Saturday, December 29, 2007

GREENSburg Kansas

Greensburg, a tiny town on the vast, flat prairie of western Kansas, is at the center of a grand experiment. In May, a tornado obliterated nearly every house, tree and business, killing 10 people and displacing almost 1,400 residents. The community had been in steep decline before the storm, but city leaders quickly saw opportunity in the disaster. Perhaps they could revive Greensburg and sustain it for generations to come by making it the greenest town in America.

LEED gold certified Townhomes are beginning to rise from the ragged tree trunks, weeds and ruins off Main Street. The new homes will be almost twice as efficient as they used to be.
Danny Wallach, head of Greensburg Greentown, a nonprofit group leading the push for environmental sustainability in Greensburg, began rallying the effort to make the city more energy efficient just days after the tornado hit. "I mean, it literally struck me, green — Greensburg — and at the time, I wasn't aware of just how perfect the timing in the national green movement was," Wallach said.

Wallach says residents here embraced environmental sustainability as good old-fashioned thrift and independence.

The City Council resolved that all new city buildings should meet the very highest environmental standard — LEED platinum. An energy company has announced plans to build a biodiesel plant in Greensburg. Google is considering building a wind-powered data center here. Several other companies are watching closely. Meanwhile, 100 new homes are going up, all of them more efficient than those they replaced.
Greensburg just may be writing a modern survival guide for rural America.

Source: Frank Morris, Grist -- Full Story

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Shame on Edison

The new energy bill signed this week makes it official. When 2012 hits, stores can no longer sell the cheap but inefficient incandescent light bulbs that are fixtures in most homes.

Congress has not specifically outlawed incandescent bulbs, only inefficient ones.
In February, G.E. said that it was developing a high-efficiency incandescent that will radiate more than twice the light of conventional incandescents. It expects to make that one commercially available by 2010, and one that is twice as efficient a few years later.
And so far, consumers have been slow to give new products a chance. Compact fluorescents, for example, are already ubiquitous in stores. Many retailer have promoted the economics of the bulbs — though compact fluorescents generally cost six times what incandescents do, they last six times as long and use far less energy.

Currently, cfl's account for 15 percent of bulbs in use in homes.

Sylvania recently introduced a fluorescent that CEO Charlie Jerabek said mimicked the light of incandescents. He concedes that incandescents are about 10 percent warmer, but he insists that “the average consumer would have trouble detecting the difference.”

Compact fluorescent lights have problems beyond light quality. They contain mercury, and few recycling centers will accept them. So at the end of life, they still pose an environmental hazard.
“We’re working to reduce mercury, but the amount will never go to zero,” Mr. Petras said.
That is why Jerabek, for one, calls compact fluorescent lights “a temporary fix.”

Manufacturers are putting a lot of stock in light-emitting diodes — or L.E.D.’s. They operate with chips made of nontoxic materials and last for about 50,000 hours, compared with 1,000 hours for an incandescent and 6,000 for a compact fluorescent. A tiny L.E.D. can shed as much light as a cumbersome bulb, which makes them easier to integrate into a home’s d├ęcor. And, they are extremely energy efficient.

But today, they are too expensive to use for all lighting applications. And, while manufacturers are able to make pretty good colored L.E.D.’s — the kind that are already available for Christmas tree lights — they have yet to perfect a white L.E.D. that would be useful for lighting homes. But they're working on it.

Source: NYTimes

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Greening the Capitol

Cafeterias in the House of Representatives are getting a makeover today: out with the high-fructose corn syrup, in with the free-roaming hens. (Well, there won't actually be hens roaming in the cafeterias -- you get what we mean.) Under Speaker Nancy Pelosi's ambitious Greening the Capitol initiative, the privately owned House food service -- which provides more than 2.5 million meals a year -- will start dishing out local, organic, seasonal chow, which can be taken out in compostable containers and eaten with biodegradeable utensils. Unfortunately for hungry senators, the Senate-owned food service will continue to provide iceberg lettuce, processed chicken tenders, and is-it-OK-to-call-them-French-now? fries.

Source: Grist

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Even the Grinch wants you to Reduce your Packaging and Purchasing!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,Was singing! Without any presents at all!He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming!IT CAME!Somehow or other, it came just the same! And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?It came without ribbons! It came without tags!"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

Don't forget to tread lightly on the planet this seasons greetings!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tracing Your Trash

“…We don’t need a better way to get rid of things. We need to not get rid of things, either by keeping them cycling through the system—or by not designing and desiring them in the first place.”

On the whole, a little more than half of America’s household garbage goes to landfills. The rest goes to incinerators, recycling centers, or composting facilities.

While garbage pickup is generally organized by the local government, it changes hands at a transfer station and becomes the responsibility of private haulers, who are paid by the ton to take it away. Transfer stations are large warehouses where tons of garbage are dumped by collection trucks and repacked into trucks, barges, and rail cars for their journey to the landfill or incinerator. The garbage thrown away by city dwellers may travel to a distant landfill several states away—many solid waste companies have paid rural towns to landfill garbage from larger urban areas.At every step, trash headed for the landfill takes a toll on the environment. There is pollution generated by the fleets of diesel-powered trucks that transport it, and landfill gas, methane and carbon dioxide, and fluid that drains from the garbage. This liquid, known as leachate, is a toxic “juice” of the chemicals that erode off of electronics, pet waste, nail polish remover, food waste, cleaning products, batteries, and more.

Incineration- Despite the pollution and lack of popularity for incineration, 13 percent of America’s garbage is still burned. Modern-day incinerators are enormous columns the size of an office building, where thousands of tons of garbage a day burn at 3,000°F temperatures. Despite pollution controls, which recover some energy from the process, burning plastic still produces carcinogenic dioxin and leaves behind ash laced with heavy metals.

Recycling-There are 9,000 curbside recycling programs across the country, a growing number of which are “single stream” programs in which residents place empty glass bottles, aluminum cans, and plastic containers together in their bins. Bins are collected, and brought to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where creative mechanical processes like blasts of air and magnetized devices sort recyclables. Teams of workers do the remaining sorting manually.
Some materials are truly recyclable over the long-term, while others can only be diverted from the landfill once or twice. Glass and aluminum are perpetually recyclable, while paper can be “downcycled” several times into lower-grade products. Plastics can usually only be “downcycled” once into a different material that is not itself recyclable.

The markets for various materials fluctuate, and MRFs end up landfilling or incinerating some “residuals”—a share of whatever they collect that cannot by recycled or sold for recycling (some mixed plastics are sent to developing countries, especially in Asia, where they may be recycled, but are often burned or dumped unsafely.) For just about all materials, recycling waste into a new product saves significant energy over creating the material from scratch. 79 percent of all aluminum, 78 percent of glass, half of the paper, and 95 percent of plastic in household garbage was going out with regular trash, instead of being put into a recycling bin, according to the EPA in 2005.

“Garbage should worry us,” writes Elizabeth Royte in Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash (Back Bay Books, 2006). “…We don’t need a better way to get rid of things. We need to not get rid of things, either by keeping them cycling through the system—or by not designing and desiring them in the first place.” –AMEN

There’s always composting!

Source: Joelle Novey, Co-op America

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Compost Everywhere

Cool Compost Tip: Do you know where "Compost Road" is in Manhattan?Why, its on the Manhattan Compost Map! Created through a collaboration between Green Map Systems and LESEC, the Manhattan Compost Map was made to put compost 'hot-spots' and resources on your radar. Explore whether a garden in your community accepts kitchen scraps, or take a trip down Compost Road...and have fun composting! Go ahead, download it. It's so easy to compost. You can put it in the freezer and then just drop it off.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Park Slope Event - Thursday Evening

Park Slope's first annual shop local / shop late night will take place this Thursday, December 13th. To see a list of participating merchants and organizations—and their discounts for the evening—please visit It includes basically every single shop in Park Slope (Over 150 participants include Brooklyn Industries, 3rliving, Applewood, etc.)
Rain or shine, come out on Thursday to take advantage of the sales and show your support to this wonderful group of merchants and neighbors.

