Mother Earth is always in need of some more love. Sure, you can jet-set off to save the Amazon forest, but what’s more fabulous (and environmentally friendly) than acting locally? Hop on a train and save the Bronx forest instead!
This year, organizations around New York are calling on the community to help with the billions of pounds of trash that enter our waterways, parks, and oceans every year. These grassroots efforts have a major impact on the region: Last year, volunteers retrieved tens of thousands of plastic bottles, food containers, and discarded toys during various cleanup events.
From planting maple trees in an old-growth forest in the Bronx to pulling discarded fishing nets out of the Hudson River (waders, anyone?), there are plenty of ways to pitch in and make our region more beautiful. What’s more, you can see new parts of New York you may never have thought to visit before and meet a new group of action-minded people making a difference in the health of their community. Who needs Tinder when you have trash bags?
As Earth Day approaches on April 22nd, here are some events this month in and around New York City where you can clean up, commune with, and celebrate our only home—Planet Earth.
River Cleanup in Bronx Park with the Bronx River Alliance
A Bronx river cleanup is an adventurous way to give back on Earth Day. You’ll get to model some fashionable waders (provided by the Bronx River Alliance) and join other volunteers to help retrieve discarded fishing lines, golf balls, and other debris from the river. Longtime volunteer Jaccell Arguinzoni describes how inspiring it is to be a part of these cleanup efforts: “[When you get involved,] it’s like a chain reaction. People start to collaborate, and we come together like a family.” In 2021, volunteers swept up an astonishing 14,580 pieces of individual trash—everything from Styrofoam cups to Nerf darts.
Location: Bronx Park, 3400 Duncomb Avenue, Bronx, New York
Date & Time: April 21, 2022 from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm
6 minute walk from Gun Hill Road to the Bronx Park entrance
Earth Day with Queens County Farm Museum
Queens County Farm Museum is New York City’s largest working farm and its last remaining tract of undisturbed farmland. Since 1697 (you read that right), the Queens County Farm Museum has been actively farming and feeding New Yorkers with its 47-acres of farmland, while also encouraging New Yorkers to better understand sustainable agriculture and the food system “from farm to fork.”
This Earth Day, you can mingle with bees, alpaca, and hens while sprucing up this 325-year-old property by cleaning up their gardens and helping to sift compost. A sweet treat is a talk with their resident beekeeper plus composting tips, a self-guided scavenger hunt, and free giveaways.
Location: Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy, Queens, New York
Date & Time: April 22, 2022 from 12 pm to 4 pm
30 minute Q46 bus ride from Kew Gardens - Union Turnpike to Little Neck Parkway
15 minute rideshare from New Hyde Park
Scudder’s Pond Cleanup with the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor
The Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor has been organizing cleanups around Long Island since 1992. Their Earth Day event focuses on cleaning up Scudder’s Pond, which acts as a filter for run-off into Hempstead Harbor (which feeds into the greater Atlantic Ocean.) Being a coastal town, the area sees a lot of fishing line that gets discarded, which then poses a threat to marine animals. “Doing this makes the environment safer for wildlife and people,” said volunteer Skip Dommin. “It also just makes things look better!”
Location: Scudder’s Pond, 490-492 Prospect Avenue, Sea Cliff, New York
Date & Time: April 23rd, 2022 from 9 am to 11 am
RSVP: Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot, and bring work gloves, plus a rake, buckets, boots, and long pants if you have them!
5 minute rideshare from Glen Head
Truman’s Beach Cleanup with Peconic Land Trust and Surfrider Foundation
Volunteers have helped clean up Truman’s Beach—a shell-covered stretch of beach on the North Fork of Long Island—every Earth Day for years, and more are always welcome. Truman’s Beach is close to the end of the fork, making it particularly vulnerable to trash coming in from the Long Island Sound. “Starting small and doing something at our local beaches really does make a difference,” said Kathy Kennedy of Peconic Land Trust, one of the hosts of the annual cleanup. “There is always something floating in. All the natural areas that we have are really important to keep clean.” At a recent cleanup, volunteers removed 327 pounds of trash from the beach in just two hours. Let your competitive side out and join them on April 22nd when they try to beat that record.
Location: Truman’s Beach, (near 17535 Main Road), East Marion, New York
Date & Time: April 22, 2022 from 10 am to 12 pm
10 minute rideshare from Greenport
Great Saw Mill River Cleanup with Groundwork Hudson Valley
Be a part of the largest cleanup event in Westchester County at this year’s Great Saw Mill River Cleanup, which has six different locations to help clean up this Earth Day. You can join cleanups all along the Metro-North Hudson Line in Yonkers, Ardsley, Hastings, Irvington, and Dobbs Ferry. The Yonkers location has special significance: urban development meant that the Saw Mill River was once buried beneath the pavement, but it’s been uncovered and brought back to life through a process called “daylighting.” At this river cleanup, you’ll be joining other volunteers to pull out discarded trash that has made its way into the waterway; last year, volunteers collectively hauled an entire bathtub out of the river. Team effort!
2 minute walk from Yonkers
Veteran’s Memorial Park Cleanup with Save the Sound
Veteran’s Memorial Park and Marina is a 35-acre park that runs alongside Connecticut's Norwalk Harbor, which flows into the Long Island Sound. Cleaning up this small park has an impact beyond the local harbor: as the Long Island Sound feeds into the Atlantic Ocean, which means you can help prevent pollution on a global scale. Volunteers at this clean-up event, hosted by the environmental organization Save the Sound, will help keep coastal habitats in the Long Island Sound clean by picking up waste throughout the park—in 2021, 860 bags were filled by volunteers at Save the Sound cleanups.
Location: Veteran’s Memorial Park and Marina, 42 Seaview Ave, Norwalk, Connecticut
Date & Time: April 30, 2022 from 11 am to 1 pm
5 minute rideshare from South Norwalk
Tree Planting in Bronx Forest with the Bronx River Alliance
The Bronx River Alliance provides a tranquil opportunity to care for Mother Nature in the Bronx Forest, New York City’s only old-growth forest. Old-growth forests are rare across the United States, but especially in the hustle and bustle of a city like New York. “This area has never been cut down for development and logging. It’s what we call an ancient forest,” said Christian Murphy of Bronx River Alliance. Filled with a mix of red maples, sweetgum, pin oak, and tupelo trees, the forest includes paths that date back to the 1700s nestled among the awe-inducing expanse of ancient trees.
Volunteers can be a part of the past and the future by helping to plant new native trees throughout the forest. All you need to do is show up: Bronx River Alliance will provide the gloves, shovels, and trees, along with a demonstration of how to properly plant them. In just a couple of hours, you’ll have made your mark on New York’s ever-changing landscape.
Location: Burke Avenue Bridge in Bronx River Forest, Bronx River Pkwy, Bronx, New York
Date & Time: April 20, 2022 from 9:30 am to 12 pm
10 minute walk from Burke Avenue