Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Carbon Footprint to Wine About

Aside from organic food, you can also choose biodynamic (meaning these farmers looks upon the soil and the farm as living organisms and the farm as something that can grow or evolve) or organic wines.

Organic wine means less chance of chemical insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides on the earth and in your glass.
Supporting eco-friendly farms. Organic farms employ green agricultural methods such as planting cover crops.

Minimally processed and with no added sulfites (a preservative in regular wines), organic wine is easy on your tongue and may lead to gentler hangovers.

Going even greener. Biodynamic on the label means the wine was holistically produced with consideration for the local ecosystem, soil, and even phases of the moon.

Here in Brooklyn, try Prospect Park Wine Shop (which also started selling totes by the way), or Gnarly Vines. Consult your Greenopia Guide or Organic Wine Journal or more spots. Onwards and Greenwards...

Source: Daily Bite

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NYC Energy...

City residents are thrifty users of energy, but cities still use vast amounts.

We already know that cities are far more energy efficient than suburbs and that humans are becoming a primarily urban species, so trends are toward energy efficient living. But New York City still struggles with proposals like congestion pricing to cut traffic. And as people get richer, they still tend to accumulate more stuff, demand more living space, and use more electricity. In a world heading toward 9 billion people seeking decent lives, how does that play out?

If you can't come up with a plan to get all of New York City to be more energy efficient, here are some solutions in the meantime. . . switch to alternative energy for your apartment, unplug your electrics you aren't using, buy one of those cool solar panel bags so you charge your ipod and phone via the sun, turn off your computer when you leave work every night, and even better, encourage others to make changes with you! More Suggestions

Source: NYTimes

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Accidental Volunteer

In a borough as vast as Brooklyn, one never knows what lies around the next bend. Fellow challenge member, Angie Nelson, stumbled upon The Million Trees NYC in her Greenpoint neighborhood. Eager to green her city Angie inquired about helping out and eager to have volunteers, Million Trees NYC welcomed her swiftly. She spent a few hours planting trees with the green movement's diva Bette Milder. So Brooklynites keep your eyes open for The Million Trees movement, you too can spend a small amount of time making a huge difference in your own city. And the best part is Angie now has her own tree to go and visit! Speaking of taking care of your own tree...

1,200 Free Trees Available to NYC Homeowners and Families in May!

Adopt your FREE tree in May at the following locations:

• Sunday, May 4 – 8 am to 2 pm
Inwood CENYC Greenmarket – Upper Manhattan Isham St – Seaman & Cooper

• Saturday, May 10 – 8 am to 2 pm
Grand Army Plaza CENYC Greenmarket – Brooklyn Prospect Park NW Entrance

Limited quantities of the following species of trees will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis: Red Bud,Dogwood, Cherry, Crabapple, Service Berry, Linden, Sweetgum, Oak, Tulip Poplar and Buckeye.

Note – individuals and families are limited to adopting one tree per household and required to register their new tree at
NYRP horticulture specialists will be on hand to provide instruction on proper tree planting and maintenance techniques. For CENYC Greenmarket and Environmental Fair participants who do not have their own yard to plant a tree, information on volunteering, educational programming and contributing to MillionTreesNYC will
also be available.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Save Green when You Green Your Home

If you are a KeySpan customer or lucky enough to own your brownstone, here are some incentives available when you make smart choices. If you are a renter AND have a good relationship with your landlord, you can always encourage them to take advantage of the following:

$10 on each Energy Star replacement window
up to $50 on Energy Star programmable thermostats
$100 on outdoor boiler reset controls
$300 on high-efficiency water heating equipment
up to $750 on weatherization measures (attic wall, basement, crawl space, rim joist and heating system duct ventilation, duct-work leakage testing/sealing and air infiltration testing/sealing) - must be completed by a National Grid-KeySpan approved contractor
up to $800 on high-efficiency heating equipment

You can also take a free online assessment of your home's energy use, how it compares to homes similar to yours, and tips on how to save energy. Take the Energy Analyzer

Not a bad deal. Learn More

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Go Go Green Expo!

Superheroes unite for the planet. Two Green Team members, sans capes, met David Coburn, aka the voice of Captain Planet at the Go Green Expo at the Hilton Hotel!! After telling the Captain Planet Foundation's Captain Planet himself all about the Brooklyn Green Team, he said, aside from, "The Power is Yours!" "You are Planeteers." POW! We've Been Greened!

