Recycling at Greenmarkets as Bountiful as the Produce

June 5, 2014

GrowNYC Greenmarkets are opening for the season throughout the city, bringing with them not only a bounty of fresh regional products, but also expanding weekly opportunities for New Yorkers to recycle textiles and compost food scraps. 

In 2007, GrowNYC’s newly-created Office of Recycling Outreach and Education began testing a program to collect clothing and textiles at Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets.  Tax-deductible donations of textiles such as Sustainability Center at Greenmarketclothing, shoes and towels are collected and later sorted for reuse, or recycled into new products such as wiping rags and insulation. We quickly discovered New Yorkers’ dedication to living sustainably and have met their demand for more recycling--36 Greenmarkets now offer this service, with 10 new locations starting up this spring and summer.    

Since 2011, GrowNYC has worked to complement existing Greenmarket food scrap collections run by BIG!Compost and the Lower East Side Ecology Center, to meet the growing chorus of Greenmarket shoppers wishing to bring back trimmings from their weekly market haul.  Today, in partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation and community partners, 38 Greenmarkets host food scrap drop-offs at least once a week.  Material collected is transported to one of several local sites in the five boroughs where it is transformed into compost, a fertile soil amendment for use in urban farming and gardening programs.

GrowNYC has collected more than 2.7 million pounds of textiles and 2.85 million pounds of food scraps at dozens of Greenmarket collection sites throughout the city.  Together, food scraps and textiles comprise 23% of NYC’s waste, making efforts like these critical to reducing the big apple’s environmental footprint. 

Find a list of Greenmarkets accepting food scraps at and a list of textile collection sites at, or call 212-788-7964.

Green Living Team Unites Residents and Staff to Revive Recycling

May 8, 2014
Posted in Recycling | Tagged recycling, compost, organics, recycle, OROE

WSFSSH Green Living Team Unites Around Organics Collection

Food has always been common ground that brings people together.  Now, some New Yorkers are uniting over the scraps. This year the West Side Federation of Senior Supportive Housing (WSFSSH) hosted a Living Green Team Awards Ceremony, to celebrate and recognize superintendents and building managers who set the standard in energy efficiency and water conservation, among other environmental initiatives.  In April the 24-building, 1,800+ unit housing and social service agency honored five representatives of buildings that partnered with GrowNYC to improve solid waste management through recycling and composting. More...

GrowNYC Community Compost Partner Profile: Gowanus Canal Conservancy

December 16, 2013
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged compost

GrowNYC collects food scraps and other organic waste at various Greenmarkets around the city to distribute to local compost partners in the surrounding area. With the help of community volunteers, New York City’s recycled food scraps are transformed into a nutrient rich soil amendment for farming and greening purposes throughout the five boroughs.

A few minutes’ walk from the F train, Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s (GCC) Salt Lot hosts a monthly compost windrow build for volunteers from around the city. November’s volunteers included about a dozen students from the Brooklyn Technical High School’s Red Cross Club, a group of elementary students from a Bed-Stuy Charter School, and a myriad of volunteers simply happy to enjoy an outdoor-community activity.

Sam and Maria Pruden of Harlem join GCC monthly to participate in composting. Behind Sam and Maria is an illustration of the compost build and process.

The volunteers arrived ready to tackle the record-breaking 10,000 pounds of food scraps that had been collected from four Greenmarkets the day before. The bins of food scraps are dumped and mixed in a large pile on the ground with leaves and yard scraps, taking about 4 hours. The pile, or windrow, will sit for two weeks, and then be turned by a GCC staff member once a week for the following four weeks, before it is sifted to make a final product. At the end of these six weeks, GCC has a fertile soil amendment for tree pits and rain gardens that help prevent polluted water from entering the canal.

Two students from Brooklyn Technical School’s Red Cross Club carry a bin of food scraps to the compost pile to be mixed with leaves and other dry yard trimmings.

GCC Coordinators Jared McGuire and Christine Petro, sift processed compost to make final product with a Bed-Stuy group leader.

Christine Petro has been volunteering with GCC for almost two years and has noticed a steady increase in the amount of food scraps being delivered from the weekend markets over the past three months. Salt Lot is just one of many community compost sites around the city. Asked about the objective of these local projects, she says, “The objective is twofold: to have a positive environmental impact for the surrounding community, and also to teach the practice of composting for educational and applications going forward.”

Jared McGuire and Christine Petro, GCC Volunteer Coordinators.

2022 Spring Compost Giveback

March 24, 2022
Posted in Recycling | Tagged compost, zerowaste, giveback

The GrowNYC Compost Program is typically focused on collecting your food scraps, but this spring, we’re also giving away free compost made from the food scraps we’ve collected in the last year! This is our annual act of reciprocity: we're closing the loop and giving thanks to the thousands of New Yorkers who have saved their food scraps from landfills by bringing them to our Food Scrap Drop-off sites. Small, 2-pound bags of ready-to-use compost will be available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last, as outlined below.

Compost Made in NYC

The compost for this Giveback is provided by two New York City Compost Project host sites: Earth Matter NY and Queens Botanical Garden. If you’ve dropped off food scraps with GrowNYC, then the bag of compost you’ll receive may contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium from your very own peels and pits. That’s what we mean when we say “closed loop.”

Compost Giveback Schedule

Quantities are limited and based on average weekly participation at each drop-off site, so consider coming early to make sure you get a bag.




Friday, April 1 Queens Corona Food Scrap Drop-off
Roosevelt Ave & 103 St
8am-1pm Queens Botanical Garden
Sunday, April 3 Queens Jackson Heights Greenmarket
79th St and Northern Blvd
8:30am-2pm Queens Botanical Garden
Sunday, April 3 Queens Forest Hills Greenmarket
70th Ave & Austin St
9am-1pm Queens Botanical Garden
Thursday, April 7 Queens Kew Gardens Food Scrap Drop-off
Metropolitan Ave & Audley St
9:30am-12:30pm Queens Botanical Garden
Saturday, April 9 Queens Sunnyside Greenmarket
Skillman Ave & 42nd St
9am-1pm Queens Botanical Garden
Saturday, April 9 Queens Ridgewood Food Scrap Drop-off
Myrtle Ave & Cypress Ave
9:30am-1:30pm Queens Botanical Garden
Wednesday, April 27 Manhattan Madison Sq. Park Food Scrap Drop-off
23rd St & Broadway
8am-1pm Earth Matter
Wednesday, April 27 Manhattan Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Greenmarket
E. 47th St and 2nd Ave
8am-12:30pm Earth Matter
Thursday, April 28 Manhattan 181st St Food Scrap Drop-off
181st St & Fort Washington Ave
7am-12:30pm Earth Matter
Thursday, April 28 Manhattan 145th St Food Scrap Drop-off
145th St & Edgecombe Ave
7:30am-12pm Earth Matter
Thursday, April 28 Manhattan Tucker Sq. Greenmarket
66th St & Columbus Ave
8am-11am Earth Matter
Thursday, April 28 Brooklyn

Wilson Ave Food Scrap Drop-off
Wilson Ave & Moffat St

9am-1pm Earth Matter
Friday, April 29 Manhattan 97th St Greenmarket
W 97th & Amsterdam
8am-12:30pm Earth Matter
Friday, April 29 Manhattan E 96th St
East 96th St & Lexington Ave
7:30am-11:30am Earth Matter
Saturday, April 30 Brooklyn

Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket
Court St & Montague St

8am-12pm Earth Matter
Saturday, April 30 Brooklyn Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket
Flatbush Ave & Eastern Pkwy (north of the arch)
8am-2pm Earth Matter
Saturday, April 30 Brooklyn McCarren Park Greenmarket
N 12th St and Driggs Ave
8am-12pm Earth Matter
Wednesday, May 5 Bronx Mott Haven Food Scrap Drop-off
545 East 142nd Street
9am-12pm Earth Matter
Wednesday, May 5 Bronx Morrisania Food Scrap Drop-off
McKinley Square at 169th St & Boston Rd
10am-1pm Earth Matter
Thursday, May 5 Brooklyn

