Why Compost and Why Oyster Shells?
Earth Matter NY operates the BOP shell recovery program on Governors Island in order to supply BOP with oyster shells generated and collected from the restaurants, vendors, and event partners on Governors Island. This oyster shell recovery initiative reinforces Earth Matter’s mission to raise New Yorkers’ awareness on urban ecology, circular economy, and the importance of individual responsibilities for taking care of our planet. The oyster shell collection program is part of Earth Matter’s ongoing educational dialogue with New Yorkers about the concept of zero waste and the closed loop of organic materials, in which all organic waste is simply a link among other interconnected ecological processes.
The BOP Oyster Shell Life Cycle
Thanks to the Billion Oyster Project, oyster shell collected on Governors Island will go back to the water, closing the oyster shell cycle. The cycle starts when our partners shuck fresh farmed oysters, separating the flat top shell from the bottom shell. After eating an oyster, we leave the calcium carbonate bottom shell in the plate. Then they save the shell in specific bins. The Earth Matter shell recovery program collects and transports shell to the Governors Island Shell Education Center, where the oyster shell is cured outside for a year. After curing, under all kind of weather conditions, all flesh and bacteria are removed from the shell. Earth Matter’s shell recovery program provides the Billion Oyster Project with cured shell ready to be seeded. In this second part of the cycle, The Billion Oyster Project spawns live oysters and seeds the cured shell with oyster larvae. Fertilized larvae are called ‘spat-on-shell,’ which will grow in floating nurseries and dockside oyster gardens throughout NY Harbor. Finally, adult oyster clusters will be planted in five experimental reef restoration sites where they will continue reproducing and cleaning the water.
One live oyster is capable of filtering 50 gallons of water in one day. Eating one dozen oysters and recycling the shell can result in the filtration of over eight million gallons of New York Harbor water in one year. Imagine what one billion oysters could do!
Donate Shells on Governors Island
New Yorkers eat up to half a million oysters in local restaurants every week. Now, thanks to the BOP/Earth Matter’s shell recovery program, many thousands of shells will be recovered on Governors Island, cured, and reused to grow new live oysters – up to 20 per saved shell! – build estuary habitat, and improve the quality of our harbor and our city.
Shell Collection Program Updates
This July, we opened the Earth Matter Shell Educational Center on Buttermilk Channel (near the Brooklyn ferry landing). It is open on Saturdays from 12-4 pm. Come and learn more about how NY Harbor School students used reclaimed oyster shells for reef ecosystem...