Meanwhile at the event, there was some greenwashing, but lots of gems too....

Brooklyn-based RePlayGround has lots of good info on their website on how to make new objects out of old CD's, pancake mix boxes, metrocards, soda bottles, and more. Check out some of their how-to's on the website.

Mother and daughter team Jill Palermo and Judy Pezdir started, which is an awesome T-shirt company that donates 100% of their profits to the environment. How it works is you pick an environmental cause you care about such as reycling, lightbulbs, biking, solar, and they print a t-shirt with your unique number to show how many people care about that cause.

Another group called Local Fork hosts local online hubs for cities all over the country, include here in NYC. They have a guide to New York City local eating, including greenmarkets, CSA's and community groups, and volunteer opportunities. A great help in trying to localize your diet.

Friday, April 25, 2008


In NYTimes Magazine's Green Issue, one of the bold steps to reduce your carbon footprint was to ACT. One of the many ways to do that is to let the President know what you think needs to happen to stop global warming by signing Ms. Boxer's petition. Click here. Pow!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Plastic Water Bottles

For those of you who have joined the challenge (which is almost over by the way), here is what Grist's Umbra had to say about some re-useable water bottles...

Manufacturing plastic is resource-intensive and yields various nasty emissions that contribute to global warming and degradation of water quality. It's made from non-renewable resources, and for all intents and purposes, it never biodegrades (although some specialized variations have been made specifically to do so). Yes, we'll run out of oil eventually, but we'll always have our plastic garbage. Add to this the growing suspicion that plastic use may lead to serious health problems.

I would generally advise against using plastics in food- and beverage-related applications.

The contradictions you see in the press are a mix of confusion about types of plastic, misinformation, and bona fide scientific uncertainty about the effects of an entirely new group of substances. addresses purported links between PET (#1) and DEHA (di-2-ethylhexyl-adipate), a potential carcinogen, links which are apparently based on a study later shown to be bogus. PET evidently does not contain DEHA, and the carcinogenic properties of DEHA itself are hotly debated.

Nalgene bottles, made of polycarbonate (#7) or "Lexan," are more closely linked to bad stuff, specifically an ingredient called bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen and has been linked to aneuploidy, adipogenesis, and other scary problems with funny names. Drinking water or eating food containing leached BPA may cause chromosomal disruption, miscarriages, birth defects, or obesity. Eek!

#1 bottles are okay; #7 bottles are no good.

Moving on, I would categorically avoid PVC (#3), aka vinyl, for food containers or anything else. It truly is an evil plastic, practically a fount of dioxin. PVC containers and PVC film can contain oft-debated ickies DEHP and DEHA, and some contain softening phthalates linked to liver and kidney damage and testicular problems. Also, polystyrene (#6) is yucky -- it's made of styrene, and you don't want any styrene in your precious bod, trust me.

That leaves us with the winners of this dubious contest: HDPE, LDPE, polypropylene, and limited use of PET.

Glass vessels will work in low-impact situations, and I've seen metal canteens that may suit your needs. It's the biking and hiking and bungee jumping that pose a problem.

From the Brooklyn Green Team: Try Sigg water bottles and Swellz


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Brooklyn Green Team spent last Saturday at McCarren Park participating in the Go Green Greenpoint Earth Day Celebration. Brooklynites gathered to enjoy the sunshine, eat local, organic produce from the farmer's market, purchase eco-friendly products and meet environmental organizations promoting change around the borough.

Some of the groups and vendors we met were:
1. MilliontreesNYC: a public-private program with an ambitious goal: to plant and care for one million new trees across the City's five boroughs over the next decade. If you would like to have a tree planted for free on your block go to their website and get involved.

2. Tri-State Biodiesel:
a New York City based company dedicated to providing the city and the surrounding region with clean, renewable Biodiesel fuel. Check out their site to buy fuel or sign up for free waste collection. Also get involved by encouraging your landlord to use biodiesel to heat your building or supporting business who already do.

3. Greenopia: This is a great resourse guide for making greener lifestyle choices. It is a handy-guide that lists everything from organic restaurants and grocery stores, to dry cleaners and organic pest control services, to sustainable beauty salons, landscapers and interior designers. I bought one and love it.