Top 10 Reasons to Shop Locally
1. Significantly more money re-circulates in Brooklyn when purchases are made at locally owned, rather than nationally owned, businesses: More money is kept in the community because locally owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses and service providers. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the Brooklyn tax base.
2. Non-profits receive greater support: Non-profit organizations receive an average 350% greater support from local business owners than they do from non-locally owned businesses.
3. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of Brooklyn's distinct character: The unique character of Brooklyn is what brought us here and what will keep us here. Shopping at local businesses will help maintain Brooklyn's unique urban landscape.
4. Reduced environmental impact: Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases, requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing in fringe areas.
5. Most new jobs are provided by local businesses: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and provide the most new jobs to local residents.
6. Customer service is better: Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better customer service.
7. Local business owners invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community's future.
8. Public benefits outweigh public costs: Local businesses in urban commerce centers require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.
9. Competition and diversity leads to more choices: A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
10. Encourages investment in Brooklyn: A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

For more information on SBANYC contact

Monday, December 10, 2007

Al's Call for Action

Today Al Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize bestowed upon him and the many scientists of the U.N. Climate Panel today in Oslow, Norway. It was an inspirational speech, one that all of us should have watched or heard rather than a re-run of Will and Grace or Grey's. Here are some of the highlights:

. . . In the years since this prize was first awarded, the entire relationship between humankind and the earth has been radically transformed. And still, we have remained largely oblivious to the impact of our cumulative actions.

. . . Now science is warning us that if we do not quickly reduce the global warming pollution that is trapping so much of the heat our planet normally radiates back out of the atmosphere, we are in danger of creating a permanent “carbon summer.”

As the American poet Robert Frost wrote, “Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice.” Either, he notes, “would suffice.”

But neither need be our fate. It is time to make peace with the planet.

. . . But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China. While India is also growing fast in importance, it should be absolutely clear that it is the two largest CO2 emitters — most of all, my own country –– that will need to make the boldest moves, or stand accountable before history for their failure to act.

. . . These are the last few years of decision, but they can be the first years of a bright and hopeful future if we do what we must. No one should believe a solution will be found without effort, without cost, without change. Let us acknowledge that if we wish to redeem squandered time and speak again with moral authority, then these are the hard truths:

The way ahead is difficult. The outer boundary of what we currently believe is feasible is still far short of what we actually must do. Moreover, between here and there, across the unknown, falls the shadow.

. . . We are standing at the most fateful fork in that path. So I want to end as I began, with a vision of two futures – each a palpable possibility – and with a prayer that we will see with vivid clarity the necessity of choosing between those two futures, and the urgency of making the right choice now.

The great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, wrote, “One of these days, the younger generation will come knocking at my door.”

The future is knocking at our door right now. Make no mistake, the next generation will ask us one of two questions. Either they will ask: “What were you thinking; why didn’t you act?”
Or they will ask instead: “How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?”

We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource.

So let us renew it, and say together: “We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.”

watch the speech

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Even the Bridge Loves the Planet

The Brooklyn Bridge's necklace lights will soon be replaced with energy-efficient bulbs in an effort by the city to reduce carbon emissions. The project is one of 132 short term initiatives announced by the city, aimed at reducing the city's carbon footprint by 30 percent within the next ten years. "We are not just planning something for the future, we are starting it and we are demonstrating that we can do something about it short term,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “And, you know, if you do a little bit each day after a period, you will look back and you will be shocked at just how far you have come."

The Bloomberg administration is dedicating ten percent of the city's energy budget, or $80 million, to the initiatives. A comprehensive long-term energy reduction plan is expected to be announced this summer.

Source: NY1

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Greening All the Houses

Mayor Mike, former President Bill Clinton, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson today announced the first-ever sustainability partnership with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the nation's largest public housing authority. This new partnership will allow NYCHA to become more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping to fulfill the goals of PlaNYC, the Mayor's long-term sustainability agenda. The partnership among the City, the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and HUD will help provide access to energy-efficient and clean-energy technologies at reduced prices. "The New York City Housing Authority is home to more than 408,000 low and moderate-income residents throughout the five boroughs. These energy saving measures will help the Authority save money, and the environmental impact of these measures will result in cleaner, healthier air for the residents living in public housing," said Mayor Bloomberg. "These environmentally-friendly enhancements will help us do our part to put the brakes on global warming and they will also help us build a greener, greater New York."
Retrofits and moderizations include: Computerized Heating Automated System (CHAS) an Authority-wide heating-plant management technology. CHAS is a software application that allows for the remote monitoring and hands-on management of NYCHA's 210 large, central heating plants from any Internet-equipped personal computer. Instantaneous Hot Water Heater Program - the new heaters reduce heating fuel consumption, simplify maintenance, and provide safer and more reliable hot water service to residents. Apartment and Common-Area Lighting Upgrades - The retrofitting program as it is also referred to looks to replace an average of 7 light fixtures per dwelling unit from incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). CFLs use less than one-fourth the amount of electricity as traditional domestic incandescent bulbs and last eight to ten times longer. This program also includes common-area lighting upgrades that replace T-12 fluorescent bulbs with super-efficient T-8 technology. The new initiatives will further advance NYCHA's goals and contributions to PlaNYC and to the global green agenda.

President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence. To advance this mission, the Foundation works with like-minded organizations and forms partnerships with national and local governments around the world to make an immediate and measurable impact in several areas, including bringing HIV/AIDS care and treatment to underserved populations, developing sustainable economic growth in Africa and fighting global climate change.

Full Press Release:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Say Thank You.

About a month ago my local corner grocery store started stocking Seventh Generation laundry products. I was so pleased by the new addition that I thanked the manager after my first purchase. Yesterday on my way home I stopped in to pick up some groceries and the manager spotted me. He was very excited to show me that he ordered an eco-friendly line of cleaning products and reusable grocery bags.

It is really amazing what a little positive feedback can do. Next time you are at your local store and you spot something they are doing that is helping the environment, just point it out and say "thank you". Chances are the manager will remember this when ordering new products for the store.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Fly Away

Airlines contribute 3 percent of U.S. carbon emissions linked to global warming and should be regulated by the federal government, California and New York City said in a petition to the Bush administration. California and New York partnered with Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania on a petition released today calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate aircraft emissions, which account for 12 percent of national transportation-industry emissions. U.S. aircraft emissions are expected to increase by 60 percent by 2025, according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Yikes. The European Parliament approved a plan last month to add EU and foreign airlines to Europe's emissions-trading system, which imposes carbon-dioxide caps on businesses and requires those exceeding their limits to buy credits from companies that pollute less. The rule still must be approved by EU governments.

Source: Bloomberg

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Good Friend Al Reaches out to Me (and several million others)

Dear Amanda,

In Bali, Indonesia thousands of delegates from nearly 190 countries have gathered at the UN Conference on Climate Change. In nine days, I will address the conference to urge the adoption of a visionary new treaty to address global warming and I want to bring your voices with me.
Click here to sign my petition today and I will bring your signatures on stage with me as a clear demonstration of our resolve:

Together, we will call on the US government to assume a new leadership role in solving the climate crisis.

World leaders including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd have all agreed to aggressively battle the climate crisis – yet our country still lags behind.
Over the next nine days, I would like you to help me get people from across the country to sign our message to the global community. We can demonstrate that the American people understand the immediacy of the climate crisis and want to work with the nations of the world to solve it.

Time is short – we need to mobilize everyone to bring this message to Bali.

The American people want a visionary treaty to address climate change and for the US government to play a positive leadership role in its development.

