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How to Recycle Your Tree During Mulchfest

Don’t know how to get rid of your Christmas tree after the holidays? New York City’s after-holidays Mulchfest is the solution to that problem. Counted as a citywide festival, this two week event encourages New Yorkers to practice positive environmental methods.

Before mulching was considered, holiday trees were usually dropped at the curb, wrapped in plastic, and city workers would gather these and throw them into the landfill sites. This caused issues with cluttered sidewalks and as with large furniture disposal, regulations were implemented to resolve the issue. In the early 1990s, the Department of Sanitation New York (DSNY) started to run special pickups to bring the city’s thousands of discarded holiday trees to one of four designated chipping sites where the trees were turned into mulch. Now part of a NYC holiday tradition, Mulchfest turns holiday trees into mulch which can be used for gardening and increases soil fertility. For more than 20 years, NYC Parks and DSNY have gathered holiday trees and mulched them to help with planting beds and community gardens around the city. Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of soil and it helps with conservation of soil moisture, improves fertility of soil, keeps roots warm, and reduces weed growth. 

At first, the city’s recycling program didn’t get too much attention, but as the years went on and people became more and more aware of the environment, the program began to take off. The mulching sites went from four to over 60 by 2007. And it was then when the city turned this annual mulching pattern into an event. Parks have mulched between 25,000 to 30,000 on average annually, and with more than 50,000 mulched during Mulchfest in 2020.

Drop-off sites are aplenty throughout all five boroughs. The city recommends that residents should remove all decorations, tinsel, and lights from the tree and remove it from its stand before heading to a drop-off site, because you can’t get those back after your tree has gone through a shredder. There are two types of sites during Mulchfest. There are drop-off sites where you leave your tree for pickup and chipping sites where the city will be actively mulching trees. If you want your own bag of mulch for your garden, going to a chipping site on Chipping Saturdays guarantees your very own memento. Even if you’re not able to make it to Mulchfest, DSNY collects curbside trees to recycle them later. 

When and Where to Participate in Mulchfest?

Mulchfest will be happening from December 26, 2021 – January 9, 2022 this year. Here are some of the parks in each borough that will participate in Mulchfest, but please visit NYC Parks to get the full map of each park you will be able to go to:

Mulchfest Locations in the Bronx

Van Cortlandt ParkGolf course at Bailey Ave. & Van Cortlandt Park S. (Chipping)

Pelham Bay Park – Parking lot at Middletown Road and Stadium Avenue (Drop-off only)

Mulchfest Locations in Brooklyn

Prospect ParkLincoln Rd. & Ocean Ave. (Drop-off only); Park Cir. & Parkside Ave. (Chipping); Third St. & Prospect Park W. (Chipping)

Fort Greene Park – Washington Park and Myrtle Avenue (Chipping)

Mulchfest Locations in Manhattan

Washington Square ParkFifth Ave. & Washington Square N. (Chipping)

Central Park – East 106th Street and Fifth Avenue (Drop-off only); West 65th Street and Central Park West (Drop-off only); West 81st Street and Central Park West, at the bridle path (Chipping)

Mulchfest Locations in Staten Island

Conference House ParkParking lot at Hylan Blvd. & Satterlee St. (Chipping)

Midland Beach – Parking lot #8 at Father Capodanno Boulevard and Graham Boulevard (Chipping)

Mulchfest Locations in Queens

Astoria Park19th St. & Hoyt Ave. (Chipping)

Rockaway Beach – 94th Street and Shorefront Parkway (Drop-off only)

Nina Yu is a writer, new to the city. Her articles have been published to local newspapers and a national women’s online magazine.

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