Talking Trash: Throwing Out The Big Apple

Since the Fresh Kills landfill closed on Staten Island over 15 years ago, NYC has exported all of its trash to other places to be buried or burned. Everyone from government officials to local residents have debated this complicated process, but one thing all folks agree on is that this current system is too costly and difficult to maintain. Where does our trash go and who makes these decisions? What’s the dirt on NYC’s mounting trash problem?

In our first Digital Investigation, CUP and Teaching Artist Dillon de Give partnered with students at Frances Perkins Academy in Greenpoint to dig deeper into the complicated world of garbage infrastructure. To find out more, students visited places like a local waste transfer station and a recycling facility. They interviewed key decision makers including a private waste carrier, an environmental activist, a Department of Sanitation staff member, and the Chair of the City Council Sanitation Committee.

Students collaborated with the Teaching Artist to edit and refine their findings into a documentary-style video that explains where our trash goes, who decides, and how else the current system could work.

Students debuted their documentary to a full house at the Wythe Hotel Screening Room, where students shared their video and discussed their creative process.

Check out the video below!

This project is a new and expanded Urban Investigation. To learn more about our Urban Investigation program, click here

Talking Trash Curriculum Guide

CUP created a curriculum guide for educators that includes a DVD of Talking Trash: Throwing Out the Big Apple and a booklet with eight hands-on activities and extension lessons which explore the journey of trash, from what we consume to where our trash goes after it’s thrown away.

Check out the curriculum guide here!

What People Are Saying

The guide is awesome! There are definitely topics that fall right in line with the A.P. curriculum… I think the video is awesome! I like that there’s a story line for the students to follow and they see students from other New York City urban schools like them getting involved in this issue. It’s a great engagement piece and the guide is super easy to follow – multiple textual resources to get the students thinking.” – Rachel Taylor, Teacher: 9th Grade Biology and A.P. Environmental Science, Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design

Funding Support

This Digital Investigation is part of Curb Your Litter: Greenpoint, a project of the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce. 

This project is made possible through the support of: New York State Office of the Attorney General and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation through the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund.

CUP’s Youth Education programs are supported in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts in partnership with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. 

Support for the Talking Trash: Throwing Out the Big Apple DVD and curriculum guide was provided by Curb Your Litter: Greenpoint.

Thanks To Our Interviewees

Eddie Bautista (NYC-EJA), Elizabeth Balkan (DSNY), Bob Guarnaccia (Royal Waste Services), Rolando Guzman (St. Nicks Alliance), Laura Hofmann (OUTRAGE), Keith Mellis (DSNY), Robin Nagle (NYU, DSNY), Tom Outerbridge & Eadaoin Quinn (SIMS Municipal Recycling), Antonio Reynoso (New York City Council)

Special Thanks

Caroline Bauer, Jessica Evans, Sydney Franklin, Daniel Girard, Ester Kwon, Benjamin Miller, Alan Minor, Dana Rachlin, Tara Ridgedell, Jen Robinson, Jennie Romer, Juliette Spertus, Lacey Tauber, the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce, 

The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 


  • CUP
  • Teaching Artist
  • Dillon de Give

  • Teaching Artist Assistant
  • Emmanuela Soira Ruiz

    • Project Lead
    • Christy Herbes
    • Project Support
    • Christine Gaspar
    • Ingrid Haftel
    • Deja Holden
    • Jenn Anne Williams

    • Original Music
    • Nick Cregor
    • Frances Perkins Academy 
    • Students
    • Randy Buggie
    • Amandalee Cabrera
    • Jordany Diaz
    • Malik Edwards
    • Destini Gibson
    • Angel Lopez
    • Nieya Olmo
    • Chris Ortiz
    • Sahjib Rashid
    • Maria Rodriguez
    • Samson Sutherland
    • Jairo Villar
    • Shonda Zephyr
    • Classroom Teacher
    • Salomon Kandov

    • Principal
    • Kevin Bryant

Talking Trash Curriculum Guide


Christine Gaspar

Fielding Hong

Jenn Anne Williams

Package Design

Alayna Citrin