2012-04-18 – Where to Volunteer In NYC:Environment – Time Out

Where to Volunteer In NYC:Environment

Time Out New York

April 18th, 2012

By Jakob N. Layman


This cosponsored initiative from the NYC Parks Department and the New York Restoration Project strives to plant and care for 1 million new trees by 2017. Since launching in 2007, the program has managed to put nearly 600,000 saplings and baby trees in the ground, and they’re growing fast, thanks to volunteer assistance. Green-thumbed New Yorkers have the opportunity to participate in a number of arboreal activities, including community tree-planting and seed-sowing events scattered throughout the five boroughs this spring and summer. You can also adopt trees in your own neighborhood online; free workshops focusing on proper tree care will make you a pro when it comes to watering, weeding and mulching your new eco-boosting ward. milliontreesnyc.org

Build It Green! NYC

Nonprofit program BIG!NYC takes basic recycling to new lengths, reducing city waste by selling low-cost, salvaged and surplus building material like scaffolding, tiling, panels and shutters, which would otherwise get dumped in a landfill. Keeping New York’s carbon footprint to a minimum is no easy task, but BIG!NYC holds volunteer days at which you can pitch in at one of the organization’s warehouses in Astoria and Gowanus. Tasks include breaking down materials, painting, sorting, inventory tagging, basic warehouse organization and some light retail duties. As an added perk, the group has been known to reward hard work with a pizza lunch or complimentary goody bag. 3-17 26th Ave between 3rd and 4th Sts, Astoria, Queens (718-777-0132) • 69 9th St at Gowanus Canal, Gowanus, Brooklyn (718-725-8925) • bignyc.org

Lower East Side Ecology Center

The LES Ecology Center has been an urban sustainability pioneer since its inception in 1987, when it began as an initiative to provide New Yorkers with drop-off recycling centers. Since then, its compost-collection and electronic-waste recycling have created a greener, more ecologically sound New York. Volunteers can further the Ecology Center’s mission through the organization’s Green Space program: During special volunteer days, participants work to weed, plant, fertilize and maintain the natural green areas surrounding the LES Ecology Center Garden and East River Park. lesecologycenter.org

Time’s Up

Cycling enthusiasts and lovers of clean air, unite! This 25-year-old nonprofit is an all-volunteer-run organization that spreads sustainability awareness with a big emphasis on biking. Volunteers can participate in or lead political group rides throughout the city (many of which are themed, like the Polar Bear Earth Day ride on Sun 22), helping to create a safe cycling community and cut down on busy urban congestion. Time’s Up also offers a number of bike-maintenance and repair workshops out of its two indoor spaces in Manhattan and Brooklyn. But this two-wheeled group’s environmental influence doesn’t end in the bike lane—the organization offers a number of volunteer-led green-space tours each year, which focus on preserving and defending community gardens, and has been a driving force in launching pedicabs and promoting hybrid-car usage in the city. (212-802-8222, times-up.org)

PortSide NewYork

With so much happening on dry land, it’s easy to forget that New York City is surrounded by bodies of water. This nonprofit, which advocates responsible and efficient usage of NYC’s “blue space,” is out to change that through the creation of action-oriented maritime education programs. PortSide offers a number of opportunities working with local inner-city youth; the organization has commandeered a retired oil tanker, the Mary A. Whalen, as a de facto headquarters, museum ship and event location, and it’s constantly looking for volunteers to help out with boat maintenance and restoration, in addition to program development and historical research. More pressing, PortSide recently encountered a real-estate crisis, and could use volunteers to help with fund-raising to secure a more permanent home from which it can carry out its good work. You can also sign the group’s petition at chn.ge/PortSideSOS. (917-414-0565, portsidenewyork.org)