Monday, December 29, 2008

Recycle Your Christmas Tree!

Now that the holidays have ended, let's keep those Christmas trees out of the landfills.

Bring your tree (free of ornaments and tinsel) to one of the designated sites in parks across the city next weekend for Mulchfest!

Saturday and Sunday
January 10th + 11th

Trees will be chipped on-site in several parks locations, and mulch will be freely available. There are additional parks sites for drop-off only, too. For more information, visit the Parks Department.

If you can't make it to the parks this weekend, leave your clean tree (no ornaments or tinsel) out on the curb for collection by the DSNY. Tree collection will take place from January 5th to January 16th. For more information, visit NYCWasteLe$$.

Image from Catface3's Flickr pool

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Ravitch Plan vs. the Kheel Plan

You may have heard about the current Ravitch Plan to fund the MTA's budget deficit. The plan would impose stiff fare hike on subway and buses, automatic hikes on the subways and buses every two years on an inflation adjusted basis without necessity for public hearings, a tax of 0.33% on payrolls and self-employed income, and tolls on the East and Harlem River bridges. All this at a time when individual finances are already under more pressure than any time in recent memory.

But there is a progressive alternative plan by noted labor mediator Theodore W. Kheel. The original plan, which received only sparse publicity as an alternative to the mayor's defeated Congestion Pricing plan, has been updated to reflect the current troubled times. It would on average double the Mayor's Congestion Pricing fees, impose a surcharge on taxi rides, would make subways on average 75% less expensive and free during off-peak hours, and buses free 24/7. The plan is estimated to reduce traffic in the Manhattan Central Business District by a dramatic 33% compared to an estimated 3% reduction for the Ravitch Plan. It would dramatically reduce air pollution in the city, actually reduce subway crowding because of redistribution of ridership to take advantage of the variable pricing times, and fund the MTA through the congestion charge on vehicles and through myriad efficiencies created by the plan, such as the decreased need to collect fares (especially on buses as passengers board) increased speed and ease of travel, friendlier atmosphere for biking and walking, and hopefully by increasing economic activity by alleviating rather than increasing the financial burdens on the majority of city residents at this worst of all possible times.

As you might expect, such a radical plan will probably meet a wall of skepticism and silence from government and media. But we will keep an eye on it's progress. For details, go to

Image from Nurture New York's Nature

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fuel-saving idea--just in time for the holidays! just published their Top 10 Eco-Tips for the Holidays. My favorite one is this:

When entertaining, don’t let all your guests drive separately to the party: register your event at Ride Amigos! They take care of everything from arranging carpools, rideshares, taxi shares and even calculate the CO2 saved in offsetting the carbon footprint of the event.

See the other nine great tips.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More on Gas Drilling in the NYC Watershed

On December 15th, NYC Comptroller William Thompson sent a letter to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation which warned that drilling for gas in the part of the Marcellus Shale within the City's watershed could potentially degrade the the City's water. That could threaten the City's EPA exemption (because of the city's high quality water) from having to build a $6-10 billion filtration plant, increasing the City's water budget expenses 30% and adding significantly to the City's already severe budget problems.

The press release of the Comptroller's office and the Comptroller's letter to the DEC can be read here:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Support H.R. 7231

Support H.R. 7231: To repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and for other purposes.

What is Hydraulic Fracturing:

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used in drilling for oil and gas. Millions of gallons of fresh water along with sand and chemicals (some of which are toxic) are injected under high pressure miles down the drilling hole to fracture underground formations and prop them open in order to better release oil and gas trapped within. Environmentalists are alarmed about possible contamination of groundwater supplies (to say nothing of all the clean water used up in the process) because of the possibility that newly created or preexisting fractures in the underground formation will reach groundwater sources.


The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 regulates the injection of fluids underground because of dangers it poses to groundwater sources. But The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has held that hydraulic fracturing does not fall under that regulation because its purpose is extraction of oil and gas and not injection of liquids for storage or disposal.

When reports began to appear in Alabama and elsewhere of changes in drinking water quality after the commencement of the hydraulic fracturing, that position was challenged by The Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation (LEAF) a Southern regional foundation dedicated to protecting the regional environment. LEAF petitioned the EPA to regulate the process; the EPA rejected LEAF's petition, and LEAF appealed.

In 1997, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (Atlanta) ruled that the EPA's position violated the plain wording of the Safe Drinking Water Act and that hydraulic fracturing should indeed be regulated under the Act. But in 2005, with strong support from the Bush Administration, Congress passed The Energy Policy Act, which reversed the court's ruling and exempted the process from regulation.


Three Congresspersons have now introduced H.R.7231, which would reinstate federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing. They are Rep. Diana DeGette and Rep. John Salazar, both of Colorado, and our own Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York.

The Safe Drinking Water Act rules that "underground injection" endangers drinking water sources, but, as amended by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, excludes hydraulic fracturing from the definition of "underground injection." The relevant section of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300h(d)(1)) reads as follows:

(d) "Underground injection" defined; underground injection endangerment of drinking water sources For purposes of this part:
(1) Underground injection.- The term "underground injection"-
(A) means the subsurface emplacement of fluids by well injection; and
(B) excludes-
(i) the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage; and
(ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.

The full text of H.R. 7231 (below) amends the above section as follows:


Section 1421(d)(1) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300h(d)(1)) is amended by striking subparagraph (B) and inserting:

'(B) includes the underground injection of fluids or propping agents pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities; but

'(C) excludes the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage.'.