The BGT applauds Greenpoint for putting on such a fun and educational event.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Meanwhile back on the Sponge Park

At tonight's Gowanus Canal Conservancy meeting, plans for a "sponge" park were unveiled. The preliminary design, open to feedback from the community, is an eco-conscious public park space along the Canal designed by Brooklyn-based landscape architectural firm dlandstudio. The purpose is to provide access, but more importantly, reduce watershed's CSO problem. The park should do the following:

actively collect rainwater
planting that is selected to help remediate storm water (everything from sunflowers which process metals to grasses that create a wetland effect)
provide open space and sites for community programs
maximize public access
create links between disconnected parts of the esplanade
provide new habitats for birds and wildlife
help to preserve Brooklyn's industrial history (for instance, a cafe might be a converted shipping container)
create a platform for enironmental and historic education
expand recreational opportunities
improve quality of life for the hood

There will be more meetings and discussion to follow, and then time to convince the politicians, etc. Learn More

Swapping is Still Hip

Eco-friendly clothing is great. Reused clothing is better. Still Hip Brooklyn is a sweet resale maternity and children's clothing spot in Clinton Hill. This week they feature an Earth Day Extravaganza with a host of events.

One such event is an Adult Cothing Swap
Details: Don't feel like a rock star in that dress from Butter? Pencil jeans got you down? Then put them in a bag marked, Still Hip Mom's Sale & Swap. Bring your stain-free and washed clothes to Still Hip on Saturday, April 26th, from 1 to 5pm and come back on Sunday to make your swap! If you've made a contribution to the Swap & Sale, you'll pay a $5 admission fee (in addition to getting credit for the items you've brought in, which can go toward any new-to-you purchases). Should you choose to only augment your closets, you'll pay a mere $10 to shop away without guilt.

Regular Drop-off days are Thursdays, 2-5pm

Learn more at Still Hip Brooklyn

Sunday, April 20, 2008

BBG Blossoms, Photo by Amanda Gentile

Earth Week Eco Tid-Bits

As it's earth week, here are some interesting factoids to get you thinking. . .

One 98' tree with 200,00 leaves can absorb 11,359 gallons of water and breath it into the air in just one growing season.

The average home can accumulate as much as 100 lbs. of household hazardous waste in the basement, garage, and storage closets (yeah right you have those).

Teh average human breathes in about 16,000 quarts of air each day, and each quart contains about 70,000 particles.

Most Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors. The EPA estimates that indoor air pollutants may be two to five times higher than the pollutant levels outdoors.

An average family of four uses 400 gallons of water every day!!! If one of out ten homes in the U.S. upgraded to water-efficient fixtures, it could save more than 300 billion gallons and nearly $2 billion annually.

If 1 in 10 homes used ENERGY STAR appliances, the change would be like planting 1.7 million acres of trees.

Rain forests generate 40% of the world's oxygen. Only plants, including trees, can produce enough new oxygen to support life on Earth.

Courtesy of Home Depot, perhaps they're starting to notice the competition, like GreenDepot, or Colorado-based GreenSpot...Either way, it's great to see big companies making changes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Urban Gardener

Like everything in New York, you often have to share. Why should gardening be any different? If you don't have your own garden in front or in back of your apartment or home, consider the community garden.

what is a community garden?
Community gardens transform empty lots into green, living spaces. They are collaborative projects created by members of the community; residents share in both the maintenance and rewards of the garden. There are an estimated 10,000 community gardens within U.S. cities.

why create a garden?
The simple act of planting a garden can create positive environmental, economic, and social impacts on a neighborhood. Community gardens foster cultural understanding and an awareness of the environment around us.

GreenThumb, an NY-based nonprofit, is the largest community gardening program in the country, supporting over 600 member gardens serving 20,000 city residents. Since 1978, GreenThumb helps with gardening skills, materials, technical assistance, and workshops.
The majority of GreenThumb gardens were derelict vacant lots renovated by volunteers. These community gardens, now managed by neighborhood residents, provide important green space, thus improving air quality, bio-diversity, and the well-being of residents. Many gardens offer educational workshops, children's programs, food pantries, or community-building events like block parties. All GreenThumb gardens are open to the public a minimum of ten (10) hours per week, so visit one of these amazing spaces to see what's growing on! Go to the below OASIS link to find detailed information about a garden near you.

Sources: Urban Community Garden, CENYC, OASIS, GREENTHUMB

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Recycling your Paint, Batteries, or Motor Oil

All 5 boroughs of NYC now have special waste drop off sites that accept a lot of things that are hard to dispose of normally. Any paint that is not accepted by Build it Green NYC! in Long Island City Queens, can can be disposed of at these locations.

