Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paper Cuts

NRDC offers a sweet guide to home tissue products shopping. Forests are being destroyed to make toilet paper, facial tissues, paper towels and other disposable paper products. You can help stop this destruction by pressing manufacturers to use recycled content and clean manufacturing processes, and by making smart shopping decisions.

Download the Wallet-Sized Guide

Contribute to NRDC (because they are fighting on behalf of all of us to protect the planet)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Green Competition for Schools

DoSomething.org is an organization that focuses its energy on youth empowerment. Its programs encourage young adults to find issues they care about, from racism to global warming, and take action! This year they are sponsoring the Increase Your Green Competition for middle and high schools across our country. Schools are encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint by saving energy, reducing waste and increasing awareness about the environment. The competition begins on October 13th and lasts for 8 weeks. All participating schools will be competing for a first-place prize of $1,500 and 3 second-place prizes of $500. All winners will also be featured on DoSomething's website and in the local press. Click here to register your school today!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Be Bag Smart

It's manufactured in China, shipped thousands of miles overseas, made with plastic and could take years to decompose. It's also the hot "green" giveaway - the reusable shopping bag.  One such bag features "Saving the World One Bag at a Time."  Now, we're not trying to give you a hard time, it's certainly great to use these bags rather than take new plastic bags each time you're at the store.  It's important before you invest in such a bag to see where it's made, whether it's organic, and whether you need it (you may already have 6 bags at home!).  "If you don't reuse them, you're actually worse off by taking one of them," says Bob Lillenfeld, author of the Use Less Stuff Report, an online newsletter about waste prevention. And because many of the bags are made from heavier material, they're also likely to sit for a long time in the landfill. 

According to the article, the good news is if you do use your bag at least once per week, you can save up to 520 plastic bags from being used!

Bottom line - make sure you're using your reusable bags (and try to find ones made in the U.S. either from recycled or organic materials) and you're all good. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008


While the state of the economy seems bleak, there is great also opportunity, as we as a nation search for a solution.  On September 27th people will gather all over the country to let their local, state and national politicians know that going green will not just save the Earth, but also the economy.  Add your voice, be heard, and make a change.  Most importantly, take pictures of you and your friends with signs indicating you are ready for green jobs now. Send them into the national campaign and send a message. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Set a Good Recycling Example

While all recycling programs are different, here’s five materials that do NOT go into your recycling bin. Show off your sweet recycling skills to your neighbor with these tips:

Pizza Boxes!
1. Food Waste
Paper is recycled by mixing shredded fiber with water to make new pulp. Well, you may have learned in chemistry class that oil and water don’t mix well, so oil stains won’t simply dissolve in the water. Instead, you’ll get new paper that still has oil stains. Oil is a pretty common cooking ingredient, meaning that it’s a likely remnant for lots of different foods. You’ll be able to tell the difference between a water stain and an oil stain because oil won’t evaporate over time.

Paint-Stained Newspaper
2. Hazardous Products
Say it with me: anything that comes into contact with hazardous waste becomes hazardous waste. This is why most paper towels and napkins are unrecyclable; they either clean up food waste or hazardous waste (e.g. cleaners, motor oil, paint.
When you’re painting the walls, you don’t want to get the floor dirty, so often people lay down newspaper. Well, if paint drips on the newsprint, it belongs in the trash instead of the recycling bin.

Paper Cups
3. Plastic/Wax Lining
Plastic and wax lining is too difficult to separate during the recycling process. The exception is plastic windows in envelopes, because they can be easily detached by a filter leaving behind just paper. Use your reusable mug instead.

4. Pressure-Sensitive Adhesives (PSAs)
Not to be confused with public service announcements, these PSAs refer to anything that you can peel and stick without moisture. They are difficult to filter out and don’t dissolve in water (although the adhesive does), meaning they could be lodged in equipment.
You may know them by a corporate name, and you also may find the bright colors user-friendly. Extra complications arise when the bright colored notes are attached to white paper, as white and colored paper are separated when recycled (like when you do laundry). Address labels, stamps and even tape fall into this category as well.

