The Foundation was established in August of 2016 with the launch of an unconventional avant-garde project—a collaboration with street-wear fashion designer Heron Preston to create UNIFORM, a ready-to-wear collection debuted at New York Fashion Week. Preston built upon street-style by repurposing decommissioned DSNY uniforms and thrift store finds. The line was developed with the mission to keep clothing from decomposing in landfills while celebrating the City’s emergency responders. This partnership demonstrated the Foundation’s great potential to facilitate public-private partnerships that would forward DSNY’s ambitious waste goals.
In 2017, the foundation organized the first biannual NYC Food Waste Fair in collaboration with DSNY and key stakeholder groups. The event helped forge contacts across and within industries, making it easier for New Yorkers to prevent, recover and recycle food waste than ever before. Funds generated by the event went towards microgrants to help small businesses institute long-term sustainable practices. The 2019 Food Waste Fair featured new programming including food waste workshops, and a cooking challenge for professional chefs to create the best “zero-waste” dish.
One key Foundation goal is to establish an NYC Sanitation museum. Today, the Department is proud to maintain Treasures in the Trash, a curated exhibit by now-retired Sanitation worker Nelson Molina, who believed that the curios left curbside weren’t garbage but vignettes of our humanity. Over the years, hundreds of people have lingered over his collection, privately housed in a DSNY garage. Ultimately, Treasures in the Trash will be incorporated into a larger, more traditional museum.