New York City residents may bring the following materials to the NYC Department of Sanitation Special Waste Collection Centers:
batteries: automotive*batteries: household**
motor oil (up to 10 quarts per visit)*
motor oil filters (up to 2 filters per visit)
transmission fluid (up to 5 quarts per visit)
fluorescent tubes & bulbslatex paint (up to 5 gallons per visit)
mercury thermometers and thermostats (up to 2 per visit)
passenger car tires (up to 4 per visit.

Each household may visit a Special Waste Drop-off Site up to six times per year. To drop off, bring a valid New York State driver’s license and a vehicle registration with NYC address. If arriving without a vehicle, NYC residents can provide a picture ID and proof of residency, such as a utility or telephone bill that contains their name and NYC address. Materials may not be from a business, industrial, fee for service, or profit-making activity.

BROOKLYN: Bay 41st Street and Gravesend Bay, south of the Belt Parkway (adjacent to the DSNY Brooklyn 11 garage).

MANHATTAN: DSNY garage at 605 West 30th Street, between 11th & 12th Avenue.

NYC Wasteless Website,, Build it Green NYC!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bad News for Bag Handlers

Cosmetics company Lush is supporting the ban of plastic bags and raising awareness of their wastefulness by setting out Bag Monsters to unsuspecting shoppers. "Each bag monster, which resembles a walking, talking trash heap, is made of 350 plastic bags -- the amount of bags an average family of four will use in just four months," announces the press release.

In addition to scaring unsuspecting plastic bag hags, more benign protesters will distribute educational material. Lush will also provide interested shoppers with a free, reusable tote.
Lookout for the Bag Monster at malls in NYC, LA, Carmel, Pasadena, Aspen, Boulder, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia, or Washington, D.C.

Source: Grist

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


A novel idea. turning off the television. According to National Geographic's The Human Footprint, the average American watches 12 years of television in thier lifetime. Let's repeat that - 12 years of television!
Think about a minimum of 30 minutes you’re spending watching television and, for some, several hours per day. Even if you don't participate (afterall, American Idol is getting down to the wire), here are some alternatives if you decide to reduce your consumption...
What else could you be doing?
Start an exercise plan.
Prepare meals.
Read a book you’ve always wanted to read.
Start a second business.
Be social.
Take an evening class.
Learn a new skill or a new hobby.
Take on a major project.
Get things done.
CNN reports that an experiment in South Korea where an educational channel reported that 10 households stopped watching television for three weeks, the result. . . "My eyes used to be glued to the TV but now I look at my wife, and find her prettier than before," the village leader, Choi Dae-mun, told the newspaper.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Keep It in the Neighborhood (or at least 100 miles)

Brooklyn Green Team's latest eblast was the Local Food Issue, we hope you got it, and if not, email us at to sign up. Anyway, here are some tips from Wired Magazine on how to successfully eat local:

Start small. Shopping locally goes against the grain (pun intended) of our globalized economy, so it's not the easiest thing to do. Even if you live in a region that's rich in vegetables and meats, chances are you won't have easy access to staples like sugar, salt, oil, and flour. Just focus on what you can get, and keep an eye out for sources and/or substitutes for what you can't.

Personalize. If you want to try the classic 100-mile diet, you can find your personal 100-mile radius at

Get a supplier. You can find farms, greenmarkets, and locally oriented stores in your area using web tools offered at and If you live in a city, investigate CSA -- Community-Supported Agriculture. Citydwellers pay a fee to subscribe to a farm, and get a share of its output delivered in weekly boxes of joy. Just Food offers a listing for New Yorkers.

Assure authenticity of local supplier. Some so-called farmers markets allow vendors to resell wholesale produce to unsuspecting consumers. The best markets, in contrast, are producer-only markets with rules that prohibit reselling. There are resources on the Web that can help you distinguish real farmers markets from the imposters, such as Truly Local. If you are unfamiliar with a farmers market, you should ask the vendors or the market manager what rules they follow.

Find support. The web offers plenty of community and support for local eaters. Eat Local Challenge is a group blog with first-person stories, advice, and tips on every aspect of eating locally, as well as plenty of links to local groups, including one near you.

Share the burden. Throw a 100-mile potluck dinner.

Wired Magazine

Sunday, April 13, 2008

From Seed to Tweed

The typical life of a garment, before it ever ends up on a hanger, is really quite glamorous. It might have been designed in New York from technically marvelous fabrics that were developed in Japan and then sewn together in Europe. Or, more likely, a jacket or sweatshirt might have visited several countries in Asia along the way to its ho-hum existence on the rack of some department store.

