Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Raising Greener Kids

A new edition to the blog, guests! Our friends at Green Apple Kids have joined us...enjoy      Guest Blogger Cindy del Rosario Tapan of Green Apple Kids

My two-year-old daughter, Amihan, likes to take the garbage out. Of
course, since we are in an apartment building, and the trash compactor
is just a few feet away – it’s a relatively painless thing to do. But
as she grows and becomes increasingly curious (and increasingly
chatty) about the world around her, I can’t help but think about how
different her world is from the one that I have come to know.

Recycling is a fairly new idea, and when I was little – the thought of
separating the trash would have probably seemed a little ridiculous.
In fact, some people might think it still is.  But every time I give
Amihan a piece of garbage, I have to distinguish whether it goes in
the regular garbage or the recycling bin. As we dump our unwanted
stuff into one of the three containers in our refuse room, she asks,
“What’s that for?” and “Why that go there?”

It might seem like a relatively small step, but I’d like to think that
in explaining that this bin is for the paper items, that bin is for
the plastic and glass items, and that chute is for all the other stuff
– she’s learning a little more about how to care for the planet. She’s
learning things that I have just come to understand myself.

That’s why I’m working with Green Apple Kids to teach children of all
ages the many fun, easy ways to go green. We host workshops that
demonstrate a slew of different eco-friendly ideas for our youngest
minds. Our next one is this Saturday, May 2nd, and we’ll be learning
about the power of the wind. Kids will be able to make this neat
little device called an anemometer, from reusable objects. I hope you
can join us. We’ll be at the Williamsburg Branch of the Brooklyn
Public Library at noon.

I’ll be guest blogging here on behalf of Green Apple Kids from time to
time. Our slogan is, “Greening young minds before they are polluted.”
It is my hope that my little girl’s mind will stay clean for some

Learn more about Green Apple Kids.
Learn more about Recycling at CENYC's Office of Recycling Education and Outreach.
Find some cool recycling activities for youth at EPA.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Little Green Help

The NYC Department of Youth and Community Development's newly launched Green Corps Internship program could be the help you need.  They are offering talented and ambitious youth interns to green businesses and organizations for summer 2009.  Interns undergo a competitive selection process to join the program and are selected based on achievement, interest, dedication, and demonstrated leadership qualities.  They receive support by DYCD and are paid by the City of New York Summer Youth Employment program.  If interested, contact Karuna Ramachandran, Project Manager, at or 212.227.7175.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sweet Event For People Who Love Recycling!

Us Green Team members love recycling and even more, when it's done correctly. 

The Office of Recycling Education and Outreach (OROE) a program of Council on the Environment of NYC works tirelessly to educate residents on how to properly recycle here in NYC.  Show them your love by going on a sweet cruise hosted by CENYC...

Join CENYC for cocktails, Greenmarket-inspired food, a silent auction, music, dancing and great giveaways as we enjoy one of the first nights on the water of 2009 in support of recycling in NYC. 

Cruise the Hudson River and New York Harbor featuring scenic views of Manhattan, aboard the Queen of Hearts, a 3-level paddlewheel ship.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
6:00 PM - 9:30 PM 

PIER 40, West Side Hwy & W Houston St
75 bucks gets you drinks, snacks, live music, and a cruise on the water at sunset.  If you work for a nonprofit, it's only 50$

Honoring: Honorable Congressman Michael McMahon, Edward Skyler, Deputy Mayor for Operations, Anthony Pratt, CE0, Pratt Industries

Purchase Tix.

Learn More.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Gowanus Debate

Read the NYTimes article on the Superfund designation of the Gowanus. . . 
What are people thinking about the EPA's designation? Find out what's going on in your own backyard. 

photo: Andrea Mohin/NYTimes

Friday, April 24, 2009

Go Wild (flower) in NYC!

May 2 - 9, NYC Wildflower Week is hosted by the Torrey Botanical Society as a way to re-engage New Yorkers with the natural heritage so beloved by our namesake, John Torrey. The 2nd annual NYC Wildflower Week celebrates all things green and wild in the Big Apple—the hundreds of native flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses that are found in the five boroughs. It gives New Yorkers numerous ways to connect with and be inspired by their local environment. Free activities throughout the city include: botanical walks, garden tours, ecology lectures, children’s events, planting opportunities, cooking classes, and food tastings at top restaurants. Learn More about events near you.

New York City native plants include mosses, ferns, grasses, sedges and rushes, wildflowers, trees, shrubs and woody vines. Over thousands of years, native plants have adapted to the climate, soils and environmental conditions of our locality. This site-specific evolution is reflected in their genetic makeup. Sculpted by nature, the plants found here have become perfectly suited to New York City living. They are an integral part of our ecosystems, and the building blocks of our local biodiversity.

