Sunday, January 31, 2010

Smart Grid for Smart Cities

Event Date: Wednesday, 2/03/2010
8:00am - 12:15pm

Location: NYU Wagner School for Public Service,
295 Lafayette Street, 2nd Floor, Rudin Center

Building a smart electric power grid will be one of the great achievements of our time. But getting there will challenge utilities, government, investors and innovators alike. While public attention has started to consider smart grids at the national scale, the urban scale is where success or failure will be found. Using New York as a living laboratory, this conference will explore what it would take for a smart city to construct a smart grid.

Panel One: Farshad Khorrami (Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, NYU-Poly), Sanjoy Banerjee, Ph.D. (Director, Energy Institute, City College of New York-CUNY) and Jane Snowdon, Ph.D. (Senior, Manager, Industry Solutions and Emerging Business, IBM).

Panel Two: Reza Ghafurian (Con Edison); William Hery (Co-Director, ISIS Lab and Adjunct Professor, Computer Science & Engineering, NYU-Poly); Ramesh Karri (Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, NYU-Poly); and James Gallagher (Senior V.P., NYC Economic Development Corporation) .

Panel Three: Dr. Stephen Hammer (Director, Urban Energy Program, Columbia University, SIPA)

Moderators: Nancy Anderson, (Executive Director, the Sallan Foundation), Michael Bobker (CUNY Institute for Urban Systems), Marcia Bystryn (President, New York League of Conservation Voters) Rae Zimmerman (Professor, NYU Wagner School of Public Service & ISIS)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beekeeping in Brooklyn

1:30-3:30 pm
The Alter Ego Lounge
388 Atlantic Ave., bet. Bond & Hoyt, Brooklyn
(718) 625-6923

Beekeeping: Find out how to get ready for spring; making it legal

John Howe, founder of the the Brooklyn Bee, lives in Fort Greene where he has three beehives on his roof. The bees make honey that John sells; he also makes soap, lip balm and candles from beeswax. Come learn how to keep bees. Plus, this is the week that the City Council holds hearings to legalize beekeeping in NYC (Wednesday, Feb 3). Just Food will speak briefly about the legislation and what we can do to make sure it passes.

closest to A, C & G, but near the B, M, Q, R, 2, 3, 4, 5, and F
suggested donation: $10

* Read Grist's Bee here, now.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How do I know if a product is eco-friendly?

from Earth911:
Reducing your impact starts in the store. When choosing a product, considerations such as organic ingredients and fair trade materials play a big role, but packaging is also an important component of a product’s eco-friendliness. Opt for materials that are recyclable or made from post-consumer materials.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable labels, the universal recycling symbol is used to designate recyclable materials in a product or a product’s packaging. The three chasing arrows symbolize “closing the loop” by recycling and buying recycled products.

This makes it important to understand your curbside program or local recycling facilities. Once you have a handle on what is accepted, you can make better purchasing decisions.

To assure that you don’t fall victim to greenwashing (making misleading marketing claims about the environmental benefits of a product) look for one of these top 10 eco labels.

Photo: Amanda Wills,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jan. 25th Albany Rally to Stop Gas Drilling

From the Safe Water Movement (SWiM):
Next Monday January 25th, New Yorkers from across the state will meet in Albany to tell our lawmakers to ban gas drilling. The risks to water, health and safety have united New Yorkers from all walks of life and regions of the state in opposition to gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, and we will show our strength with a demonstration and citizen lobbying day.

Of course, the people who seek to profit on gas drilling will be out in force - pro-drilling forces have chartered buses for 800 people to arrive in Albany as well. We need to show our numbers to make sure our legislators hear us loud and clear: we won't sacrifice our state's health for a quick buck. (Though we use 'pro-drilling' here to characterize the corporations/people seeking to profit directly from leasing land to mine methane, it seems apt to characterize the forces seeking to facilitate the 'safe' drilling of upstate water- and foodsheds (like Councilman James Gennaro and Borough President Scott Stringer) as 'pro-drilling' too!)

Environmental Advocates of New York is chartering a bus to Albany to the rally, and we need New Yorkers from downstate to make a strong showing. The bus will leave at 6:30 AM the 25th returning that evening. They're asking riders to pitch in just $10 to help cover costs.