To environmentally conscious consumers, the prepurchase itinerary of clothes has become as important a consideration as the organic nature of the materials used to make them. Every well-traveled suit leaves a carbon footprint, but unlike its fabric content, that footprint is pretty much a mystery to consumers.

Now some clothing companies, in a bid to make their manufacturing processes more transparent, are beginning to provide that information. Patagonia, for example, offers such details for five of its designs on its Web site. It traces the path of a $190 rain jacket from its design in Ventura, Calif., to the fabric production in Matsuyama, Japan, to the sewing in Hanoi, Vietnam, to a distribution facility in Reno, Nev. — a total of 14,125 miles. Patagonia estimates the total carbon dioxide emissions generated along that route to be 15 pounds (about 10 times the weight of the jacket itself).

Moshe Gadot, a president of Bagir, a company that makes $200 to $300 suits for Sears, J. C. Penney and The Limited, says that that sort of information should be more available to consumers. Bagir is developing a label for suits that shows the carbon dioxide emissions next to a downward pointing arrow — kind of like the Energy Star rating you would find on a refrigerator. “There will be a hangtag that says ‘This suit was produced with 15 kilograms of CO2,’ ” Mr. Gadot said. “This will mean nothing to consumers, at least at first,” he said. “But they will know that this company cares about the environment.”

Source: Eric Wilson, NYTimes

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Don't Forget

To watch Human Footprint on National Geographic tonight at 9pm eastern standard time. Everything You Eat. Everything You Drink. Everything You Use. Your entire life's consumption. In one place at one time.

Up Up and Into the Ocean

A balloon is a bag filled with heated air or a light gas causing it to rise and float in the air. A balloon ascends because the heated air or gas inside is lighter and less dense than the surrounding air. Balloons are made in a variety of sizes, shapes, and designs. In addition to their use as children's toys and party decorations, balloons and have other uses. More about balloons.

Many people are unaware that balloon releases can result in littering and harm to wildlife. Once balloons are out of sight, they can float many miles before descending back to the land or the sea semi-inflated. Once balloons are released, they can become a serious form of marine pollution. A long list of marine creatures, including dolphins, whales, turtles, fish, and seabirds, have been reported with balloons in their stomachs. It is believed that they mistake balloons and other buoyant plastics for their natural prey e.g. jellyfish and squid, and eat them. Balloons have been identified in the stomachs of animals, meaning they do not quickly breakdown, likely leading to death. Ribbons and string tied to balloons can lead to entanglement.

Greener Alternatives

Windsocks (remember those?)

Flowering plants and bulbs could be planted to spell out a message. Kites!

If you do use balloons, make sure not to release them and dispose of properly.
Source: Save the Whales

Check Out the Blossoms all over Brooklyn

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Wire

Rabbit ears for your t.v., a makeshift slim-jim when you've locked your keys in the car... there are many creative re-uses for those wire hangers that come with your dry cleaned shirts. Individual creativity notwithstanding, 3.5 billion wire hangers end up in landfills every year!

HangerNetwork is giving their 100% recycled paper hangers to dry cleaners to try for free. The reason they are able to do this is because of advertising space they sell on the hanger itself. So if you are strong enough to resist the urge to run out for a cup of Dunkin' Donuts joe every time you open your closet, you may want to consider talking to your local dry cleaner about using EcoHangers.

They last six to eight weeks and are biodegradable. Of course, this is a mixed bag because while biodegradable is good in theory, landfills are not conducive to letting things break down naturally. The hangers are made in the USA in EPA regulated plants, as opposed to wire hangers, which are produced overseas in low wage plants.


More info on EcoHangers

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Okay, So Congesting Pricing Didn't Happen...

All Right Mayor Mike!
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that the City Department of Administrative Services (DCAS) would issue an RFP for private solar developers to purchase, install, own and maintain solar panels on city-owned buildings in all five boroughs as part of PlaNYC. The plan would more than double the City’s current solar electric capacity.

Eleven potential sites have been identified for the developer to choose from, including five schools and a community college. The City and the developer will enter into a 20-year power purchase agreement for the electricity the solar panels generate. The Mayor made the announcement during a keynote address Newsweek’s 2nd Annual Global Environmental Leadership Conference.

