Thursday, May 28, 2009

Broken CFLs

Here's a question from one of our Coop members:

If I break a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), can I still recycle it? How should I clean it up?

Let's answer the clean-up part first. Because CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury, which is toxic, you must be very careful about clean-up. First, make sure children and pets are out of the room with the broken bulb. Then, follow these steps (courtesy of NRDC's This Green Life):
  1. Open a window before cleaning up, and turn off any forced-air heating or air conditioning.

  2. Instead of sweeping or vacuuming, which can spread the mercury around, scoop up the glass fragments and powder. Use sticky tape to pick up remaining glass fragments or powder. Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or wet wipes.

  3. Dispose of the broken bulb through your local household hazardous waste program or recycling program. If that service is unavailable in your area, place all clean-up materials in a trash container outside the building.

  4. Wash your hands after cleaning up.

  5. If vacuuming is needed afterwards, when all visible materials have been removed, vacuum the area and dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag. For the next few times you vacuum, turn off any forced-air heating or air conditioning and open a window before doing so.

Image from Project Failures

Monday, May 25, 2009

Wednesday, 27 May: A Convenient Truth

A CONVENIENT TRUTH: Urban Solutions from Curitiba, Brazil (52 minutes)

The story: Curitiba, Brazil is a world-class model of intelligent, people-friendly sustainable urban planning. Through interviews with Curitiba mayors Jaime Lerner and Cassio Tanigushi and other engineers of these sensible policies, the film shows life-enhancing and cost-effective innovations in transportation, recycling, and affordable housing.

Free popcorn provided by Flatbush Food Coop. Kosher snacks will also be available for purchase.

Where: Prospect Park Temple Isaac
1419 Dorchester Road (at Marlborough), Flatbush, Brooklyn
(Q train to Cortelyou Road)

Local co-sponsors: Ditmas Park West Neighborhood Association, Prospect Park Temple Isaac, Sustainable Flatbush, Flatbush Food Coop

Map courtesy of National Geographic.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Recycling Events on Memorial Day Weekend

Come to the Coop this Memorial Day weekend for two recycling events:

Bag & Shoe Exchange
Saturday May 23, 10am-2pm

This exchange is a community event that is ecologically responsible and fun. Why support the consumer market and buy, when you can share items that have already been well loved? Reuse, renew, recycle.

To bring items for exchange: do not leave things in the Coop before the hours of the exchange; bring up to 15 items only; bring one item, take one item; at 1:30, you can take as many items as you want; bring gently used, clean purses, bags and shoes that you are proud to be able to exchange with a new owner. (Unchosen items will be donated to a local shelter.)

Recycle Your PCs, Macs, Smartphones
Saturday May 23, 3-6pm

This will be an ongoing series and will include a short film on recycling called Story of Stuff. Learn how to rejuvenate your computer; how to salvage parts from your computer; how to clear data from a computer for recycling. Software and hardware problems are welcome. Presentation of various computer-repair tools. We'll show you how to integrate your computer and Smartphone to get news, calendar, contacts and email all synchronized very easily. Please email for more information.

Image courtesy phil_g's Flickr feed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Tissue Paper Guide From Greenpeace

Here's a preview of part of the new tissue paper guide from Greenpeace. Find out which brands of toilet paper, tissues and paper towels have the most recycled paper content. You can download the entire guide in a handy wallet sized guide.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Press Release from Safe Food Labeling Committee

Citizens Arrest the Advance of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Landmark study arms shoppers with knowledge to identify safe food

BROOKLYN, NY. APRIL 27: The findings of an exhaustive study by members of the Park Slope Food Coop are being released so as to give consumers a way of protecting themselves from the adverse effects of genetically modified organisms in food. The study vetted the contents of the roughly 8,000 edible products stocked at the thriving Coop's store. It aimed to identify ingredients in the categories of produce on which genetic modification is practiced.

This is the first effort in NY State to provide consumers with the basis on which to make informed decisions about the presence of harmful ingredients in their food. Greg Todd, chair of the Coop's Safe Food Labeling Committee, noted that "Food is supposed to be nourishing, not illness producing, but until we could determine whether there were GMOs in our food or not, we couldn’t make healthy choices." Among the possible dangers found by researchers are organ damage, increases in allergies and genetic pollution. (Source: [pdf])

After excluding certified organic products, which cannot include GMOs, and those produced in the European Union where safe cultivation is enforced, the study identified 555 products with ingredients from the GMO risk categories. A series of letters was mailed to the producers requesting verification of whether, in fact, genetically modified (GM) source material was, was not, or possibly was, part of their products.

Of these, 93 products were attested to as being free of GMOs. Producers of 9 products admitted the presence of GMOs among the ingredients, while the producers of a further 64 products identified them as "possibly" containing GMOs because they could not state with certainty that their products did NOT contain genetically modified source material. The remaining 393 products were included in the "possibly containing GMOs" category by default, because their producers declined to respond to the three-phased mailing. Apparently a state of denial characterizes the majority of producers' approach to GMOs.

The production of GMO affected foods was not confined to the large food corporations. It was evident among some of the 'health conscious' producers as well. "It's indicative of how pervasive these dangerous substances are becoming," said food industry chemist Gregg Bromberg, who is also a committee member. At this time, GM ingredients appear in 60-70% of foods sold in the U.S.

The need for this time-consuming and labor-intensive study arose from the absence of any legal requirement for the identification of GMOs on food labeling. Like the financial industry, the food and drug industries have experienced several years of poor regulation and enforcement, with consumers being the biggest losers. "We felt it was vitally important to protect fellow members and citizens by accepting personal responsibility for properly identifying what we put into ourselves," said Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and Safe Food Labeling Committee member, Nancy Siesel.