Thank you,
Al Gore

go ahead, sign the petition. It's for all of us.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Go Ahead, Check out Wintuk.

Cirque du Soleil is already recommended by PETA and other animal-rights organizations concerned about the welfare of performing animals in traditional circuses.

Lately, the Cirque is further upping its already significant do-gooder cred by going green. The San Francisco publication Common Ground reported that the performers’ newest earth-friendly considerations extend from the troupe’s costumes all the way up through reusing their old tent. Some of the circus’ costumes are donated to children’s theater groups. As for other recycling, costume scraps, bits of trim, and sequins from the costume shop are placed in glass balls along with shreds from Cirque programs, and the kooky crafts are then sold as Christmas ornaments and the circus tents get repurposed in the form of limited-edition messenger bags.

This billion-dollar operation has eight touring shows, one of which experimented with using biodiesel tour buses. Two of the touring shows have recycling bins, which might seem like a very basic effort, but it has to be coordinated with each new tour location. Beginning in 2006, the company announced its commitment to the environment. The Montreal headquarters recently expanded to become almost 100 percent sustainable, including capturing rainwater and using it in the building and for irrigation.

Impressive, and no whips.

Source: Plenty Magazine

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Algae Could Drive your Car

Algae has emerged as a potential energy source for your car. Driven by renewed investment as oil prices push $100 a barrel, scientists around the world are racing to turn algae into a commercially viable energy source. Some algae is as much as 50 percent oil that can be converted into biodiesel or jet fuel. The biggest challenge is cutting the cost of production, which by one Defense Department estimate is running more than $20 a gallon. Researchers are trying to figure out how to grow enough of the right strains of algae and how to extract the oil most efficiently. Over the past two years they have received more money from governments, the Pentagon, big oil companies, utilities and venture capital firms. An algae farm could be located almost anywhere. It would not require converting cropland from food production to energy production. It could use sea water (which if you read BGT’s most recent email, the Water Issue, you would know most water on earth is salt water) and could consume pollutants from sewage and power plants. The Pentagon’s research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is financing research into producing jet fuel from plants, including algae. The agency is already working with the Honeywell subsidiary, General Electric and the University of North Dakota. In November, it requested additional research proposals.

Source: NYTimes

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Google Pledges Big

Google announced that they will heavily fund research and development on renewable-energy technology, focusing on wind, solar, and geothermal power. Calling the project Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, Google has an end goal of cleanly produced electricity that's less expensive than dirty-black-rock power -- and "within years, not decades." The company will allocate hundreds of millions of dollars total to the project, and tens of millions in 2008. ``We're a large consumer of energy due to our data centers, so we're a natural customer,'' Larry Page, Google's co-founder, said in an interview. ``We see opportunities to make significant investments that generate positive returns.'' The goal is to create a gigawatt of renewable energy, enough to power a city the size of San Francisco for less than it would cost using coal, in ``years, not in decades,'' Page said. Coal accounts for more than 50 percent of all U.S. power and is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions. Google is already working with Pasadena, California-based ESolar Inc., a solar-power company, and Alameda, California-based Makani Power Inc., a developer of wind energy. ``Climate change is a very important reason for this announcement but it's not the only reason,'' Google co-founder Sergey Brin said today on a conference call. ``There's a lot of demand'' for cheaper energy, he said.

For the energy-efficient search, try google's own blackle,

Sources: Grist, Bloomberg

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Light It Up

Try LED holiday lights this season. LED stands for light-emitting diode. Here's why:

· LED bulbs use 90% less electricity than traditional holiday bulbs.
· With their 20-year lifetimes, you don't have to replace LED light-strings as often as conventional ones.
· Burning 10 strands of lights with 100 lights per strand, eight hours per day for a month costs $175 for incandescent bulbs vs. about $1 for LED mini-bulbs.
· Incandescent lights give off as much as 90% of their energy as heat, leading to fire concerns. LEDs barely warm up.

Here’s where you can get them:

Brookstone LED Mini-Ice Lights
- small white or multicolored lights; 24-ft strands ($20).
Forever Lights - pinecone-esque colored or white bulbs; 24-ft small-bulb strand, 16-ft large-bulb ($19-$29).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Shopping or Not

Adopt a Creature or an Acre of Rainforest -- You can adopt endangered animals -- and even parcels of rainforest land -- in someone's name. For the greenie who has everything, look past the charismatic megafauna to sting rays, hellbender salamanders, and vampire bats -- because nothing says happy holidays like poisonous stingers, cannibalism, and blood sucking.

Sign up for a CSA -- Buying a Community Supported Agriculture share for your family supports local (and often organic) farms and broadens the selection of fruits and vegetables you normally eat. You sign up, and once a week or bi-weekly pick up a selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables most of the year. You can search for a CSA program in your area at LocalHarvest.

Teach a Skill -- Perhaps your friend or relative would love to learn to cook, knit, or play some killer power chords on the guitar?

Make Plans -- Offer to plan a series of events or outings: buy tickets for a concert, play, sports event, film festival, or lecture series; go on a hike; or take a class.

Give a Membership or Donate to a Cause -- Museum and zoo memberships can be great presents, as can memberships in or donations to an environmental organization. Whether your loved one gets fired up about animals, the environment, human welfare, education, there's a group out there. Not sure which one is the best fit?

Get Crafty -- If you absolutely must give a tangible gift, try coming up with something handmade. It will be more personalized than buying plastic crap from a store, and you might be able to incorporate reused or recycled materials into the project. Possibilities include sewing winter hats or gloves, compiling a photo album, baking holiday goodies, or burning a CD of your last musical performance.

Eco-Friendly Edibles -- If you want to bring alcohol, chocolate, or a food item, try to buy eco-friendly, fair-trade, biodynamic, or organic.

Source: Grist

Monday, November 19, 2007

Solar Innovations

IBM today announced an innovative new semiconductor wafer reclamation process pioneered at its Burlington, Vermont manufacturing facility. The new process uses a specialized pattern removal technique to repurpose scrap semiconductor wafers -- thin discs of silicon material used to imprint patterns that make finished semiconductor chips for computers, mobile phones, video games, and other consumer electronics -- to a form used to manufacture silicon-based solar panels. The new process was recently awarded the "2007 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award" from The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR).

Through this process, IBM is now able to more efficiently remove the intellectual property from the wafer surface, making these wafers available for sale to the solar cell industry, which needs the same silicon material to produce photovoltaic cells for solar panels. One of the challenges of the solar industry is a lack of silicon, making reclaimed silicon materials a great source of raw material for solar panels. Worldwide 250,000 wafers are used per day across the industry. IBM estimates that up to 3.3% of these started wafers are scrapped. In the course of the year, this amounts to approximately three million discarded wafers. Because the wafers contain intellectual property, most cannot be sent to outside vendors to reclaim and are crushed and sent to landfills, or melted down and resold.

Depending on how a specific solar cell manufacturer chooses to process a batch of wafers, they could save between 30 - 90% of the energy that they would have needed if they'd used a new silicon material source.

Cool, er, warm.

source: CNN, visit

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lots and Lots of Trees

The Million TreesNYC is a citywide, public-private iniative, launched by the city of New York in collaboration with the New York Restoration Project. The goal is to plant and care for one million new trees across the City's five boroughs over the next decade. By planting one million trees, New York City can increase its urban forest - made up of street trees, park trees, and trees on public, private and commercial land - by 20%, while achieving the many quality-of-life benefits that come with planting trees. The City will plant 60% of trees in parks and other public spaces. The other 40% will come from private organizations, homeowners, and community organizations.

Planting trees is one of the most beneficial and cost-effective ways to help ease these growing pains. Trees help clean our air, and reduce the pollutants that trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate other respiratory diseases. They cool our streets, sidewalks, and homes on hot summer days. Trees increase property value, and encourage neighborhood revitalization. New York City’s urban forest needs to expand in all five boroughs, in all types of open space. Tree-planting opportunities exist on public lands, but half of the City’s available open space is on private land. MillionTreesNYC will work with residents and community partners to assess planting opportunities on private residential, institutional, and vacant properties.