“New York City is moving ahead vigorously on our PlaNYC agenda, especially in the all-important area of reducing our reliance on the carbon-based fuels that contribute to global warming,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’ve set a target of shrinking our carbon footprint by 30% by the year 2030. Increasing the use of renewable energy, like solar power, is a key strategy in that effort. Using solar power decreases demand for electricity from the power grid, which is typically generated by burning the fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.”

How cool is that?


Being green in NYC? Easy!

If you happen to live in the New York City area, check out the 4th Street Food Co-op. You do not need to be a member to shop there, but members do get discounts, and the store is run almost entirely by volunteers.

Why shop at the 4th Street Food Co-op?

*They support local farmers and communities by buying as local as possible, as organic as possible, and by stocking fair trade products.

*They are 100% vegetarian.

*They use 100% wind power to run their refrigerators, lights, and electronics.

*They have a huge selection of bulk products; grains, beans, pastas, snacks, pet food, nuts, cleaning supplies, and body care products (you can refill your shampoo bottle again and again! I've used the same bottle for almost two years!!!)

The Co-op is located at 58 4th Street(between Bowery and 2nd Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Hours: Saturday-Wednesday 11am-9pm
Thursday 9am-9pm
Friday 1pm-9pm

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fancy-pants and Fancy T's

Starting April 13, you can bring in T-shirts to all Barneys locations which will be “re-fashioned” into limited edition T-shirts sold exclusively at Barneys over the 2008 holidays.

The program is a partnership between Sundance Channel’s “The Green,” Barneys New York and Loomstate (they make eco-friendly jeans). Barneys will collect the T-shirts, and Loomstate will re-style, re-dye and re-print to create new shirts. Participating consumers will receive a 20 percent discount on both men’s and women’s Loomstate merchandise. nice deal!

There has been no announcement in regards to restrictions on types of T-shirts accepted or required quality of the shirts.

*speaking of The Green, click here to watch lots of videos, ranging from a cartoon, Go Green or Else! to a video that describes cutting edge production of drinking water from the ocean!

Source: Earth911

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pick Your Paper Wisely

Since the paperless office has yet to become a reality, the world's forests continue to be under threat from logging, and scientists understand better than ever how important forests are not only to wildlife and clean air, but also the global climate, companies need to make responsible choices.

The World Resource Institute and the World Business Council recently published a list of 10 questions that should be asked before making paper purchases:

Origin: Where do the products come from?
Information accuracy: Is information about the products credible?
Legality: Have the products been legally produced?
Sustainability: Have forests been sustainably managed?
Special places: Have special places, including sensitive ecosystems, been protected?
Climate change: Have climate issues been addressed?
Environmental protection: Have appropriate environmental controls been applied?
Recycled fiber: Has recycled fiber been used appropriately?
Other resources: Have other resources been used appropriately?
Local communities and indigenous peoples: Have the needs of local communities or indigenous peoples been addressed?

Take that, Staples.

Source: Daily Green

BGT Highlighted in Cloud Institute's Newsletter

The Brooklyn Green Team is featured in the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education's Spring 2008 Newsletter. Here is what they had to say:

The Brooklyn Green Team is quickly becoming a force on the NYC environmental scene. Combining hip parties with green goals, this team is bringing change to the emerging Brooklyn scene. For their first challenge all six founding members vowed not to purchase any new clothes for a year. The Team recently launched a water bottle challenge in which members pledged not to purchase bottled water from February through April. To date, more than 70 people have taken the water bottle challenge. IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY EMAIL US NO MORE BOTTLES TO SIGN UP!

Check out the Spring newsletter

Thanks to our friend Rebecca Schept, Executive Assistant at the Cloud Institute, for spreading the word about what we do!

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education is a New York-based organization that works with school systems and educators K-12 to develop and implement innovative ways to teach about and promote a sustainable future for our planet. Two of their programs have already been introduced to 130 NYC public schools, thus reaching over 30,000 students.

Source: The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education

Monday, April 7, 2008

Idling Away the Hours (and precious resources)

This past weekend, as in a number of weekends past, the MTA has beenrunning shuttle buses on the F line between 7th Ave andHoyt-Schermerhorn. Many of these buses as they wait for passengers are idling for long periods of time.

In order to NOT cause unnecessary pollution and impact the health of others (you've heard of asthma) and waste money, try shutting it off!

If you're in a drive-through restaurant/business line or waiting for someone and you'll be parked and sitting for 10 seconds or longer... turn off your car's engine.

