Data Art Wk 8-10: Data & Publics

Website so far (map only works locally)
Code here

Eva and I worked together to better understand where our garbage goes. We were interested in finding out where our different types of trash end up – does it stay in New York, end up in a different state, or even get sent out of country? First things first, we researched about how trash is handled in New York. Wish I had more time to dig into this topic deeper as there is a lot to dig into. We managed to get some facts at least.

a.) Research! Here are some notes captured through the research process: 

Notes on Guardian Article:
  • NYC generates over 3 million tons of household waste in 2015
  • types of garbage
    • mixed solid waste –> curb –> waste transfer station –> landfill or waste-to-energy plant
    • paper recyclables –> curb –> handing and recover facility –> domestic or international paper mills
    • metals, glass and plastic –> handing and recovering facility –> domestic/international recyclers
    • * compost is not listed in the diagram below but is an important type to consider.

Where New York City Garbage Goes

  • NYC relies of complex waste-management ecosystem encompassing 2 city agencies, 3 modes of transport (trucks, trains, and barges), 248 private waste hauling companies, temporary and permanent facilities
  • History of NYC waste management:
    • most of its history until mid-1900s, primary method for disposing waste was to dump it into the ocean
    • at one point 80% garbage in sea
    • City used some its garbage (ash, rubble, debris) to create artificial land –> increased its own size. much of the city’s land today including some of its priciest neighborhoods are built on garbage. ex 1160s map show how much of city is made of rubble + debris *Is this not amazing?!

A map of 1660s Manhattan overlaid on modern New York shows how much of the city’s land is manmade.

  • 2 waste Systems: 1 public, 1 private
    • 3/4 of ny’s garbage is generated by commercial business, most of it is rubble + debris from construction projects
    • garbage hauling industry has ties to organized crime
  • 12,000 tons of garbage each day
  • 2,230 collection trucks
  • moved to transfer facilities –> carted off to landfills located in various surrounding states – which are now nearly all at capacity
  • NY spent almost $1 billion per year on trash and recyclables collection

b.) After brainstorming, we realized that we had many functions we wanted this website to have. Some of the functions we thought of and designed up:

  • An intro animation page: that gave you a general overview of some NYC garbage facts
  • A journey section: when you type in your zip code it will tell you exactly the journey that your trash goes – from curb to transfer station to landfill. Ideally, it will show you an image of exactly what each step looks like.
  • A map section: a way to see how much trash each neighborhood generates. We were also hoping to be able to filter by time, income and type.
  • A take action section: some action items that we can do to be better trash citizens
  • A resource page: we used many datasets and read some articles. It will be good and transparent to have a bibliography page.
  • A QR code + sticker campaign: we thought of having stickers placed on trash bins with QR codes. The QR code would show the route that the bin would take from school/home/work to landfill. We were hoping this would be a simple way to bring the data closer to people.

c.) We next came up with design and sketches! Eva worked on some very thorough UX layouts based on what we had brainstormed.

I made some visual designs based on her great UX layouts.


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e.) Next we worked on coding this to life! Exciting!

f.) Conceptual mockups for our civic approach.
Still need to tweak the facts, make the QR code, and create the page that links the QR to the journey section of the website.


f.) To be continued…
Since we couldn’t get the data for the journey map within this time frame, we will continue working on this. We also want to get the messaging right for the stickers with a stronger focus on the compost program!

We are excited to keep going!!!


In the meantime we have made this click through invision link to show what we are imagining for this:

Code References: