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Daily Plant Masthead

Volume XXVIII, Number 5775
Monday, Jan 14, 2013

Fall Events Advance Parks Recycling Campaign

Members of Parks’ Green Teens volunteered to compete in a recycling competition at PumpkinFest
Members of Parks’ Green Teens volunteered to compete in a recycling competition at PumpkinFest

With parks and open spaces encompassing more than 29,000 acres citywide, parks are truly the “backyard” extension of New Yorkers’ homes. Parks has therefore made it a priority to expand and improve recycling in parks and at special events. With thousands of parks events throughout the year and such a high volume of people, it has become even more important to provide easily accessible recycling throughout parks. While adding more recycling bins, increasing public outreach and education, and conducting staff trainings are all part of the recycling agenda, two events this past October demonstrated that Parks is making extremely positive strides toward this goal.

On the final weekend of October, Parks staff and volunteers assisted with recycling and composting collection at MillionTreesNYC plantings and PumpkinFest. The MillionTreesNYC planting took place at seven sites across the five boroughs, including Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn and Cunningham Park in Queens. Not only did the event engage hundreds of people and plant thousands of trees, but it was the most sustainable MillionTreesNYC event yet. Volunteers were recruited as compost coordinators to help monitor recycling and compost bins and educate the public in correct practices. Thanks to their amazing work, as well as the assistance by the Department of Sanitation Local Organics Program and GrowNYC, the event was able to divert over 70% of the waste (by volume) from the waste stream, including 207 pounds of compostable materials. The collected scraps are being turned into compost by Louise Bruce of Build It Green! Compost on parkland underneath the Queensboro Bridge, which will then be utilized by Parks and the community on tree, plant and garden care.

In Central Park that same day, Parks’ Green Teens were conducting whirlwind recycling collection at PumpkinFest that amounted to 82 full bags of plastics and cardboard. The Green Teens, an environmental stewardship program for teenagers (13-17 years old) created by Deputy Chief of Queens Recreation Rosemary Paul in 2010, formed three teams to participate in a recycling competition. The Manhattan, Bronx and Queens teams competed against each other to see who could collect the most recyclables. Once a team fills up a bag of plastics and cardboard, they must run it over to the Recycling Judge, who awards a point for a full, clean bag. After several hours, the Manhattan team won with 39 bags, followed by Queens with 32 and the Bronx with 11. The event was a definite success, with Paul’s only low being that “there weren’t enough recyclables to go around.” Paul has been integral as a citywide Green Teens coordinator, connecting departments and organizations to “work together with Recreation Centers to provide sustainable workshops, such as tree care, recycling and horticulture.” As she looks to continue to help expose youth to improving natural areas in their neighborhoods, one of her goals is to continue identifying citywide events where they can affectively conduct recycling competitions.

Want to recycle at a Parks event? Have how-to recycling questions? Drop us an email at!

Submitted by Mike Mullaley, Sustainability Initiatives Intern

Did You Know?
New York City spends $330 million each year just to export trash to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Michigan.


“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

Thomas Jefferson
(1743 - 1826)
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