By using positive messaging via targeted media to support New Yorkers’ in reducing their personal waste, GreeNYC has made a meaningful dent in the amount of paper and plastic wasted in the city.

The Challenge

New York City’s sanitation department annually collects about 10 billion single-use bags, 315,000 tons of paper for recycling, and about 800 million water bottles discarded by city residents. Similarly, New Yorkers receive an estimated 2 billion pieces of unwanted mail each year. The city’s GreeNYC campaign gets residents involved in behavior changing initiatives in order to stop this unnecessary waste and promote civic engagement.

The Solution

GreeNYC is New York City’s branding campaign to reduce waste and encourage more sustainable habits by all New Yorkers. Informed and measured by robust consumer behavior and environmental impact data, the campaign uses positive messaging and resident engagement to drive environmental behavior change. GreeNYC programs have reached more than 3 billion New Yorkers through marketing campaigns, and half of all New York City residents report familiarity with the program. The city has even created a GreeNYC mascot, “Birdie,” to get residents on board with conservation and environmental awareness.

GreeNYC’s 2014 “Stop Junk Mail” initiative, and the 2015 B.Y.O. (Bring Your Own) initiative to promote reusable water bottles, coffee mugs, and plastic bags, are examples of recent schemes targeting a high-impact area – in these cases, solid waste, using tailored marketing techniques for messaging and media planning. Stop Junk Mail has so far achieved a 1.75 million kg reduction in solid waste, and the B.Y.O. initiative has already avoided the use of 157 million disposable plastic bags.

Environmental Benefits – The campaign’s next initiative will be to promote home weatherization – including insulation, air duct sealing, and ventilation – in order to lower household energy use.

Social Benefits – The community engagement elements of GreeNYC increase residents’ involvement and interest in civic activities.

Economic Benefits – GreeNYC has many campaigns dedicated to promoting energy efficiency at home. As New Yorkers reduce their energy use from lighting, appliances, and heating and cooling, they also reduce their energy bills.

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2015 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Social
Key Impact
140,000 metric tons of CO2 expected to be reduced through GreeNYC’s stop junk mail and B.Y.O. initiatives
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