For every two minutes a car is idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel it takes to go about one mile. Research indicates that the average person idles their car five to 10 minutes a day. People usually idle their cars more in the winter than in the summer. But even in winter, you don't need to let your car sit and idle for five minutes to "warm it up" when 30 seconds will do just fine.

If you are going to be parked for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine. Ten seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. And when you start your engine, don't step down on the accelerator, just simply turn the key to start.

Here are some other Myths associated with idling.

Myth #1: The engine should be warmed up before driving. Reality: Idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to do this is to drive the vehicle. With today's modern engines, you need no more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days before driving away.

Myth #2: Idling is good for your engine. Reality: Excessive idling can actually damage your engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and exhaust systems. Fuel is only partially combusted when idling because an engine does not operate at its peak temperature. This leads to the build up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption.

Myth #3: Shutting off and restarting your vehicle is hard on the engine and uses more gas than if you leave it running. Nope: Frequent restarting has little impact on engine components like the battery and the starter motor. Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving, money that will likely be recovered several times over in fuel savings from reduced idling. The bottom line is that more than ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine.

Source: Brooklyn resident Gideon, California Energy Commission

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Green Dining

Enter Manhattan's Union Square Greenmarket in the early morning, and you'll likely trip over a chef from one of the city's top restaurants. Fifteen years ago, though, most chefs sourced their produce from fancy distributors, who hauled in perfect-looking ingredients from hundreds of miles away. Not Peter Hoffman of Savoy. Since starting his much-loved Soho restaurant in 1990, Hoffman has been a familiar figure among the stalls, stuffing his dramatically oversized bicycle basket with the flavorsome produce of New York City's surrounding foodshed. And his commitment to sustainably produced local food doesn't end in the kitchen -- Hoffman served on the advisory board of the Union Square Greenmarket for 15 years, and has also been executive director of the Chef's Collaborative, which aims to build a more sustainable food supply.

Source: Grist

Other Green Restaurants

Habana Outpost (Brooklyn)

Eat Fresh (Brooklyn)

Flatbush Farm (Brooklyn)


Blue Green Organic Cafe (Brooklyn)

Blanche's Organic Cafe

Organic Harvest Cafe

Herban Kitchen

Superfine (Brooklyn)

The V Spot Cafe (Brooklyn)

Earth Tonez (Brooklyn)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What To Do? What To Do?

The weekend is here and naturally you're thinking, what can I do this weekend that is both fun, and low-impact on the planet? Well, seeing as its going to be pretty nice out, here are some suggestions:

Sit in the Park. (for example, it's Opening Day at Prospect Park with a host of activities during the day)

Read a book. (self-explainatory)

Go to the greenmarket and make dinner for your friends. (find your greenmarket, if outside NY, go to the national directory)

Go shopping without buying anything new. (for example by hitting up the launch of Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene)

Plant your Garden.

Ahhh, the life.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Ikea to Ban All Plastic Bags

Effective October 1, Ikea will no longer be offering plastic bags in-store.

In the last year, Ikea has been weaning its customers off of plastic bags, charging a fee for each plastic bag and encouraging the purchase of reusable bags.

Ikea reports that 92 percent of its customers have stopped buying plastic bags. Ikea does not offer paper bags, so starting in October it appears that reusable will be the only option.

Yipee! (Do we hear a future challenge?)


Thursday, April 3, 2008


What could be greener than a patch of green?
Many of us are antsy to get ouside and began anew with our backyards or more likely, 4X4 garden squares in front of our apartments. Either way, here are some tips to green your garden:

Use organic soil amendments
Test your soil. If needed, add organic soil amendments or fertilizer.

Get Compost for your Garden
If you live in NYC – you can buy it for cheap at the greenmarket in Union Square or at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; if outside of the City, lots of municipalities have free compost giveaway days

Use natural pest control
Choose natural remedies and organic treatments for insect pests. You can get rid of bugs by picking them up yourself, repel pests with hot pepper spray (buy a commercial spray or make your own: Combine 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, 2 tablespoons of hot red pepper sauce, and one quart of water in a spray bottle), attract birds and animals that feed on pests by providing shelter, water, food, and nesting sites.

Use natural disease control
Choose natural remedies and organic treatments for plant diseases.

Choose the correct watering system
An effective watering system can save water, time, and money.

Apply Lots of Mulch
Mulches prevent weeds and conserve water. Many cities give away free mulch on designated days.