About the Torrey Botanical Society: The Society promotes the exploration and study of plant life, with particular focus on the flora of the New York City metro area. Today, it fosters and supports floristic curiosity through indoor meetings (lectures), outdoor meetings (plant walks), fellowships that support graduate study, and publications. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Legislation Introduced for NYC Buildings

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today announced the world’s most comprehensive package of legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing government, commercial, and residential buildings.  A six-point plan, when enacted as part of PlaNYC, will dramatically reduce the City’s energy usage and save consumers money, while simultaneously creating thousands of well-paying jobs and significantly reducing New York City’s carbon footprint.  The six-point plan consists of four pieces of new legislation and two PlaNYC programs that will achieve carbon reductions, train workers for the estimated 19,000 construction jobs that will be created, and help finance energy-saving improvements using $16 million available from theAmerican Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The plan will also result in cleaner air, since emissions from boilers, furnaces, and local power plants will also be reduced.  According to the PlaNYC inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, almost 80 percent of New York City’s carbon footprint comes from buildings’ energy use. Once implemented, the legislation announced today will reduce citywide emissions by 5 percent, the equivalent of eliminating all carbon emissions from Oakland, California.

New York City Energy Code Bill
Currently, New York is one of 42 U.S. states using the standard energy code known as the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).  However, New York is the only state that amends this code with a loophole that allows buildings to skirt the energy code if they are not taking on massive renovations.  A critical component of NYC’s Green Buildings Plan is to move beyond this amendment and create an NYC code that would require all buildings to comply with the un-amended version.  This means any time a renovation takes place in one of NYC’s 1 million buildings, this work would be required to conform to a set of easily applied standards, resulting in both a significant energy reduction and cost savings.  

Benchmarking Bill
This legislation would require a benchmarking standard for all City buildings.  Benchmarking is the practice of evaluating a building’s energy efficiency so a building owner can identify what improvements he or she should make. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online benchmarking tool to track buildings’ annual energy and water consumption.  Tracking allows building owners and operators to see how efficiently their buildings function and enable prospective buyers to better assess the value of a building.  Benchmarking provides the basis for empowering building owners to take steps towards minimizing energy use and maximizing the economic benefits of energy conservation.

Audits and Retrofits Bill
This legislation would require owners of existing buildings over 50,000 square feet to make cost-effective energy efficiency improvements to their buildings once every ten years by conducting an audit, retro-commissioning, and retrofitting their building. Buildings will undergo energy audits with results determining the necessary improvements to be undertaken, including insulating pipes, replacing inefficient lighting, and installing low-flow water fixtures. The legislation requires spending by building owners for only those retrofits that will pay for themselves in less than 5 years through energy-related cost-savings.  Many of the required measures are low- to no-cost. Those savings will then continue beyond recovery of initial outlays. This bill would apply to all classes of buildings over 50,000 square feet, both private and City-owned, and will cover nearly half of the built square footage of New York City.  

Lighting Upgrades Bill
In New York City, lighting accounts for approximately 20 percent of the energy used in buildings and roughly 20 percent of a building’s carbon emissions.  The proposed legislation requires that lighting systems in buildings over 50,000 square feet be upgraded to meet the requirements of the New York City Energy Conservation Code. Over the past few decades, there have been rapid improvements in lighting technology, which have resulted in a dramatic reduction of energy use.  By addressing lighting in the building sector, New York City can dramatically reduce its CO2 emissions.

Green Workforce Development Training
To address the increased demand for energy auditors, contractors, construction workers, and other related professionals, the City has been working with key stakeholders in the labor and real estate sectors, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to identify the workforce needs and opportunities created by the legislation.  This will ensure that there is an adequate supply of skilled technicians to implement the legislation.  The legislation will be a key economic driver in the green economy, creating an estimated 19,000 construction jobs as part of the Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan

Green Building Financing
Retrofits pay for themselves, reduce utility bills and improve buildings' financial health.  However, some owners may not have the ability to finance these improvements upfront.  To begin to assist owners, New York City will establish a revolving loan fund, using $16 million in federal money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Loans will be offered to owners who demonstrate financial need or have already completed an energy audit. Energy savings data will be collected to encourage private sector lending in the long-term. 

Source: PlaNYC

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Earth Day 2009

Volunteer with us this Saturday, APRIL 25 at Prospect Park. 10am-2pm @ Prospect Park Grand Army Plaza entrance (2/3 to grand army plaza). Join us in fulfilling the YES WE CAN Volunteer Challenge as part of Hands-on New York Day! Bring your closed-toe shoes and long pants and do some weeding, path edging, sweeping, and general clean-up. RSVP by emailing and let us know the number of people you plan on bringing.