To support H.R. 7231:

(202) 224-6542 or by Web Form:

(202) 224-4451 or by Web Form:

Your representative via congressional switchboard: 800-828-0498 or by email:


Hydraulic Fracturing

The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974



Image of frac pit from Earthworks

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hydraulic Fracturing, the Marcellus Shale, and the threat to New York City's Watershed

The Oil and Gas Accountability Project has made it very easy for New York residents to make comments to the DEC about hydraulic fracturing. Comments will be accepted through December 15th, so act now!

Hydraulic fracturing is a drilling technique for gas and oil, which environmentalists fear can contaminate groundwater sources. New York still regulates hydraulic fracturing, unlike many other states, and unlike the federal government, which in 2005 exempted the process from regulation by the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

But that is not to say the state disallows hydraulic fracturing, and New York City's upstate watershed sits atop part of the Marcellus Shale, which is a giant natural gas formation 6 to 8 thousand feet below ground, stretching from Western New York State to West Virginia. Recent technological advancements (including in hydraulic fracturing) have made the Marcellus Shale within the realm of exploitation, and drilling companies have become active in the region. New York's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, recently issued a consumer alert, warning upstate landowners about "landmen" -- agents for oil and gas exploration companies using "strong- arm tactics" in trying to secure leases for drilling.

Any drilling in New York State would be contingent on passing an environmental impact statement. Nonetheless, the fear is that drilling in the watershed will imperil the city's famed municipal water. The New York based environmental group Riverkeeper and The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter are lobbying to declare the portion of the Marcellus Shale that is within the City's Watershed to be off-limits to drilling.

Some people to contact to ban drilling in the NYC Watershed:

Governor Patterson through his secretary: 518-474-8390 or by email.

Councilman James Gennaro, Chair of the New York City Council's
Environmental Committee: 212-788-6956 or by email.

Your City Council Member


The Marcellus Shale

The Oil and Gas Accountability Project has made it very easy for New York residents to make comments to the DEC about hydraulic fracturing. Comments will be accepted through December 15th, so act now!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Children's Clothing Swap

Who needs big box stores when you can outfit your child at the Coop for FREE?

Bring your child's outgrown clothes to the Coop to trade with other members. Please bring only items that are in good condition.

Collect clothes for your own children, only. At 1:30, any remaining clothes will then be available to anyone.

Attention moms-to-be: Come to the swap to find newborn clothes!

(Do not bring clothes to the Coop before the hours of the exchange.)

Saturday, December 13
Non-members welcome

Image from Wendy Crockett's Flickr pool

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tell the Governor to Fix the Plastic Bag Bill

From the New York League of Conservation Voters:

"Plastic bags are clogging our landfills and endangering our environment.

Earlier this year, New York City enacted a law requiring large stores to accept plastic bags for recycling.

This program is simple, easy for consumers to understand and was adopted with broad support from both the environmental and business communities in the city.

The New York State Legislature followed New York City's lead and adopted a statewide program.

Unfortunately, this new bill waters down New York City’s more stringent law.

You can make a difference by asking the governor not to sign this bill until he and the Legislature reach an agreement to exempt New York City from the new statewide law."

Time is short -- the governor must act by December 12th. To send a message to the governor about the plastic bag bill, click here:

Image from Greenhem's Flickr pool

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Healthy Home Tips

Winter weather has us all spending more time indoors. The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) new Healthy Home Tips for Parents has great advice for everyone who likes a safe and cozy nest for winter. Many of the tips should be easy for Food Coop members, who have great choices in organic food and healthy home products. Can you think of any tips to add to the list?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Recycle Your Electronics Next Weekend!

The Lower East Side Ecology Center sponsors an electronics recycling event next Saturday, December 6, from 10am to 4pm at PS 321 in Park Slope (7th Ave between 1st and 2nd Sts).

Recycle your working and non-working:

  • Computers (laptop & desktop), servers, mainframes

  • Monitors
  • Printers, scanners, fax-machines, copiers
  • Network devices (routers, hubs, modems, etc.)

  • Peripherals (keyboards, mice, cables, etc.)

  • Components (hard drives, CD Roms, circuit boards,
    power supplies, etc.)

  • TVs, VCR & DVD Players
  • Audio visual devices
  • Radios/Stereos

  • Cell Phones, pagers, PDAs, phones, answering machines, etc.

  • Media (floppies, CDs, zips, VHS tapes)**

** Gets sent to Green Disk - if you have a lot of media please go to the website, pay a small fee, download an address label and send it directly to them.

For more information, see: Lower East Side Ecology Center

Image from Lower East Side Ecology Center

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Look no further than the Coop for some of your holiday gifts. Here are a few we like:

Acorn Designs exquisite gift journals, made of high quality recycled paper. The illustrated nature scenes on the cover are described inside. You’ll be tempted to keep one for yourself.

Bokubooks petite notebooks, come with a variety of elegant cover patterns. They are made of recycled paper and kenaf.

Wrapsacks gorgeous patterned shopping totes that fold to a wallet-size packet. They make gift sacks (a wrapping paper alternative) too.

The Coop also carries a variety of recycled wrapping paper and recycled content cards.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

PSFC Highlighted in Transportation Alternatives Monthly Magazine

In addition to the coverage it received in the November 20th, 2008 Linewaiters' Gazette, the Shop 'n' Cycle Exploratory Committee's October 18th valet parking demonstration was covered in Reclaim, the monthly magazine of the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. The story appeared on page 6 of its Fall 2008 issue. And in TA's bimonthly online newsletter, StreetBeat, the same event is covered in a reprint of a Brooklyn Eagle story dated October 20, 2008, which can be read at:

The demonstration was successful enough to earn the committee another eight months of exploratory work, as voted on at the Coop's October 28, 2008 General Meeting. If valet parking could actually work, it would greatly relieve the bike parking shortage at the Coop. The addition of many new bike racks along Union Street (with input from the Environmental Committee) has helped generate so much more bike traffic that the new capacity has quickly been overwhelmed. Even on the coldest, most blustery days, one typically finds every available bike rack and street sign with bikes locked to them. So the need is there.

