Saturday, May 31, 2008

Coop Bans Bags

Members of the Park Slope Food Co-op, voted nearly unanimously to stop making plastic shopping bags available at the checkout counter. In doing so, the 14,000-member grocery store is now in good company with bag-banning locales like Rwanda, Uganda, Bangladesh, China, San Francisco and the Republic of Whole Foods - and the Brooklyn Green Team's No Plastic Bag Challenge! It was the second environmental triumph for the Co-op in as many months; in April, the Union Street supermarket voted to stop selling bottled water. In both cases, the well-being of the planet was cited as the motivation — like water bottles, plastic bags are made from petroleum — and the notion of customer convenience was dismissed.

“We don’t need them. Some people say they reuse them, but how many times? Once, twice? That’s no big savings. It will be hard to give up plastic bags, but we can do it. We don’t need them! We can do it! It should be done. It must be done.”

Co-op member Barbara Kancelbaum presented plastic bags’ sins: they cause pollution during their manufacture, they consume 12 million barrels of oil per year, they take 1,000 years to degrade, and it costs more to recycle them than to just make a new bag.

Nice Work!

Read on at the Brooklyn Paper

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bottle Suit

This model loves the environment.
ECOGIR made by clothing company BAGIR makes a suit completely made of soda bottles. that's right...

Made from 100% recycled Post Consumer Material
With its, cool, trendy design you’d never believe that the fabric and the lining of this EcoGir™ jacket is made from 100% recyclable material originally created from discarded PET bottles. Garments made from recycled Post Consumer Material save more energy compared to manufacturing of virgin fiber, help divert waste from landfills and reduce amounts solid waste.

It is estimated that nearly 30 recycled plastic bottles are used to build up an EcoGir™ Recycled suit. They also have an organic label. Don't take our word for it. Check it out.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Always a Silver Lining

So you may not be thrilled about their arrival, but you might be happy about the waterfront esplanade that goes with it. IKEA announced today the 6.5-acre waterfront esplanade it has built along the Erie Basin in Red Hook will open to the public when IKEA Brooklyn opens on June 18, 2008.

The store is on 22 acres along the Erie Basin waterfront in Red Hook, south of the BQE/Gowanus Expressway and southeast of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Highlights of the nearly mile-long waterfront esplanade – which will be run similar to a city park, with hours from dawn to dusk – include paved walkways and a bike path, as well as:Bountiful Landscaping – More than 9,000 plants, including shrubs such as roses, bayberry and vibernums as well as lush native and ornamental grasses, complement 558 trees – such as red cedar, black pine, white birch and Douglas fir – that create park-like settings and line the esplanade. 5,000 flowering giant allium bulbs will seed purple springtime flowers.

Historic, Maritime & Architectural Features – IKEA “rescued” more than 50,000 cobblestones – called ‘Belgian blocks’ – from the roadbed and incorporated them into the esplanade design. Also, an 18-foot constructed compass, 12 yellow bollards, many orange-painted tools, two blue winches and 24 chocks (with names of 72 ships that were repaired at the shipyard) all reflect the waterfront’s heritage. In addition, there are 13 interpretive signs along the railings, recounting the history of shipyard operations on the site. Three sculptural kiosks depict an image architecturally the sun’s shadow used to cast on the ground through ships’ masts at the shipyard.

Seating Options and Lighting Elements – More than 250 benches and chairs –representing eight different arrangements ranging from timber benches, steel and wood benches, and steel chaises to movable tables and chairs as well as traditional wood and concrete benches – will allow visitors to sit, perch, relax or recline as they admire the views. The esplanade will be illuminated at night in part by 115 light poles that are enhanced by decorative lights on the tables and the bridge, while other lights highlight the four preserved and restored gantry cranes on site.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bagging the Brita

You've swapped your gallon water jug bottles for the reusable Brita Filter. Now What? How do you get rid of your filters? Currently there is no way to refill or recycle Brita filter cartridges in North America. There may be a solution in the future...

