Monday, June 30, 2008

An Interview with Camilla Boutique on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn

What is Camilla Boutique all about?
Camilla Boutique is a completely eco-friendly boutique that carries men's, women's and children's clothing as well as accessories and home goods. It's still challenging to find stores that carry eco-friendly products, so I wanted to provide a one stop shop for those interested in green items.

What is the best part about your store?
That everything is both eco-friendly and stylish! It's also important to me to support small and local designers so I love providing a venue for imerging designers to showcase their work.

What message to you hope to send to your shoppers?
I want to demonstrate that you don't have to sacrifice style to be environmetally friendly. I also want to help make people more aware of the impact that their purchases have on the environment.

What's coming soon?
Shoes! I'm also going to start hosting events at the store a few evenings a month so check my website for updates.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Goodbye To You, Styrofoam

Living in NYC, many of us get take-out frequently, aside from an abundance of packaging, most of which cannot be recycled, the worst offender by far is styrofoam. There are roughly 100 cities across the U.S. that have adopted a ban or strict regulations on Styrofoam or polystyrene food packaging. Most cities with the ban require restaurants, food service providers, vendors, supermarkets as well as city government buildings to use biodegradable food containers as an alternative.

Until this happens here in NY, encourage restaurants to steer clear of styrofoam and use alternative packaging - even considering composatble packaging which customers have the option to pay a surcharge for. Worth it.

A main factor in banning the #6 plastic for use in to go food containers is that it has become a huge problem in polluting the world’s waterways. It is also a major component in unsightly litter that California claims to be responsible for 15 percent of the litter collected from storm drains.
Monetary penalties are usually imposed upon businesses who do not comply with the ordinance. While most cities with these bans in place are found along the west coast, its appeal to the greening of the consumer conscience is catching on throughout the country. There is even legislature being debated on the state level in New York called the Food Service Waste Reduction Act whose goal is to find suitable, affordable, environmentally friendly alternatives that are compostable or recyclable and within 15 percent of the cost of non-compostable or non-recyclable products currently in use. The bans have the potential to reduce millions of pounds of polystyrene waste.

Berkeley, CA
The City of Berkeley was one of the first communities to adopt a food packaging ordinance.Type: Expanded Polystyrene Ban; Requirement that 50 percent, by volume, of takeout food packaging be recyclable or compostable.Date: Enacted 1988.

Oakland, CA
Type: Expanded Polystyrene Ban; Requirement that all takeout food packaging be compostable; Contains affordability clause.Date: Effective June, 2006.

San Francisco, CA
Type: Expanded Polystyrene Ban; Requirement that all takeout food packaging be recyclable/compostable; Contains affordability clause.Date: Effective June, 2007.

Freeport, Maine
The Town of Freeport was one of the first U.S. municipalities to ban polystyrene packaging.Type: The Town prohibits the sale or use of foamed polystyrene food packaging.

Portland, Oregon
Type: The City of Portland prohibits food vendors from using polystyrene as prepared food packaging.

Suffolk County, New York
Suffolk County enacted one of the nation’s first polystyrene ordinances, and was targeted by the plastics industry with a lawsuit attempting to repeal the ordinance.Type: Restaurants in Suffolk County are prohibited from using foamed polystyrene or PVC food packaging or utensils.

Seattle, WA
Seattle proposed a ban on the use of expanded polystyrene containers and cups in all restaurants.Type: The ban applies to all food service businesses and includes some of the EPS packaging used in grocery stores such as meat and vegetable display traysDate: The ban begins Jan. 1, 2009.

Source: Earth911

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hold the Water Bottle

The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution Monday to phase out city spending on bottled water. "Cities are sending the wrong message about the quality of public water when we spend taxpayer dollars on water in disposable containers from a private corporation," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, adding, "The fact is, our tap water is more highly regulated than what's in the bottle." Millions of barrels of oil go into plastic-bottle manufacturing, and cities spend some $70 million annually on bottle disposal. Though the new resolution is not binding, it received strong support, and more than 60 mayors across the country have already canceled bottled-water contracts.