Wet Paper, Paper Towels, Napkins
5. Wet Paper
You may be wondering why wet paper is a contaminant if the paper will be drenched with water prior to recycling anyway. The answer is that exposure to water shortens paper fibers, making it less valuable. If your curbside program or local recycling center can’t sell the paper to a mill, there’s no point in collecting it for recycling.
This is yet another reason to not try and recycle napkins or paper towels. As a good rule of thumb, make sure your paper recyclables are covered if it’s raining.

Source: Earth911

Monday, September 22, 2008

Know the Law

NYC's Electronic Equipment Collection,Recycling and Reuse Act

Starting July 1, 2009, under NYC's Electronic Equipment Collection, Recycling and Reuse Act (Local Law 13 of 2008), New Yorkers can return used electronics to the manufacturer for recycling. After July 1, 2010, it will be illegal for New Yorkers to dispose of these items in the trash.

The following electronic equipment will be covered by Local Law 13 (of 2008):
portable digital music players

While cell phones are not covered by NYC’s new electronic recycling law, current New York State law requires that all cell phone service providers in the State accept cell phones for reuse or recycling from any person at no cost (limit 10 per person per day).

Responsibilities of electronics manufacturers
Local Law 13 (of 2008) requires electronics manufacturers to set up take-back programs by July 2009 for their products in NYC. If new electronics are purchased, manufacturers will have to accept for recycling any branded product similar to the ones sold to the consumer. Details of manufacturer take-back programs will be available once they have been implemented.

Costs to recycle electronics
Local Law 13 (of 2008) requires electronics manufacturers to accept electronics from NYC residents, small businesses, and nonprofits at no cost. Electronics manufacturers may charge a fee to other businesses (over 50 full-time employees) and governmental entities.

Electronics disposal: residents
Until July 1, 2010, NYC residents can legally discard unwanted or broken electronics (computers, monitors, TVs) in the trash, but recycling these items keeps hazardous materials out of the waste stream and the environment. Visit electronics recycling for info on current electronics recycling options.

Electronics disposal: businesses, nonprofits, government agencies
If not donating unwanted electronic equipment for reuse, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation currently requires all businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to dispose of unwanted electronics through dismantlers and recyclers. After July 1, 2010, according to NYC Local Law 13 (of 2008), it will be illegal to dispose of certain electronic equipment covered by the law in the trash.

Role of the NYC Department of Sanitation
DSNY is responsible for reviewing and approving all electronic waste management plans submitted by electronics manufacturers. These plans are due on September 1, 2008, and will outline how manufacturers will accept and recycle electronic products covered by Local Law 13 (of 2008). DSNY is also the agency in charge of enforcing NYC’s new electronics recycling law.

Learn More

Friday, September 19, 2008

An Interview with Green Boroughs

What is Green Boroughs? What is your niche in the environmental sector?
The mission of Green Boroughs is to help people discover the greener side of New York City from the perspective of the consumer and of the business person. Our niche is sustainability education for New Yorkers.

What's so green about the LES?
The neighborhoods of the East Village and L.E.S. are green in a couple of ways. First of all, there are more community gardens in this area than in any other part of New York City. The community gardens provide access to nature for thousands of New Yorkers that would not have it without these gardens. Secondly, there is a large concentration of green businesses in this area mainly, because rents are lower than in other parts of the City. Additionally, there are a few examples of green affordable housing in this area that are worth special attention.

What goes into designing one of your tours?
My tours are designed with 3 three questions in mind: Where are the coolest and greenest retail stores, green buildings, community gardens and other green places in NYC?
What neighborhoods offer the most green places to visit in a small area?
What businesses, community gardens, and other green places would be most accomodating to a tour group?

