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Community / Public space

A designer is collecting food waste for compost in New York newspaper boxes

The bright yellow newspaper boxes recently installed on New York streets might not strike you as unusual: at first glance, they’re apparently emblazoned with the words “New York Post”, the name of the city’s daily tabloid newspaper.

But look a little closer, and you’ll see that a sneaky “com” has been inserted between the final and penultimate words. 

The boxes are the work of designer Debbie Ullman, and the name is both a pun on a popular newspaper brand and a description: the bins are for making compost.

The boxes are placed near community gardens, and Ullman hopes that passersby will drop food waste into them as they pass; this will then be collected, and taken to be composted elsewhere. Their sides are decorated with mock front pages, splashing on “HERBAN DECAY!”.:

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Once collected, the compost can be used by anyone in the community who has access to the box’s lock code. 


One problem, of course, is that the boxes look an awful lot like normal newspaper boxes – perhaps too similar. Ullman says that even when she asks people to read the words on the side to her, they say “New York Post”. But once you realise what they are and why they’re there, they do offer an element of surprise and humour which could draw in those normally uninterested in food waste disposal.

We just feel for any commuter who accidentally reaches into an unlocked box and is met with an unwelcome surprise. 


This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.