BY GABE HERMAN | As humans continue to dump plastics into waters worldwide, Hudson River Park’s sanctuary waters are no exception to this environmental threat. Now the park has announced a program that aims to reduce plastic waste and educate people about the issue.
The Park Over Plastic initiative was launched May 20. A key goal is to reduce single-time use of plastics, including by the park itself, vendors in the park and the local community.
Hudson River Park will stop nearly all buying and use of single-use plastics at its offices, operational areas and park events.
Vendors in the park are being asked to make the same commitment, through what’s being called a “green partnership agreement.” So far, 13 vendors out of 21 have joined the agreement, committing them to end the sale and use of plastic bottles, straws, stirrers and flatware, and move to green items instead. Going forward, all new tenants in the park will be required to join the agreement, as well.
Portable hydration stations are also being added throughout the 4.5-mile-long park to let people refill their own water bottles. The park is also adding more recycling bins as part of the initiative.
Hudson River Park and the Estuary Lab will offer classes and programs to increase awareness about the need to reduce plastic pollution. And cleanup programs will continue along the shoreline, along with research into microplastics and general plastic pollution.
“Chronic over-reliance on plastic is overwhelming our planet and harming the health of our waterways — and we see the impact right here in Hudson River Park,” said Madelyn Wils, president and C.E.O. of the Hudson River Park Trust. “Last summer alone, we led the cleanup of close to 1,000 pounds of plastic debris from our shoreline. That is why we are taking action and launching Park Over Plastic to significantly reduce single-use plastics in the park and educate New Yorkers on the dangers of plastic pollution.”
Lynn Kelly, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, hailed the move.
“We commend Hudson River Park for taking this bold step, that will not only improve parks and waterways in New York City, but across the globe,” Kelly said. “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, largely comprising single-use plastics, would fill New York City’s parkland more than 7,000 times over. Closer to home, the North Atlantic Garbage Patch is estimated to be hundreds of kilometers across in size. What we do in our parks in New York City matters, and reducing single-use plastics will have an undeniably positive effect.”
Hudson River Park says that, since 2015, it has counted and removed almost 22,000 pieces of plastic from its shoreline. And this is indicative of a worldwide problem: By 2050, we are on track to have more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.