Composting Utopia

Composting Utopia: Experimental Infrastructures for Organics Recycling in New York City

Hardback Published on: 31/01/2024
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New Yorkers generate millions of tons of trash annually, which, through the magic of infrastructure and one of the largest waste management systems in the world, disappears from city sidewalks each night. Under pressure from environmentalists, activists, policymakers, and industry, the New York City Department of Sanitation started exploring ways to divert organic material from the waste stream, and in 2013, launched its composting pilot program.

Drawing on three years of ethnographic fieldwork with community composters and microhaulers in New York City, alongside the rollout of the city’s curbside organics collection system, Composting Utopia describes how local, grassroots organizations intervened in the city’s waste system, enacting change and presenting an alternative vision of the composting city. As Guy Shaffer argues, movement-driven infrastructure projects develop new tools for organizing the world, give young people of color agency over urban design, and promote sustainability and justice.

  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • ISBN: 9781625347701
  • Number of pages: 264
  • Weight: 272g
  • Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm

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