We see you are collaborating with GreenEdge Collaborative NYC on this one - is collaboration important in the green sector?
Collaboration is vital in the green sector. We have to put aside our tendency to compete for business, for attention, and for revenue. The only way we can all succeed in making New York City more sustainable is to collaborate and help each other.

Come join the tour this weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leave Work Early, Head To Green Brooklyn...Green City!

On Thursday, September 18th, the Center for the Urban Environment will host Green Brooklyn…Green City—drawing over 3000 residents from all five boroughs to a full day symposium event at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. “Green Brooklyn…Green City is unique in its sheer size and breadth,” says Aisha Glover, Director of Public Affairs and organizer of the event, “its New York City's largest showcase of green and sustainability issues, programs, and products.”

At the 4th Annual Green Brooklyn event, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies come from across the five boroughs to share ideas with the public about how to live greener in their everyday lives. This year’s partnership with Greenmarket expands the event exponentially and couples the great work of the Council on the Environment of NYC with the Center’s own innovative programming.

With over 75 exhibitors on site, attendees can learn first-hand from local experts about socially conscious investing, how to solar your building, choosing non-toxic home products (and of course where to buy them!) how real urbanites compost, shopping eco-chic, and what New York City is doing to create a more sustainable future. Some are ‘events within events’ like the film showing of King Corn, a documentary that tells the seed-to-plate story of a crop that drives our nation—and a sustainability panel for nonprofits that features a number of community leaders, including pioneering nonprofits such as Sustainable South Bronx, Fifth Avenue Committee and Solar One.

Learn More

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Calling all Teachers - Curriculum Materials for Educators!

As a teacher and a member of the Brooklyn Green Team, I am always looking for ways to teach my students about issues facing our environment. The NYC Department of Sanitation provides a wealth of information and curriculum materials on recycling that can be used in classrooms. The following is offered free of charge on their website:

  • school recycling guides
  • signs and decals to label recycling bins
  • coloring books for Pre-K - 1st grade
  • TrashMasters! comics for elementary school students
  • information on the Golden Apple Awards, a waste-prevention and recycling contest for NYC schools
  • NYC Teachers' RRResource Guide: RRR You Ready?, a comprehensive guide that includes lesson plans, activity sheets, dvds, and a glossary.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How Clean is the Water You Drink?

In time with Brooklyn Green Team's Five-Minute Shower Challenge (to join the three-month eco-challenge email brooklyngreen@gmail.com "I shower fast!"), consider clicking on the below link to let your Congress member know you support the Clean Water Restoration Act

The Clean Water Act of 1972 implemented broad federal protections for all our nation's waters. But misguided Supreme Court rulings in 2001 and 2006 opened the door for polluters to contaminate various waters that had previously been protected — putting the drinking water for millions at risk! Now, Congress has an opportunity to restore the original protections of the Clean Water Act with the Clean Water Restoration Act.

Contact your Members of Congress to insist that they support the Clean Water Restoration Act. This legislation may seem like a no-brainer, but House and Senate Members are under pressure from corporate polluters to allow them to continue to contaminate our precious water supplies. This reckless contamination has put the drinking water for more than 110 million Americans in jeopardy! If enacted, the Clean Water Restoration Act would restore the scope of protections Congress intended when the Clean Water Act was written.

It would:
Restore protections to drinking water at risk for contamination.
Streamline enforcement among federal, state and local governments providing better protection of sensitive areas.
Help ensure water and wetlands used for recreation and animal habitats are kept free of contamination, disease and bacteria.

Sources: League of Conservation Voters, CREDO Action from Working Assets

Send Your Message!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Facts on Our Backyard Biodiesel

Tri-State Biodiesel, a national company which has their offices here in NYC, focuses on the development and implementation of urban, recycled oil-based biodiesel projects. Founded by 12-year biodiesel educator Brent Baker, Tri-State Biodiesel and its affiliates believe that all used cooking oil generated by U.S. restaurants should be captured and processed into biodiesel as part of a national sustainability strategy.