We should all be doing this.

Source: Grist
Learn more about the Mayor's Climate Protection Center

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Basics on LEED

LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings.The LEED® (The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ was first developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998 as a way to encourage the development and implementation of green building practices.

The LEED system is based on a whole-building approach, and evaluates building performance across six categories:
Sustainable Sites
Water Efficiency
Energy and Atmosphere
Materials and Resources
Indoor Environmental Quality
Innovation and Design Process

Projects must meet certain prerequisites and performance benchmarks within each category, and are then awarded Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification based upon the number of credits they achieve. The LEED plaque is recognized proof that a building is environmentally responsible, profitable, and a healthy place to live and work.

Currently, specific LEED programs exist for:
New Commercial Construction And Major Renovations (LEED-NC)
Guidelines for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects (Based upon LEED-NC)
Existing Building Operations And Maintenance (LEED-EB)
Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI)
Core And Shell Development (LEED-CS)
Homes (LEED-H)
Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND)
Healthcare (currently under development)

Some Stats:
$12 billion: Annual market for green building products and services
$1.1 billion+: Square feet of LEED registered or certified commercial building space
6,000: Individual homes in LEED pilot program
54,567: Professionals trained through LEED workshops
38,710: LEED Accredited Professionals
10,735: USGBC member organizations
1,004: Commercial LEED certified projects
7,315: Commercial LEED registered projects
46: Percent of LEED projects owned by federal, state or local governments
41: Countries with LEED projects
50: States with LEED projects, 22 with LEED initiatives for projects
55: Cities with LEED initiatives
(Source: USGBC, August 2007)

To Learn more, visit USGBC or Green Depot - your local green building supplier. Pictured above: interior of Center for the Urban Environment

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Thank Goodness for the Plastic Bag Challenge

In 2004 two oceanographers from the British Antarctic Survey completed a study of plastic dispersal in the Atlantic that spanned both hemispheres. “Remote oceanic islands,” the study showed, “may have similar levels of debris to those adjacent to heavily industrialized coasts.” Even on the shores of Spitsbergen Island in the Arctic, the survey found on average a plastic item every five meters.

Back in the 1980s, the specter of fouled beaches was a recurring collective nightmare. The Jersey Shore was awash in used syringes. New York’s garbage barge wandered the seas. On the approach to Kennedy Airport, the protagonist of “Paradise,” a late Donald Barthelme novel, looked out his airplane window and saw “a hundred miles of garbage in the water, from the air white floating scruff.” We tend to tire of new variations on the apocalypse, however, the same way we tire of celebrities and pop songs. Eventually all those syringes, no longer delivering a jolt of guilt or dread, receded from the national consciousness. Who could worry about seabirds garotted by six-pack rings when Alaska’s shores were awash in Exxon’s crude? Who could worry about turtles tangled in derelict fishing nets when the ice caps were melting and the terrorists were coming?

Then, too, for a while it seemed as if we might succeed in laying this particular ecological nightmare to rest. In the mid-1980s, New York’s sanitation department began deploying vessels called TrashCats to hoover up scruff from the waterways around the Fresh Kills landfill. Elsewhere beach-sweeping machines did the same for the sand. In 1987 the federal government ratified Marpol Annex V, an international treaty that made it illegal to throw nonbiodegradable trash — that is, plastic — overboard from ships in the waters of signatory countries. The good news for the ocean kept coming: in 1988, Congress passed the Ocean Dumping Reform Act, which forbade cities to decant their untreated sewage into the sea. In 1989 the Ocean Conservancy staged its first annual International Coastal Cleanup (I.C.C.), which has since grown into the largest such event in the world. But beautification can be deceiving. Although many American beaches — especially those that generate tourism revenues — are much cleaner these days than they used to be, the oceans, it seems, are another matter.