Every New Yorker can participate by planting and caring for trees through planting and stewardship programs, such as: Volunteer days, Educational training and workshops, and Arbor Day events. You can also fill out a brief online form to request a tree planting near where you live.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Electronic Recycling Events

Get rid of your chargers, computer parts, and other e-waste through the efforts of the Lower East Side Ecology Center (they do composting and lots of other cool stuff). The great thing about these things is that e-waste is extremely bad stuff to wind up in landfills, and when you recycle it, good causes get money for it. a win-win

Saturday, November 24 10-4
Sunday, November 25 10-4
Monday, November 26 4-7
Havana Outpost (it's also a good mexican restaurant) Fulton Street - Fort Green

Saturday, December 8 10-4
Sunday, December 9 10-4
PS 321, 7th Avenue between 1st and 2nd Street - Park Slope

All-Natural Thanksgiving

Here are some helpful hints from the guys at National Geographic to help do the right thing by the earth this Thanksgiving.

Price is important. While organic can be expensive, their market survey (including Whole Foods, Fairway, Fresh Direct and and our local farmer's market at Union Square) shows that sometimes, as with organic wines, prices are the same or quite close. To protect your health and the environment, you can pick organic for those items, like apples, pears, spinach and potatoes, which have the heaviest pesticide loads. Choosing organic helps keep pesticides out of the environment and avoids the cruel conditions animals endure in massive factory farms. And with fuel prices shooting up, picking foods from local farms can reduce costs and will save on the miles your meal travels before it reaches the dining room.

So fill your holiday table with a bounty of organic foods—everything from turkey and ham, to cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, fruits, breads and desserts—using The Green Guide's downloadable Smart Shopper's Holiday Companion (see below). It includes price comparisons (organic vs. conventional) of all potential items on your list. Buy Local. Produce can travel thousands of miles before reaching your plates, but there's no reason to pay the cost of trucking and consume more oil, when you can get to know your local farmers and seek out homegrown delicacies. To find a local farmer or farmer's market in your area, visit Local Harvest ( and use their search engine.

Let’s see, buying food grown without pesticides and harmful chemicals from farmers nearby – what could be more traditional than that?

Source: National Geographic

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Smart Car Smart Buy

The Smart car is an ultra-compact, Mercedes-designed, little vehicle that's been negotiating traffic and squeezing into impossibly tiny spaces in Europe for almost a decade, which will enter the US market. The Smart is expected to get at least 40 miles per gallon. Head of Car and Driver advised prospective Smart car buyers to take a realistic look at their driving habits. "I would make sure that a car this small will meet your needs," Csere said. "If your driving is mostly on city streets or maybe city freeways, the car is going to be fine. But this is not a car that you want to do long distances in on the highway."

SMART FACTS – starts at $11,600
• 770,000 Smart cars have been sold in 36 countries • The Smart car began in the early 1990s as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Swatch • Swatch inventor Nicolas Hayek wanted to design an "ultra-urban" car • Smart stands for Swatch Mercedes Art • Swatch is no longer involved in the project • The Smart car has been one of six cars exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York

It has done "very well" in standard tests that would be done in the U.S. and that the company has replicated in Europe, Gamarra said. But official results won't be out for a while. The Smart car has not yet been crash tested by the National Traffic Safety Administration which waits until vehicles go on sale to the public before evaluating them, NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldana said. Experts caution that people for whom safety is a priority should avoid the smallest cars.

Source: CNN

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One City at a Time

A program of Sierra Club, Cool Cities is making a splash after the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement, which convened in October 2007 in Seattle complete with a commitment from Bill Clinton’s foundation to help retrofit cities to be more energy efficient. Begun in 2005, the Cool Cities campaign empowers city residents and local leaders to join and encourage their cities to implement smart energy solutions to save money and build a cleaner, safer future. Cool Cities brings solutions to local levels and showcases solutions for others to model and builds leadership to ensure solutions are implemented at state levels and nation-wide. Hybrid cars, energy efficient buildings, and renewable energy are just a few of the many ways to make this real. For example, Evanston, IL passed a resolution for 20% renewable energy - 5.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity - enough to power more than 500 U.S. homes annually by adding wind farms to their electrical grid. Warwick, RI has replaced all 113 traffic lights and 59 crosswalk signals with LED lights resulting in a 1200 ton reduction in carbon emissions. The city estimates that it will recoup its costs in about two years and save tens of thousands of dollars every year after that. So far there are 766

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Just in Time for the Holidays!

Brooklyn Center For The Urban Environment launches By going to, shoppers can support green business and manufacturers while limiting the environmental impact of their purchases and donating funds to Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (where a certain BGT member happens to now work). All you have to do is log onto the website, look through the list of cool places to buy eco-friendly gifts for your friends and family, and be connected right to the website -- even iTunes! By doing so, each vendor donates up to 25% of the purchase price to help fund public environmental programs in New York City. 3R Living, Design Public and Vivavi, to iTunes, Greenloop, and Organic Bouquet, the list of vendors includes companies that demonstrate environmentally or socially conscious principles in their products or practices.

Some background: BCUE, a nearly 30 year old organization whose environmental education programs reach over 100,000 individuals and families across the city each year, created to facilitate consumer support for businesses and organizations that are working to protect the environment and foster environmental activism. The Center’s urban ecology and urban design programs are offered in over 260 New York City schools each year, family literacy and adolescent literacy sites across Brooklyn, weekly public urban tours that address New York City’s past, present and future, public awareness events like the annual Green Brooklyn conference and thematic integration at three Brooklyn high schools: the Academy for Environmental Leadership, the Academy of Urban Planning and The Green School.

Happy Shopping! and feel even better that you're contributing to an organization devoted to educating the next generation of eco-warriors.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Reading Green

Simon & Schuster have announced their commitment to use more environmentally friendly paper, a move which will, according to its calculations, save 483,000 trees every year.
Following in the footsteps of Random House, which became the first major publisher to establish a green publishing policy when it announced in May it would significantly up its use of recycled paper, S&S plans to increase the level of recycled fiber in its paper from 10% to 25% by 2012. S&S, which worked with the Green Press Initiative and other groups to come up with its policy, also announced a goal to buy 10% of its paper from forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. This, according to Green Press Initiative spokesman Tyson Miller, marks the first time a publisher is working with the FSC, an organization that ensures the fibers used in paper are not coming from endangered forests or from trees on land owned by indigenous tribes.

When asked when he thought the other big houses might follow suit, Miller said "a very large multinational publisher” will be going public with a paper policy before the end of the year and that three other houses will be making similar announcements in 2008.

Shocking that book publishers wouldn’t have been the first ones to step up. It’s a good start anyway. Don’t forget, buying second-hand or borrowing from the library (a neat little invention of Ben Franklin) is even better than buying brand new books!

POW! (you know the rest of it).

Source: Publishers Weekly

November 23rd - BUY NOTHING DAY

This November, environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in as many as 65 countries will hit the streets for a 24-hour consumer fast in celebration of the 15th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global cultural phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada.

Check out their website for more information about the event:

This post was sent to the BGT by :
Aleksandra Kordecka
Campaigner - Chemicals and Nanotechnology
Friends of the Earth Europe

If you want to share your thoughts with the BGT send us an email at

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gobble Gobble

99% of all turkeys raised in the U.S. are Broad-Breasted Whites, a single turkey breed specially developed to have a meaty breast. Gross.