Greenmarket Head to the Union Square Greenmarket (or another one in your hood that's open on Wednesday) and get all your ingredients and make a local dinner. Click here to see all NYC Greenmarkets.

Search on If you can't resist combing the internet for the latest developments of Miley Cyrus' career, try using this Yahoo-powered search engine that donates a penny per search to your favorite environmental cause.

Support Local (and sustainable) if you're a BK resident. Pop into 3rliving and help them celebrate their 5-year anniversary and make a $1 donation to their recycling services they provide the community. Or pick your favorite mom and pop (sister or brother) in your neighborhood and support them.

Go Outside and sit or stroll in your nearest park or waterfront.

Give to your favorite local charity. There are so many great green groups in NYC. Our YES WE CAN VOLUNTEER Challenge post has a list of organizations worthy of your support.

Plastic-free for the day. Don't purchase or take anything new that's plastic, from the produce bag you grab for at the grocery store to a bottle of Vitamin water. Some inspiration.

Check Out the myriad of Earth Day events in NYC. Check the Earth Day NY or visit our partners at GreenEdge Collaborative NYC for event listings.

Turn Off either your computer, your ipod, your TV, or all of the above for the day.

Spread the News to others and remind them it's Earth Day and to do one good green thing. You could even forward them this email.

Just do one thing and have a great day.

Check out what Al Gore has to say about Earth Day 2009. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Volunteerism We Like!

On behalf of Audubon and TogetherGreen cities across the country that will host TogetherGreen Volunteer Days in celebration for Earth Day 2009!

The TogetherGreen Volunteer Days aim to launch a continuing cycle of positive environmental impact and can help make a big difference in your community. Activities include habitat and trail restoration, river and lake clean-ups, invasive species removal, nest-box building, wildlife and plant surveys, and more! 

Here's the scoop on an upcoming NYC volunteer event:
New York City Audubon Society
5/2/2009, 10 am - 3 pm
With the NYC Park’s Natural Resources Group, we will be planting trees and shrubs at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx. Meet at Van Cortlandt Riding Stables parking lot, on the western edge of the park off of Broadway and 254th Street. Those who come to volunteer will be provided lunch, work gear, and a special token of our appreciation! Please wear clothing and shoes appropriate for working outdoors.

Learn More.

Join the Red Hook CSA

A great way to be eco-friendly and keep money in your community is to participate in a CSA (community supported agriculture).  You're supporting local farmers and local food systems while not purchasing food shipped from all over the world. 

Their pitch:
We are currently looking for as many as 20 members to join the RED HOOK CSA.
Since the 2008 season we have been working with our neighbors to grow what will eventually be an all Urban CSA. Currently about 80% of the produce provided is grown by our team of youth and Adults on Red Hook Community Farm. We have three
work shares left, we accept, credit cards, and EBT.

In addition to receiving some of the freshest produce available you also have the opportunity to be part of a dynamic community. We ask all members to contribute 10hrs of time to support the development of the farm or to further the sustainable development of our community through social, cultural and political action. If you are considering becoming part of our current group of 20 interested you can down load a brochure and a contract from here. Shares will go fast.

Check out the brochure

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 22 - Earth Day!

What is Earth Day?

Earth Day began officially on April 22nd, 1970, when Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson proposed the first nationwide environmental protest. 20 million Americans gathered and organized from coast to coast, to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. For more detailed information, please visit

Earth Day continues to be celebrated on April 22nd, although many groups now organize events on the following weekend. To learn more about other Earth Day events in New York City, click here.

Source: Earth Day New York

Environment Video Winners

Click here to check out the top ten eco-spots chosen by the Just Do One folks. We're still partial to ours. It's on the second page...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Minty Green News

Car sharing service Mint will be expanding into Brooklyn starting May 1st. Initially, the service will be available in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope, with more neighborhoods being added throughout the year. As you know, car sharing is a great way to lower carbon emissions by keeping car ownership down and has become a popular option among environmentally savvy New Yorkers.

New members can use the promo code “BKDeal” when signing up to receive a $50 driving credit.

Mint is exclusively in New York and offers a number of features that separate it from its competition including: newer, cleaner cars available 24/7; rates starting at just $2 per hour with gas, insurance and 180 miles covered; no annual fee for the first year of membership; top notch customer service; and this offer: if someone is already a car share member somewhere else Mint will wave the $25 application fee.

Learn More.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Will The Gowanus Go Green?

Great news! The Enviromental Protection Agency proposed the Gowanus Canal right here in Brooklyn be added to the list of SuperFund sites.

Superfund is the federal government's program to clean up the nation's uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. It allows the EPA to clean up such sites and to compel responsible parties to perform cleanups or reimburse the government for EPA-lead cleanups.