As to doubts expressed about the amount of work force that would be required, committee member Ken Coughlin pointed out at the General Meeting that the Coop has a fully staffed Street Squad that is at the service of the Coop's car drivers, so that we are in effect encouraging people to drive to the Coop.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Member Q&A: BPA in Cans?

Q: A member wrote to us asking about BPA in can linings. More specifically--which companies whose canned food we carry at the coop have linings that contain Bisphenol A?

A: BPA has been in the news a lot this year. A little online research turned up the following recent information, which interested coop members may find helpful.

"After all the surge in publicity and hearing from many companies, I come to the conclusion that BPA is used industry wide and unless the company consciously chooses to purchase otherwise, all cans have it. Just about the only company that consciously uses an alternative is Eden Foods." For more information see, Organic Grace

And from a food coop in Madison, Wisconsin: "Given concerns over BPA in food containers, we have contacted vendors whose products we carry to ask if they use it. ... For more information see: Willy Street Coop

On the practical side of the issue: Bisphenol A and You: 8 Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to BPA

We'll try to update this as new information becomes available.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Green Brooklyn Links

The Coop's not the only group of green-minded folks in Brooklyn. Check out these two websites from other local, environmentally-focused groups:

Brooklyn Green Team (
As their website states, "Brooklyn Green Team is a grassroots organization devoted to reducing the environmental impact of ourselves and others." The Green Team sponsors eco-activism (like their recent 5-minute shower challenge) and other community events, and their blog features environmental news and tips from Brooklyn and beyond.

Green Brooklyn (
Green Brooklyn is a blog that posts a wide variety of news and info of an ecological bent. The website also features links to local resources for environmentally-friendly shopping, eating, and living. It's even hosted by an internet provider running on 100% wind power!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Calvert Vaux Park and Artificial Turf

After years of neglect, the Parks Department has finally taken notice of Calvert Vaux Park (profiled in this article) and plans to make a number of changes. Some of these are most welcome, including proposed habitat creation on part of the 70-acre site. Unfortunately, the very first step, planned to start by the end of the month, is tearing up six of the soccer fields and replacing them with artificial turf. These fields provide feeding territory for killdeers, kestrels, American pipits, horned larks, and many other grassland birds; no studies have been done on how the artificial turf might affect them.

Not only is this move potentially bad for birds (and the plants and invertebrates they feed on), it's also likely to be bad for the park's other bipedal users. Artificial turf has been implicated in many injuries, both because it has less give than natural turf and because it absorbs more heat from the sun. On top of this, it increases storm-water runoff.

Despite all this, the Parks Department uses artificial turf widely; it requires less maintenance and requires less downtime between games. In this instance, the Parks Department has rejected calls to instead create additional fields to allow more playing time and the rest that the grass needs.

If you would like to express your concerns about artificial turf in Calvert Vaux Park:

Bill Tai, Director, Natural Resources Group,
City of New York Parks & Recreation
Arsenal North
1234 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
bill.tai AT

And copy:

Adrian Benepe, Commissioner
City of New York, Dept of Parks & Recreation
The Arsenal at Central Park
830 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10021
adrian.benepe AT

Suzanne Mattei, Regional Director
NYSDEC Region 2
1 Hunters Point Plaza
47-40 21st St.
Long Island City, NY 11101-5407
smmattei AT

Thanks to Ida Sanoff of the Natural Resources Protective Association for the contact information.

America Recycles Day

November 15th is America Recycles Day! Sponsored by the National Recycling Coalition, America Recycles Day is, "the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to reccycle and to buy recycled products." Learn more about recycling and buying recycled products -- including what, where and how -- and sign up to take the Recycling Pledge.

For more information, visit

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Leaf Collection This Month at 6/15 Green

Due to budget cuts, the city won't be collecting fall leaves for composting this year. But don't send those leaves to the landfill! On weekends in November you can bring your bagged fall leaves to the 6/15 Green community garden for composting. Here are the details:

November 8, 9, 15 & 23
6th Ave and 15th St, Park Slope
11 am - 1 pm
Rain or Shine

Bag leaves in clear plastic or brown paper bags
No branches, no pesticide-sprayed leaves and no trash, please

For more information, visit

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Electronics Recycling This Weekend

Old computers, TVs, cell phones, radios, cameras, VCRs and other electronics taking up space in your apartment? Keep them out of landfills -- recycle them at Green Screens this weekend! This city-wide event is sponsored by the Mayor's office, the Council on the Environment of NYC, and a host of other corporate and nonprofit organizations.

Saturday and Sunday, November 15 - 16
from 8 am to 2 pm

Brooklyn location: McCarren Park, Williamsburg

For more information (including dropoff locations in other boroughs), visit:

Monday, November 03, 2008

NYC Commuter Cycling Is Soaring

A recent NYT story highlighted a 35% increase in NYC commuter cycling from 2007 to 2008. The 140 miles of new bicycle routes was cited as a factor. The recent rise in gas prices almost certainly contributed. The advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has pointed out that statistics show safety in numbers; the more motorists see cyclists on the road, the more careful – and courteous – they become, and fewer accidents occur. More cycling also results in less automobile pollution, which is good for all of us. To see a map of NYC bicycle routes, see: NYC Bike Maps.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tips to Green Your Halloween

Get ready to trick-or-treat! The October newsletter from the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) has some great ideas for making your Halloween more eco-friendly:

- Help kids to make their own crafty trick-or-treat bags using paper bags instead of store bought plastic bags or plastic pumpkins. Remember to put paper bags and scraps in your recycling bin.

