Watch Your Step

After nearly landing my sandal clad foot in a discarded carton of goat curry at last week’s West Indian Day Parade, I got to thinking about how many times I have had similar close encounters on the streets of New York. Living in Brighton Beach/Coney Island for several years (a prime destination for bizarre litter enthusiasts), I have developed an expertise in the strange things people leave behind. Sand filled tee-shirts on the water’s edge, half eaten hot-dogs framed in sun-dried ketchup and single high heels are on the short list. Some things, partially decayed sting rays for instance, are not man-made, but equally treacherous.

According to, street basket waste only accounts for a small fraction of the overall garbage in New York, 1lb for every 38lbs of household trash. That is, however, only what makes it into the baskets. A chart from the 2004-05 NYC Waste Characterization Study breaks the contents of street trash into categories, including: recyclables (47%), food waste (13.5%) and, animal waste (thankfully only 1.7%). The rest, a whopping 26.2%, falls under the category “everything else”.

What exactly is “everything else”? Tell me the weirdest things thing you have seen thrown away or abandoned on the streets of our five boroughs.

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