← New Loops

Project Spotlight: Public Space for Public Good

NYC must tap into its wasted, underutilized, and ignored spaces to reach its Zero Waste goals.

The City Council recently passed the historic Zero Waste Act, which requires at least two recycling and organic waste drop-off sites in each of NYC’s 59 community districts. To realize this, communities must find adequate spaces for these operations. The City Council should encourage and empower Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to help implement this mandate. 

BIDs are uniquely positioned to support this Zero Waste legislation, as they can identify underutilized spaces and leverage their relationship with property owners and local elected officials.

Our vision is to make wasted and underutilized spaces in BIDs available for people and organizations to provide Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, and Reclaim (5R) programming.

Quality 5R programming provides many benefits to BIDs, including offering sanitation and beautification services, increasing foot traffic in the commercial corridor and individual properties, strengthening civic participation, and fostering community amongst neighbors and businesses.

Our team designed the Un-Wasting Space to Reduce Waste booklet, a guide designed to help any community member understand the connections between space, people, and 5R programming. The booklet also opens up to a poster for anyone who wants to host a 5R event or program but may not know where to start. The booklet demystifies the process of reclaiming underutilized space for 5R programming, making it accessible and achievable for anyone.

Later this year, we will activate an underutilized space for 5R programming with the Pitkin Avenue BID. Stay tuned!

Meet the Project Team

Katy Burgio is the Senior Program Manager for waste capital projects at NYCHA where she facilitates infrastructure upgrades, programs, and procedure revisions to divert material from landfills. In her free time, Katy helps compost at local community gardens and organizes litter cleanups with BedStuy Clean Ups and run clubs.

Brittany Hodges is a project manager at Avdoo, where she manages the development process of design-forward projects in NYC. She has experience working and collaborating with multiple stakeholders and city agencies. She holds a Master’s of Architecture from the University of Kansas and is a Registered Architect in New York.

Yoo Jin Lee is a registered architect and an urban designer, with experience in leading numerous projects through design and construction across a wide range of clientele and project types. Stemming from her professional and academic background in architecture and urban design, she aims to understand, explore, and design built environments that are equitable and livable across multiple scales.

gil lopez is an educator, activist, green space steward, and co-founder of Smiling Hogshead Ranch, an urban farm in LIC, Queens. He sits on the advisory committees for the Dutch Kills Loop, the Western Queens Community Land Trust, and the Queens Solid Waste Advisory Board. gil’s pedagogies are rooted in land-based movements and his personal connection to plants, seasonality, soil, and the other elementals which inform and inspire his work.

Urban Design Forum’s 2022 Forefront Fellowship, New Loops, explored new approaches to New York City’s waste. Through a year of immersive research, Fellows explored best practices in residential waste management in partnership with the Department of Sanitation, then developed independent projects exploring how the city could build a more circular waste system.