Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Water & Its Preservation Panel

Please join Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer and NYH2O for a panel discussion:

"Water and Its Preservation Amid the Threat of Hydro-fracking/Natural Gas Drilling in NYC's Watershed.

Thursday, April 1 at 7-9pm
John Jay College - Lynch Theater
899 10th Ave. @ 51st St., NYC

Great group of expert speakers:
  • Albert Appleton, former DEC Commissioner

  • Deborah Goldberg, Earthjustic Attorney

  • Steve Penningroth, Community Science Institute

  • Thomas Shelley, Chemical Safety & Hazardous Materials Specialist

  • Dr. Bola Omotosho, Jacobi Medical Center Cancer Research
Read their bios and see the complete agenda.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The End of the Line - Film Screening

"The End of the Line" screening, discussion, and socializing
Wednesday, March 31st at 6:30PM (screening will begin at 7:00PM)
Green Spaces at 394 Broadway, NYC 5th Floor

The Brooklyn Green Team and Green Edge NYC are presenting a screening of "The End of the Line," the first major feature documentary film revealing the impact of overfishing on our oceans. Narrated by Ted Danson, the film examines the imminent extinction of bluefin tuna and other popular seafood favorites; the impact on marine life resulting in huge overpopulation of jellyfish; and the profound implications of a future world without fish, which would result in mass starvation. Scientists predict that if we continue fishing as we are now, we will see the end of most seafood by 2048. "The End of the Line" points to solutions that are simple and doable, but political will and activism are crucial to solve this international problem.

Following the screening will be a discussion of the dangers of overfishing with experts in the field, including June Russell a Greenmarket inspector for GrowNYC.

Complimentary wine and snacks will be served and there will be an opportunity for chatting before and after the film (54 minutes - we know how people's attention spans are).

Suggested Donation: $10 in advance, $15 - if you can't swing the cost, no problem, pay what you can and we won't turn you away. Pay early or RSVP on our facebook page. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, an organization working to solve this problem.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour

Can you turn off your lights for just one hour?

Saturday, March 27 at 8pm is Earth Hour.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Electronic Waste Recycling Events

The Lower East Side Ecology Center is partnering with Earth Day NY to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day by holding 7 electronic waste ("e-waste") recycling events this spring. Full event details can be found on our calendar.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Union Square, 17th Street and Broadway

Saturday, April 03, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Roosevelt Island, Good Shepherd Plaza, 543 Main Street, Roosevelt Island

Saturday, April 10, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Tekserve, 119 W 23rd Street, Chelsea

Sunday, April 11, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Travers Park, 78th Street between Northern Blvd & 34th Avenue, Jackson Heights

Saturday, April 17, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Habana Outpost, South Portland Avenue and Fulton Street, Ft. Greene

Sunday, April 18, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Morningside Park, Morningside Avenue between 113th Street and 114th Street, Harlem

Saturday, April 25, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
PS 29 School Yard, Baltic Street Between Henry Street and Clinton Street, Cobble Hill

See the list of acceptable materials. We do not accept home appliances such as microwaves or refrigerators and cannot accept any electronics from businesses.

Monday, March 22, 2010

World Water Day: March 22

We always post something for World Water Day, since drinking water is one of the most essential resources on our planet. Water quality is the theme of World Water Day 2010. It is still a reality that an estimated 1.1 billion people rely on unsafe drinking-water sources.

We could soon be among those numbers.

The threat of hydrofrack drilling for gas in upstate New York threatens to poison our water supply beyond repair. Learn more about this issue and see how you can help.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bike There Feature Added to Google Maps!

Google's Official Blog states, "My team has been keeping close tabs on all the public support for biking directions that's been steadily coming in, but we knew that when we added the feature, we wanted to do it right: we wanted to include as much bike trail data as possible, provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trip, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and customize the look of the map for cycling to encourage folks to hop on their bikes. So that's exactly what we've done."

All you need to do is hit the drop down box for selecting your transportation method and select "bike there." The directions generated will direct you along the flattest route, will help you avoid the busiest intersections, and will show you when there are bike-only trails or when there are bike lanes available on the roads. It shows you a great layer, highlighting:

- Dark green indicates a dedicated bike-only trail;
- Light green indicates a dedicated bike lane along a road;
- Dashed green indicates roads that are designated as preferred for bicycling, but without dedicated lanes

More than 12,000 miles of trails are included in biking directions and outlined on the map, covering over 150 cities across the states. And more are being added. Read more at Google Maps Bike There. There's even a bike directions widget that you can add to your desktop.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What does “minimally treated” mean?

