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!