Ever wonder why you don’t see garbage trucks on the streets of Roosevelt Island? Or why there aren’t any smelly piles of trash bags on the corners? You can’t see it, you can’t hear it, but just inches beneath the feet of every Roosevelt Islander, garbage is shooting through a network of tubes at 35 miles per hour. Leftovers, empty toothpaste tubes—it’s all down there. It’s a special system, and one of the only in the country!
In 2010, CUP and students from Roosevelt Island’s The Child School, along with artist Juliette Spertus, visited the island’s trash collection facility to learn how the garbage from the school gets whisked away and processed.
The students learned about all the parts of the “automated vacuum collection” (AVAC) system, from the pneumatic tubes that suck the trash out of the buildings to the compactor that presses the trash into its final shape before it gets shipped off the island. They made a users’ guide for island residents to keep the tubes from getting jammed, as well as a poster showing how the different parts of the system work.
Their work was included in an exhibit at the RIVAA Gallery on Roosevelt Island in the Spring of 2010.