Q: Member Naomi writes: I have been wondering what the coop means when we say that produce is "minimally treated." Maybe this is something you could write about on the blog? I would like to support farmers who are transitioning to organic or are basically growing organically but don't have certification. But I have no idea if this is what I'm doing when I buy minimally treated produce.

A: The question of "minimally treated" vs. "organic" is a good one. As of the year 2000, foods labeled organic must comply with a complex set of regulations developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Obtaining organic certification is a lengthy and costly process for farmers. In contrast, the minimally treated produce that the coop sells is guaranteed only by the good word of Amy Hepworth, a New York State farmer with whom the coop has a 30-year relationship. Some explanation of the standards for minimally treated are given in the excerpts below, with links to the full articles.

[T]he fruit from Hepworth Farms carries a slightly vague title: Minimally Treated. … Many growers farm organically but cannot label their produce as such without certification. In light of this restriction, Coop General Manager Joe Holtz and [farmer] Amy Hepworth struggled to find a term that would adequately represent her ecologically sustainable growing practice in the Hudson Valley, settling on ”minimally treated.”

- Read the rest of the article above on page 6 of the 1/31/o8 Linewaiters' Gazette.
- Part II in the 3/13/08 Linewaiters' Gazette
- Part III in the 3/27/08 Linewaiters' Gazette

[F]ruit purchased in the Northeast, ... is typically not organic but “minimally treated,” a term ... that denotes fruits grown with the least non-organic pesticides possible, which can range from nearly none (in dry season) to as high as 5% of the amount of what conventional agriculture deploys.

“If you are an organic-fruit eater,” [produce buyer Allen] Zimmerman says, “you are mostly getting fruit from the West Coast, like the Washington State orchards. They are located in deserts.” … Even with the best growing practices, that creates a considerable strain on water resources.

Most growers also pull out the certified organic heavy hitters, like sulfur and copper, which are residual and build up in the soil over time. ... “There is no question,” Hepworth says, “that there is more residue on an organic apple than ours.”

- Read the rest of the article above on page 3 of the 9/27/07 Linewaiters' Gazette.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A No Impact Experience

One day last fall I collected that day's trash  --  from home, commuting, and work  --  in one place, and took a good look at it.  This moment of trash truth, and the behavior changes that followed, were part of my No Impact Week Experiment.

No Impact Week is a free event in which participants experiment with changing everyday behaviors in order to reduce carbon impact.  The event is periodically sponsored online by "No Impact Man" Colin Beavan.  Participants download a manual with schedule, information, links, and suggestions, then work with one area per day (consumption, trash, energy, etc.) to become aware of what they are already doing and make improvements.  They can share their thoughts and experiences with other participants in the online forums and respond to follow-up questionnaires.

As one who sees that massive individual behavior change is necessary for the environment, but whose environmental actions sometimes lag behind her thinking, I watch for whatever might motivate or help me and others to actually make changes.  So when  I came across No Impact Week, I had to try it.

As my week began, I thought I was already living a fairly low-impact life:  I wouldn't need to change much.  Wrong.  I found I was doing well in some areas while remaining a beginner in others.  In the food area, I changed little, except to forego buying bananas to keep my supply more local.  Trash was another story.

Actually spreading that day's trash on the kitchen floor and dividing it into piles opened my eyes.  I saw mostly fruit and vegetable trimmings.  Sending unused organic produce to the landfill is crazy, I thought.  I asked my landlord if I could compost on his property.  He agreed and provided a compost bin.  I've composted ever since.

With compost removed, the remainder of my trash was mostly plastic.  This led me to grow bean sprouts, make crackers, and experiment with homemade HBA items to reduce my plastic packaging trash.

In my experience:

 - the focus on one area a day was manageable and productive.

 - since ideas were given for every level, it was possible each day to find something new to do, even in areas where I'd already made many changes.