Not even oceanographers can tell us exactly how much floating scruff is out there; oceanographic research is simply too expensive and the ocean too varied and vast. In 2002, Nature magazine reported that during the 1990s, debris in the waters near Britain doubled; in the Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica the increase was a hundredfold. And depending on where they sample, oceanographers have found that between 60 and 95 percent of today’s marine debris is made of plastic.

Plastic gets into the ocean when people throw it from ships or leave it in the path of an incoming tide, but also when rivers carry it there, or when sewage systems and storm drains overflow. Despite the Ocean Dumping Reform Act, the U.S. still releases more than 850 billion gallons of untreated sewage and storm runoff every year, according to a 2004 E.P.A. report. Comb the Manhattan waterfront and you will find, along with the usual windrows of cups, bottles and plastic bags, what the E.P.A. calls “floatables,” those “visible buoyant or semibuoyant solids” that people flush into the waste stream like cotton swabs, condoms, tampon applicators and dental floss.

The problems are global because the sources of plastic pollution are far-flung but also because, like emissions riding the winds, pollutants at sea can travel.

Do your part, cut down your plastic.

Learn More at the NYTimes

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Birds, Turtles, and Racoons...

Are some of the animals you will spot at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. One Green Team member flew out and landed on the Osprey platform taking in the expansive 9,000 acre natural refuge. There are over 260 species of birds there, lots of interesting vegetation including prickly pear cactus, and its terrapin breeding season right now. Along the way, we spotted three terrapins (a kind of turtle), one of which had just buried its eggs and was patting dirt over them to keep them safe and out of site. A huge racoon trotted along the path...ah nature. The visitors center is green as well. The lobby floor is bamoo, the titles are made from cork, the counters and shelves are made from sycamore (which causes little stress on the earth) and wheat board (which smells like hay!). There is lots of natural light, sensor activated lights and skylights, and they use geothermal heating. Take the A train one stop past JFK and its about a 1/2 mile walk. There is a picnic area before you enter the refuge where you can sit and eat. A great way to spend time out in nature right here in NYC. And its free (but you should make a donation). Learn More.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

No Worries Bike Riding (for a little while)

On Monday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled "Summer Streets." For three Saturdays in August, pedestrians and cyclists will enjoy exclusive access to a contiguous stretch of city thoroughfares running from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street. No cars allowed. Alright!

We're talking about a path more than half the length of Manhattan -- 6.9 miles, to be precise -- where people can walk, bike, shop, and otherwise enjoy the city free from the intrusion of motor vehicles.

The core idea behind Summer Streets, according to Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, is to change the way people view the city. "We're really committed to treating our 6,000 miles of streets as more than just travel corridors, but as really vital public places," she said at the press conference. "For many of us, our streets are really our front yards and this new initiative will allow us to enjoy them free of vehicles."

While plans for congestion pricing in New York have suffered setbacks, the launch of Summer Streets may help shore up public support when the idea resurfaces. It also figures to strengthen the hand of advocates fighting for a safer, expanded bike network. Perhaps the most encouraging news is that its spreading: El Paso staged its variation on Ciclovía last summer, and other American cities -- including Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Portland -- are also preparing major car-free events, setting the stage for policies to reduce car dependence.

Source: Grist

Monday, June 16, 2008

Some Stuff You Should Know

Biodynamic: organic crop cultivation that emphasizes the interrelationship of soil, plants, and animals.

Carbon footprint: the amount of greenhouse gases emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels due to human activities.

Cradle-to-cradle: an efficient, waste-free production technique - all materials are recycled, reused, or composted.

Greenwash: to pretend you're green when you're not in order to impress potential customers or friends.

Light-green: making incremental, not drastic, life changes to help the planet.

Locavore: someone who prefers eating locally produced food.

Sustainable: capable of continued production with no long-term effect on the environment.

Xeriscape: landscaping that incorporates drought-resistant plants and doesn't require much watering.

Daily Bite

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Broadway's Doing it Right

Dr. Allen Hershkowitz from the Natural Resources Defense Council joined Broadway producer David Stone and a few others to host an informal gathering about the future of Broadway’s environmental initiative.