Take Back The Filter is a campaign to ask Clorox (owner of Brita) to come up with a sustainable solution for the tons and tons of filters we go through each year. Visit their site, and take these actions: send them your filters! sign the petition, write a letter, and spread the word.

What a great thing the power of suggestion is.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Free My Green NY Bags!

On Tuesday, May 27th at 1:30 PM, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Members Gale A. Brewer and Simcha Felder, along with Elizabeth Broad from Earth Day New York will be handing out thousands of the free “My Green New York” bags. The bags are covered in green living designs created NYC high school and college design students.

Details: Tuesday, May 27th at 1:30 PM at the Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket

Source: Green Brooklyn

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend, With a Light Footprint

What better way to honor Memorial Day Weekend than having respect for the nature you spend time in over the long weekend. Here are some tips to lower your impact:

1. Need to mow the lawn to make your yard look beautiful? If you're hosting a picnic at your home/apt. consider using an old school push mower to get the lawn ready.

2. Consider using lump charcoal instead of briquettes, which may contain coal dust and other additives. Try cow boy Charcoal at Lowe's, Trader Joe's, and under the Whole Foods 365 brand, which makes chunk charcoal out of wood leftover from furniture making and construction.

3. Re-think the beef. Beef is a key contributor to global warming. Either go veggie (veggie burgers, soy-dogs, grilled vegetables), or cut down on the meat and look for natural, humanely raised, small farm meat.

6. Try to purchase organic ingredients for the dishes you make and local fruits and vegetables if you can them at your local shops or greenmarkets. Organic is available in everything from ketchup to hotdog buns. Think about all the chemicals you are preventing from entering the ground and water and air. What could be more patriotic than that? As for local, it just tastes better and supports the living of your local farmers.

7. Dish it Out. Try to use reusable plates and cuttlery like greenware, or ask people to bring their own! Use recycled paper products like Seventh Generation so you're not using new trees to wipe your hands.

8. Bring plastic trash bags made from recycled plastic. Seventh Generation or Good Use both make them. This way you're not creating NEW plastic - just using whats already been made.

Sources: original content, Organic Mania
Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Pilgrims Didn't Use Plastic Bags

Next month, Plymouth's Town Meeting representatives will have the opportunity to make Plymouth the first community on the East Coast and the third in the nation to ban the use of lightweight, petroleum-based, plastic bags in the town's larger grocery stores and drugstores.
"Plymouth is the first 'Hometown' in America, and we'd like to make it one of the first 'green' towns," said James Sweeney, chairman of the environmental group, Sustainable Plymouth. The organization submitted the measure as a citizens petition.

Sweeney said residents are reacting with enthusiasm to the initiative. "Our membership has increased by 50 percent since we announced this," Sweeney said.

Sweeney has approached store managers in Plymouth and made some calls to corporate headquarters. The town hosts Stop & Shop, Shaw's, and Wal-Mart grocery stores, and Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS drugstores. Sweeney said the store managers generally have been receptive to the ban. It's been harder to get a commitment at the corporate level.


We Hope They Succeed. Speaking of NOT using plastic bags - join the Brooklyn Green Team's No Plastic Bag Challenge by emailing and writing no plastic bags!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mob Mentality, For Good

Okay, so its not Brooklyn, but a great idea for any city.
Brent Schulkin, a 27-year-old Stanford grad living in San Francisco, had an idea: encourage profit-hungry companies to do good by promising to spend more money with them. But he wouldn't be making all the purchases himself; he'd bring a mob.

That was the inspiration for Carrotmob, his loosely organized group of conscious consumers. The goal was to make an environmentally friendly store. Schulkin visited 23 liquor stores in his Mission District neighborhood, and asked each one how much money they'd be willing to set aside for energy efficiency improvements from the profits of Carrotmob's spending. The bidding started at 10%, and increased slightly until K&D Market offered the winning bid of 23%.

Next experts came in to inspect K&D and to offer suggestions for energy improvements. Hundreds of people turned out and spent over $9000 at K&D. (You can see footage from the event on With the profits made, which were double what K&D had anticipated, the store owners will be able to completely redo their lighting system. Plus lots of goods were donated to the San Francisco Food Bank.

This initial Carrotmob campaign had an environmental bent, but Schulkin plans to expand.

The rest of the story: DailyGreen

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Call To Protect...

...the environment and survivors of domestic violence. The CALL TO PROTECT campaign collects wireless cell phones to serve as lifelines for domestic violence survivors when faced with an emergency situation. So dig out your old cell phone from you junk drawer and send it to:
2555 Bishop Circle West
Dexter, MI 48130


take it down to your local drop off location (a list is available at the Call to Protect website). For those of you in the New York City area drop yours off at your nearest Body Shop.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Help Us Ripple The Plastic Bag Effect

We are mid-month into the No Plastic Bag Challenge! and we want your help. If you or someone you know is a business-owner here in Brooklyn, please suggest they put out the No Plastic Bag Challenge flyer and sign-up sheets to encourage customers to join (and send a positive message about their business at the same time). So far we have our sign-up sheet at Pumpkin's Organic Market (thank you Pumpkins) and hopefully soon at Prospect Wine Shop. Help us make a small change that makes a big difference. Email us at brooklyngreen@gmail, provide the name of the establishment, (contact them first if you can) and we will be happy to follow-up and provide the challenge flyer and sign-up sheet.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Energy Smart Communities Here in BK

The Pratt Center, through a partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is participating in the ENERGY STAR® Change a Light, Change the World Campaign. The goal of the campaign is to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging consumers to switch to ENERGY STAR qualified lighting products such as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). These transactions are tracked by a pledge, completed by the consumer, stating that they have taken steps to save energy in their homes. SIGN PLEDGE

New York City Energy $mart Communities can Help you Save Energy and Money
The Pratt Center has partnered with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in an effort to improve the energy efficiency of communities and businesses in New York City. Wendy Fleischer, a Regional Coordinator of NYSERDA's Energy Smart Communities Program, provides information, resources, and guidance to interested parties in Brooklyn (Staten Island and parts of Manhattan). Residents, building owners, contractors, and businesses now have the resources and support they need to help with renovations and energy efficiency improvements.

Regional coordinators find NYSERDA technical and financial assistance to meet your needs. Services include:

Energy Audit Program - provides recommendations for energy efficiency measures in small businesses and other non-residential buildings.

Assisted Multifamily Program - energy-efficient rehabilitation of low-income multifamily buildings.

New York Energy $mart Loan Fund - Interest rate reductions on loans for energy efficiency projects.

$mart Equipment Choices - installation of energy efficient equipment in your business or multifamily building.

Residential Technical Assistance - multifamily building performance assessment.
New Construction Program - design/install energy efficiency into new or rehabilitated buildings.

For more information visit NYSERDA's Energy Smart Communities
or contact:Wendy Fleischer at 718-636-3486, ext 6450

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Recycled Materials for Brooklyn Bridge Park

Skanska USA Building Inc., the firm hired to construct Brooklyn Bridge Park (The Brooklyn Bridge will celebrate its 125th Birthday), reports it is not only helping reclaim the waterfront for public use and recycling it into a viable local amenity, but it is recycling the rubble as well.

“Skanska will tear down old sheds, such as the one on Pier 1 [see photo at right], and recycle the materials, turning the industrial remains into vital public spaces — like lawns, beaches, coves, restored habitats, playgrounds, sports facilities and landscaped gardens,” a spokesperson said. “There’s an attention being paid to ‘keeping it local,’ so to speak, as far as incorporating as much on-site materials as are available.”

Steve Pressler, Skanska executive vice president, commented, “It’s our goal to build with the least possible impact on nearby neighborhoods.”

As has been reported previously, the new park will run 1.3 miles along the East River and New York Harbor. Along that route, Skanska will be working and building on land that is now covered with asphalt, concrete and abandoned sheds, as well as rubble along the water’s edge.

In addition to the reuse of structural steel and aluminum cladding and concrete and asphalt, the waterfront will be reshaped with 180,000 cubic yards of dredged material, which will be used to create the rolling contours of the park.

Source: Full story in Brooklyn Eagle

Thursday, May 15, 2008

NYs First Tri-Generation Power Plant

Mayor Bloomberg Flips Switch On First Tri-Generation Power Plant in NYCMayor Bloomberg today turned on the City's first tri-generation power plant at Co-Op City in the Bronx, which is the result of a $65 million renovation. The plant will use less fuel, cut carbon emissions and pollutants by 40% and will result in between $15 million and $25 million in savings annually to co-op residents.

By the way, if you didn't know what a tri-generation power plant does...
Traditional power plants convert fuels such as oil or natural gas to electricity inefficiently because the conversion generates wasted heat. Co-generation plants divert that heat for other uses. In tri-generation fuel is used for three separate functions: it generates electricity, uses the waste heat or steam for heating and cooling, and diverts the excess steam to a turbine that generates even more electricity and heat energy, making it the most efficient type of power plant in use.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What is a Rain Barrel Anyway?

If you are not ready to install a green roof yet, you can accomplish much the same thing by directing water from your roof into a rain barrel. It's actualy as easy as it sounds. You get a barrel and you put it under your drain pipe on your home or brownstone. If you are a renter, you could always keep one on your fire-escape when it rains and bring it in after the shower to use on your plants.
What is a rain barrel? Rain barrels are low-tech devices that collect rainwater for home or garden use. They are an inexpensive way to save and reuse water and cut down on your monthly water bills.
Here are some sites that provide detailed instructions on how to build a rain barrel:
The main goal is to reduce the amount of storm water that runs off your property and into an overburdened sewer system. And if you save that runoff and use it to water your plants, lawn or garden, you will be both conserving a valuable resource and saving money on your utility bill.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Right Method

the new Method store that is, open for just a few weeks, this SoHo locale isn't just for hawking its surface cleaners, laundry soaps, body suds, and air fresheners: You can bring in your old cleaners to the Toxic Turn-In for safe disposal and swap 'em for free Method products. Trade in your bleach for some eucalyptus mint-scented tile spray.

Method, 550 Broadway b/t Prince and Spring Sts. (212-994-5396). Open May 13-Jun. 2, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Source: Ideal Bite

Monday, May 12, 2008

If Every Business Could be Like Pumpkin's

An Interview with Christina Cassano (Owner) and Chiqui Donnelly (Manager)

What is Pumpkin's Organic Market all about? Providing the community with local and sustainable organic foods and goods while providing an inviting atmosphere in which to shop while supporting small local farms, small distributors, small manufacturers, who are struggling in these times of "chain" merchandising by purchasing their high quality products for our customers.

What is the best part about your job? Control (ha)

What is your favorite product? hmmm organic chocolate covered raisins, yum

What makes you unique from other specialty markets?
We consciously weigh each decision we make concerning what products we offer environmentally, ethically and globally, and encourage our customers to do the same with their buying power.

What message do you hope to send to your shoppers? Our planet is in trouble. It is serious. We can be a part of the problem or a part of the solution.

Make sure to check these guys out. They sell lots of things in bulk - even laundry detergent - and encourage people NOT to use plastic bags (sounds like our challenge!)

Pumpkin's Organic Market
1302 8th Ave Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 499-8539

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Why Should I Pay More For Grass-Fed Beef?

Nathan T. asks Plenty Magazine. . .