Franklin Ave Food Scrap Drop-off
Eastern Parkway & Franklin Ave


Earth Matter
Thursday, May 5 Brooklyn Prospect Heights Food Scrap Drop-off
Park Place & Carlton Ave
8am-11am Earth Matter
Thursday, May 5 Bronx Norwood Farmstand
E Gun Hill Rd & Dekalb Ave
9am-2pm Earth Matter
Thursday, May 5 Bronx BronxWorks Food Scrap Drop-off
1130 Grand Concourse
10am-1pm Earth Matter
Friday, May 6 Bronx New Roots Community Farm Food Scrap Drop-off
670 Grand Concourse
8am-12pm Earth Matter
Friday, May 6 Bronx Fordham Plaza Food Scrap Drop-off
E Fordham Rd & 3rd Ave
8am-11:30am Earth Matter
Friday, May 6 Bronx Montefiore Fresh Food Box
871 Prospect Ave
11am-2pm Earth Matter
Friday, May 6 Bronx Parkchester Food Scrap Drop-off
Westchester Ave & White Plains Rd
8am-12pm Earth Matter
Friday, May 6 Brooklyn Cypress Hills Food Scrap Drop-off
Fulton St & Richmond St
10am-1pm Earth Matter
Friday, May 6 Brooklyn Crown Heights Farmstand
Eastern Parkway & Franklin Ave
8:30am-11:30am Earth Matter
Saturday, May 7 Brooklyn Kensington Food Scrap Drop-off
McDonald Ave & Albemarle Rd
8:30am-11:30am Earth Matter
Saturday, May 7 Brooklyn 7th Ave Sunset Park Greenmarket
7th Ave & 44th St
8am-12pm Earth Matter
Saturday, May 7 Brooklyn Bay Ridge Greenmarket
3rd Ave & 95th Street
8am-12:30pm Earth Matter
Sunday, May 8 Brooklyn Bensonhurst Food Scrap Drop-off
18th Ave & 81st St
9am-1pm Earth Matter
Sunday, May 8 Brooklyn Carroll Gardens Greenmarket
Smith St and 1st Pl
8am-12pm Earth Matter
Sunday, May 8 Manhattan 77th/79th Sts Greenmarket
77th St between Columbus Ave & Central Park West
9am-3pm Earth Matter
Saturday, May 14 Brooklyn Fort Greene Greenmarket
Washington Park & Myrtle Ave
9am-2pm Earth Matter
Saturday, May 14 Brooklyn Bed-Stuy Fresh Food Box
Decatur St and Lewis Ave
11am-3pm Earth Matter
Saturday, May 14 Manhattan Abingdon Sq. Greenmarket
W12th St & 8th Ave
8am-2pm Earth Matter
Saturday, May 14 Manhattan Tribeca Greenmarket
Greenwich St & Duane St
8am-1pm Earth Matter
Saturday, May 14 Manhattan Inwood Greenmarket
Seaman Ave & Isham St (N corner)
8am-12pm Earth Matter
Sunday, May 15 Brooklyn Cortelyou Greenmarket
Argyle Rd and Cortelyou Rd
9am-1pm Earth Matter
Sunday, May 15 Manhattan Columbia Greenmarket
116th St & Broadway
8am-12pm Earth Matter
Sunday, May 15 Manhattan Asphalt Green Food Scrap Drop-off
East 91st St & York Ave
7:30am-12:30pm Earth Matter
Friday, June 24 Bronx Lincoln Hospital Greenmarket
149th St b/t Park and Morris Aves
8am-12pm Earth Matter

How to Use Compost

You don’t need to have a backyard or garden to have a use for compost. Indoor plants benefit from an annual application of compost, and we all have access to street trees that can use some love. We recommend mixing your compost into soil at a ratio of at least 3 parts soil to 1 part compost for best results.

  • For outdoor plants: Rake, sprinkle, or mix the compost into the soil of garden or tree beds.
  • For indoor plants: Gently mix an inch of compost into the top layer of potting soil, or blend with potting soil when repotting.

Compost is not shelf-stable, and will not store well. Please use your compost within a week or two of receiving it.

Our small Compost Giveback bags are also compostable. Please remove the tin tie and sticker before bringing the empty bag back to a GrowNYC Food Scrap Drop-off site for composting.

Looking for a larger quantity of compost?