Stone said that he was inspired after watching An Inconvenient Truth and immediately adapted more eco-friendly practices into his hit musical Wicked, including partnering with the New York Restoration Project to restore a public community garden at West 150th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in upper Manhattan.

Broadway producers, organizers and theater owners from across the board were all present and spoke about ways they were planning to make a difference. The team at Wicked talked about how they’ve embraced a myriad of changes such as, consuming less paper by use of email, creating a hazard waste disposal pickup, recycling just about everything, incorporating the use of electric timers and replacing many light bulbs with eco-friedly alternatives.

Source: Ecorazzi

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shift In Style Trends

For those of you who took the No New Clothing Challenge earlier this year and have tried to keep up with the mission of the turns out you are not alone. Be it a recession, or a new collective awareness for the environment, vintage shopping is in!

When Conscience and Closet Collide
Published: June 12, 2008
REVIEWING her wardrobe earlier this season, Elizabeth Marvin had a moment of reckoning. “How did this closet become so massively overstuffed?” she mused, disconcerted by the sight of so many Marni jackets, Chloé bags and Jimmy Choo shoes jostling for space on the racks. “From my green perspective, part of me feels guilty about being such a major consumer.”
“People are really resenting designer prices,” she says.
But Ms. Marvin, the New York sales director for the National Audubon Society and a self-described “major environmentalist,” felt neither so guilty nor so strapped that she planned to stop shopping cold turkey. “Instead of buying that Chloé jacket that I want right now,” she said, “I’m much happier purchasing something at a consignment store that is much less.”
In recent months, high-end designer resale shops have been the beneficiaries of a subtle shift in consumer thinking, as fashion lovers, even those who can afford to splurge, reassess their priorities. Unsettled by continuing recession fears and the soaring prices of designer clothes, and assailed by queasy consciences as well, many find these shops a way to update their wardrobes without seriously denting their bank accounts — or their sense of social propriety.
“Everyone is feeling the pinch these days or knows people who are feeling the pinch,” said Linda Kenney Baden, a prominent lawyer in New York. “It’s good to buy a used car again, and it’s chic to buy used clothes.”
Article Continued on-line New York Times

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We've already posted about the Magazines is Excellent (ReMix) campaign, but you should now keep your eye out for green ReMix bins in every NY park, and toss your rags in. Remember the New York City Sanitation Dept.'s motto - IF YOU CAN TEAR IT, WE CAN TAKE IT! Happy Recycling.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

It's Hot As Hell...

We wonder why....

EPA and Sally Glover, founder and editor of Living Green Toronto, has some suggestions on beating the heat and keeping the environment in mind as much as possible while doing so.

Reduce your home power use to help reduce brownouts or blackouts and smog/air pollution. Turn off nonessential lights, televisions, games, and computers, and unplug chargers.

Try taking an alternative form of transportation to work, such as a bus, train, bike, or even walking.

Throw open doors and windows in the evening and close them in the morning to seal in the cool night air. Keep your shades drawn during the day to prevent the sun from cooking through your windows.

Use ENERGY STAR approved fans to keep air circulating — they use 90 per cent less electricity than air conditioners. The Aerodynamic Turbo-Aire High Velocity Fan (available at Home Depot) uses less electricity than a 100W light bulb and delivers 100 per cent more air than conventionally designed fans.

Install energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs around your home — regular incandescents give off more heat and add to your energy bill.

Drink plenty of fluids, wear light clothing, and stay indoors

Stock your freezer with icy treats such as sliced watermelon or homemade fruit-juice popsicles.
Trees can provide relief from summer heat and reduce the amount of energy required to cool your home. According to some estimates, properly planted shade trees could save you 10 to 50 percent in air-conditioning costs.

Stay out of direct sun and wear organic/natural sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher

And one of our low-budget ones: wet a washcloth and apply to your face, works pretty well.