The Superfund cleanup process is complex. It involves the steps taken to assess sites, place them on the National Priorities List, and establish and implement appropriate cleanup plans. This is the long-term cleanup process. In addition, the Agency has the authority

-to conduct removal actions where immediate action needs to be taken
-to enforce against potentially responsible parties
-to ensure community involvement
-involve states
-ensure long-term protectiveness

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke hosted a Public
Information Forum with the EPA to answer questions on April 14th. The EPA explained how the Superfund program works and the nomination process. BGT will keep you posted of the nomination results.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Wonderful Eco-Friendly Store in Brooklyn Celebrates. Join In!

On April 16th, 2004, Samantha and Mark Caserta opened 3r Living, their first eco-friendly home and lifestyle store, on 5th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Five years later, 3r Living now has two locations (Park Slope, Brooklyn and Maplewood, New Jersey), a web store (, a blog and a new ebay shop!
Five years is a real reason to celebrate! Join Samantha and Mark for a little shopping, a glass of organic wine and a light snack on Thursday, April 16th and get 15% off of any item you buy in the Brooklyn store on that day! Mention the anniversary in Maplewood and get the same deal! Online customers can use the coupon code 3rat5 at checkout and receive the discount on the 16th, as well!

What: 3r Living's 5 Year Anniversary
Where: 3r Living (276L 5th Avenue, Bet. 1st Street and Garfield Place, Park Slope, Brooklyn)
When: Thursday, April 16th, Discount valid all day, Wine and Snacks from 6:00-9:00 PM
Come on down and help us celebrate!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Free For All!

The Museum of the City of New York must be crazy to be slashing prices this low! Come on down to their lot on Earth Day and get FREE ADMISSION! FOR THE WHOLE PLANET! and check out the Growing and Greening New York Exhibit.
Two Green Team members recently visited the exhibit and think its great. Very hands on, interactive, and entertaining for all ages and interests.  We highly recommend it and what better way to see it then for free. Plus its Earth Day so afterwards you can run around Central Park across the street and profess your love for the planet. The exhibition will take the visitor through the course of a day-7 a.m. through 2 a.m.-and link routine activities with information documenting their collective impact on the environment, while also offering alternatives for making these actions less harmful to our world and highlighting innovations that will lead to greater sustainability by 2030.  

The complexities of the water system and strategies for reducing the impact of water use on the environment, for example, will be documented in the section of the exhibition that corresponds to 7 a.m., when many New Yorkers shower, prepare breakfast, and brush their teeth.  Mass transit and traffic congestion will be addressed in the "8 a.m." area of the exhibition, in which the city's extensive subway system and its role in reducing vehicular traffic will be highlighted as an inherent urban advantage in the struggle to achieve greater sustainability. 

The massive environmental impact of the city's commercial buildings will be documented in a section of Growing and Greening New York that will correspond to the 11 a.m. hour, in which forward-looking "building green" projects will be explored. Here, plans for new construction will be spotlighted as will innovative and beneficial solutions for existing structures.  Further along-and later in the imaginary day, at 3 p.m.-the exhibition will focus on parks and the importance of open space, not only as a source of respite, but because of its healthful impact on water and air quality. Consumption will be spotlighted in the 6 p.m. section, where the advantages of buying local and buying green will be illustrated, as will strategies for reducing the city’s waste.  

The 8 p.m. hour (in the context of the exhibition) will return the visitor to the home, where individual choices such as how to furnish a home, what type of lighting to use, and which appliances  to buy will be linked to such global issues as solid waste, water quality, and climate change. The nighttime hour of the exhibition, 2 a.m., will showcase-while the city sleeps-an overview of environmental issues facing cities around the world.  At any given "moment" in the exhibition, selected PlaNYC initiatives will be discussed and linked to larger environmental issues, updating visitors on the advantages and challenges of the proposals as well as on their current status. 
 PlaNYC2030 is an ambitious blueprint for New York City as it confronts the prospect of continued population growth and the urgency of protecting the city’s natural environment to improve urban life. Its 127 proposals range from planting more trees to designing better power plants to cleaning up brownfields to building new parks and housing across the five boroughs. Together, they suggest how the city might plan for growth while confronting issues of livability and global climate change.

Growing and Greening New York and PlaNYC will pose vital questions:  How must New Yorkers change to make a sustainable future possible?  How will the daily lives of all New Yorkers, and those who visit New York, be affected by sustainability initiatives at home, in the workplace, and in many of our public and recreational spaces?  What might a more sustainable city actually look like?  

Learn More.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Statement on CUE Closing

In case you don't already know...sorry we're late getting this out, despite the fact that one green team member actually worked there!

