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Thanks to the Forest Hills Green Team (FHGT), Queens Botanical Garden and Friends of MacDonald Park, roadside food and garden waste collection will return to Forest Hills on Sunday May 16.
The new food waste drop-off point in MacDonald Park at 87-20 Queens Blvd. is more than a year after Mayor Bill de Blasio cut $ 28 million from fiscal 2021 budget and suspended food waste collection and composting across the city to fund emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic .
Recently, the mayor announced the return of curb service to communities where it was offered before the pandemic, but Forest Hills was not one of them, according to the FHGT. On Sundays, there was only one weekly food waste drop-off point on MacDonald Park Greenmarket and on Saturdays, there was the volunteer-run Compost Collective on Yellowstone Boulevard and Kessel Street.
“There are some places where people can drop off weekly litter, but that’s just not enough,” said Mark Laster, chairman of FHGT, a volunteer initiative launched in 2018 that revitalizes gardens at the Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School and the Forest and created Hills High School. “So we decided to work with the Queens Botanical Gardens and Friends of MacDonald Park to provide another composting site and opportunity.”
Residents can come to the location next to the Greenmarket from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and give their leftover food to FHGT volunteers. The Queens Botanical Garden will collect the bins and compost the food waste at its main facility. The finished compost will be returned to the community for distribution in MacDonald Park.
Since the service was closed, residents have been asked to dispose of leftover food and garden trash with their trash, which has resulted in a huge loss of momentum for these vital programs, FHGT co-chair Dan Miner said in a comment.
“Public relations must be doubled before it can be reintroduced. We urge the mayor and city council to restore funding for composting and recycling programs as soon as possible and invest in educating people about the many benefits of composting, “said Miner.
According to Miner, composting is critical to protecting the environment.
“When food waste is not separated from regular garbage, it is often incinerated or buried in landfills, where the greenhouse gas methane, which is responsible for global warming, is produced,” Miner said.
According to the FHGT, methane is up to 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Municipal waste landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the US, causing approximately 15 percent of US emissions in 2018.
“Landfills across the country are filling up and becoming more expensive for cities to use for their waste,” FHGT said in a comment. “To achieve the city’s goal of not throwing any waste to landfill by 2030, we need to make composting our organic waste a priority.”
According to the FHGT, Queens Botanical Garden is looking for other organizations willing to host food waste disposal points in their community and is encouraging other local groups to get involved in efforts to create a sustainable future.
Forest Hills Green Team members also developed a community beautification project at the LIRR flyover on Yellowstone Boulevard. The FHGT has organized events and advocated environmental issues and the response to climate change.
FHGT members Evan Boccardi and Sheila Shapiro will coordinate the location. To volunteer at the FHGT for the compost project, contact [email protected]