Can you join us at the rally? Email' to reserve your space. Only the first 49 people will be accepted. Hope to see you there!

p.s. For those not wanting to lobby, there may be a planning meeting for our statewide ban movement in Albany after the rally. (It would be announced soon.) So stay tuned please (and see you up there either way).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

GMO Panel Discussion

A new study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences has just found that three separate kinds of Monsanto's genetically modified corn causes organ damage in rats. Or read the summary of the study at the Huffington Post or Food Freedom.

Learn more at the

Public Panel Discussion of GMOs in our Food Crops

When: Sunday, January 24, 3pm

Where: United Methodist Church
6th Ave. & 8th St. in Park Slope.

The panel includes:
  • Dr. Michael Hanson, Consumers’ Union

  • Michael Potter, Eden Foods founder and CEO
Moderator: Joe Holtz, General Coordinator of the Park Slope Food Coop.

Citing the high level of confusion in the general population about GMOs (genetically modified foods), this forum will give anyone who eats the opportunity to hear some of the foremost experts on the topic and ask them questions.

The event will address the safety of GMOs; consumers’ right to know if their foods contain GMOs; and why there are no laws requiring the identification of GMOs on food product labels.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

FDA Powerless to Regulate BPA

As is the case with so many industrial chemicals pouring into our food chain, the FDA has little power to enforce restrictions on or regulation of toxic additives, like Bisphenol A (BPA)- the endocrine-disrupting chemical used in plastic food packaging, water bottles, and can linings.

It is up to the consumer to sift through the research and determine what is safe and what is not.

A recent article in GRIST takes a closer look at the problem and the FDA's January 2010 update, which contradicts its previous report from 2008 stating that BPA is safe.

Photo: / CC BY 2.0

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Electronics Recycling this Weekend

The Lower East Side Ecology Center will host two-waste collections this weekend. Don't miss your chance to keep old monitors, TVs, game consoles and more out of the landfill!

Saturday, January 16, 10am-4pm
Tekserve, 119 W 23rd St.

Sunday, January 17, 10am-4pm
Prospect Park West and 3rd St, Brooklyn

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year's Plastic-Free Resolution

This is the year to make a resolution that will have real impact on your health, your budget, and your community, too!

Take small steps to reduce your plastic consumption. Start by signing the Environmental Committee’s new Plastic-Free Pledge.

In a recent Linewaiters' Gazette article, the Environmental Committee reported on the PSFC’s plastic bag consumption in terms of cost, health, and environmental impact [The Plastic Elephant in the Bulk Aisle - PDF]

We learned that the PSFC currently spends $33,823.27 and consumes 3,359,520 plastic bulk and produce bags annually. This economic burden and devastating environmental impact can be easily reduced through small changes from PSFC members.

When you use a plastic bag to hold your lettuce or buy a bag of noodles encased in plastic packaging take a moment to think about where that plastic will end up.

Photo: National Geographic

Plastic does not biodegrade. Every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence, floating in oceans or collecting in landfill sites, killing wildlife and leaching toxic chemicals into our water and soil.

On your next shopping trip, ask this question: “Will this item return to the earth to nourish new life and new growth?” If not, consider making one small step toward your Plastic-Free Resolution.
  • Use re-usable muslin bags instead of plastic for your bulk and produce.
  • Choose biodegradable or compostable products and packaging over plastic.
  • Buy bulk instead of plastic-packaged convenience items.
Learn more about your plastic waste from Capt. Charles Moore or watch this excerpt from the documentary Message in the Waves.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Coal Country: The Film

Where: The Community Church
The Gallery at John Haynes Holmes House
28 East 35th Street, Manhattan

When: Friday, January 8, 2009 at 7 pm
suggested donation $5

Coal Country (85 minutes)
Have you hiked in the Appalachian Mountains? This beautiful region is being destroyed, mountain by mountain, by coal mining. "Modern" methods take shortcuts not envisioned by coal miners of the past--the heavy machinery removes the whole top of the mountain! Toxic chemicals used by present day mining corporations inflict further damage on the community and the environment. Learn more about this and how your choices can help.