The staff of the Center for the Urban Environment is saddened and shocked by the recent events surrounding CUE’s closing this past week.  The 30-year old nonprofit, based in Brooklyn, was one of New York City’s leading providers of environmental education and was always at the cusp of innovative programs and tours, along with its recently launched Sustainable Business Network. 
“We understand it was a difficult decision that was made by the Board of Directors. We had all hoped that a restructuring of the organization would’ve addressed some of the immediate financial concerns—where options of merging or retiring some of our programs could have sustained the organization's life.   Corporations file for bankruptcy and maintain operations all the time.  It’s such a shame to have abruptly ceased our programs to tens of thousands of school children, teachers, businesses, residents, and tourists alike,” said Aisha Glover, former Director of Public Affairs at the Center for the Urban Environment.
“CUE’s best assets have always been its staff and the knowledge and expertise they maintain.  Ideally, we’d find a home for this expertise and our programs would be able to live on.  We are educators, urban planners, tour guides, community liaisons, and artists with knowledge about an array of topics on the sustainability spectrum.  From concepts as complex as energy efficiency and green building design for high school students or adults to activities that use puppetry and hand-crafted board games to teach pre-schoolers about recycling and conservation.  There’s really an enormous amount of talent that existed at CUE and still exists through its staff,” says Michelle Piano, former Manager of Early Childhood Programs.   
 The Center for the Urban Environment provided hands-on educational programs and tours throughout New York City, making a concerted effort to address the great disparity between communities that need this information and communities that actually access it through programs such as its Family Literacy Initiative.  CUE used its 30 year history of educating New Yorkers from all walks of life about how to live, create, and promote a more sustainable future.  Through urban tours, school programs, a sustainable business network, and events and workshops for the public, CUE served nearly 100,000 New Yorkers each year.   

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Public Schools Get the Bench for PlaNYC

Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the Director of the Mayor's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, Rohit T. Aggarwala, today announced that the Department of Education (DOE) has taken a major step towards reducing energy consumption by City schools by analyzing the energy efficiency of the district's 1,260 school buildings through a process called benchmarking. Benchmarking gives a detailed understanding of the efficiency of each building, and helps the Department of Education target efficiency efforts where they will have the greatest impact. The effort is part of the City's overall efforts to achieve its PlaNYC target of reducing municipal government energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2017. Chancellor Klein and Sustainability Director Aggarwala also announced that the Department of Education is the first public school district in the nation to join the Green Schools Alliance, a nonprofit initiative committed to promoting energy efficiency, resource conservation and environmental awareness and responsibility in schools. Through the Green Schools Alliance, schools share experiences and expertise to lower their energy consumption and carbon footprint. Benchmarking is regarded as necessary because a building's energy bills alone do not provide an understanding of the building's efficiency. Benchmarking uses the total energy consumed in a building and adjusts for other factors—hours the building is occupied, total square footage, building type, and other factors—so that an owner or manager can understand whether high energy bills are really due to inefficiency. The Department of Education used the "Energy Star Portfolio Manager" online benchmarking tool, a widely-recognized standard created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the use of this tool is the first step in most professional energy audits and is a pre-requisite for the US Green Building Council's LEED rating for existing buildings. Forty-five private schools launched the Green Schools Alliance in October 2007 in response to Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Since then, the GSA's membership has grown to more than 200 schools nationwide, which participate in myriad GSA programs that motivate and support school communities to make energy and climate a priority. GSA also offers on-line tools and resources to support schools at its Web site. The Department of Education is the first public school system in the nation to join the GSA, and will encourage its schools to participate in the GSA's Green Schools NYC, an on-going school resource-sharing event and the Green Cup Challenge, an annual national, student-driven event that supports school-based efforts to measure and reduce electricity use.
Learn More.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Brooklyn Baby Clothing Swap

What a great way to save money and recycle clothes. Organized by a member of the Brooklyn Green Team, the Brooklyn Baby Clothing Swap is just around the corner, so start cleaning out your closets!

The event takes place on Sunday, May 17th from 12pm-3pm at the Prospect Park Branch of the YMCA at 357 Ninth Street in Brooklyn.

Here's how it works: Gather your gently used baby clothes and gear. Then go to the Brooklyn Baby Clothing Swap website and fill out at item list(available on the site) and price your items. Clothing items range in price from $0.50 to $1.00 and there is a pricing guide to help you. Email your list to the email provided and arrange your drop off day. You will receive a confirmation email and on the day of the swap, you can pick up a voucher that's worth 50% of the value of your donated items. Use the voucher or cash to shop.

All proceeds go to the Strong Kids Campaign (you can still participate in the swap even if you are not dropping off items).
The Strong Kids Campaign raises money to ensure that no child is turned away from the many life-enhancing programs the YMCA offers because of an inability to pay.