- When you're finished showing off your costume, you can bring it to one of our weekly textile recycling collections.

- Compost your jack-o-lantern in your home compost bin or bring it to a compost drop-off site sponsored by local community groups and gardens.

For more Halloween greening tips, visit the CENYC website:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Climate Change Exhibit at AMNH

Climate Change: The Threat to Life and
A New Energy Future
– This major new exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History explores the science, history, and impact of climate change, and illuminates ways in which individuals, communities and nations can reduce their carbon footprints. AMNH has information-filled webpages on climate page, well worth checking out, whether or not you attend the exhibit.

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West & 79th Street
Climate Change Exhibit runs October 18, 2008--August 16, 2009

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pumpkin Palooza & Green Expo

East River State Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is hosting its first Pumpkin Palooza & Green Expo:

* Pumpkin decorating & prizes
* Live marching band music
* Green info. booths
* Refreshments from upstate farm

This Sunday, October 26, 12-6pm
North 7th to North 9th Streets at Kent Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn

See Pumpkin Palooza for details.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fighting Organic Label Fraud

Round One Legal Victory for Organic Consumers

As reported previously in Organic Bytes, the Organic Consumers Association email newsletter, the OCA and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps have sued organic certifier Ecocert in the ongoing campaign to stop the certification and misleading labeling of fake organic personal care products that are fundamentally made-up of synthetic ingredients and petrochemicals.

Dr. Bronner's has launched a further umbrella lawsuit against specific companies who label their products as "organic" but have primary ingredients that are synthetic. After hearing oral arguments earlier this month, the San Francisco County Superior Court ruled on October 8 that Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps can proceed with its lawsuit seeking to compel so-called "organic" companies and certifiers to drop, or stop certifying, deceptive organic label and brand claims. Brands denounced by OCA and Bronner's include Avalon "Organics", Jason "Pure, Natural & Organic", Nature's Gate "Organics", Kiss My Face "Obsessively Organic", Giovanni "Organic Cosmetics", Head "Organics", Desert Essence "Organics" and Stella McCartney's CARE "100% Organic".

You can read more about it at: organic consumers org

Monday, October 20, 2008

New Bottled Water Study

Hot off the press! "Bottled Water No Cleaner Than Tap Water: Study" reads a US News and World Report headline of 10/15/2008. The study was released that same day by The Environmental Working Group, and can be read at this link:
bottled water study.

The International Bottled Water Association released a statement the day before disputing the study. Their statement can be read at: IBWA response.

The EWG's response to the IBWA's statement can be read here:
EWG response.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Join the Environmental Committee!

The Environmental Committee has room for new members.

We particularly need people who are good at putting ideas into action.

There is room for everyone, but leadership or organizational abilities will be put to good use.

Work for the environment while fulfilling your Coop workslot!

For more information contact the Environmental Committee at

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wanted: Wool Sweaters with Holes

Now that temperatures are dropping faster than the leaves off of trees, it's time to switch out our closets. So, as you pull out those old, favorite wool sweaters, if you see any that have holes in them, send them our way. We are going to recycle them into rugs.

Please send sweaters to: Wool Sweaters PO Box 2603 Glen Burnie, Maryland 21060-2603. For any questions, contact Kristin at

Friday, October 10, 2008

What's Your Water Footprint?

How much water does it takes to make...

1 kilo of beef: 15,500 liters of water

1 glass of beer: 75 liters of water

1 hamburger: 2,400 liters of water

1 cup of coffee: 140 liters of water

1 cup of tea: 30 liters of water

1 cotton shirt: 2,700 liters of water

To learn more, see Water Footprint Organization

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Textile Recycling Continues!

Fall is here, and with the cooler weather it's time to clean out those closets. Goodwill Industries and the Council on the Environment of NYC will continue to sponsor Second Chance Saturdays through the end of the year. Drop off both wearable and unwearable textiles for recycling at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket Saturdays, 8am-4pm.

Textiles make up nearly 6% of NYC's solid waste stream. Come on down and help keep these recyclables out of the landfill!

For more information, visit

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Best Eco-Choice: Save the Forest Bars

Save the Forest is the only brand that the Coop carries that produces 100% organic cereal bars and trail mix bars. These bars are free of GMOs. Buy 100% organic and support sustainable agriculture (as well as eating healthy). Compare to other products we carry: Barbara's Nature's Choice Granola Bars & Barbara's Nature's Choice Cereal Bars. Both of these products have non-organic ingredients, most important of which is non-organic canola oil. More than 50% of the canola oil produced in the U.S. is genetically engineered.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Park Slope Food Coop Earns the ENERGY STAR for Superior Energy Efficiency

The Park Slope Food Coop Inc., has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) prestigious ENERGY STAR, the national symbol for superior energy efficiency and environmental protection. Commercial buildings that earn the ENERGY STAR use an average of 40 percent less energy than typical buildings and also release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The Park Slope Food Coop improved its energy performance by managing energy strategically across our entire organization and by making cost-effective improvements to our building(s).