The response (in a nut-shell):

Most cattle ranchers focus on getting their cows fat as quicky and cheaply as possible. That means stuffing them with synthetic hormones and corn-based feed instead of letting them roam and feed on grass as nature intended. Their diet which contains corn and stuff you don't even want to hear about, causes ulcers and acidosis. To keep the cattle alive until slaughter, they are fed plenty of antiobiotics (which you then ingest).

Pasture-raised, grass-fed beef comes from healthier, leaner, and more humanely treated animals. It also has more vitamin A, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Plus cows that are free range fertilize their pastures, creating healthy land that actually removes CO2 from the air. Check out American Grassfed Association. Find farmers at your local greenmarket and ask if its grass fed.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Don't Forget. . .

To get out tomorrow and do something. Look at our upcoming events section there are a ton of things going on. One such event is the Grand Opening celebration at the Center for the Urban Environment. This environmental education nonprofit is celebrating its new green digs and inviting people in for tours of a state-of-the-art soon to be LEED certified space, a free Gowanus walking tour, kids programs, and more.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Run Matt and Stephanie, Run!

Here is a very inspiring story about two Canadians who are about to embark on a very long and worthwhile journey - hoping to inspire us along the way. Here is what the Run for One Planet is about...

The Run for One Planet is an ongoing run endeavour focused on inspiring people to get fit and healthy for themselves, and stimulate them to pick up the pace to take action for our planet

The Run for One Planet 2008/2009 North America Tour is our kick-off initiative – a carbon neutral year-long run around the continent by two Canadians, Matt Hill and Stephanie Tait, to inspire Environmental Action. Their goal is to run 1 marathon each day, to inspire 1 million new actions for Earth and to raise $1 Million for their Foundation. To do this, they will be running 11,000-miles into communities, towns, and cities where they will run, speak, and inspire people to take simple daily actions, individually and corporately, to make a positive difference for the health of our planet. Matt and Stephanie hit the pavement on Sunday, May 4 with the BMO Bank of Montreal Vancouver Marathon.

Upon return from the tour, all funds donated to the Run for One Planet Foundation will be used as seed money to launch subsequent Run for One Planet Marathons in cities and towns across North America that we originally ran through in our ‘08/’09 tour. These marathons will act as a whole new way to save the planet – by running for it!

To get involved, visit

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The City Farmer

IN the shadows of the elevated tracks toward the end of the No. 3 line in East New York, Brooklyn, with an April chill still in the air, Denniston and Marlene Wilks gently pulled clusters of slender green shoots from the earth, revealing a blush of tiny red shallots at the base.

Growing up in rural Jamaica, the Wilkses helped their families raise crops like sugar cane, coffee and yams, and take them to market. Now, in Brooklyn, they are farmers once again. Their return to farming began in 1990 when their daughter planted a watermelon in their backyard. Before long, Mrs. Wilks, an administrator in the city’s Department of Education, was digging in the yard after work. Once their ambition outgrew their yard, she and Mr. Wilks, and neighbors, received permission to use a vacant lot across from a garment factory at the end of their block.

They cleared it of trash and tested its soil with help from GreenThumb, a Parks Department gardening program. They found traces of lead, so to ensure their food’s safety, they built raised beds of compost.

They wanted their crops to be organic, a commitment they shared with many other farmers in this grimy landscape. They planted some marigolds to deter squirrels; they have not had rat problems, which can plague urban gardens; and they abandoned crops, like corn, that could attract rodents. They put up fences to thwart other pests — thieves and vandals — and posted signs to let people know that this was a garden and no longer a dump.

They took advantage of city composting programs, got free seedlings from GreenThumb and took courses on growing and selling food from the City Farms project at the local nonprofit Just Food. “The city really has been good to us,” Mrs. Wilks said. “All of the property we work on, it’s city property.”

The Wilkses now cultivate plots at four sites in East New York. Last year the couple sold $3,116 in produce at a market run by the community group East New York Farms.