Also, in keeping with the Brooklyn Green Team's current volunteer challenge, check out the volunteer opportunities on the website.

Happy swapping!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Another Green Team, Sort Of

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy's Green Team season begins this coming Tuesday evening, April 14th from 6-8pm. The Green Team of volunteers provide critical care for the growing and popular Brooklyn Bridge Park. Get your hands dirty by weeding, planting, pruning, mulching flower beds and cleaning the shoreline. Beautiful sunsets and incredible views included! We meet at the Main Street entrance to the park. To sign up for a Tuesday session, please email Kara Gilmour or call 718-802-0603 x18.

Learn More.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Interdependence Project

We sat down with, well, virtually, Rafi Santo, Activism Director of the NY-based Interdependence Project. Read for yourself to hear what it is all about...

BGT: Where did the idea for the ID project come from?

Basically, the ID project was the brainchild of Ethan Nichtern, a writer and teacher who had grown up in a Buddhist household. Ethan's idea was really a manifestation of a generational shift though, one that recognized the importance of spirituality (so to speak) but recognized that our own lives don't exist in a bubble, and neither should our spiritual practices. Hence our work to apply meditation and principles of interdependence into areas like arts and activism.

BGT: Hit the pavement is one of the groups strategies, we like that, what is that like?
For us, bringing together meditation and activism had to go beyond talk. We wanted to see what would happen if we were actually to decide on an issue that was important to the community and really reach out to people about it. This process of meditation in action has been much more valuable than just acknowledging the linkages between activism and meditation, as it allows us to confront the real internal and interpersonal challenges of making change; the fear that comes with talking to people, the acknowledgment that sometimes we do things for reasons other than the most virtuous one, the messiness of working with people and actually organizing.

BGT: What progress has the plastic bag project made to-date?
For a fully volunteer and grassroots effort, we've actually done pretty well. Over the summer of 2008, we successfully lobbied the Governor as well as members of the State Senate and Assembly to reject a weak bag recycling bill that would have overtaken a stronger city law. But more than anything else, we've successfully built a strong grassroots organization from the ground up in a way that's consistent with our values. That's our biggest success in my opinion.

BGT: How can people get involved?
I thought you'd never ask! In April we're kicking off Responsible Consumption month, which will be filled with events that people can get involved in including bag making using re-purposed fabrics, street theater projects, and a responsible consumption pledge drive, where we hit the streets and give people information about the impact of their consumption and ask if they'd be willing to take pledges to change their own behaviors in this area. People can come to our kickoff Responsible Consumption party on the evening of April 17th and our Day of Practice in Action on April 19th. It's going to rock!

Learn More about the ID project.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April Updates - YES WE CAN Volunteer Challenge

Almost there! Two thirds of the way into the challenge and a number of volunteers have come up with a variety of ways to improve the NYC urban environment.  If you have not yet signed up, email us at and write YES I CAN!  


Saturday, April 25
Volunteer with Brooklyn Green Team and GreenEdge Collaborative NYC as part of Hands on New York Day in Prospect Park
10am - 2pm
Meeting place: Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park, near the Eagle Column
We'll be weeding, doing path edging, sweeping, raking and painting.  We can take up to 20 people so please RSVP by emailing with your name and how many you are bringing. We will reminder you closer to the event.

Saturday, May 16
Volunteer with Brooklyn Green team, GreenEdge Collaborative NYC and the Prospect Park Volunteer Corp. for It's My Park Day!
10am - 2pm
Meeting Place: Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park, near the Eagle Column
This event may include weeding, raking, sweeping, path edging, lake-shore clean-up, litter patrol, etc.  We can take up to 20 people so please RSVP by emailing with your name and number of people you are bringing. 

Wink Hits BK

Not sleeping at night? Restless, with guilt over your toxic pedicure from the day before where you nearly passed out from the fumes? Not to worry, Wink, a green salon on Vanderbilt Ave in Prospect Heights, may be the salon for you. Founded by Tani Chambers, who wants to be more eco-conscious, Wink boasts guilt-free facials and manicures and non-toxic soaps.  She also installed furniture made from salvaged wood and uses biodegradable slippers and toe-separators.  

Wink is on 602 Vanderbilt (btw. Prospect Place and St. Marks Ave)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Clinton Climate Initiative Hits the Empire

President Clinton joined Mayor Bloomberg to announce that the Empire State Building is joining the race against climate change. The building will undergo a retrofit to improve building efficiency, reduce its carbon footprint and save on utility costs.  As of March 2009, the Clinton Climate Initiative and its partners have helped building owners evaluate hundreds of opportunities for building retrofit projects in dozens of cities worldwide.  Buildings contribute up to 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in some cities. Watch the video above and see the plans for the Empire State. It's got some cheesy music, but President Clinton makes an appearance!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Curbside Compost

As we enter the age of Yes We Can, with a new president at the helm who actually wants to know what the American people think, I can't think of a better time for New Yorkers to start contacting their congressmen and women and request New York City begin to lay the groundwork for a curbside composting program.

San Francisco sets an amazing example. About 2,000 restaurants, 2,080 apartment buildings, and 50,000 single-family homes participate in curbside composting, in which food scraps are simply placed in a special bin alongside garbage and recycling bins. Their food scraps are collected and turned into compost for local framers which reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

In one year, 105,000 tons of food scraps and yard trimmings get turned into 20,000 tons of compost for 10,000 acres. And here is the truly amazing part: the farmers sell the resulting crops back to Bay area markets and restaurants, making a full circle of food returning to food!

Remember, the more waste we keep out of landfills, the more methane we keep out of the atmosphere and the water supply.

Read more about San Francisco's composting program.

Click here for a list of New York's senators and representatives.

Learn more about NYC composting.

Learn more about the Lower East Side Ecology Center

Food Waste and the College Campus

Anyone who's ever eaten or worked in a school dining hall has seen first hand how much food gets wasted every day. In an effort to reduce UCLA’s carbon footprint, a group of students calling themselves Waste Watchers are working to decrease the amount of food wasted in campus dining halls.
The students, members of a for-credit Action Research Team on campus, collect and measure food waste in the dining halls. Then they use the information to educate fellow students on the need to reduce waste and to make more organic and sustainable food choices.
The work is part of UCLA's climate action plan, which predicts UCLA is on track to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2012. This is eight years earlier than previously anticipated!!! To learn more about the Climate Action Plan and UCLA 's sustainability efforts, visit

The ReMix Campaign Update

Verso Paper Corp., Time Inc. and the National Recycling Coalition announced magazine and catalog recycling has boosted to 29.3 percent due in large part to the January launch of the New York City ReMix campaign.

The ReMix (Recycling Magazines is Excellent!) campaign started as the result of a study conducted by Time Inc. and Verso. The study found that 95 percent of all unsold magazines are recycled by the publishers. However, only 17 percent of sold magazines are recycled.

ReMix is partnering with major publishing houses such as the Hearst Corporation to take out full-page public service advertisements in popular magazines such asCosmopolitanSports Illustrated and Country Living. ReMix is also making its statements on billboards, city buses, subway stations, cable television and other media outlets.

The ReMix campaign is by no means inexperienced when it comes to getting the word out for recycling. It has also been successful in Boston, Prince George’s County, Md., Milwaukee and Portland, Ore. The campaign can now add New York to its list as another victory.

The results have been impressive as New Yorkers embrace recycling in an effort to green their city. According to David Hurd, director of the Council on the Environment of New York City’s (CENY) Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE), New Yorkers just needed some guidance with their recycling efforts.

“We know from our outreach efforts that people support recycling, but often are unsure what types of paper products can be recycled,” Hurd says. “Thanks in large part to ReMix, New Yorkers now clearly know how easy it is to recycle their magazines and catalogs right along with their other paper recycling.”

Source: Earth911

Green CUNY Sing-A-Long

Michele Forsten (NYC College of Technology in downtown BK) and Barry Mitchell (Graduate Center) perform their best Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert in this eco-friendly version of Green Acres as part of CUNY's sustainable shorts video contest...

Friday, April 3, 2009

April 2009 is MillionTreesNYC Month

Mayor Bloomberg proclaimed the month as MillionTrees Month in NYC.  What does this mean for you? Better air and they unveiled the One in a Million Tree Coupon program.  The coupon, sponsored by BNP Paribas, offers $20 off the purchase of a 1-inch caliper or larger tree at 13 select NYC garden centers and nurseries.  Coupons are available at either, the million trees website, or participating nurseries.  Here's why to plant one: more beautiful neighborhoods, cleaner air and water, higher property values (for you owners out there), energy savings, cooler summer streets, and a healthier, more environmentally sustainable City. 

Use your coupon, valid through April, at these Brooklyn locations: 

Chelsea Garden Center, Red Hook
44 Van Brunt St

Dragonetti Brothers
1875 Ralph Ave

Gowanus Nursery
45 Summit St

Kings County Nursery
625 New York Ave

Liberty Sunset Garden
204-207 Dyke St

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tips from Brooklyn-Based Sage Consultants

Michael Zawacki of Sage Environments wants to reduce the environmental impact of your home/apartment here in NYC. Let's find out more, shall we?

BGT: When was Sage founded and what do you do?
MZ: Sage was conceived in 2008 and officially launched in 2009.
Sage consults with owners of residential properties and small businesses to improve the overall sustainability of their homes and businesses through measures of energy efficiency, lifestyle, and health. In addition, Sage can participate within 1 to 4 family residential construction projects and work with the project team during a new construction or renovation project. This ensures that the appropriate measures are being taken within the project that are in line with the client's sustainability goals.

BGT: Why Brooklyn?
MZ: Brooklyn, in addition to many sections of New York City is home to thousands of 1 to 4 family homes that are in need of energy efficiency improvements and there is a growing market of citizens that are concerned about issues related to the green movement.

BGT: What's the best part of your job?
MZ: Working to improve the lives of people and their built environment. Knowing that I am contributing to the paradigm shift in how we interact with our homes and the changes related to an emerging green economy is very exciting. The green movement is my passion, and I get to work within a field that is changing our world.

BGT: Can you share one of your funniest experiences with a client?
MZ: Sorry, I'll have to take the 5th on that one :)

BGT: Is it better to make recommendations to a home-owner versus a renter because they have more decision-making power to implement your recommendations?
MZ: A homeowner has far more control and has the liberty to enact most if not all of the recommendations that are provided. However, renters are a huge component of New York City, and even though they generally cannot make significant changes to their living space, everything helps. If thousands of renters are doing small things like changing their light bulbs, painting with zero VOC paint, reducing energy consumption, using non-toxic cleaning products, and recycling it adds up quickly.

BGT: What distinguishes Sage from other eco-consultants?
MZ: The philosophy of Sage is different than others as there is an added focus on the construction component in addition to lifestyle. While it is important to enact measures that are sustainable, it must be remembered that construction cost analysis and feasibility studies are pivotal. If the cost of making an energy efficiency improvement to the home is out of reach for most people or it does not have a reasonable rate of return, then this is not sustainable from a cost standpoint. Sage views sustainability through a lens of cost as well as environmental benefit.

Some Tips from Sage
If you own your home:
- Perform regular maintenance on your boiler or furnace annually - Check doors and windows for drafts. Apply weatherstripping and door sweeps - Install a programmable thermostat - Get an energy audit done on your home - Weatherize your windows for the heating season - If you have a forced air system, make sure your filters are clean. Clogged filters reduce the efficiency of the HVAC system.

If you rent or own:
- Install low flow shower heads to reduce your water consumption as well as your gas or electric bill depending on the system that heats the water - To reduce the gallons per flush, place a brick or other heavy object in the tank. Make sure the object is clean and will not flake off in the tank, which could interfere with plumbing mechanisms - Install cellular window treatments (blinds), which can increase the R-value to slow heat loss/gain - Install aerators on your faucets, which reduce water consumption - Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs everywhere you can - Use non-toxic cleaners or better yet, make your own. - Switch to Green Power. Most utilities offer a green option. It does not cost much more and you can feel good knowing you are helping to accelerate the developement of renewable energy.

Learn More.

Sierra Launches Green Home

Sierra Club Green Home (SCGH) today launches its new Web site,, designed to educate Americans on how to make their homes more energy efficient, environmentally sustainable and healthy.  Created with Sierra Club—America’s oldest, largest, and best-known environmental organization—SCGH aims to help aspirationally green citizens become more environmentally-conscious. 

 Dynamic attributes of SCGH provide actionable and easy-to-understand insights into practices that can be simply incorporated into our daily lives including:

 CO2 Center: education hub on the basics of global warming and the best ways to lower energy bills plus SCGH’s own Home Carbon Calculator to help people determine their homes’ carbon footprints and seek out ways to lower their emissions.

Green Your Home Video Library: step-by-step videocasts on how to purchase energy efficient appliances, utilize green decorating materials and learn about sustainable remodeling and building features.

Home Health Center: portal for educational facts from indoor air quality and acceptable exposure levels to chemicals and toxins plus SCGH’s customized Home Health Quiz allowing people to ascertain the current state of the health of their homes.

Solar Center: facts consumers need to know about how to go solar at home and a database of federal and state tax incentives and rebates listed by zip code that are available to taxpayers. SCGH’s Net Solar Costs Calculator permitting people to determine the exact costs and benefits of adding solar technology to their homes.

 “We created Sierra Club Green Home to help Americans bridge the gap between wanting to do what’s best for the environment and not knowing where to start,” said Schwab,  who is also a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited practitioner.  “This site mirrors my own personal search to make more eco-friendly choices for myself and my family.  We’re incredibly excited about this launch and have worked very hard to give green a friendlier and more accessible voice.  We hope that Sierra Club Green Home encourages people everywhere to embrace this lifestyle in whatever capacity they see fit.”

Check out the site and green the heck-fire out of your home/apartment.