The Park Slope Food Coop is the first supermarket in Brooklyn to earn the ENERGY STAR. To earn the ENERGY STAR, The Park Slope Food Coop took the following actions:

  • Installed air conditioning systems that run off natural gas instead of electricity and release zero ozone depleting CFC’s into the atmosphere

  • Installed an efficient refrigeration system that uses glycol as its prime refrigerant

  • Replaced fluorescent light fixtures with ones that use efficient electronic ballasts

  • Replaced T-12 fluorescent bulbs with more efficient T-8 bulbs

  • Replaced incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs

  • Replaced traditional electric exit signs with ones that are lit with LED bulbs

  • Recover heat from frozen food compressors to heat hot water

  • Recover heat from frozen food compressors to dehumidify

  • Recover cold air from some refrigeration cases to reduce air conditioning load

For more information about ENERGY STAR visit For more information about The Park Slope Food Coop visit

*To calculate greenhouse gas emissions, please visit

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Plastics Primer: Know Your A, B and PVCs

By Cynthia Blayer
Linewaiters' Gazette, July 5, 2007

When plastic was first developed by Alexander Parkes, it warranted a showing at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. It’s hard to imagine the now ubiquitous material being rare enough to garner a spot in such a venue. For many years, we’ve all made use of this cheap and convenient material--although we’ve come to realize that the hidden cost to the environment and public health is quite high.

Environmental and Public Health Problems

Americans go through about a hundred billion plastic bags a year, not to mention the myriad other plastic products we all use. According to the EPA, the plastics industry is second only to the chemical industry in generating ozone layer-damaging toxic releases. Carcinogenic chemicals such as dioxin and benzene enter the environment during manufacturing; these materials pose additional threats, as they can leach from containers into food and beverages.

READ MORE in the Food Coop's Linewaiters' Gazette article archive here:

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Film About World Water Crisis

The new documentary "Flow", currently playing in NYC at the Angelika, focuses on the world water crisis.

According the film's website "Irena Salina's award-winning documentary builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question "CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?"

Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround." For more information, see: or check the Angelika's schedule.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Green Brooklyn. . . Green City Conference

The 4th Annual Green Brooklyn...Green City Conference, coordinated by the Center for the Urban Environment, is New York City's largest showcase of green and sustainability issues, programs, and products. A full day fair and symposium, Green Brooklyn...Green City brings together the community, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to share ideas with the public about how to live greener in our everyday lives.

Thursday, September 18, 2008, 11:30am - 5:00pm
Brooklyn Borough Hall, Brooklyn, NY

Always Free and Open to the public

Green Brooklyn...Green City 2008 will feature workshops and discussions led by several of the city's preeminent leaders in sustainable design, green manufacturing, transportation alternatives, energy efficiency, environmental education, and sustainable food. For more information:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Brooklyn Green Drinks

What: Brooklyn Green Drinks

When: Wed., 9/17, 7- 9 p.m.

Where: The Center for the Urban Environment
168 7th St. (2nd & 3rd Aves.) B'klyn NY 11215

They have new headquarters which is LEED-Certified Gold for Commercial Interiors by the US Green Building Council, the first of its kind in Brooklyn!

Recycling: The folks at BCUE want to announce that they are also accepting recycling on the premises that night:
· Alkaline batteries
· Inkjet/laser cartridges
· Compact Florescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)
· Technotrash, meaning: All forms of electronic media and their cases: diskettes, zip disks, CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs et al, video
tape (i.e. VHS), audio tape, game cartridges, DAT, DLT, Beta or Digibeta, and virtually all other type of computer tapes.
· Hard drives, Zip and Jazz drives, jump drives, etc.
· All forms of printer cartridges including both inkjet and toner.
· All types of pagers, PDAs and their chargers, cables, and headset accessories
· All types of rechargeable batteries and their chargers
· All of the cords, cables, boards, chips, etc. attached to or removed from a computer.

Take the R Train to 9th Street or F train to 4th Avenue.
Exit on 9th Street and 4th Avenue, walk over to 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.

Afterwards: People can continue their GreenDrinks experience at a cozy bar restaurant only a couple minutes away: 8PM - Midnight
Bar Tano
457 3rd Avenue (at 9th Street)
Brooklyn NY 11215
718 499 3400

Every month, people who work in the environmental field, or simply have an interest in it, meet up for a beer at informal sessions known as Green Drinks. It's your chance to mix with other like-minded folks, network, share info and make friends. Attendees have found employment, developed new ideas and even done deals!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Freecycle New York City Back-to-School FreeMeet

Have you got stuff you're ready to part with? Is there something you need? Then come on down to the Freecycle FreeMeet!

Saturday, September 13, 2008, 11am - 4pm
JJ Byrne Park (5th Ave between 3rd & 4th Streets), Brooklyn
Between the Old Stone House and the basketball court

The FreeMeet is your chance to unload unwanted but usable items and take home things you can put to good use. As the name suggests, the Freecycle FreeMeet is FREE!

You don't need to bring anything to take anything (though a tote bag might help). Please bring only portable items and leave furniture and other heavy stuff at home.

For more information:

Thursday, September 04, 2008

This Weekend: NYC Department of Sanitation Fall Recycling and Donation Event

Recycle Your Electronics
Drop off your unwanted electronics for recycling:
computers & laptops / monitors /printers & scanners (desktop only) / keyboards & mice / TVs, VCRs, DVRs, DVD players / portable digital music players / cell phones

Donate Clothing and Linens
Drop off your gently used clothing and linens for donation:
• Clothing: pants, dresses, shirts, sweaters, shoes, handbags, belts
• Linen: blankets, towels, sheets, curtains, tablecloths

Sunday, September 7, 2008
8am - 2pm
Keyspan Park, Coney Island
(Surf Ave. & 19th St., take Cropsey Ave. exit off the Belt Parkway)

For more information:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Summertime, and the Reading is Easy

Looking for a good read to go with that fresh peach? With plentiful summer produce everywhere, we thought this might be a good opportunity to point out our "Green Eating" sidebar links:

Gourmet's Politics of the Plate
This blog from Gourmet Magazine covers food politics in all its forms. Recent posts address the role of high fructose corn syrup in rising obesity levels, the pros and cons of conventional vs. organic produce, and the recent food safety scares. Definitely a good read for all interested in the complex political issues around what Americans eat.