Traditionally, farmers throughout the world have raised thousands of different animal breeds and plant varieties. However, since today's industrial farms rely upon only a few specialized types of livestock and crops, thousands of non-commercial animal breeds and crop varieties have disappeared, along with the valuable genetic diversity they possessed. Fortunately, a growing number of sustainable farmers are preserving agricultural variety and protecting biodiversity by raising “heritage” or “heirloom” animal breeds and crops. Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by farmers in the past, before the drastic reduction of breed variety caused by the rise of industrial agriculture. This Thanksgiving, pay some respect to America’s First People, whom we shared the table with, by buying a natural pure and well-raised turkey who got to cluck around in the sunlight walking on the soft cool grass for your meal. Visit the to find a farm, market or restaurant near you that sells meat, eggs and dairy products from heritage animals. Also, Stinky on Smith Street has heritage turkeys to order for the big occasion.

Source: Consumer Reports

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

NYC Recycling - Going Where You Are

After the results of an initial test run of pubic space recycling have been reviewed by the Mayor and the City Council, the program may be expanded, subject to budget considerations, at sites that are likely to be successful based upon the feedback from the pilot study. Some sites include ferry terminals, Union Square and Columbus Park. In the meantime, the Department of Sanitation may test out a number of additional locations citywide to further study the operational challenges to expansion. In total, over 31,400 pounds of material was collected from the paper recycling bins over the 12 week pilot, 4.8% of which was improper materials and 95.2% was recyclable paper. Almost 18,700 pounds of material from was collected from the bottle and can recycling bins over the 12-week pilot, 37.5% of which consisted of improper materials and 62.5% was recyclable. Participation was, on average, good for paper recycling, and the material placed in the paper bins was relatively free of non-recyclable trash (contamination). Let's hope to see more of this.

Source: website

Monday, November 5, 2007

Organic and You: A Win-Win

Some organic foods, including fruit, vegetables and milk, may be more nutritious than non-organic produce, according to an investigation by British scientists.

Early results from a £12m study done by the European Union funded Quality Low Input Food project (which basically means using less fertilizers and chemicals) showed that organic fruit and vegetables contained up to 40% more antioxidants than non-organic varieties, according to Professor Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University.

Larger differences were found in milk, with organic varieties containing more than 60% more antioxidants and healthy fatty acids, he said. Antioxidant-rich food is often promoted as healthier because in lab tests the compounds neutralise free radicals that are thought to contribute to ageing. The findings contradict advice from the Food Standards Agency, which maintains there is no scientific evidence to suggest organic food is healthier.

During the four-year project, Prof Leifert's team, based at the university's Tesco centre for organic agriculture, reared cattle and grew fruit and vegetables on adjacent organic and non-organic sites across Europe, including a 725-acre farm attached to the university. The full results will be released in full over the next 12 months.

What a surprise.

Source: The Guardian

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let's Hear it for the Mayor(s)

110 mayors are attending a two-day summit in Seattle specifically addressing climate change organized by the United States Conference of Mayors. "Our federal government has ignored the problem," Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said. Seattle says it has exceeded Kyoto goals itself, cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 8% below 1990 levels.

Most of the 110 Democratic and Republican mayors seem to have decided the need to act on global warming is urgent - or at least the need to show their voters they are taking an interest, our reporter adds. Kyoto "was the first time the community of nations came together to solve a common problem that didn't involve war and so the fact that the United States didn't join in... was a huge disappointment", Mr Nickels said at the start of the summit. “But that doesn't give us an excuse for taking no action."

Former US President Bill Clinton is due to address the conference with his ideas on how the US can lead on the issue. It is thought he will announce his Clinton Foundation is to become more involved with climate change research.

Source: BBC

Thursday, November 1, 2007

"It's All Inside (and energy efficient)"

Four JCPenney stores are the 1st retail buildings in the US to earn the Energy Star label for superior energy efficiency and environmental performance. Compared to similar stores nationwide, the JCPenney stores collectively spend almost a quarter of $1 million less per year on energy, and avoid over 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. Of the almost 5 million commercial buildings in the US, retail buildings account for the largest energy bills and are responsible for the second largest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Star is a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Last year, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved about $14 billion on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 25 million vehicles.

Let's hope others will join the challenge!

For more info,

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween! (and NYC may crack down on plastic bags)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City may follow an international trend and crack down on plastic shopping bags, seeking to cut their use with a plan officials hope will be a model for other cities.

A proposal introduced on Monday requires stores larger than 5,000 square feet to set up an in-store recycling program and sell reusable bags. Some 700 food stores plus large retailers such as Target and Home Depot would have to collect used bags and provide a system for turning them over to a manufacturer or to third-party recycling firms. Stores would be required to use bags printed with a reminder to consumers: "Please return this bag to a participating store for recycling."

The bill was expected to come to a vote within several months.

Americans use an estimated 84 billion plastic bags annually, and the production of plastic bags worldwide uses over 12 million barrels of oil per year, the council said.

Cool! Get a head start by not using them yourself!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Step It Up Saturday

Step It Up 2007 will take place this Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 at locations throughout the city. The National Day of Climate Action is led by Bill McKibben, leading environmentalist and one of the leading forces behind Step It Up. On November 3rd politicians will join citizens in taking on the greatest challenge of our time. Citizens gather at places across the country named after historic leaders to demand that our representatives address three key priorities to stop global warming. Step It Up 2007 is a campaign organized by people all around the country, calling for leadership on global warming. This year Step It Up joined forces with the bold new 1 Sky initiative, a project that includes the comprehensive science-based priorities necessary to overcome the crisis we face and realize the immense opportunities of our time:

GREEN JOBS NOW -- 5 million green jobs conserving 20% of our energy by 2015

CUT CARBON 80% BY 2050 -- freeze climate pollution levels now and cut at least 80% by 2050 and 30% by 2020

NO NEW COAL -- a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants

Washington Square
November 3, 2007 12:00PM to 02:00PM
Gather at Washington Square for a rally to demand that New York's political leaders act now to stop global warming. As of October 26, Rep. Anthony Weiner and Lieutenant Governor David Paterson have confirmed that they will attend the rally.

For a complete list of events across the state, go to

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Where's the Grass-Fed Beef?

Switching your shopping to totally organic can be overwhelming and expensive. In a recent article in the NYTimes, Dr. Green a popular pediatrician and author suggests some foods that should be purchased organically grown or raised in order to maximize organic purchases. Among this list, which includes potatoes, ketchup, apples, milk, and peanut butter, is beef. After reading Michael Pollen’s excellent book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which talks about how the over-production of corn in the US has led to using corn as a feed for cows, which they are not “built” to eat, I wanted to focus on beef. Here is what Dr. Green had to say about choosing organic beef: American beef is corn-fed or grain-fed beef. It takes about seven pounds of corn to add one pound of cattle weight. It takes about 1600 calories of fossil fuels to produce 100 calories of conventional beef51. In the long run, this is a losing proposition.
And it is not natural. Cattle, with their rumen, are designed to graze. When fed corn, their stomachs can become ten to 100 times more acidic52, welcoming bacteria such as E coli O157:H753. An estimated 25% of the nation's baking soda is used as antacid for livestock54. And the amount of antibiotics used to promote growth in livestock dwarfs the total amount used to treat diseases in people.
Even though there are more than three times as many beef cattle in the US as dairy cows, there are fewer organic beef cattle than dairy. Organic beef represents less than a quarter of a percent of the beef produced in our country55. While all beef contains protein, B vitamins, iron and zinc, it also comes with unhealthy saturated fats. In addition to being more sustainable, organic, grass-fed beef also a healthier choice. It tends to be leaner overall and yet have about five times the omega-3 fats of its conventional counterparts56.

NYC: You can find organic and grass fed beef at many greenmarkets in the city. For those of you who reside in the Capital Region, Honest Weight Food Co-op and Indian Ladder farms.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Extreme Makeover Green Episode

This Sunday tune into ABC at 8/7c for a green episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition. The makeover team will be building an eco-friendly home for a deserving family. Also visit their website for tips on how to be environmentally conscious when decorating your home.

