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Park Over Plastic Sparks Community Conversations

Since Hudson River Park launched Park Over Plastic last month, our team has been hard at work. In addition to taking strides toward reducing plastics throughout our four-mile footprint, we’re getting active in our community—starting and amplifying critical conversations about plastic pollution. Here are some highlights!

Park Over Plastic Kick-Off

On Wednesday, June 5, more than 50 of you joined us for the official launch of HRPK’s Park Over Plastic. This two-part kickoff began with a shoreline cleanup at Hudson River Park’s Pier 76. Participants counted and categorized plastic pollution found along the Park’s soft shoreline, contributing to HRPK Estuary Lab’s ongoing research of plastics in the Hudson River. Our Park Over Plastic volunteers collected over 400 individual plastic pieces and 213 pounds of debris in total.

A pose with the volunteers cleaning up the shoreline in Hudson River Park

The second part of the event featured a screening of Lizzie Outside‘s documentary “The Hudson Project,” followed by a preview and excerpts from Cafeteria Culture‘s documentary “MICROPLASTIC MADNESS — Brooklyn Kids Take on Plastic Pollution.”

Following the screenings, HRPK Estuary Lab Environmental Educator Anna Koskol moderated a lively panel and Q&A with Carrie Roble (HRPK’s Estuary Lab, Director of Science and Stewardship), Lizzie Carr (Lizzie Outside), Atsuko Quirk (Cafeteria Culture) and Grant Goldner. The panelists discussed their efforts to understand plastic pollution and explore solutions, as well as how they actively engage their communities around this issue. In HRPK, there are many ways to get involved—learn more about how you can choose Park Over Plastic with us.

A panel discussing plastics and how to help prevent pollution in the waters

Citywide Research Symposium Keynote Address

HRPK’s Director of Education and Outreach Tina Walsh delivered the keynote address at the Citywide Science Research Symposium hosted by the New York City Department of Education on June 5. This daylong event at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum invited high school students from all five boroughs to share estuary-focused research they conducted during the school year in poster presentations and TED-style talks.

In addition to celebrating the work of these students, Tina’s keynote address shared the impact that data and scientific inquiry can have on public spaces. Tina also discussed how Hudson River Park’s research on both marine debris and microplastic pollution builds awareness about the impacts of plastic on our Estuarine Sanctuary.

This symposium enabled us to expand the conversation about Park Over Plastic and empower NYC students to conduct research on our waterways. Students and teachers are encouraged to get involved!

Microplastics Teacher Training

On June 6, HRPK’s Estuary Lab hosted a teacher training with educators from the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum focused on microplastics. Microplastics, plastics smaller than 5mm, are an emerging environmental issue that impacts waterbodies and wildlife. These tiny plastics often come from wastewater treatment plants, which aren’t equipped to filter such small materials. To better understand the presence of microplastics in our local waters, Dr. Liboiron helped teachers design and construct DIY nets to sample the Hudson River. After collecting river samples, participants observed their findings under a microscope to both count and categorize the type of plastics. Dominant findings included microbeads, pellets and line/rope fragments.

Eager Park visitors pull out microplastics to research and understand how dangerous plastics in the rivers are

During this training teachers also explored the Estuary Lab’s microplastic research and educational activities that demonstrate plastic pollution impacts. HRPK’s Estuary Lab conducts research in partnership with Brooklyn College to research the concentration of microplastics in Park waters and support regional efforts to understand this emerging environmental threat. You can read more about this project here!

Spread the Word

Park lovers like you are choosing Park Over Plastic—and helping us get the word out! Sign up for our social media toolkit to let people know that you’re choosing Park Over Plastic.

Keep your eye on our website and social media, and be sure to join our mailing list. We’ll keep you in the loop as this initiative continues to grow and develop.