Grist's food posts
Grist is a nonprofit environmental news website that covers a wide variety of topics in eco-journalism. Their food blog editors post about many aspects of environmentalism pertaining to food, from biofuels to GMO crops, urban farming to freegans, and nearly everything in between.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Solar-Powered Film Series

Scrambling to enjoy the last of the summer's outdoor movie screenings? Catch Solar One's late-summer film series -- each evening focuses on a different environmental issue, and the whole event is solar-powered. All films are outside and on the waterfront, at Stuyvesant Cove Park.

GREEN EDGE FILMS: Solar Powered Film Festival hosted by Solar One and Green Edge NYC
WHEN: August 21 -23 and Sept 4 - 6. Activities begin at 8pm and screenings commence at sundown. See below for schedule of films and speakers.

WHERE: Solar One, E. 23rd St. and FDR Dr. By Subway & Bus: take the (6) to 23rd St. and the M23 east to Avenue C *or* take the (L) to 1st Ave and walk about 10 minutes to the site or take the M15 north to 23rd St. and walk along East 23rd St. The M16 and M21 buses also stops near E. 23rd St. and Avenue C.

HOW MUCH: Admission is free!

WHAT: The Solar-Powered Film Series is the first in New York City to use the power of the sun to construct an outdoor "eco-theater" like no other. Solar One's independent film venue integrates natural and human-made components of our urban environment creating the city's "greenest" motion picture showcase. This free six-evening program features nightly screenings of environmental documentaries. Each night will focus on a different theme including water, energy, food, waste and more.


Aug 21 – Art and the Environment
RUNNING FENCE - 58 mins.
Film will be followed by a Q&A with director Albert Maysles.
Aug 22 – Water
Speaker: Cortney Worrall, Executive Director of the Coastal Marine Resource Council, will discuss the conservation of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary and the use of CSO system (Combined Sewer Overflow).

Aug 23 – Green Design

Sept 4 – Energy
Film will be followed by a Q&A with director David Novack.
Sept 5 – Waste and Recycling
Speaker: Elizabeth Royte, author of Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash.
Sept 6 –Food

For more information, please visit the Solar-Powered Film Series site.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Building a Wilder Brooklyn: Lessons from Prospect Park

By Carrie Laben
Linewaiters' Gazette, December 20, 2007

We too often think of nature as the opposite of culture, and of wilderness as purely untouched. Of course, since people have to live in the world, this is a difficult ideal to maintain. Even the most seemingly pristine areas show the effects of humanity. For example, Native North Americans in forested regions from Massachusetts to California used controlled burning to reset tree growth and return minerals to the soil--so the "primeval" forests described by early European explorers were really nothing of the sort. This fact, as strange as it may seem, is very fortunate for New Yorkers. If only "pure" wilderness counts, many of us will rarely get the opportunity to see it. But from the point of view that nature can be anywhere, every Coop member has access to some amazing habitats.

READ MORE in the Food Coop's Linewaiters' Gazette article archive here:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Recycling (and Buying Recycled) Building Materials

Build it Green! at h reuses old kitchens, HQ appliances, doors, and unused construction materials.

NY Wa$teMatch, matches waste generators with potential users who purchase waste to use as raw materials. See

Armstrong has a Ceiling Recycling Program that accepts tiles made by any manufacturer. 1-877-ARMSTRONG.

The Construction Waste Management Database lists companies that haul, collect, and process recyclable debris from construction projects. See

The American Forest & Paper Association has a National Wood Recycling Directory, a searchable database. Find out where to recycle wood locally:

Used Building Materials Association at helps you buy and sell used building materials.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Keep those Plastic Produce Bag Comments and Suggestions Coming!

Since the General Meeting last month we've gotten a bunch of great comments on how Coop members can reduce their use of plastic produce (roll) bags. Some of the ideas include more member education about the negative effects of plastic bags, and allowing members to bring their own containers and weigh them (empty) on a scale before filling with bulk items.

Charging for produce bags has also been suggested, and we've discussed that option as a committee as well. One stumbling block we haven't found a solution for yet is how to incorporate charging for produce bags into the checkout experience without adding to the time and effort already required for checkout (which of course can be considerable during busy times). More ideas are welcome!

In my household we use the cloth (muslin) bags for produce, and are happy to report that they actually keep our fruits + veggies fresher than plastic bags! So if you've been thinking of picking up some muslin bags from the Coop I can heartily recommend it.

Have a great idea about how we can reduce or even eliminate produce bags from the Coop? Leave us a comment and let us know! We'll keep you posted on how the issue develops.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Sneaker Recycling

Don’t just throw away those old sneakers! Instead of ending up in a landfill, they can be made into sports surfaces like basketball courts, tennis courts, athletic fields, running tracks and playgrounds.

Sneakers of any brand can be recycled at many Nike stores. You can drop off any brand of rubber-soled shoes at
Niketown, 6 East 57th Street (212.891.6453) or see

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Summer Streets

Here's an opportunity for walkers and cyclists to take over Manhattan's main streets. A 6.9 mile length of streets from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park will be closed to traffic for three consecutive Saturdays (August 9th, 16th and 23rd) from 7:00 am - 1:00 pm. Fitness, dance and yoga classes will be held along the route, with additional activities hosted by community groups at various streets.

