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It’s mulching time at NYC Parks as New Yorkers toss their Christmas trees to the curb

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver kicks of Mulchfest by putting a tree through a chipper.
Photo by Dean Moses

The end of the year is upon us, and with it we discard the old and look to the new, a part of this tradition also includes tossing out your used Christmas trees. But before you do, the NYC Parks and Department of Sanitation say this seemingly trivial act can be used for a greater purpose through Mulchfest 2021.

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver and Department of Sanitation Acting Commissioner Edward Grayson joined elected officials Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Council Parks Committee Chair Peter Koo to kick off the annual Christmas tree recycling event at Washington Square Park on Dec. 30.

In lieu of cutting a ribbon or making long speeches, the group of notables broke in Mulchfest by donning gloves and goggles before hauling used trees and tossing them into a chipper, cheering and laughing as chips spurt into the frosty winter air.     

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver and Department of Sanitation Acting Commissioner Edward Grayson joined elected officials Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Holyman, and Council Parks Committee Chair Peter Koo to celebrate Mulchfest at Washington Square Park. Photo by Dean Moses

Mulchfest officially began the day after Christmas and will run through January 9th, allowing New Yorkers to drop off their unwanted, dead trees at a choice of over 67 sites—which include parks and greenthumb gardens—throughout the metropolitan area. About 33 of these locations will have the chipping process performed on-site for spectators to marvel at. In addition, if trees are donated on Jan. 2nd and Jan. 9th, individuals will be afforded the opportunity to bring home a tote bag full of mulch made from their old holiday ornament for use in their own personal garden.

This initiative has been an annual tradition for the past 20 years and has become an iconic holiday event for many participants. NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver believes this occasion is a great way for people to observe the lifecycle of a tree through recycling and, ultimately, the nourishment for flora that mulch provides throughout the city.

A family watches the mulch process at Washington Square Park. Photo by Dean Moses

“This is a great way of recycling a tree. It is the whole lifecycle of a tree. We turn it into chips, and it can go out into parks and on street trees, and help replenish and nourish our entire ecosystem,” Silver said, also sharing that NYC Parks has successfully mulched over 50,900 trees in the year 2020 alone.

Commissioner of New York City Department of Sanitation Edward Grayson is happy to be a part of this partnership with NYC Parks. “You can bring your tree down. It’s a great way to properly dispose of and make the best use of a Christmas tree. This is important because it really does show the lifecycle of what can happen,” Grayson said.

He believes that the influx of participation throughout the years is thanks to events like Mulchfest, which provide a chance for people to make environmentally friendly choices

“It’s a true testament to the way people have embraced the green nature of the culture here. We are trying to do everything we can to do what’s right for the environment,” Grayson added.

If you are interested in participating in the Mulchfest 2021 visit the NYC Parks Department website to find a location near you.

An NYC Parks worker places mulch into bags. Photo by Dean Moses

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