 - doing the awareness exercises, e.g., looking at  my trash, fostered a change in consciousness sufficient to fuel sustained behavior change in several areas.  (I've backslid in other areas.)  My growing awareness of how much plastic I send out into the world, along with making the Plastic-Free Pledge, has led me to continue work on cutting my plastic use.

 - Colin Beavan's year-long experiment, the manual, and other participants' comments inspired me.  The specifics vary,  --  one woman in Los Angeles stopped driving to work, and instead mastered the intricacies of using the LA bus system, others fought mighty battles to avoid junk foods  --  but many people succeeded at making real changes that week.

If the prospect of trying a No Impact Week appeals to you, check it out here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's Your Water Footprint?

Did you know it takes 40 litres of water to produce a slice of bread, 5,000 litres of water for a kg. of cheese and 70 litres of water for an apple?

With World Water Day coming up (March 22), it's a good time to think about how much water we use everyday, not just the water coming directly from the tap, but how much water goes into the products that we use. Look up the foods that you eat at Water Footprint.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

If You Buy Gold Jewelry . . .

You might want to read the new report, Tarnished Gold: Assessing the Jewelry Industry's Progress on Ethical Sourcing of Metals.

More than 60 jewelry companies have committed to purchase cleaner sources of gold by endorsing the Golden Rules, a set of principles for more responsible mining. These companies are calling on the mining industry, one of the world's dirtiest, to move away from current practices that harm local communities and generate millions of tons of toxic waste.

There's also the fact sheet which tells us that:
  • A single gold ring leaves in its wake, on average, 20 tons of mine waste.

  • Cyanide and other deadly toxic chemicals are used to separate gold from waste rock. The average large gold mine uses over 1,900 tons of cyanide per year.2 A rice grain-sized dose of cyanide can be fatal to humans and even smaller amounts can be fatal to fish.

...and more. See Earthwork's No Dirty Gold site for more information and National Geographic's January 2009 article The Real Price of Gold.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Copenhagen: The Science and Policy of Climate Change

Event Date: 03/07/2010
Time: 2:00pm - 4:30pm

Place: Congregation Beth Elohim
271 Garfield Place, Brooklyn, NY

A panel discussion with the authors of
Climate Change: Picturing the Science

Gavin Schmidt:
Climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, nd co-founder of and contributing editor at RealClimate.org

Joshua Wolfe:

Founder of GHG Photos, a leading photography agency focusing on climate change.

Frank Zeman:

Engineer and director of the Center for Metropolitan Sustainability at the New York Institute of Technology.

Followed by a policy update with:

Sean Sweeney:
Director of Cornell University's Global Labor Institute, has attended all recent UN Climate Talks and is co-author of the UN's 2008 study, "Green Jobs: Towards Sustainable Work in a Low Carbon World."

Bring the Whole Family! Reserve your space for free childcare with fun eco-activities for kids - (to be offered during the panel discussion) by contacting Judy Schneier at or call 347 451 6498 by March 1.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Canned Foods-- Buyer Beware

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a type of chemical used in certain plastics. Exposure to BPA is linked with reproductive disorders, birth defects, and even cancer. If you'd like to avoid getting exposed to this chemical, it's important to know which products contain BPA, especially ones that contain or come in contact with food or beverages. Most manufacturers of canned goods use BPA-lined cans--this stems from a time before the dangerous health effects were known. It's still difficult to get canned foods without BPA linings, even in organic products. One of the few manufacturers which does use cans without BPA is Eden Foods, except for their highly acidic tomato products. Learn more about BPA at Plastic Albatross.

Learn more:
BPA Danger may be greater from Tin Cans than Water Bottles article from Treehugger

A Survey of Bisphenol A in canned foods by the Environmental Working Group

Monday, March 01, 2010

Toxic Dust?

Like many people, I hate to dust, though I enjoy having a dust-free home. There's nothing like an article about the toxins lurking in household dust to get me motivated. Did you know that:

- Products inside your house "shed" chemicals over time--furniture, electronics, shoes, plastics, fabrics and food, among other things.

- Outdoor pollutants enter on your shoes and through open and cracked windows and doors.

- Young children and pets are particularly vulnerable to this dust, because they spend a lot of time on the floor, children especially so because they are still developing.

Read the Environmental Working Group's article on what's in your household dust and how best to deal with it.