Presented by Future Visions film and discussion series. The Future Visions Film/Discussion Series was created by Sierra Club NYC Group, Neighborhood Energy Network, Beyond Oil NYC, and Tri-State Food Not Lawns as a vehicle to educate and then engage people in discussion about environmental issues. In partnership with local groups, the Future Visions series is being presented in locations throughout New York City.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Don't Trash That Tree!

Now that Christmas is over, don't trash that tree: recycle it at Mulchfest!

Saturday, Jan. 9 &
Sunday, Jan. 10
10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Bring your holiday tree to a designated city park to be recycled into mulch that will nourish plantings across the city! Remember to remove all lights and ornaments before bringing the tree to a MulchFest site. Bring your own bag if you would like to take home fresh mulch for your yard, garden or street tree.

Check the list of Citywide locations for one near you.

Department of Sanitation Tree Pick-Ups
If you can't make it to MulchFest, DSNY will conduct Christmas tree collection from Monday, January 4, 2010 through Friday, January 15. Simply place your tree on the curb free of ornaments, stands and plastic bags.

(NOTE: these dates may change, so call 311 or check back here early January).

Image courtesy of Jimw's Flickr pool.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

EPA Comment on Hydrofracking in NYS

There has been an important development on proposed gas drilling in the New York portion of the Marcellus Shale. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formally commented on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) covering the proposed drilling.

The EPA believes that DEC's environmental impact statement did not analyze "cumulative and indirect impacts" of construction of the infrastructure supporting the drilling process, such as pipes, roads, and the heavy duty trucking in and out of the area.

The EPA also said the dSGEIS did not adequately consider the health impacts of the drilling process, such as the potential risks associated with drilling in the New York City Watershed. The EPA specifically cited the 1997 New York City Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), of which it is a signatory, which granted the City its exemption from needing to filter its surface water supply, provided the water's purity can be insured. The EPA expressed "serious reservations about whether gas drilling in the New York City watershed is consistent with the vision of long-term maintenance of a high quality unfiltered water supply." and went on to say that "[a]s NYSDEC is well aware...the avoidance of filtration saves New York taxpayers billions of dollars that would be needed to construct and operate a water filtration plant should the watershed be compromised." It added that if drilling activities "adversely impacts water quality in the watershed, the city of New York would likely be required to build a filtration treatment system at an expenditure of $10 billion in capital costs and $100 million in annual operating costs. Clearly, it is in all our interests to avoid this scenario." Thus, the EPA recommended “a very cautious approach in all watershed areas.”

More surprising, and in stark contrast to the call of many of the City's politicians, is a section of the EPA's letter expressing concerns about water quality impacts not just in the City's watershed but throughout the state, and offered to partner with NYSDEC on coordinated efforts to protect water sources state-wide."

This statement is noteworthy because only two days before, the Syracuse Post-Standard reported that "[a]s of early December, oil and gas companies had bought drilling rights on almost 100 parcels of land in the Skaneateles watershed, according to Onondaga County property records. Drillers hold at least 150 leases in the Otisco Lake watershed. They’ve secured dozens more in land in the Cortland-Homer-Preble Sole Source Aquifer system, which cuts across Onondaga and Cortland counties."

Skaneateles Lake provides drinking water to more than 200,000 people in Skaneateles, Elbridge, Jordan and Syracuse. The lake is so clean that Syracuse is one of only seven large cities in the United States that don’t need a water filtration plant.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Electronics Recycling in January

The Lower East Side Ecology Center will host five e-waste collections in January. Don't miss your chance to keep old monitors, TVs, game consoles and more out of the landfill!

Sunday, January 17, 10am-4pm
Prospect Park West and 3rd St, Brooklyn

Sunday, January 3, 10am-4pm
Union Square (17th St. and Broadway)

Saturday, January 9, 10am-4pm
Riverside Drive at Dyckman St.

Sunday, January 10, 10am-4pm
331 East 70th St. (b/t 1st and 2nd)

Saturday, January 16, 10am-4pm
Tekserve, 119 W 23rd St.

Visit the Lower East Side Ecology Center for more info.