Read More at NYTimes

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

AFFORDABLE Green Homes in Ocean Hill-Brownsville

OCEAN HILL-BROWNSVILLE — An all-women volunteer construction crew 40-women strong took on an affordable green homes project in Ocean Hill-Brownsville this past weekend.
The annual Women Build, an event sponsored by Habitat for Humanity-New York City, celebrated the power of women working together to help solve the city’s housing crisis and revitalize a low-income neighborhood with a new LEED certified affordable condo unit.

“Women from all walks of life put a new spin on the term ‘home making’ as they united to build the homes for families in need,” a spokesperson said.

The builders included volunteers with no previous construction experience, women who will live in the Habitat-NYC homes, women AmeriCorps volunteer and Habitat-NYC women construction managers. The Habitat-NYC construction managers both taught and helped the novices.

Full Story at Brooklyn Eagle

Monday, May 5, 2008

Right on Target

Target is finally catching up. They plan to unveil their first eco-friendly clothing line at Barney's on May 9-11 in New York. They should pop up in the Atlantic Terminal Target about six weeks later. Awesome!

The collection, designed by Rogan Gregory of Edun and Loomstate denim fame, uses organic cotton, hemp, linen, and bamboo to create a "beach safari vibe" and "relaxed silhouettes."

Says a Target rep, "[Gregory's] expertise at fusing organic material with skillful design will show women everywhere how easy it is to be environmentally conscientious while remaining stylish."
The pieces, which include tanks, hoodies, wrap dresses, and trousers, will range in price from $14.99 - $44.99. Gregory says that Target's buying power has allowed him to use more "dynamic fabrics" at a price that makes the apparel more available to the masses.

Source: Grist

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Greenmarket Comes to Town

For those of you who live in Windsor Terrace, a new greenmarket will be there for your shopping pleasure.

Prospect Park West & 15th Street
inside park entrance
Wed 8am-4pm
May to November

Speaking of the benefits of greenmarkets, check out this guide to making your NYC restaurant local. Courtesy of Glynwood Center, a 225-acre farm, landscape, and conference center in the Hudson Valley. Glynwood helps communities address change in ways that conserve local culture and natural resources while strengthening economic well-being. This includes the daunting task of sustaining local agriculture.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Last Challenge and the Next Challenge

For those brave individuals who joined the No Disposable Water Bottle Challenge! Congratulations. According to our calculations, this effort resulted in us saving a whopping 2,400 water bottles from even being made. Nice Work!

And for the next challenge...

The NO Plastic Bag Challenge!

Given the state of our planet, one of the easiest things we can do to lessen our reliance on nonrenewable resources (such as the oil used to make your handy-dandy smily face plastic bag), is to simply stop using plastic bags. Believe it or not, we didn't always have them, plastic bags came around at major department stores in 1974 and at grocery store check stands in 1977. What a nightmare the early seventies must have been.

Compelling Reasons to go Bag-less

Over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.

Only 0.6 percent of plastic bags are recycled.

Once in the environment, it takes hundreds of years for plastic bags to break down. They break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits which may contaminate soil and waterways and enter the food web when animals accidentally ingest them.

There is a giant floating mass of plastic in the ocean twice the size of the state of Texas.

Go out and get a tote and join the challenge (if you have not already), email and write No Plastic Bags! Please include first and last name and estimate # of bags you use per week.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Breaking the Bottle Habit in Brooklyn

Talk about power in numbers. Tuesday night, Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Co-op, the largest food co-op in the country with over 12,000 members, passed a resolution to discontinue the sale of bottled water. That's 12,000 people who will be discouraged from using plastic water bottles.

Despite NestlĂ©’s attempts to dissuade members against a favorable vote, over 150-200 members showed up at the meeting (unprecedented attendance) and only 1 or 2 voted against the measure. The initiative was put forward by a few members of the co-op who have been working the past few months to educate other members about the importance of the resolution. It is a great inspiration for other activists around the country to initiate a conversation with their local co-ops and restaurants about discontinuing the sale of bottled water.

Source: Corporate Accountability International