For more information see Summer Streets

A Fun Way to Get to Summer Streets:
Join Transportation Alternatives in a group ride from Brooklyn. To participate, send your full name and the neighborhood of the ride you wish to participate in to or call 212.629.8080. Riders will receive a special gift when they stop by Transportation Alternatives’ tables at Summer Streets.
T.A. Rides to Summer Streets:

Saturday, August 9th
• Bedford-Stuyvesant
Meet up in Tompkins Park, located at 254 Tompkins Avenue (between Greene Avenue and Lafayette Avenue)
Ride begins at 9 am

• Park Slope
Meet at Grand Army Plaza (at the entrance to Prospect Park)
Ride begins at 9 am

Saturday, August 16th
• Flatbush
Meet up at 1022 Cortelyou Road (in front of Vox Pop)
Ride begins at 9 am

Saturday, August 23rd
• Williamsburg/Greenpoint
Meet up at McCarren Park (by Bedford Avenue and Lorimer Street entrance) at 8:30 am
Ride begins at 9 am

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Sustainable Flatbush: Green Living in Brooklyn

In the spirit of community and cooperation, we're linking to a few other environmentally-focused Brooklyn websites, one of which is Sustainable Flatbush. The website offers "a neighborhood-based forum to discuss, promote and implement sustainability concepts in Brooklyn and beyond." In addition to environmental news and updates from Flatbush and Brooklyn, the site also offers eco-friendly links and advice (and just a pinch of politics).

Visit Sustainable Flatbush at:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Public Forum on Clean Energy Sources for NYC

When: Thursday July 31, 2008, 9:30am-1:00pm

Where: Hunter College, West Building (southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and East 68th Street in Manhattan) in the 8th Floor Faculty Dining Room.

The Infrastructure Task Force (ITF) of the New York City Council and the Council's Environmental Protection Committee will jointly hold a Public Forum on the subject of on the benefits and challenges of clean distributed energy sources, such as solar photovoltaics, in the New York City context.

The public is invited to attend the forum to hear industry leaders and experts address this important subject, and provide substantive testimony on what the city can do to establish itself as a national leader in clean energy adoption.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tonight's GM: Bring Your Ideas about Plastic Produce Bags!

Come on out to the Coop's General Meeting tonight (7pm @ Temple Beth Elohim, 8th and Garfield Aves.) to discuss ways that we can reduce (or eliminate!) the use of plastic produce (roll) bags at the Coop. Here's the agenda item:

Item #2: How to reduce use of plastic produce bags (40 minutes)

Discussion: "Plastic bags are useful and practical, but have many adverse environmental consequences. Shopping (t-shirt) bags have been eliminated at the Coop (and other places), but produce (roll) bags are a thornier issue. We would like to brainstorm with members to solicit ideas about (a) whether we can substantially reduce the number of produce bags we use at the Coop, and (b) how to do so without making the shopping experience more inconvenient or burdensome."
--submitted by the Environmental Committee, the General Coordinators, and concerned Coop members

We'd love to hear your suggestions!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Where are the Reusable Bags in the Coop?

Now that the Coop's no longer providing plastic bags at checkout, where in the Coop can you find reusable bags?

Near the checkout:
• Lightweight but sturdy red or blue tartan plaid plastic bags with handles (& they zip!)
• New lightweight solid color plastic shopping bag with Food Coop logo

Near the wire shelves near the checkout (right by the day-old bread):
• Sturdy canvas PSFC bags (a classic!)

Near the wire shelves just below the hanging scale at the end of the bulk aisle:
• String bags (European style)
• Chico bags (nylon with its own stuff sack)
• Sturdy canvas PSFC bags (a classic!)

Up above the end cap shelves containing juicers:
• Lovely patterned cloth bags that fold into a small packet (many patterns--great as gifts)

Plus. . .
At the beginning of the produce aisle, hanging right above the mangoes:
• Reusable produce bags
• Reusable cloth (muslin) bags
• Reusable green plastic bags (keep your fruit & veggies fresh for weeks!)

Come on out to the General Meeting on Tuesday, July 29th @ 7pm at Temple Beth Elohim, 8th and Garfield Aves., and bring your ideas on how Coop members can reduce our use of the plastic roll produce bags!

Monday, July 21, 2008

NYC's Plastic Bag Recycling Law

Starting next Wednesday, July 23rd, NYC's new Plastic Carryout Bag Recycling Law goes into effect. Here are the details on which establishments are effected:

"New York City stores that are either chain stores (more than 5 locations in the city) or are over 5,000 square feet and provide plastic carryout bags must accept all plastic bags, such as plastic carryout bags (shopping bags), newspaper bags, and dry cleaning bags, for recycling, during normal business hours, no purchase necessary. Restaurants are exempt from the law."

Since the Food Coop stopped providing plastic shopping bags for members, we're exempt from this law, too. Space is so tight in the Coop, and it's hard to imagine where we'd be able to store all of those plastic bags!

For more information, visit the city's recycling website at:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Ways to Recycle Your Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

While more energy efficient than standard incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) contain small amounts of mercury. When CFLs are thrown away with the trash, this toxic metal end up in landfills and can eventually seep into surface and ground water -- contaminating our drinking water and the fish we eat, and constituting a major threat to human health. (For more on health effects of mercury exposure and consumption, see:

While each borough in NYC has a special sanitation drop-off site, these locations are inconvenient for many people. And though the city does allow residents to throw the bulbs in with their normal trash, for many it just doesn't feel right to add mercury to the solid waste stream.

But now there are a couple of new ways to recycle CFLs. Ikea, which recently opened a new store in Red Hook, accepts CFLs for recycling. And last month Home Depot, of which there are several in Brooklyn and the rest of the city, announced that it would accept CFLs for recycling at every store.