As you've likely read there is lots of controversy over the environmental concerns of efficacy. TSB would like to allay some of those misconceptions about their product. For example

Myth: Biofuels contribute more to global warming gasses than they
mitigate; the rational being that if you burn down rainforest to plant more crops you would create more CO2.

Fact: While this may be happening in certain countries it is not happening in the US. In fact, a recent report from National Geographic showed that all biofuels reduce the
volume of life-cycle carbon compared to fossil fuels. In the case of corn ethanol the
reductions are meager, but in the case of biodiesel, long range EPA and NREL studies
show a 78% reduction in life-cycle carbon emissions.

Read more myth-busters about biodiesel!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Close Those Doors!

Mayor Michael Bloomberg today signed a first of its kind law prohibiting businesses from wasting energy by blasting air conditioning out open doors and onto city sidewalks to attract customers. This new energy conservation measure could become a model for municipalities across the country that are seeking to conserve energy, reduce local global warming pollution, and relieve summer peak demands on their power supplies.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) assisted City Council staff on technical aspects of this legislation (Intro. 264) and pushed for it to become law. An analysis commissioned by the NRDC found that a business with a typical 6 foot by 7 foot doorway in New York City wastes up to $1,000 dollars and about a ton of CO2 in a summer if it leaves it’s door open with the air conditioning on.

Learn more at NRDC

Friday, September 5, 2008

E.P.A Issues New Engine Rues

WASHINGTON — Announcing what it called new “surf and turf” standards, the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday set stricter antipollution rules for engines that run pleasure boats, lawn mowers and weed trimmers.

The agency said the rules would take effect in 2011 for lawn and garden equipment of 25 horsepower or less, and in 2010 for a wide range of inboard and outboard boat engines. Meeting the requirements will probably mean that catalytic converters, standard in modern cars, will become commonplace in lawn-equipment and boat engines.

Americans could save about 190 million gallons of gasoline each year. But the agency said the public health benefits would more than compensate for initial consumer costs, and environmentalists agreed. “Cleaner lawn mowers mean less summertime smog and healthier air for millions of kids,” said Vickie Patton of the Environmental Defense Fund.

A cleaner Hudson.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Green Building

GreenHomeNYC is a volunteer-run nonprofit organization that promotes environmentally sustainable urban buildings. They offer monthly forums, guided tours of green buildings and a wealth of information about building methods and materials for small building owners in New York City. Whether a tenant or an owner, check out GreenHomeNYC's website to learn more about how you can make your home greener, healthier and more comfortable!

For example, on their website you can find info the Brookyn Children's Musem and other green buildings in NYC. . .

Full of color and light, the Brooklyn Children's Museum's adventurous expansion, designed by renowned architect Rafael Viñoly, brings the home of the world's first museum dedicated to children above ground for the first time in 25 years. The $42 million project will double the 103-year-old Museum's size to 102,000 sq.ft., increasing its capacity from 250,000 to 400,00 visits anually. Due to open in 2007, the enlarged entrance at the corner of St. Marks and Brooklyn Avenues in Crown Heights will feature an entry hall that can accommodate the simultaneous arrival of families and several school groups. State-of-the-art technologies will make it the 1st green children's museum in the nation.
Construction/Renovation Year: 2006
Size: 53282LEED Registered/Certified

Green Energy Features
Geothermal Heat Pump
Energy Efficiency Features: Daylighting

Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Speaking of green things/places/events in BK, Green Edge NYC is hosting an Eco-Tour Scavenger Hunt in Brooklyn this Saturday, September 6, from 4:30-7PM. Meet new friends as your search the borough for the greenest restaurants, businesses, buildings and parks. Click here to learn more!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The company Seventh Generation has based its business on the following ideal:

Seven generations sustainability is an ecological concept that implores the current generation of humans to be working for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future. 
"In every deliberation we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine."
- Great Law of the Iroquois

Below is an article from Seventh Generation addressing back to school supplies:

Seventh Generation
The weather forecast may still say "summer," but in millions of homes around the country, the calendar has a different message: another school year is almost here, and with it the season for new clothes, fresh supplies, and all the other gear that kids will need to continue their adventures in learning.
Though it's a time-honored ritual in many families, back-to-school shopping is a tradition ripe for reconsideration. The purchasing choices we make for the new school year will have a lot to do with how safe our children stay and how healthy our world remains. Here's our lesson plan for making sure that your back-to-school experience is as sustainable as it is educational:

• Lowering your back-to-school consumption will pay off both economically and ecologically. Consider just how much new stuff you really need to buy. Chances are it's less than you think! Look around your home to see what can be reused, repurposed, and recycled from older siblings.
• Consider buying quality used clothing instead of brand new items.
• For finding recycling and reuse ideas, New American Dream offers a useful
Back to School Reality Check and a separate Quiz that can help you reassess your needs.
• New or used, beware of products made from soft vinyl plastics (a.k.a. PVC), including notebooks, pencil cases, backpacks, and lunchboxes. Vinyl manufacturing is one of the world's most toxic enterprises and PVC can contain lead and/or phthalates that leach out to harm our kids' health. Choose natural materials instead. You can also consult The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice's new Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies.
• Test for lead in lunchboxes. Homax Lead Check, Lead Check Household Lead Test Kit, and Lead Inspector are reliable options for finding out whether lunchboxes and other items contain lead.
• Another contaminant to watch out for is bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is used to manufacture popular #7 polycarbonate plastic water bottles. BPA can leach out of materials that contain it and is a potent endocrine disruptor. Bottle your child's daily beverage supply in stainless steel water bottles to keep the BPA away.
• When shopping for school supplies, avoid disposable products and look for sustainable options like refillable pens, rechargeable batteries, dispenser-less tape refills, and similar items.
• Choose products that use the least amount of packaging.
• Buy in bulk whenever you can. The price per piece is almost always lower, and you'll save on packaging and prevent multiple trips back to the store.

By taking these ideas to school, you'll be teaching your kids to be smart caretakers of their health and good stewards of the world they'll inherit. And that's a lesson that we think everyone should learn!
For more information visit Seventh Generation's website:


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

ÖKO-Friendly Local Business

Summer may be coming to an end but I found a place to beat the end of summer blues.
OKO is a a organic, all-natural Frozen Yogurt shop that not only promotes a healthy life style but also a healthy planet. Their little shop is an inspiring eco-friendly haven that has furniture and counters tops made from sunflower cork-screw and all their products are served in recyclable, biodegradable packaging.

Hats off to the owners of Oko (which means Eco in several European languages) for bringing a eco-friendly dessert option to Brooklyn.

Oko frozen yogurt & tea
152 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Monday, September 1, 2008

Green Roof lands on Con-Ed

Con Ed's building in Long Island City Queens now has a green roof on it - its first.
The green roof was installed on the quarter-acre rooftop of ConEd’s Learning Center in Long Island City. The Learning Center was created in 2004 at Silvercup Studios, when Con Ed helped raise funds for its installation. Con Edison also backed an educational project comparing green and cool roofs on the American Banknote Building in the South Bronx for Sustainable South Bronx.

This project’s 21,000 plants are excepted to allow the Learning Center to save up to 30% on the cost of cooling the facility at peak hours. Additionally, the green roof is expected to retain 30-70% of storm water runoff, regulating the flow of water into the city’s drainage system—potentially preventing delays in the subway system caused by flooding and preventing sewage overflows into local waterways. The project has been done in collaboration with Columbia University’s Center for Climate Systems Research. The project will be used by the university to analyze energy savings, the roof surface temperature, and air quality improvements associated with green roofs.

Source: TreeHugger