"What this situation desperately calls for is a Federal law requiring producers to disclose the genetic status of their product ingredients. That way, everyone can make informed food decisions right at the point of purchase," said General Manager of the Park Slope Food Coop, Joe Holtz. He praised the work of the committee and urged the continued scrutiny of labels "because, at present, manufacturers can change ingredients faster than we can discover that they did so."

For more information contact: Greg Todd on 718-496-5139 or Gregg Bromberg at

Saturday, May 09, 2009

New York State to Stop Purchasing Bottled Water

On May 5th, 2009, Governor David Paterson signed an Executive Order specifying that New York State will stop purchasing bottled water (both single serve and cooler sized bottles) for State facilities, meetings, and events. New York State becomes the second state after Illinois to take such an action. And in 2007, the US Conference of Mayors resolved to take similar action.

The action was in acknowledgment of the State's obligation to protect its environment and natural resources, most notably its water. For the State to use public money to buy bottled water for its employees is like BMW buying a fleet of Volvos for the use of its employees.

The signing of the Executive Order was the culmination of years of effort by organizations such as Corporate Accountability International with its Think Outside the Bottle campaign, Food and Water Watch's Take Back the Tap campaign, and the work of dedicated activists (many of them Coop members) who tabled, gathered petitions, wrote letters, and lobbied with members of the governor's staff to convince him of the logic of employing public money to support and promote the State's high quality public water.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Green Buildings Open House on May 9th

Bring a friend and join us for our Spring Open House Tour!

For the next 24 hours buy one registration at full price ($25) and get up to four registrations for the same tour at a discount ($15) Sign up here! and enter coupon code: Recession Special

Get inside hard to see buildings and talk to the people who created and maintain them. All tours include a delicious lunch!

Register for a tour:
Tour #1: Brooklyn Bicycle Tour
  • Eco Brooklyn Show House - 22 2nd Street, Brooklyn

  • Poly Prep Lower School - 50 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn

  • Green on Dean - 357 Dean Street, Brooklyn

  • 3rd and Bond - 111 3rd Street, Brooklyn

Tour #2: Brooklyn Bus Tour
  • Atlantic Terrace - 669 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn

  • 439 Metropolitan Ave - 429 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn

  • Queen's Botanical Gardens Visitor Center - 43-50 Main Street, Queens

  • Sterling Green - 580 Sterling Place, Brooklyn

GreenHomeNYC continues to pursue its mission of facilitating the adoption of sustainable building methods and materials with these tours of Green buildings on May 9th. You'll learn valuable ways to go green by observing examples of: energy-saving solutions photovoltaic and solar hot water technology and integration water-saving fixtures and appliances green roofs solar heating ("passive solar") techniques allergy/asthma-sensitive building materials various of green materials including paints, insulation, carpeting, renewably- harvested wood products, reclaimed and recycled materials.

Contact Information:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

May is Bike Month 2009

This May is Bike Month 2009 in New York City, a month long celebration of cycling including events like the Great Five Borough Bike Tour on Sunday May 3rd (the largest mass bike ride in the United States) Bike to Work Day on Friday May 15th, and a host of cycling parties, rides, tours, classes, and races.

The product of a partnership between Transportation Alternatives and the Department of Traffic, Bike Month has grown from a one-day event to a full week, and then to a full month in 2004.

Cycling itself has grown by leaps and bounds in the City, and in 2008 bicycle commuting grew by a dramatic 35%, according to the DOT. With hard times upon us, with looming large fare hikes on subways and buses and new auto tolls on formerly free bridges, and with the ever-present threat of spikes in oil and gas prices, and, of course, climate change, the bicycle is emerging as the world's commuting vehicle of choice. New York and many other urban centers are poised to become very much more bike friendly.

You can read all about it, see the Calender of Events, download for free the 2009 NYC bike map, and more at Transportation Alternatives' website,, or at

New Bike Racks Installed Near Coop

The New York City Department of Traffic (DOT) Cityracks program has come through with some much needed bike parking for Union Street. Two new “double loop” type bike racks, which can accommodate four to five bicycles each, have been installed near the Dixon mural, opposite the Coop's own bike racks. And up the block near Dixon's Bike Shop, one double loop rack and three inverted “U” type racks, which can each accommodate two bicycles each, have been installed. Altogether, capacity for 18-21 bikes have been added.

The DOT installed three “double loop” CityRacks in June of 2007 after Environmental Committee requests. That capacity was quickly overwhelmed by the growing demand for bike parking. Members have inquired about the situation at General Meetings, and promised to follow up with requests. The New Shop&Cycle Committee also put in requests, which have finally paid off.

With the economic downturn bicycle use has been growing rapidly. The DOT reports that commuter cycling has doubled in the last six years and has grown 35% between 2007 and 2008. We can expect that trend to continue along with growth in Coop membership. It would not be surprising if the newly added bicycle parking capacity is quickly used up.

If you know of a location that is in need of bike parking you can make a request online using the DOT's CityRacks Suggestion Form.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Brooklyn Food Conference, May 2, 2009

Focusing on local action for global change. Free and open to the public. The Park Slope Food Coop is co-sponsoring a conference to highlight and promote local responses to the global food crisis.

For the most current info, visit Brooklyn Food Conference on the web. The world food crisis is real, it's growing, and it affects us all. Food prices are skyrocketing, mono-crops and agribusiness have damaged the environment, farmers cannot afford the food they grow, most farmers and farm workers live in poverty, and an irrational system of food production and distribution based on short-term corporate profits has created a mess for us to clean up and change. Epidemics of obesity and diabetes caused by the food industry extract a huge personal and societal toll. The world food crisis: what can we do about it?