Mayor Greenberg

Mayor Bloomberg Signs Executive Order Establishing Committee to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from City Owned Buildings and Operations by 30 Percent Over the Next Decade - Fulfilling PlaNYC Commitment Mayor Bloomberg today signed an executive order that establishes a steering committee charged with reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in City owned buildings and operations by 30 percent over the next ten years. This is one of the 127 initiatives that the Mayor announced in an Earth Day speech six months ago today as part of PlaNYC, his plan to create a greener, greater New York.Monday, October 22, 2007

You can read the progress report here and see what is happening already

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lincoln Logs

A great article in the NY Times talks about a new trend in demolition, which is to NOT demolish, but rebuild from existing materials as much as possible from the inside out. Due to rising landfill costs, tighter recycling guidelines and the growing trend toward ecologically sound building methods, this sort of home “deconstruction,” as the practice is called, is starting to catch on. About 1,000 homes a year are disassembled this way, according to the Building Materials Reuse Association, a nonprofit in State College, Pa., which has certified 60 builders. Cities and states across the country are cracking down on demolition rubble entering landfills, including Massachusetts, which has banned brick, concrete, metal, wood and asphalt from landfills. Some 245,000 houses in the United States are razed each year, generating nearly 20 million tons of debris. Using old materials for new buildings isn’t a new idea. In the US, families often reused building materials to save money in the early part of the 20th century, a custom that fell out of favor as the country grew wealthier in the 1950s. There are about 1,000 reuse stores nationwide, where unlike architectural salvage stores, which sell marble fireplace mantels, stained glass and spiral staircases, reuse stores generally traffic in mundane items like light switches and insulation. As with buying secondhand clothes, the challenge — and potential charm — of reuse shopping is its unpredictability. Build it Green! NYC, a reuse shop in Astoria, sells sets from nearby film studios alongside items rescued from residential demolitions. So, thinking about demolishing your home anytime soon?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tune In Tonight...

BGT just got a phone call from CNN's Anderson Cooper to tune in tonight for the first half of Planet in Peril.* The two-part program will air tonight and tomorrow night from 9-11pm. Cooper will be joined by Jeff Corwin and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a "Worldwide Investigation" of the environment.

*This did not really happen

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Outsource Your Compost!

The Lower East Side Ecology Center maintains a booth at the Union Square Greenmarket, where they not only offer fresh NYC dirt at 1 buck/per lb. (from thier composting project), but they also take your food scraps and make them into compost! Tip - you can throw them in a grocery store bag and keep them in the freezer (to keep it from smelling) and bring once a week, once a month, whenever. The Greenmarket is located on the North West corner of Union Square (East 17th and Broadway) and runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 8-6 year-round. Check it out and bring your scraps! OR you can drop off at the Lower East Side Ecology Center Garden (North side of East 7th Street between Avenues B and C) Open year-round: Sundays 8am to 5pm. Other times drop off through the opening at the gate

Why compost you might ask?
The average New York City household discards two pounds of organic waste each day—adding up to more than one million tons of organic material a year. When we discard this "waste," we lose a potential resource that can help beautify our parks, gardens, and blocks…even our windowboxes and houseplants.

What to Compost:
All fruit and vegetable peelings and pits
Non greasy food scraps or leftovers
rice, pasta, bread, cereal etc.
Coffee grounds with filter, tea bags
Dairy items: cheese,butter
Hair and nails (animal or human) - gross but true!!!
Egg and nut shells
*Cut or dried flowers, wreaths
*Houseplants and potting soil
*Please keep flowers, plants and soil separate from your kitchen scraps in an extra bag.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Exodus 1:3 Thou Shalt Go Green

Coming soon to a Barnes and Noble near you...
The first eco-friendly bible, the world's most circulated book, will be published Thomas Nelson later this month. The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and production will flow from a FSC-certified forest through a paper manufacturer and printer that have FSC chain-of-custody certification. "Outside of offering eco-friendly products, we are striving to make efforts to implement 'green' practices in our daily activities and have created an internal environmental task force to see this through." The Bible will contain recycled fiber and was developed along with Domtar, a paper manufacturer with a strong environmental commitment. Before you go out and buy your copy, don't forget to bring a tote to put it in.

Source: Grist

Monday, October 15, 2007

"Cancel Your Catalogs" Week Oct. 21-27

Allison Carmen and Lori Campbell have formed a group called "Parents for a Cool New York." Their goal is to act swiftly to reduce global warming and make New York a better,
safer, cooler place to live, for us and for our kids.

To kick off the group, they've created the first annual "Cancel Your Catalogs" Week, Oct. 21-27. 20 BILLION catalogs are printed in the U.S. every year, almost none of them on recycled paper. The catalog response rate is less than 3%. Basically, 8 million tons of trees go straight to the landfill, with a brief stop at your house. So if the last time you ordered a monogrammed tote from LL Bean was back in 1986, cancel away!

10 TREES FOR $15.00.
Or, do it yourself in three steps:
STOP YOUR CATALOGS: email with your name and
(And if you're still receiving catalogs, call the companies yourself.)

For more information contact

Cleaning Up the Trash

Waste Management Inc., the nation's largest garbage hauler and landfill operator, will spend hundreds of millions of dollars over the next dozen years to make its operations more environmentally friendly, CEO David Steiner announced Thursday. They plan to increase its energy production from waste, buy more fuel-efficient vehicles and more than double the amount of recyclable material it processes, among other initiatives. Steiner said the "green" strategy will also boost Waste Management's bottom line. Primarily through burning waste and using methane gas-to-electricity technology Waste Management now creates enough energy to power roughly 1 million homes a year. By 2020, it expects to double that output. Already, the company is spending about $400 million over the next five years building facilities at 60 landfills to convert methane gas to electricity. Landfills are the largest source of methane emissions in the United States, accounting for 34%, the second largest man-made contributor to global warming behind carbon dioxide. On the recycling side, the company hopes to increase the amount of recyclable material it processes from 8 million tons a year to 20 million tons by 2020. They also have a recycling arrangement with Sony Corp. and hopesto form similar deals with other electronics companies. By 2020, the company wants to increase its fleet's fuel efficiency by 15 percent while reducing emissions by the same amount. It’s a tall order. Let’s hope they make it happen. Source: AP

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Solar Panels in the Sky

A fascinating 2001 worthy excerpt from LA Times: A new federal study released Wednesday concluded that continued increases in oil prices may finally make the generation of solar power in orbiteconomically competitive. The report urged the government to sponsor a demonstration of the technology to spur private investment in the concept.The orbiting power plants would reduce the nation's dependence on imported oil and help reduce the production of carbon dioxide that is contributing to global warming, according to the report led by the National Security Space Office, part of the Department of Defense. "This is a solution for all mankind," said former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, chairman of the spaceflight advocacy group, ShareSpace Foundation. Aldrin joined a group of other space advocacy organizations to unveil the report in Washington. The report estimated that in a single year, satellites in a continuously sunlit orbit could generate an amount of energy nearly equivalent to all of the energy available in the world's oil reserves. Mark Hopkins, senior vice president of the National Space Society, said space-based solar energy could generate so much power that it could transform the United States from an energy-importing country into an energy-exporting nation." It is the largest energy option which is available to us today in the sense that it would derive more power potentially than all of the other power sources combined," Hopkins said. "Our energy dependence and potential global warming problems are long-term problems. . . . So on a time scale, this solution matches up if we start investing now.",1,5761676.story?ctrack=2&cset=true

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al's Remarks

October 12, 2007 : 8:32 AM
I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the world's pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis -- a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years. We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level. My wife, Tipper, and I will donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the award to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the U.S. and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

More on Plastic Bags

Today on WNYC, Brian Lehrer interviewed Kate Sinding, senior attorney at NRDC's New York Urban Program on the paper vs. plastic issue. A pretty interesting segment. The link below will take you to Brian's page, where you can podcast the interview. I've also included the link to Kate's blog which has a multitude of informative and interesting environmental posts. Check it out!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Al Gore's Big Honor

The Nobel Peace Prize winner will be announced Friday, and Al Gore might just be a winner for his environmental action (practically making global warming a household name). Another supposed candidate is also a campaigner for the climate, Canadian activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier.
The draft Gore people are wondering whether the award would convince him to consider running for President - which would be awesome.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

1st Annual Brooklyn Veggie Restaurant Week

Okay, it's not that big, BUT this month is the 1st Annual Brooklyn Goes Veg Event. Two dozen spots will offer veggie meals from Sunday, October 21 through Saturday, October, 27, spanning 10 of BK's most culturally diverse neighborhoods. check it out for yourself.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

King Corn Premiere

KING CORN, the film, opens in NYC
Friday Oct. 12, Cinema Village, 22 East 12th St.