For more information, visit and (pdf)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 29: Plastic Produce Bags @ the General Meeting

Come out to July's General Meeting and offer your opinions and suggestions regarding plastic produce bags at the Coop! Here's a more detailed description of this item on this month's GM agenda:

Item #2: How to reduce use of plastic produce bags (40 minutes)

Discussion: "Plastic bags are useful and practical, but have many adverse environmental consequences. Shopping (t-shirt) bags have been eliminated at the Coop (and other places), but produce (roll) bags are a thornier issue. We would like to brainstorm with members to solicit ideas about (a) whether we can substantially reduce the number of produce bags we use at the Coop, and (b) how to do so without making the shopping experience more inconvenient or burdensome."
--submitted by the Environmental Committee, the General Coordinators, and concerned Coop members

Feel free to offer your suggestions here on our blog, as well!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Green Cleaning Comes to New York

By Cynthia Blayer
Linewaiters' Gazette, 9/14/2006

We rely on cleaning products to keep us safe from dirt and germs. In recent years, it has come to light that many standard cleansers contain ingredients that are actually harmful to us. Although they take away dirt and germs, these cleansers can leave toxic residues on surfaces as well as release them into the air. Green or ecological cleansers, which don't contain harmful ingredients, give us a safer, healthier alternative. Increased interest in these green cleansers has lead to some positive changes in New York State policy.

Manufacturers of cleansers are not required to list all ingredients on the labels of their products, so they are not readily apparent to the average consumer. The popular cleansers Fantastik and Windex both contain butyl cellusolve, which is neurotoxic. Many common cleansers contain asthmagens, which are ingredients that can cause asthmatic reactions. A 2001 study reported in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that janitorial workers have twice the rate of respiratory health problems as other workers.

READ MORE in the Food Coop's Linewaiters' Gazette article archive here:

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Green Living from the Natural Resources Defense Council

The Green Living guide, from the nonprofit environmental group National Resources Defense Council, is a handy resource with lots of useful environmental information. The site has loads of tips on recycling, eating local, responsible product choices, and other environmental issues that affect us all. There's even a section highlighting simple steps to take to live more sustainably, conveniently categorized into low-, medium- and high-effort actions.

To learn more, visit the NRDC website at:

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sustainable Cities Science, Art Exhibition and Lecture Series

This summer, take the free ferry to Governor's Island for a Saturday lecture series on sustainable cities. This summer's program seeks to engage the public by approaching sustainability in the city from all lenses, drawing lectures from the public, private and research sectors.

Lectures are Saturdays at 12:30pm, and cover such varied topics as urban gardens, waste reduction strategies, water efficiency and wind power

For directions, schedules and more information, visit the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities website:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Earth 911: Everything You Wanted to Know About Recycling

We've added several links to our blog's sidebar. The Earth 911 website ( provides a wealth of information on the three R's: Reducing, Reusing and Recycling. You can search for recycling locations by zip code as well as by the specific item or material you want to recycle. They've got news and tips on many types of materials (plastics, electronics, etc.) as well as composting. Click away!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Plastic Produce Bags: Can We Reduce Their Numbers?

Now that the Coop's stopped providing plastic "t-shirt" bags at checkout, the Environmental Committee is cosponsoring a discussion item about reducing the usage of the thin roll bags used for produce and bulk items. It hasn't been scheduled for a General Meeting yet -- we will keep you posted.

In the meantime, we invite you to help us brainstorm this issue! Some of the ideas that we've come up with at our meetings are: charging for them (and having a swipe card attached to the checkout stations that can be swiped for each bag used, so that the checkout person doesn't have to spend time searching the menu each time a roll bag is passed before them), a roll bag vending machine (buy only what you need!), selling boxes of roll bags, and offering alternatives such as muslin bags (reusable and washable).

An anonymous comment came through earlier this week letting us know about a store that recycles containers and provides them for shoppers featured over at the No Impact Man blog. It's a great idea, but the Coop's space is so tight, I wonder if there would be room (ditto for the vending machine, for that matter).

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer's here -- protect your skin

Now that summer has truly arrived, it's time to slather on the sunscreen. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group has created Skin Deep, a database of over 20,000 cosmetic and personal care products, including sunscreens. Each product is assigned a safety rating based on the EWG's research on the content of its ingredients. Skin Deep features many products sold at the Coop, and is a handy way to check the safety or toxicity of all of the personal care products you use.

Visit Skin Deep at:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This Friday: Elizabeth Royte reads from Bottlemania

Head to Community Bookstore in Park Slope this Friday night and join author (and Coop member) Elizabeth Royte for a reading and discussion of her timely book, Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It.

In the follow-up to Garbage Land, her influential investigation into our modern trash crisis, Elizabeth Royte ventures to Fryeburg, Maine, to look deep into the source--of Poland Spring water. In this tiny town, and in others like it across the country, she finds the people, machines, economies, and cultural trends that have made bottled water a $60-billion-a-year phenomenon even as it threatens local control of a natural resource and litters the landscape with plastic waste.

Friday, June 13th @ 7:30 p.m
Community Bookstore, Park Slope
143 7th Avenue
(718) 783-3075

Free and open to the public

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Paint Recycling

Recycle your leftover paint and let it help others, instead of ending up in a landfill and potentially poisoning our groundwater.

Materials for the Arts accepts donations of paint for distribution to nonprofit cultural organizations and arts programs. Call them at (718) 729-3001 or visit

NYC Dept. of Sanitation Self-Help Special Waste Drop-Off Sites accept up to five gallons of latex paint per visit can be dropped off at any site. See