Public parks are a quintessential part of NYC that keep the spirit of the city alive by offering anyone a chance to step back from its more man-made aspects into the greenspace that would be so hard to find otherwise. With the advent of summer weather, more gatherings being hosted outdoors due to the pandemic, and the recent July 4th festivities, more and more New Yorkers are spending their free time in one of the city’s many parks. Unfortunately, this means that there is often a lot of litter left behind once visitors leave. To ensure NYC’s greenspace stays clean, many park boards, often in cooperation with the NYC Parks department, are planning cleanups and nature events that anyone can participate in. Here are some ways you can get involved in downtown’s cleanup efforts:
1. On Friday, July 9, the Battery Conservancy offered a tour of the perennial gardens along with a gardening workshop. Entitled “Gardening for Pollinators,” the workshop taught visitors how to identify beneficial pollinators and improve the health of their own gardens, thereby increasing the city’s greenspace. Teaching people about the health of the park and its flora also reduces the risk of them acting carelessly towards it out of ignorance.
2. On Saturday, July 10, the Washington Square Park Conservancy held a cleanup to maintain the beauty of Lower Manhattan’s iconic park. Although everyone was welcome, due to COVID restrictions, volunteers must register online beforehand. Masks were required, and tools were provided.
3. Madison Square Park is currently taking applications for a photography volunteer and a horticulture volunteer. These two positions are essential for maintaining the public image and plant vitality of the park, respectively.
4. Hudson River Park’s River Project, which studies marine debris, invites organized groups of people over 18 to schedule volunteer cleanup days. In addition to removing marine debris, volunteers also count and categorize it for Estuary Lab scientists to gather information on the type and concentration of debris in the Hudson’s waters. The flexibility of setting up your own cleanup date is congruent with Hudson River Park’s volunteer program, which is largely based on personal availability and has multiple year-round opportunities to get involved.
5. On Saturday, October 3rd, the East River Alliance, partnered with the Lower East Side Ecology Center, is hosting an East River Park cleanup from 10am – 1pm. Tools will be provided, and volunteers will meet at the Fire Boat House inside the park, which acts as the Ecology Center headquarters.
Overall, NYC parks are doing their best to manage the increase in traffic and trash that always comes in the summer months. These upcoming events are not only free, they’re a great way to get in touch with your local community while making it a better place. While downtown is often known for its unique restaurants, vibrant neighborhoods, and bustling nightlife, its parks are just as noteworthy; cleaning them up will give them the attention and care they deserve.