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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

GrowNYC Lives, Organizing To Save Compost Programs Continues

Updated: Jan 3

A demonstration by composting supporters
Photo: Jade Doskow for The New York Times

Welcome to Winning Wednesday! 

I love living in Milwaukee, but the thing I miss most about living in New York is that I can no longer compost my food scraps with @GrowNYC (or anyone).   GrowNYC has been a major environmental force for years, but budget cuts threatened their existence, until a recent reprieve.

GrowNYC does so much for the env-ironment, including in the past year:


  • Collecting 2.6 million lbs of food scraps for composting from sites across the city, diverting them from rotting in landfills

  • Constructing 7 new community gardens

  • Engaging almost half a million New York kids and adults in environmental education programming

  • Using compost to improve the health of street trees and green spaces

Most importantly, they give their food scrap donors a feeling of agency, as they do something real to fight climate change.


Mayor Adams Threatens Budget Cuts - Donor Steps In

Eric Adams put GrowNYC and several other community composting organizations and programs – including a composter training course – on the chopping block for 2024.  Like many stupid and lazy managers, he thinks ordering a 5% cut across all departments is a good way to manage a budget. There are real financial issues for the city, especially but not exclusively related to the migrant crisis.  But community composting programs are a small percentage even of the composting budget, much less the entire budget, of the Department of Sanitation.


After several rallies and petitions to save them happened, in December, an anonymous donor stepped up to fund GrowNYC through June, by which time the city budget will be set.  The private sector also stepped in to save them in the early, chaotic days of the pandemic.


This is a limited victory.  Several other groups who help process the food scraps that GrowNYC collects are still on the chopping block, a huge problem.  And, of course, the threat of budget cuts remains.


NY’s City Council has recently elected a majority progressive body, including at least two members who have rallied for this cause,  @CMSandyNurse and @shaunabreu. Let’s hope they can help build support for this important program.


There are complexities to this issue, and if you’d like to learn more, check out this New York Times story.

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