The GrowNYC Compost Program has the opportunity to give out finished compost bags made at the Staten Island Compost Site by the Department of Sanitation. We have 150 bags of approximately 30 lbs. each that we can deliver to interested participants at our designated food scrap drop-off sites for pick-up. Please fill out our form to request finished compost and we'll get in touch with you. Note that due to limited supplies, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to receive finished compost. The Department of Sanitation is also listing options for receiving or picking up larger quantities of finished compost on their website here

What is compost, anyway?

During Compost Giveback events, there’s often some confusion about what we’re giving away and why. Here are a few definitions to know:

  • Food Scraps (noun) – the uneaten foods or parts of food. Calling these items scraps, rather than waste, highlights their value and potential for beneficial use, including human and animal consumption of rescued edible foods, composting, and anaerobic digestion.

  • Composting (verb) - the process of aerobic, biological decomposition that transforms organic materials like food scraps and fallen leaves into compost.

  • Compost (noun) – a soil amendment that resembles dark, crumbly topsoil, has a pleasant earthy smell, and has no resemblance to the original organic materials from which it is made. Compost refers to the finished product of the composting process, and is not to be confused with food scraps, which are just one ingredient in the composting process.

  • Soil (noun) – the upper layer of earth in which plants grow. Healthy soil consists of 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air, and 5% organic matter. Soil is not to be confused with compost, which is a soil amendment that adds organic matter and beneficial microbes to soil.

When you drop off your food scraps with GrowNYC, we bring them to composting facilities, where they’re mixed with carbon-rich materials like leaves and wood chips, and transformed into compost. The finished compost can be used to improve soil quality for houseplants, gardens, and street trees alike.

Additional Resources

The compost giveback is made possible by funding from the NYC Department of Sanitation.


Greenmarket Food Scrap Collection Surpasses 2 Million Pound Mark

November 7, 2013
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged compost

Since 2011, GrowNYC has worked to expand food scrap collections at Greenmarket. In partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation, the program has grown to 30 markets, averaging 100,000 pounds a month diverted from disposal and used locally for renewable energy or fertile compost for urban farms, gardens and more.

To date more than 2 million pounds of food scraps have been dropped at market, which would fill enough of our collection boxes to create a stack taller than Mount Everest! But the impact is even greater: every apple core deposited in a compost bin has been a vote for increased composting citywide, which has come to fruition with the Department of Sanitation’s new Organics Collection Program. Keep on composting!

Read the complete press release here.

NYC Residential Organics Collection is Growing!

October 16, 2013
Posted in Recycling | Tagged recycling, organics, compost

Morningside Gardens Composts

(Residents at the Morningside Gardens cooperative celebrate their new compost program)

Organics make up almost 30% of NYC's residential and institutional waste stream. This includes yard waste, food scraps, compostable paper (tissues, napkins, soiled paper, paper plates, etc.), and other materials suitable for industrial-scale composting.

By collecting this material, NYC can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and incinerators, reducing expensive export costs and greenhouse gas emissions, all while generating a valuable material that can be used as fertilizer in NYC parks and gardens.

In May of 2013, the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) began a bold, new initiative to provide curbside collection of organics. The Program started in Westerleigh, Staten Island and this fall has expanded to include communities in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, with further expansion in the spring of 2014.        

Wondering how you can participate? 

The City provided bins and participation instructions to buildings with 1-9 units included in the pilot areas. DSNY is also recruiting large apartment buildings—on the west side of Manhattan, in parts of Brooklyn, and on Staten Island—to participate in the program. GrowNYC is assisting with this effort, and we can help your building with the signup process, and to prepare your tenants and staff to participate. 

Take Morningside Gardens, who joined the DSNY Organics Collection Program in June, for example. Prior to the program’s implementation, many of the residents dropped off food scraps at GrownNYC’s Columbia Greenmarket and a group of residents formed a Compost Club.  GrowNYC worked with club members, property management, and the co-op board to help the 980-unit complex create a plan to establish organics collection to be serviced by DSNY.  GrowNYC provided hands-on assistance in creating a suite of educational materials and training to ensure that staff and residents were well-informed about the program, which included mailers detailing the program, attendance at a series of public meetings, and signage in every trash room.

