Thursday, July 31, 2008

Virtual Tree Tour

A new online tour of Prospect Park’s most notable trees. 14 of the Park’s rarest, most unusual, oldest, and tallest specimens are displayed on a simple, clickable map. Each click triggers a window with more information and three beautiful images.

Click Here to learn about your favorite Borough's trees

Monday, July 28, 2008

Unconventional Gas

After years of false starts, a new industry selling motor fuel made from waste is getting a big push in the United States, with the first commercial sales possible within months. . .

Pine waste from a national forest near KL Process Design Group in Wyoming is used to make ethanol, a substitute for gasoline. Many companies have announced plans to build plants that would take in material like wood chips, garbage or crop waste and turn out motor fuels. About 28 small plants are in advanced planning, under construction or, in a handful of cases, already up and running in test mode.

The incentive to make fuel from something, anything, besides oil and food is greater than ever. Moreover, the federal government is offering grants to help plants get off the ground and subsidies for one type of fuel of $1.01 a gallon, twice the subsidy it historically offered to ethanol made from corn.

Tellingly, the type of companies placing bets on the field has started to expand. The earliest were small start-ups founded by people with more technological vision than business experience. Now some of the giants of global business, including Honeywell, Dupont, General Motors, Shell and BP, are taking stakes in the nascent industry.

The potential fuels include ethanol, which can be blended with gasoline, or other liquids that could displace gasoline or diesel entirely. Government studies suggest the country could potentially replace half its gasoline supply in this way — even more if cars became more efficient.
The government is pushing to get the industry off the ground. Legislation passed last year mandates the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year by 2022, less than half of it from corn ethanol. Almost all the rest is supposed to come from nonfood sources, though the requirement could be waived if the industry faltered.

In the meantime, before you can fuel your car with a rotten banana, compost your food scraps and close the loop.

source: NYTimes

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Perfect Timing!

As the Brooklyn Green Team's No Plastic Bag Challenge winds down...

New York City Plastic Bag Recycling Law to Take Effect July 23

The New York City Plastic Carryout Bag Recycling Law, recently passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Bloomberg is set to take effect July 23, 2008. This new law requires certain stores to establish recycling programs for plastic film such as shopping bags and dry cleaning bags. Stores (of 5,000 square feet or more) are also required to sell reusable totes and include recycling messaging on disposable bags. The law applies to retail or wholesale establishments selling products and providing plastic carryout bags and with either 5,000 or more square feet of retail space or 5 or more stores located in the City. It should be noted that the New York State Legislature recently passed a similar law, however it increases the size threshold of stores that would be subject to the law from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet and is preemptive legislation that would take effect in 2009 if signed by the Governor. Nevertheless, many stores have already established plastic film recycling centers in preparation for July 23.



Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Beauty is only Skin Deep

I had a frustrating experience at Sephora this week as I scanned the aisles for a bronzer that was a color I like, low in toxicity and packaged responsibly. Although the staff did their best to help me, I realized that the FDA does not require companies to test their own products for safety. So even if you purchase a product that has "All-natural, Organic or Green" written on the label there is no government organization regulating the production of these products.

Lucky for us the Environmental Working Group has created a fantastic web-database called Skin Deep that pairs ingredients in more than 25,000 products against 50 definitive toxicity and regulatory databases, making it the largest integrated data resource of its kind. It is a great way to research cosmetics before purchasing them. They have even added sunscreens to the database - just in time for the summer!

Check it out at: