Saturday, February 28, 2009
Yellow Pages Goes Green is a campaign for the movement against unsolicited phone book delivery and a campaign for moving legislation to mandate the stoppage of this activity.
Most residences receive more than one phone book and many people, not knowing what to do with the unwieldy tome, simply throw them away instead of recycling. The movement is not intended to stop the manufacture and use of phonebooks, but rather to provide them only to those who request/order one.
What goes into making 500 million phone books?
-19 million trees need to be harvested
-1.6 billion pounds of paper are wasted
-7.2 million barrels of oil are misspent in their processing (not including the wasted gas used for their delivery to your doorstep)
-268,000 cubic yards of landfill are taken up
-3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are squandered
Help raise awareness! Visit the Yellow Pages Goes Green website for more information, a link their blog, and an Opt Out link to sign up to say, "I don't want a phone book, thank you!"
Thursday, February 26, 2009
We thought this was timely as our friends over at GreenEdge are screening the film Black Gold on Saturday. Learn more about the screening.
While chemicals and clear-cutting in the coffee farming process directly impact the environment, the larger issue of humane treatment of farmers looms large over your cup of Joe. When selecting a green coffee, GY recommends seeking overall sustainability: Look for Fair Trade coffee first, which ensures that farmers are paid a living wage for their product and work in safe conditions. (Small farmers usually employ environmentally friendly farming methods.) Next, seek out Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee, which protects both farmer and environmental health. If these coffees are not available, then seek out the individual certifications of organic or shade-grown coffee.
Choose Fair Trade Certified coffee
Choosing Fair Trade Certified coffee helps you go green because...
It promotes ecologically sound, small-scale farming practices.
It supports the economic and social welfare of small producers in developing agricultural communities that do not have the financial means to afford chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Coffee-based drinks are the most widely consumed beverages in the world alongside water. In the United States alone, 400 million cups are drunk by an estimated 56 percent of the adult population on a daily basis. This high demand makes the crop itself one of the world's most valuable commodities, second only to petroleum, and supports an industry that employs 25 million people around the globe. Coffee—which is made from the roasted seeds or beans of the coffee tree—is produced both organically and conventionally in 53 countries, with Brazil and Colombia being the most active producers. When grown conventionally, coffee is treated with more chemicals in the farming process than any other product farmed for human use, except tobacco.
The coffee crisis
Coffee production is currently in a state of crisis—an imbalance of supply and demand has been created due to a rapid increase in production, especially in Indonesia and Vietnam during the 1990s, that has failed to match the slower increase in consumption. Not only has this affected both farmers and natural ecosystems as more land is cleared for production, but the price of coffee now hovers near historic lows. Since the late 1980s when coffee-exporting nations generated approximately $10 to $12 billion from the crop annually, revenue has dropped to around $5 billion, according to the International Coffee Organization. In countries that rely on coffee exportation as a central source of revenue, the total losses exceed monetary aid. This has led to social unrest, rural unemployment, and illegal immigration.
What is Fair Trade?
The practice of fair trade helps to alleviate the worldwide coffee crisis by ensuring that coffee farmers receive a living wage for their product——a minimum of $1.26/pound. In this way, fair trade is designed to foster an economically stable relationship between North American consumers and farmers in Asian, Latin American, and African countries, while also promoting safe, humane labor conditions. In the United States, Fair Trade Certified coffee is marketed under strict guidelines set forth by TransFair USA, a nonprofit organization that monitors fair trade practices in developing agricultural communities under the umbrella association Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO). These guidelines, based on the seven principles of
Fair Trade established by the Fair Trade Federation, are:
Fair wages: Coffee farmers receive a minimum price for their crop and an extra price premium if their coffee is certified organic, guaranteeing that they make a living wage.
Fair labor conditions: Safe working conditions and no forced child labor are key.
Direct trade: Importers buy the cocoa from Fair Trade producer co-ops as much as possible to allow farmers to develop business acumen and to cut out middlemen who take part of the profits.
Democratic and transparent organizations: Decisions about how to invest revenues are made democratically by the farmers and farm workers.
Community development: Money is invested in social and business development projects that farmers and workers decide upon such as scholarship programs, organic agriculture training or building health clinics.
Environmental sustainbility: Protection of the environment is an integral part of farm management, with restricted use of fertilizers and pesticides and no GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Farmers are encouraged to work toward organic certification, but are not required to do so. When coffee is both Fair Trade Certified and Certified Organic, it will display two separate labels signifying this. Because fair trade coffee producers are commonly small holders who are unable to invest in environmentally damaging practices, such as synthetic pesticides and clear-cutting, many agree to grow certified organic products and direct premiums toward concerns such as health care, education, and housing.
Choose Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee
Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee is good for the environment—it's grown under natural shade cover with minimal to no chemicals—and ensures the fair treatment of farmers.
Choose organic coffee
Conventional coffee crops are treated with environmentally hazardous chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic coffee is the chemical-free alternative, safer for you and the Earth.
OUR PERSONAL FAVORITE…Buy a reusable mug
Kick the disposable tea or coffee cup habit and reach for a reusable mug for your next to-go beverage. We’ve got stainless steel coffee mugs, tea infuser mugs, and more.
Choose shade-grown coffee
Coffee grown in natural shade discourages forest clear-cutting, which preserves the habitat of native bird species, and the overuse of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Choose reusable or recycled coffee filters
When brewing your own coffee, opt for reusable or recycled coffee filters to cut back on paper waste.
Recycle your coffee grounds
In lieu of adding to landfills by throwing nutrient-rich coffee grounds in the trash, use them as an effective, organic lawn and garden fertilizer and composting element.
Buy bulk food to reduce packaging waste
Grande-size your coffee purchasing by buying your beans from bulk bins. This will save on packaging (especially if you bring your own bag), which is key given that many coffee containers are not recyclable.
Choose eco-friendly packaging
Many grocery stores and coffee shops will allow you to bring your own container to be re-filled with coffee—a great way to green your coffee.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Driven by greater consumer access to recycling programs and new markets for recycled materials, plastic bag and film recycling increased across the U.S. in 2007, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
The latest National Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic Bags and Film Report by Moore Recycling Associates, Inc. estimated 830,180,000 pounds of post-consumer film (including plastic bags and product wraps) was recovered, a 27 percent increase from 2005.
Since these reports are for 2007, they do not take into account the numerous mandatory bag recycling laws and initiatives various states have put in place since then. Additionally, the report noted the challenges in measuring export markets for plastic film, consequently having incomplete data for a growing sector of plastic film recycling.
“More Americans are recycling plastic bags and film than ever before, driven by a growing recognition that plastic is a valuable resource – too valuable to waste,” said Steve Russell, managing director for ACC’s Plastics Division. “Recovered plastic bags and wraps can be recycled into many useful products, including durable backyard decking, fencing, railings, shopping carts and, of course, new bags.”
Many companies are built on the premise of utilizing recycled plastic bags and films to create the new products that Russell mentioned, like TREX, who manufactures recycled construction materials. In fact, Dave Heglas of TREX noted that the company recycled over 2.5 billion pounds of plastic over the last decade.
While composite lumber continues to be the major market for recycled plastic bags and film, there has also been a significant increase in the amount of post-consumer recycled film that went into new film and sheet applications.
Hilex Poly, a leading plastic bag manufacturer, established a program that recycles old bags into new ones called Bag-2-Bag®. In 2008, Hilex recycled the equivalent of 400 million bags and reduced its use of new material by eight million pounds.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The water tastes great. We conducted a taste-test.
Using TDS meter makes you feel like a scientist.
They recycle the filters (you have to throw it in the mail and send it to the company).
It does take a long time for the water to filter through, however that's because its doing its job to remove all the detected dissolved solids (you know how pesky those are)
AND it even has a spout so you don't have to take it out of the fridge (although then you're keeping the door open too long)
The best review though is a father to a green team member who remarked "that thing has lines like an ocean liner." when referring to its streamline shape.
Read what the National Geographic Green Guide said.
The final analysis: We liked it.
Bokashi is wheat bran which has been inoculated with molasses, water and Efficient Microbes–a blend of yeasts and bacteria which are helpful rather than harmful. What's it for? Composting, of course. The use of bokashi allows you to eliminate the use of newspaper and cardboard and enables you to compost fish and meat!
Bokashi also makes for a quicker composting process. Rich organic compost and bio active soil can be achieved within a month and a half rather than 3 or more months of turning a compost pile. Also, the microbes keep away fungi and bugs.
For more information and a complete explanation of the process, click here.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is the third most commonly used thermoplastic polymer and is used in construction, toys, clothing, and upholstery, just to name a the few of the products we are in nearly constant contact with every day. Needless to say, PVC is an environmental toxin and considered to be the most toxic plastic.
It's ironic that this harmful substance has even worked it's way into yoga practice, but fear not. There are eco-friendly mat alternatives, such as those made from plant fibers or natural rubber. A quick google search for eco mats will bring up a lot of info. Do your research and see what feels comfortable for you.
Read an article about PVC mats.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Beth Barnes from Frankfort, Kentucky uses a dorm-sized minifridge.
Duncan Campbell has been without a fridge for three years. His is a mostly bean and grain centered diet and he cans vegetables from his garden.
This may sound radical and the Brooklyn Green Team is not likely to present the No Fridge challenge any time soon, and while experts say that refrigerators use less energy than you would think, it's a lifestyle choice that makes a statement. Perhaps when others hear of the huge, seemingly impossible sacrifices other everyday people are making, the steps we need to be taking right now won't seem so overwhelming.
According to Marty O'Gorman, vice-president of Frigidaire, about 380 kilowatt-hours a year are used by an 18-cubic-foot Energy Star-rated Frigidaire. The cost to homeowners is around $40 dollars a year. Frigidaire's smallest minifridge averages out to about $34.
This kind of living would most likely be easier for those who live alone and for those who have more time to plan and cook meals (no more t.v. dinners or frozen pizzas). Some critics believe the lifestyle would result in more frequent trips to the store, since perishable foods would have to be purchased on a day-to-day basis. This is time consuming and uses more gasoline for car trips. For those who live within walking distance of the grocery store, this wouldn't be an issue.
Congratulations to those brave souls adventurous enough and environmentally committed to making such a huge change. For the full story and tips on how the rest of us can save energy with our fridges, click here.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Are working on behalf of our youth to get all the gross stuff out of their milk. Food & Water Watch is launching a campaign to get rBGH-free (artificial hormone free) and organic milk into the National School Lunch Program. The current information on health effects due to rBGH milk is too little. The milk options available to school children are too few. We're working to develop legislative advocates that will put language into the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, allowing public schools the option to specify rBGH free milk in their food bids.
We need your help.
SIGN THEIR PETITION TO CONGRESS.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Mayor Bloomberg released today New York City-specific climate change projections developed by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) that show climate change poses real and significant risks to New York City. According to the report of the panel, which consists of leading climate change scientists, academics, and private sector practitioners convened by the Mayor and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, New York City will face higher temperatures and more rapidly rising sea levels, as well as more frequent and intense extreme weather events – like heat waves, heavy rainstorms, and coastal flooding – over the course of the century. The report will be used to inform the actions of the City's Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which was appointed last summer and is made up of City, State, and Federal agencies, regional public authorities and private companies that control critical infrastructure in New York City. "The climate change projections developed by our expert panel put numbers to what we already know – climate change is real and could have serious consequences for New York if we don't take action," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The projections developed by the NPCC will be used by our Adaptation Task Force to create a plan to protect the City's critical infrastructure and will inform other City efforts to adapt to climate change. Planning for climate change today is less expensive than rebuilding an entire network after a catastrophe. We cannot wait until after our infrastructure has been compromised to begin to plan for the effects of climate change now."
"Using global climate models and local information, the New York City Panel on Climate Change projects that by the end of the century New York City's mean annual temperatures projected to increase by 4 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Annual precipitation is also projected to increase by 5 to 10 percent, and sea levels to rise by 12 to 23 inches. Recent evidence, however, including accelerated ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica, suggests that sea levels could rise at a faster rate than projected by the existing models – potentially to 41 to 55 inches by the end of the century. While this "rapid ice-melt" scenario does not have the same level of confidence associated with it as those developed by the global climate models, the NPCC included it in their projections given the large impact it would have on the City should it occur. The report also projects that extreme events – such as heat waves, short periods of intense rain, droughts, and coastal flooding – are likely to become more frequent and more intense. In contrast, cold day events, where the temperature drops below freezing, will decrease in frequency. By the end of the century, New York City could experience: Approximately 2.5 to 4.5 times more days per year over 90 degrees than experienced on average from 1971-2000; Approximately 2.5 to 4 times more heat waves (as defined as three consecutive days over 90 degrees) a year than experienced on average from 1971-2000; More frequent, intense rainstorms; A current 1-in-10 year coastal flood about once every 1 to 3 years; and A current 1-in-100 year coastal flood about once every 15 to 35 years. The New York City Panel on Climate Change is modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
City Council member David Yassky just introduced a bill that would create a process for beekeeper licensing in NYC. Currently its illegal as they are considered "wild animals." The ban persists despite the creation of federal policy which promotes beekeeping such as the Pollinator Habitat Protection Act of 2007 and Pollinator Protection Act of 2007. Yassky is sponsoring an amendment to the City's administrative code which would allow the Comissioner of Health to issue, deny, suspend and revoke licenses, as well as penalize non-compliant beekeepers (those are the worst). More info, including ways to support it, can be found at Just Food, who has been working on this along with the Council Member.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Available online or at Stinky Brooklyn, 261 Smith St., Brooklyn. Map It (718-522-7425). New York Area Food Wheel, $11.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
It’s a simple concept: we have endless roof space in New York City, why not use it for the good of the city? By putting grass and plants on rooftops, or even by simply painting roofs white to reflect rather than absorb radiant heat from the sun, building owners will be helping the environment and getting a tax abatement of up to 90%.
Green roofs soak up storm water and absorb carbon dioxide. Yassky pointed out that a green roof will lower the energy costs of the building itself and also those of surrounding buildings. He also stressed that while the main goal was to create better air quality in New York City, there was an aesthetic aim as well: a rooftop covered in green plants is a more appealing than a sticky black tar roof.
The new proposal will expand the already existing J-51 Property Tax Exemption and Abatements which offers tax incentives to building owners for a variety of building rehabilitation work.
Of the 14 firms that the sisters had invited to submit proposals, BKSK ultimately wooed them with a plan that features rooftop gardens, water heated by solar power, rainwater collection, natural light and ventilation and the use of environmentally sensitive materials throughout. BKSK is no stranger to this field; the firm has also designed a new green building at the Queens Botanical Garden and is drawing up plans for what will potentially be a new “eco-synagogue,” the Sephardic Synagogue, in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
Now it is the sisters’ turn to go an even deeper shade of green, which raises the question: Why would a community of nuns, devoted as they presumably are to spiritual matters, take the relatively unusual step of embracing environmentalism so energetically? “It’s a question of stewardship,” said Sister Faith Margaret, a Staten Island native. “Of responsibility.” The site of the new building is currently an empty lot. But if all goes as planned, then by the spring of 2010, the eight nuns of the Community of the Holy Spirit, most of whom are in their 50s and 60s, will be living in a home that reflects the environmental ethos that has become a central tenet of their lives.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Basically, Tokodi takes the time to cultivate moss, cut and sculpt it, then place it around her neighborhood to take root.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
-President Barack Obama
Brooklyn Green Team and GreenEdge Collaborative NYC Presents...
YES WE CAN Volunteer Challenge
Solar One usually needs volunteers for each of their major events: Citysol, Dance, Film, Sun to Stars and Revelry by the River. Right now they have no major events but keep up to date with their events calendar and contact them if you would like to inquire about volunteering.
Stuyvesant Cove Park
Stuy Cove Park has a dedicated group of volunteers that help take care of the beds and planters, and periodic public volunteer days. Volunteer days will show up on the events calendar. If you would like be a volunteer, go to the contact page.
Brooklyn Greenway Initiative
Sign up now as a volunteer. BGI is always looking for volunteers to help out with upcoming events, so please check out what they have coming up, including a ongoing monthly Greenway clean-ups. Help them build the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway!
Million Trees NYC
Help Million Trees NYC reach their goal to plant and care for one million trees in New York City, thus increasing the city's urban forest.
Lower East Side Ecology Center
Become part of making NYC water a place to play. Make composting available to more New Yorkers. Help people recycle their electronics.
Take Back the Tap
Food and Water Watch has partnered with Riverkeeper to protect New York water and educate our communities about water issues. We have great plans for the spring, and if you are interested in contributing to our campaigns to protect our food and water and push for more sustainable, just, and healthy policy, sign up to get involved!Volunteer opportunities include:-helping out at fun water and food related events such as film screenings, workshops, and conferences-adopting-a-restaurant for our Take Back the Tap campaign-getting your school workplace, or community to Take Back the Tap by drinking our Wonderful New York City water as opposed to buying yet another imported plastic bottle!FOr more information, please call or email Rachael Barmack Richardson, our volunteer coordinator in NYC: (917) 733-0434 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Prospect Park Alliance
Gain experience and spend time doing something you love while making a real difference in the lives of all who benefit from Prospect Park and Park services. Volunteer contributions include:
• Woodland restoration, including cleaning, greening and planting.• Visitor outreach and education, including leading guided tours.• Office help• Special Skills: Carpentry, Photography, Information Technology• Working with children and nature at the Audubon Center.
New York Cares' goal is to meet community needs by mobilizing New Yorkers in volunteer service. New York Cares has lists of hundreds of organizations to volunteer for!
Join One Brick for a relaxed and social volunteer environmental experience. After each volunteer session, One Brick invites volunteers to gather at a bar or cafe to socialize.
Keep America Beautiful
Keep America Beautiful's volunteer activities included beautifying parks and recreation areas, cleaning seashores and waterways, handling recycling collections, picking up litter, planting trees and flowers, and conducting educational programs and litter-free events.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Volunteers help weed, mulch, plant and keep Brooklyn Bridge Park clean. Then they kick back and enjoy the view from this fabulous waterfront park. To get involved, e-mail Patricia McDannell, Programming Director at email@example.com. Or call Taylor Black 718 802 0603, ext. 18.
New York Restoration Project
New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is dedicated to reclaiming and restoring New York City parks, community gardens and open space. In partnership with the City of New York, NYRP is also leading MillionTreesNYC – an initiative to plant and care for one million new trees throughout New York City’s five boroughs by 2017. Since the organization’s founding by Bette Midler in 1995, NYRP has achieved dramatic results by investing in the greening and beautification of underserved communities throughout New York City. 212-333-2552
Conference House Park
Conference House Park volunteers remove invasive plant species, preventing their spread and encouraging our native plant and animal community to recover. They also prepare for planting, broadcast seeds, or mark plants with flagging.
Help Audubon Naturalists track North American bird populations February 14 & 15, 12 - 1:30 p.m. at the Prospect Park Audubon Center.
Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE)
Office of Recycling Outreach and Education are currently looking for Outreach Volunteers to assist staff in events and special recycling collections. All volunteers must attend a training on conducting community outreach on environmental issues and on the city's curbside recycling program. Contact Jae Watkins, Recycling Outreach Coordinator at (212) 788-7973.
Council on the Environment of New York City
Council on the Environment of New York City has a variety of volunteer opportunities at their website and you can apply online. Volunteer Coordinator 212-676-2081
The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy volunteers help build bridges, create trails, monitor properties, count turtles, remove invasive species, stuff envelopes, organize files, lead hikes and much more. Volunteer Opportunities are available in Long Island and New York City. For a list of opportunities, call the New York City offices at (212) 997-1880, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York ReLeaf
New York ReLeaf creates partnerships between forestry professionals and dedicated citizens, harnessing the financial resources of government and the private sector. For more information, contact the New York ReLeaf Coordinator in Albany at 518-402-9425 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Let us know what you chose and we'll put you on our blog.
Know of more opportunities? Tell us and we'll post them.
POW. YOU'VE BEEN GREENED!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
#5 plastics include yogurt containers and medicine bottles, among others. Simply collect your #5's at home (you can also set up a collection bin at work, if you are willing to transport it to the nearest Whole Foods) and bring them with you next time you go shopping.
Not all Whole Food stores are participating yet, so click here for a list of participating stores.
For the whole story, including how to recycle Brita filters, click here.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
"New York City has one of the highest asthma rates among children in the country. This past week, the Council took two major steps to improve air quality and reduce the harmful health effects of engine idling, particularly around city schools. First, we passed legislation that, among other things, cuts the amount of time vehicles can idle in front of public and private school facilities from three minutes to one minute. We also passed legislation authorizing the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Sanitation to enforce idling restrictions citywide (in addition to those agencies currently authorized to enforce them). By tightening idling restrictions and boosting enforcement, we can better protect our kids' health, clean up our air and help make our neighborhoods healthier places to live. Thank you for allowing us to share this important news with you. If you would like to receive additional news and updates about the Council's work on important issues, including the environment, please visit us online at www.council.nyc.gov. Just click on the "Sign Up for E-mail Updates" link at the top of our webpage and select the issues that most interest you and your community."
Applause all around!