Grow seeds and plants suitable for your climate
Choose plants and seeds appropriate for your climate: they'll grow better and require less water and fertilizer.

Practice Xeriscaping - we know you're all over this one...
Xeriscaping is environmentally friendly landscaping that uses native and drought-tolerant plants, shrubs, and ground cover. The word xeriscape is a combination of the Greek word xeros (meaning "dry") and landscape. Cuts down on your water useage.

Introduce beneficial predators to keep pests away
Beneficial predators keep insects away from your home, garden, yard, or farm, thus eliminating the need for toxic pesticides that can harm people, pets, and the environment. You can use ladybugs, caterpillars, lady beetles oh my (you can buy at Gardens Alive!) or hope they stop by.

Use Natural weed Control
Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to weed control. To do so, disturb the soil as litte as posible, destroy them before they flower and go to seed, don’t leave areas of bare soil, and use mulch. Get a head start on eliminating weeds, and use natural remedies for weeds that have taken hold. If you don’t want to pull them out yourself with a hand or a hoe (best to do in the rain), look for non-selective weed killers made from vinegar and citrus or vinegar and clove oil, suggested brands are: Gardens Alive! WOW! Supreme Pre-Emergent Weed Control, Burnout 2 Weed & Grass Killer Concentrate

If you don't have a garden of your own, try houseplants, window boxes, or fire-escape plants. You can even volunteer and work on a really big garden - your local park.

Learn more at

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April is Million Trees NYC Month!

Yesterday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proclaimed April as MillionTreesNYC Month, kicking off four weeks of special events and activities to get more New Yorkers involved in planting and caring for trees throughout New York City than ever before. Opportunity for New Yorkers of all ages to get involved in include: volunteer tree-planting projects, tree care workshops, nature walks and talks and Earth Day festivals, as well as a variety of Arbor Day celebrations on April 25.

Event Highlights:

Hands On New York Day - April 12
New York Cares's annual "Hands On New York Day," as part of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation's reforestation project, volunteers will plant 20,000 trees in 12 different sites throughout the City. Additionally, 5,500 volunteers will give our city's public spaces their annual spring-cleaning by working to revitalize local parks, gardens, playgrounds, community centers, homeless shelters and schools throughout the City.

3rd Annual NYC Grows Festival - April 27
Come celebrate National Garden Month with the Parks Department and the National Gardening Association. Get some fresh spring air and learn about your favorite plants, the newest tools and how to grow your best garden ever! The festival will be located in Union Square Park South. Make sure to stop by the BNP Paribas MillionTreesNYC Greenhouse, where you can learn more about MillionTreesNYC and make a donation to plant a tree on public land, including schoolyards or public housing properties.For more information visit

April 19: Go Green! Go Greenpoint! - Earth Day Celebration at McCarren Park and Bloomin' Hike in Prospect Park. - BROOKLYN GREEN TEAM WILL BE THERE!

April 20: Earth Day Celebration - Marine Park.April 24: Arbor Day Eve Street Tree Gardening - celebration and workshop, Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

April 17: New York Trees - book talk and slide presentation by Edward Barnard, author of New York City Trees, Central Park Arsenal.

Learn More

What Can You Do? No matter if you are in NYC or not you can Plant a Tree. Volunteer. Donate Money to an organization that plants trees. We guess you could even hug a tree if you're so inclined. . .

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Curbing the Water Bottle in NYC

Many of you are signed up for or at least know about Brooklyn Green Team's No Disposable Water Bottle Challenge! (if you're signed up - keep up the good work - one month to go!). Our friends at Corporate Accountability International launched the Think Outside the Bottle campaign, and as a result here in New York City, here are some related initiaties to kick the disposable lifestyle:

New York, NYCity's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Department of Environmental Protection are sponsoring a $700,000 campaign to promote tap water over bottled water.

Del Posto, New York, NY Owners Joseph Bastianich and Mario Batali plan to serve filtered tap water in containers etched with reasons why unsustainable practice of serving bottled water was ceased.

Hunter College launched an on-campus Think Outside the Bottle Campaign

Birdbath Neighborhood Green Bakeries, East Village and Greenwich Village, New York, NYOwner Maury Rubin banned bottled water at his bakeries, starting with the East Village location in 2005.

NYU has an on-campus Think Outside the Bottle Campaign

What can you do?
Join the Brooklyn Green Team challenge (email No More Bottles! to or learn about actions you can take by visiting Think Outside the Bottle)