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City residents raise concerns over mayor's decision to cut popular service: 'One of the most basic ways that we can show that we will care'

"To dismantle overnight what has taken grassroots groups decades to build … is shameful."

"To dismantle overnight what has taken grassroots groups decades to build ... is shameful."

Photo Credit: iStock

Budget cuts in New York City have put community composting in jeopardy, and many residents are concerned the situation will hinder long-term efforts to reduce harmful pollution by 2050. 

What happened?

As reported by Bloomberg, Mayor Eric Adams announced changes in funding in November, with the goal of more efficiently managing and reestimating the city's resources and budget. 

Community composting was one of the initiatives on the chopping block. While the New York City Department of Sanitation intends to roll out a curbside program that will make food scrap composting mandatory by the end of 2024, critics of the initiative believe there won't be sufficient momentum for the project to be a success.

"Saying everyone's going to have curbside collection is very different from having every building participating, people putting it out for collection, and understanding why composting makes sense," said Eric A. Goldstein, the New York City environment director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Why is this concerning?

NYC is the most populated city in the United States, and that means there are a lot of people who need work. When the community composting program was cut, so too were 115 jobs that depended on funding from the city's sanitation department, as reported by the Guardian. 

"These cuts represent a tiny fraction of the budget, but have outsized impacts on people's lives," Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board legislative chair Anna Sacks told the outlet. "To dismantle overnight what has taken grassroots groups decades to build, in service of saving 0.006% of the New York City budget, is shameful."

Food waste is also a big issue in the U.S., as around one-third of food is tossed every year. Of course, something has to be done with all of that trash. 

When food rots in landfills, planet-warming gases like methane and carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, contributing to the rise of global temperatures. Burning the waste isn't a better solution, though, with one study finding that living in close proximity to incinerators has been linked to health issues like cancer.  

Composting reduces the production of these gases while eliminating the need for incineration. 

"The most urgent crisis our planet faces right now is our climate," New York City Council member Shekar Krishnan said in December, per Bloomberg. "For us, and the generations that come after us, composting is one of the most basic ways that we can show that we will care for our climate, that we care for our city, that we care for our parks, that we care for our planet."

What can be done about this?

Making your voice heard in local and federal elections, volunteering, and donating to causes that matter to you are all ways to make a meaningful impact on climate issues. 

In NYC, some organizations have stepped up to help keep the community composting program afloat in the short term, including GrowNYC, Big Reuse, Earth Matter, and the Lower East Side Ecology Center, according to Bloomberg. The Guardian noted that private donors have also been instrumental in restoring around 70 jobs through June

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