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Greenbuild Blog

Building a Better Future: My Day with the Billion Oyster Project

By Lorenzo Mitil

May 31, 2024

Hi! I'm Lorenzo, and I’m the social media manager at Greenbuild. Four days a year, our company encourages us to volunteer for causes we care about. Living in the New York City area, I chose to spend one of these days with the Billion Oyster Project, an initiative aiming to restore 1 billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2035. This day was particularly special because I invited my dad to join me.

Our adventure began on a Friday morning as we took the ferry from Lower Manhattan to Governors Island. Upon arrival, we met with other volunteers and the organizer, Inca. She gave us an inspiring overview of the project, explaining how they collect used shells from over 90 local restaurants and transport them to Governors Island.

We then walked to the shell pile, where Johnny, the Lead Project Manager, introduced himself and explained our task for the day: constructing Oyster Reef Balls. Each of these reef balls, weighing about 200+ lbs., is made with marine-friendly materials. They are designed with numerous nooks and crannies to encourage oyster larvae to attach, creating a productive habitat that also combats shoreline erosion.

Working together, we gathered gravel, stone, concrete, water, and sand, then began building the reef molds. It was hard work but incredibly rewarding. We took a break for lunch, enjoying the breathtaking views of Manhattan and the warmth of the day. After lunch, we returned to the site to clean up, organize the tools, and prepare the super trays for growing more oysters.

One of the most fascinating things I learned during the day was how oysters feed by filtering algae from the water, ultimately removing excess nutrients that can degrade the aquatic environment. A single adult oyster can filter more than 50 gallons of water a day, playing a crucial role in maintaining the health of our waterways.

On the ferry ride back to Manhattan, I had a moment to reflect on the days experience. It was a fantastic day filled with learning, teamwork, and a sense of accomplishment. I met new people who are passionate about giving back to the community, gained valuable insights into the oyster restoration process, and most importantly, contributed to creating a future home for oysters that will help filter our waterways and protect our shoreline from erosion.

Volunteering with the Billion Oyster Project was an enriching experience that underscored the importance of community and environmental stewardship. I’m grateful for the opportunity and look forward to contributing again in the future.

If you're in the New York City area and you're looking for more information about the organization, click here for more details:

About the Author

Lorenzo is the lead social media manager for Informa Connect's Buildings & Construction Group, which includes Greenbuild. Based in New York City, his passion lies in crafting compelling content that connects with audiences and fosters community engagement.

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