With the addition of this initiative, Morningside Gardens now diverts 39% of all waste from landfills through recycling and composting, compared to an average diversion rate of 14% for their community district as a whole.  Overall improvement of waste separation and storage has also reduced the presence of rats on the property. To highlight the success of the program at Morningside Gardens, Mayor Bloomberg chose the site as the location to announce the expansion of the DSNY Organics Collection Program and to launch the “Recycle Everything” advertising campaign in July of 2013.

Does your apartment building want to take recycling to the next level? 

Get more information on Organics Collection in Large Residential Buildings and contact GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education to get started. 



Food Scrap Collection Passes the ONE MILLION POUND Mark

January 8, 2013
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged compost

On Sunday, city officials, community partners, and compost enthusiasts gathered at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket to celebrate a benchmark for GrowNYC’s food scrap collection program: ONE MILLION POUNDS!

Since the pilot program launched in March 2011, one million pounds of food scraps have been dropped off at Greenmarket’s collection sites, diverting that much food from the waste stream.

Emily Rubenstein, Assistant Commissioner of Sanitation, Recycling and Sustainability at DSNY, City Council Member Brad Lander, Birdie NYC and GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen applauded the efforts of all those who have made this achievement possible.

“We’re thrilled that Speaker Quinn and the New York City Council helped launch the compost program last year and that DSNY stepped in this year to bring the successful pilot to the next level.  We’re demonstrating that the City of New York is not lagging far behind California and other places where compost has taken root. New Yorkers across the City are eager to participate and reduce waste while creating a valuable resource that will benefit local gardens and farms,” said GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen.

Look up your nearest food scrap drop-off site here, and find out what can be contributed here. Once it’s dropped off, the material is transported to compost sites and urban agriculture projects within the five boroughs. We’re also signing people up for our winter incentive program—the Winter Compost Warrior. Visitors can sign in at our info tent when they visit the market, noting their weekly attendance and compost contribution. There’s a compost-related prize in it for those Winter Compost Warriors who check in ten or more times in the coming twelve weeks.

At the beginning of the New Year, this monumental benchmark lets us set a new goal for the year ahead. How much compost can we make in 2013?

Food Scrap & Textile Recycling at More Greenmarkets!

April 18, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged compost, textile recycling

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by visiting your local Greenmarket to recycle food scraps and textiles? GrowNYC is happy to help, with new sites for dropping off unwanted clothing, linens, and fruit & veggie scraps opening this weekend and throughout the Spring. Thanks to the support of community partners the Western Queens Compost Initiative, Lower East Side Ecology Center and Wearable Collections, this collective effort takes aim at nearly one-quarter of NYC’s residential waste stream and has diverted 1.8 million pounds from disposal so far. Find nearby clothing drop-offs at, and check for food scrap collection sites.  Please note many markets offer both services, however collection hours may differ from each other as well as market hours, due to routing and scheduling requirements of our community partners. Learn more about textile recycling and what to bring and find out what’s accepted for composting.

How to Compost at Greenmarket in 3 Simple Steps

July 20, 2011
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged compost

First-time composters wonder about the best way to get their veggie trimmings to the compost collection. Here's our quick guide:

1) Get a storage container. Anything from a 32-ounce yogurt container or plastic bag to a covered pail will do the job. Check out our slideshow for more ideas.

2) Keep it cool. Store scraps in the freezer or fridge to reduce odors at home and at the Greenmarket.

3) Bring it to the market. Stop by the compost tent and empty your container into our receptacle. You can reduce waste by reusing the same container. After you shop you can drop in unwanted carrot tops, corn husks, radish greens, etc before leaving the market. That's it!

Learn more about what you can and can't compost.

Compost in all shapes and sizes

July 8, 2011
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged compost

GrowNYC just announced that our 4-month compost collection pilot at select Greenmarkets has been extended through December 31, 2011, so to celebrate the program and the 116,265 pounds of kitchen scraps New Yorkers have contributed, we thought we'd take a look at some of the most fun ways people have been storing and transporting compost.

Special thanks to volunteer Nicholas Knoll for sharing his photo skills!

Have a cool photo of your compost solution? Post it on our Facebook page!

Learn more about GrowNYC's compost program.

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