King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America's most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat-and how we farm.

For more info, including the trailer, see

Monday, October 8, 2007

Barack's Big Plan

Democratic candidate Barack Obama unveiled Energy Policy. If elected, he plans to spend $150 billion over 10 years on a push to develop new renewable fuel and clean coal technology, reduce greenhouse gases that fuel global warming and tax those who pollute on a per-ton of carbon basis. 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 — a goal that exceeds the European Union’s. He proposed a modified ''cap and trade'' approach to reduce emissions, requiring businesses to buy allowances if they pollute, creating an incentive to reduce energy usage. ''No business will be allowed to emit any greenhouse gases for free,'' he said. ''Businesses don't own the sky, the public does, and if we want them to stop polluting it, we have to put a price on all pollution.''A very aggressive goal.

For further reading

Sunday, October 7, 2007

New Year's Green!

The ball that drops in Times Square on New Year's Eve is going to be green this year! Marking its 100th anniversary, the traditiondown will include a ball lit by energy-efficient LED lights. With 16 times as many lights, it will use half the wattage of the last ball. Nice one Bloomberg.

For the full NYTimes article

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Environmentally-Conscious Yeti

Check out this sundance winning short environmental spot called Yung Yeti by Cole Gerst. There are lots of environmental videos to watch on Sundance Channel's website.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Piece by Piece

My Hero. A young guy named Chad Pregracke started picking up trash along and in the Mississippi River after working several jobs and being surprised by the amount of trash he saw. Everywhere, barrels, dolls, bowling balls, refridgerators, anything you can think of. So he started asking others to help him, and founded Living Lands and Waters - they take volunteers and go and clean up the rivers and then split it up among trash and recycling. He says, during the interview, "I read in a book somewhere, the earth was not destroyed as a whole, it's piece by piece, and I think that's the same way it's got to be fixed - piece by piece." Please watch this video - it is very inspiring.

Spitzer's Green Team

Along with a host of other changes, Spitzer hired some top former environmentalists to spruce up the State's green. The chosen team holds high positions in the the Department of Environmental Conservation, which after facing widespread staff cutbacks and a diminished role during Pataki's administration, has an added 100 staff positions. It remains to be seen whether these new faces will make real differences as per the constraints of politics. But keep your fingers crossed for a greener agenda! Also - recycling bins line the halls of the Statehouse- pretty neat. If you work somewhere without recycling - pipe up about it - we should all be recycling!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Compact

Similar, but much more committed than the BGT No New Clothing Challenge is The Compact. A group of like-minded San Francisco friends decided to buy nothing new for a year. This excludes neccessities, food, drink - in other words, toilet paper, medicine, and underwear are okay. Everything has to be traded, bought second-hand or lent. Don't worry, we're not suggesting it for you, but it's an interesting idea and probably not as hard as one might think. To learn more about The Compact go to

PS- I read about the compact in an awesome magazine called Good - dubbed the magazine for peope who give a damn. Printed on recyced paper, each edition is a particular theme, and reports on interesting and creative problems, solutions, people, trends, etc. As they say, through a print magazine, feature and documentary films, original multimedia content and local events, GOOD is providing a platform for the ideas, people, and businesses that are driving change in the world. Also when you subscribe, 100% of the proceeds go to a charity of your choice as part of a campaign to give away one million dollars to good causes.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Non-Exclusive Food Co-op

A little natural, organic, vegan, macrobiotic, insert anymore hippie descriptive words, heavenly food co-op in Manhattan. This tiny little shop has bulk laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, pasta, beans, nuts, spices, and even chili lime mangoes. They have a produce section and lots other interesting things to buy. Also, if you become a non-working member at $35 you get a 10% discount all year. ICheck it out. 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue (south side of street). They are open daily from 11-9.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New NYC Bike Lane

In Chelsea, a new bike lane along 9th Avenue (running between 16th Street to 23rd) is due to be constructed beginning next week. The bike lane will use a row of parked cars as well as cones and planters as a buffer between cyclists and cars. It's a start!

Monday, September 24, 2007

One More Reason to like Boston

After so many ponderings at Shea about why baseball parks don't start recycling, the Boston Red Sox stepped it up, going where other leagues haven't dared. They formed an alliance with the NRDC to reduce the park's carbon footprint. This will include things such as cups made out of corn starch rather than plastic, organic and local food stands, and even a fifth-inning recycling stretch - this would include Fenway park workers coming up the aisles with bins to recycle cups, snacks, and other recyclables. They will begin placing recycling bins throughout the park will happen next week.

Go Go Gadget Hydrogen Car

Virtually all of Iceland’s electricity and heating comes from domestic renewable energy sources -- hydroelectric power and geothermal springs. They are started to use hydrogen to power transportation. Hydrogen is produced with water and electricity, and Iceland has lots of both. Cars are being tested to run on hydrogen, such as the Mercedes Benz A-class F-cell -- an electric car powered by a DaimlerChrysler fuel cell. Fuel cells generate electricity by converting hydrogen and oxygen into water. And fuel cell technology is clean -- the only by-product is water. It's just like a normal car, except the only pollution coming out of the exhaust pipe is water vapor. It can go about 100 miles on a full tank. When it runs out of fuel the electric battery kicks in, giving the driver another 18 miles -- hopefully enough time to get to a refueling station. Filling the tank is similar to today's cars -- attach a hose to the car's fueling port, hit "start" on the pump and stand back. The process takes about five to six minutes. The city will need five refueling stations in addition to the one the city already has to support its busy ring road, according to Arnason. The entire nation could get by on 15 refueling stations -- a minimum requirement. COOL.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If he can do it, you can do it!

Today I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my brother Evan. He is a true eco-warrior. When I asked him if he would be willing to join the "No New Clothes Challenge, " he replied, "Meliss, of course I'll join the challenge. I haven't bought any new clothes in over a year. My jeans and my belt that I'm wearing right now are from high school, and my t-shirt is 2 years old. And I'm still lookin fresh to death!" Evan, you are an inspiration to us all! - melissa

Friday, September 21, 2007

Inspirational Reconfiguring

A nonprofit organization, Per Scholas, which recently became an EPA certified organization, is just about as good a group of do-gooders as it gets. The Bronx-based organization was there at the 3d Annual Brooklyn Green conference at Borough Hall today. In a lecture, I found out that they collect computers companies and individuals are throwing out and recycle them down to plastic, glass, metal, and sell those off to be made into other things. The remaining 7% of "schmootz" as the guy called it, is treated so that it is non-toxic. Not only do they save dangerous toxins from entering the landfill and eventually our water and earth, they also sell reconfigured pentium 3's to needy families for very low cost, so that thier kids can do schoolwork, and parents can look for jobs. THEN, when you thought they couldn't get any better, they also offer free training to unemployed persons in the area to rebuild and repair computers - its an 18-week long course and the only requirement is that you show up every day on time. Many of these individuals have gotten subsequent jobs and degrees. I was very inspired by this group. You can make arrangements to drop off your computer to perscholas as well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On the Line

A friend to BGT fowarded me this very interesting article about hanging your clothes out to dry. Seems like a no-brainer except many neighborhoods are disgusted by the hideous appearance of such a value-depreciating task. According to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey by the federal Energy Information Administration (thier Christmas parties are a blast), dryers account for 6% of total electricity consumed by U.S. households, third behind refrigerators and lighting. It costs the typical household $80 a year to run a standard electric dryer, according to a calculation by E Source Cos., in Boulder, Colo., which advises businesses on reducing energy consumption. So go ahead, put it all on the line.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Green Baby

So I'm having a baby and if the thought of growing a child in my womb was not enough to keep me up at night, images of diapers in a landfill made me toss and turn.

