food and use the food that you have in the fridge instead. It’s a mindset and behavior change when it comes to waste— a lot of the things that we get rid of are perfectly usable. Participate in your city’s recycling and curbside organic waste collection programs, because they are only effective if people really commit to it.


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