EPA Tips for Dealing with the Heat or visit Living Green Toronto

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Trip to the Barge

One Green Team member flew over to the West Side, landing on Pier 84 with minutes to spare until the free daily tour about the Science Barge. Well worth the trip, any visit will learn just how amazing this vessel is. First everything on it is salvaged or eco-friendly. The office is a discarded shipping container, the picnic tables are made from recycled plasic, the wood for the doors and windows was purchased at Build it Green NYC. The power sources? Solar panels that move with the sun, wind turbines (that don't get much action more of a demo), and a biodeisel engine which uses waste cooking oil. They use rain cisterns to water their plants, but when there's no rain they use a filter with pores sooo tiny even a virus cannot get in - the result? Hudson River water cleaner than your tap! Onboard they grow tomatoes, melons, cucumbers (vertically to save room!), bok choy and other leafy greens. To do this, they use a matter made from rocks which the seeds are placed into. the roots are exposed and the plants are fed by water filled with nutrients courtesy of some catfish - no soil. Very cutting edge science, worth checking out.

Till the next floating, self-sustaining scientific vessel...

learn more

Friday, June 6, 2008

Land of Plenty

The Brooklyn Green Team was featured in this months Plenty Magazine available in stores now.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Students Follow the Light Towards Self-Sustainability

As a part of the 2008 Habana Labs workshop series, students from New York City's Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School have designed and built The Off-Grid Outlet which is a solar powered AC outlet and 12V DC power port. The Off-Grid outlet will mainly function as a charger for laptops and other portable devices in the courtyard of Brooklyn Ecoeatery, Habana Outpost where patrons will be invited to "plug into the sun" while visiting the restaurant.

The students where led by Jeff Feddersen, director of Habana Labs and Tim Cooper, an educator at Little Red School House/ Elizabeth Irwin High School. During the creation of the Off-Grid Outlet, the students discovered that following the sun is a non-trivial, real-world robotics challenge. The problem is further complicated by the particulars of the panel's ultimate location, which will only receive direct sunlight for about half the day. Using LEGO Mindstorms robotics kits, the students have been able to solve the problem and on June 11th, they plan to take it on a test drive at Habana Outpost.

Habana Works is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides free programs that educate, unite and engage community members around improving human and natural habitats. Created by artist and restaurateur Sean Meenan, these programs use art, architecture and design as tools to engage and instill a greater understanding of the community's role in the betterment of the planet. Current Programs include Urban Studio Brooklyn (USBK), Habana Labs, Kid's Corner and Garden Works.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tips to Take-Out

We all love the comforts of grabbing some good Indian or Chinese food home and chowing down in our pajamas. The downside of take-out is how to take-it-out of the store. There is soo much packaging that goes along with food to-go. Here are some tips to reduce the environmental burden of your dinner:

Bring your own bag

If it's a smoothie or a coffee - maybe not opt for a top and/or straw if you are drinking it there, better is to bring your own mug

Ask to leave out napkins, disposable chopsticks, sauce packets if you have a million in your drawer anyway, and menus

Ask about packaging - even if they have nothing better than styrofoam (we hate even writing the word), at least put the bug in the store owner's mind that maybe they should explore less harmful options

Recycle and/or reuse your packaging. Don't crumple the aluminum foil with the wax paper and toss - recycle the foil, reuse the plastic tub at least once before tossing

When you must take it to-go, try ordering food that doesn't require lots of sauces and dips, and individualized containers and go for a sandwich or wrap which uses less packaging

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Heart PV For a Solar-Powered New York
PV stands for photovoltaics, an advanced solar power technology that converts sunlight into electricity. I Heart PV is a citizen driven advocacy campaign, launched by Solar1, striving to achieve legislation supporting the broad adoption of clean, renewable solar power in the world's greatest city and throughout New York State.
Why PV?
Less air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,
Greater security against rising electricity costs and power failures, and
More jobs and economic development in the Big Apple and throughout the Empire State.
The I Heart PV campaign aims to realize NY's solar power potential through direct legislative action. To find out more about I Heart PV's specific actions and how you can get involved visit or contact