Before my baby would take it's first steps - it would be leaving a huge carbon footprint on the Earth. So I had to find an answer and fast.

In the last 40 years there has only been two choices in diapers: cloth and disposal. The debate of which is more environmetaly friendly is a controversial one. One disposal diaper takes 500 years to decompose, while the average child goes through 8,000 of them during their diapering years. While cloth diapers although reusable are usually made from industrial cotton, which is grown in conjunction with the heavy use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Also washing requires water, energy and laundry detergent.

The choice seemed impossible to make, until I stumbled across the gdiaper. gDiapers consist of a washable, cotton outer pant and a plastic free flushable refill made from all natural fiber and is 100% biodegradable. Plus they look cute and a box of 120 only cost $4 more then the leading disposal diaper. Don't take my word for it visit their website:
and watch the video!

Hooray - off to bed to dream of my green baby!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tennis Anyone?

Fellow "No New Clothing Challenge" participants Melissa Browning, Noelle Gentile, and Brandie Hayes don their new gear thanks to a second-hand shop in Bolton's Landing, New York. After a riveting day of kayaking on the open waters of Lake George all three ladies were soaked and in desperate need of some dry clothes. In a pinch they happened upon a thrift shop in a nearby church and picked up some tennis skirts for the road!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

We Love Manhattan Brewery

On the way to work today I passed a Manhattan Beer Distributors trucks making a drop-off. On the back of the truck read "A Breath of Fresh Air!" and then I noticed a green sticker that said this truck uses Compressed Natural Gas or CNG. Having no idea what that was I looked it up is a substitute for gasoline. It is considered to be an environmentally "clean" alternative to those fuels. It is made by compressing natural gas (which is mainly composed by methane), in a percantage range of 70% to 98%).
The company, headquartered in the Bronx, operates a fleet of over 500 trucks, vans,
sedans and forklifts and is trying to lower thier emissions all over the city. Here is an interesting article about thier efforts . . .

what it means for us? an easier time breathing. . .

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Green in Unexpected Places

A fascinating article about how the former head of the Sierra Club is now consulting with Walmart to overhaul the world’s largest company to be more sustainable and more importantly reach millions of Americans to start caring about the environment. The point of this post is NOT to suggest shopping at Walmart, but to see that working within the system to make changes it can sometimes be just as if not more powerful than fighting it. . .

Saving the Planet - One Burger at a Time

TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese government website crashed Wednesday as people raced to take up an offer of a half-price McDonald's hamburger in exchange for pledging to fight global warming. The Japanese unit of the US burger giant Tuesday offered a Big Mac for 150 yen (1.3 dollars), about half the normal price, to anyone demonstrating a commitment to preventing climate change. People were asked to check up to 39 boxes on a form they could download from the environment ministry's website, each listing a way of reducing carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming. McDonald's is one of more than 80 companies offering goods or other prizes to help the government's drive to reduce greenhouse gases. Despite being the home of the Kyoto Protocol, Japan is far behind in its requirement under the landmark treaty for cutting emissions by six percent by 2012 from 1990 levels amid a steady economic recovery. The 39 measures range from cutting air conditioning use to simply wiping water off the bottom of a kettle to save energy when heating it on a stove to reducing shower time by one minute – now that’s worth mentioning. (Source - yahoo news)

Strange – but if it works. . .

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Our EcoSpot

After receiving word from Al Gore, BGT spent a long (and fun) day of shooting in the name of the environment, we created a 60-second ecospot which will be entered in a contest. stay tuned!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Clean Green

According to Seventh Generation’s newsletter, The Non-Toxic Times, new study has found that literally dozens of popular household cleaners contain undisclosed toxins that have been linked to asthma, fertility and other problems. The new report, from Montana-based non-profit Women’s Voices for the Earth, examined Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for dozens of top-selling conventional cleaning products and found that most of formulas they studied contain one or more chemicals linked to any number of negative health effects. Since federal regs. do not require cleaning product manufacturers to fully disclose all the ingredients their formulas contain on product labels, an MSDS for a particular product is usually the best and often only way to figure out hazardous contents. In studying cleaning product MSDS, they found that a number of chemicals linked to asthma and reproductive disorders kept appearing. Because manufacturers rarely list al ingredient, there’s only one thing consumers can do: Only buy products whose labels tell you everything they contain. Don’t rely on promises of safety or environmental benefits. Even products marketed as earth-friendly can contain toxic ingredients. What does this mean? Buy Seventh Generation – or start cleaning your floors with hot water, baking powder and lemon juice!

To obtain a free on-line copy of the new study,

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

No New Clothing Challenge

BGT has challenged themselves and others to just say no to brand new clothing. We have presented a challenge to only buy vintage until December 31 in an effort to reduce and reuse.

Morgan P. of Albany, NY (16)has joined the challenge because "I really want to make a difference and change my lifestyle so I recycle and do good for the planet. I would like other people to follow that lifestyle as well because it's not only good for me and my life it's good for everyone else and the earth!!!"

Here are some reasons we found for not buying new clothes.

1. The average American throws away about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year.

2. 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of insecticides in the U.S. are used to grow cotton.

3. It takes almost 1/3 of a pound of chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) to grow enough cotton for just ONE T-shirt

for a complete list visit treehugger's green guide section,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Overfishing for Fish

This months' Arrive Magazine - Amtrak's official publication, was a green one - printed on recycled paper and everything. One of its feature articles was on a group of resaturant owners and chefs concerned by overfishing and the effect it has on the ecosystem. In response to the problem of overfishing and our obsession with fish such as tuna and salmon, they use what is seasonal and plentiful as a solution in thier restaurants. Here are some snippits..."They walk into a market in the middle of February and say, 'Why don't you have any wild salmon?"" Seaver says. They're out to see! You don't walk into a farmers market in the middle of December and say, 'where are the strawberries?'."... Understanding is the start. I will continue my fish mandate, but before I head to the counter, starting through glass at an icy sea of monotony, I will educate myself. What is the season for tuna? (Summer, mostly.) Which salmon should I buy? (Wild. Linecaught.) And maybe, as I learn more, so will my friends. And the fishmonger. And a few more of his customers. Perhaps soon, what the fishmonger stocks won't be flounder, scrod, tuna and salmon. It'll be what the customers really wan: seafood that will be around when they pass their recipes down to their children and grandchildren. Farm-raised tilapia. Wild-caught striped bass. "


Monday, September 3, 2007

It's all about choices

I've been thinking a lot about the choices we all make in life. We literally make thousands of choices each day. When it comes to the environment, there's always a "greener" choice. There's always something you can do to make less of an impact on our already fragile planet. So next time you are faced with a decision to make, be it over a piece of fruit to purchase or how to get home at night, just ask yourself if you are making the "green" choice. The earth will thank you.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

BGT Affiliate Just Launched!

We are thrilled to annouce affiliate team, upstate green team, launched by its charter member and long-time friend Elisabeth Pezzolla. Pezzolla's blog is up and running.

check it out and all thier good work. we look forward to collaboration.