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How Smashing Pumpkins and Collecting Food Scraps Builds a Greener NYC

On Saturday, November 7, Hudson River Park celebrated sustainability at the Park’s third annual Pumpkin Smash. More than 200 New Yorkers joined us throughout the day to bash and crush their old Halloween pumpkins in a socially-distant fashion. This year’s event was a smashing success; we collected nearly 1,000 pounds of pumpkins which our Park staff will turn into nutrient-rich compost.

Each year, Hudson River Park hosts Pumpkin Smash to help educate and engage our Park community. Composting is an important aspect of the Park’s sustainability initiatives and is one way we work to reduce our carbon footprint. Compost is created when food scraps and horticulture waste are combined and broken down into nutrient-rich soil. Not only does this compost strengthen the health of our plant beds, but it also diverts waste from landfills.

Pumpkin Smash 2020 in Hudson River Park father daughter

In New York City, our trash is exported to landfills, sometimes as far as Virginia or South Carolina. This trash is often transported on trucks or barges that burn fossil fuels, releasing excess carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. This excess CO2 acts like a heat-trapping blanket around our planet, holding in heat that would otherwise escape, which in turn contributes to the warming of Earth’s atmosphere through climate change.

HRPK Compost Drop Off Tomatoes

What can you do about this? An easy step you can take at home is collecting your food scraps and delivering them to a local drop-off location. Hudson River Park’s Community Compost Program hosts 10 drop-off sites throughout the Park’s  four-mile footprint (see locations listed below). Additionally, you can find other local drop-offs on the NYC Department of Sanitation’s website.

Unfortunately, this map also shows our city’s current limitations, and not every neighborhood in NYC has local access to compost sites. Additionally, as a result of COVID-19 budgetary restrictions, much of NYC’s compost program was scrapped in 2020. As a result, it has gotten tougher for many in our communities to make sustainable choices.

This is one of the main reasons why Hudson River Park worked quickly to bring back its Community Compost Program this year, featuring 3 new locations for a total of 10 in HRPK. But we can’t handle all of NYC’s organic waste alone – and many other partners are also working hard to reduce organic waste from going to landfills.

Compost Bin SystemDuring these tough months in NYC, it has been encouraging to see so many community groups step up to provide access to compost drop-offs and education throughout the five boroughs. You can learn more about the inspiring community gardens and bike-powered food hauling groups that have popped up all over the city in this New York Times article. Beyond the amazing community support in the compost realm, this is also an example of the importance of working toward electing leaders who advocate for sustainability and climate policies. Together, we can support a cleaner, greener and climate-smart future for New York City!

Want to learn more and join our sustainability efforts? Check out our Community Compost page for a list of what food scraps are accepted and tips for getting started – it’s easy!

Drop-Off Locations:

  • Pier 25 at N Moore St. near the Pier 25 Play Area
  • Pier 40 at Houston St. near the Leroy Street Dog Park
  • Pier 46 at Charles St.
  • Pier 51 at Horatio St. near the Pier 51 comfort station
  • 14th Street Park at the southwest corner of 15 St. and 10 Ave.
  • Chelsea Waterside Park at the 23 St. and 11 Ave. entrance
  • Pier 66 at W 26 St. (NEW)
  • HRPK’s Compost Center (enter at W 34 St. and walk south on the esplanade)
  • Pier 84 at W 44 St. near the Pier 84 Dog Park
  • Pier 96 Boathouse at W 55 St. (NEW)