Friday, May 28, 2010

Carcinogen in Hair & Cleaning Products

Consumer watchdog groups are looking into 1,4-dioxane, a synthetic petrochemical carcinogen, found in some in consumer products. This toxic chemical byproduct is not listed on product labels, because current laws do not require manufacturers to do so. The Green Patriot Working Group (GPWG) began a study in 2007 to see which consumer products are the worst offenders. GPWG, along with the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), just released the results of a portion of the study conducted last year on laundry detergents.

Read more about this and see the Organic Consumers Association new Personal Care and Cleaning Products Guide.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flash Mob Protest of BP in New York City

Garret Graves with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority shows his hand after collecting oil samples in Pass A Loutre

This Friday (May 28), if you are in New York City, there is going to be a flash mob at the BP station on Houston and Lafayette at 6:00 PM. You have to be there at exactly 6:00 PM. Head to the Facebook page for all the details about the protest.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Make Your Own Green Roof

Installing a greenroof on your home can:
• save you money on your energy bills for cooling and heating
• create a unique outdoor space of your own
• increase the value of your home
• improve the quality of your city’s air
• allow you to apply for a Real Property tax abatement in New York City
• reduce urban temperatures
• provide new spaces for displaced native plants to thrive
• create new bird and butterfly habitats
• significantly reduce outside noise and vibration in your home
• prolong the life of your existing roof for 50 years and up

The Green-It-Yourself (G-I-Y) guidebook, the Park Slope-based G-I-Y Supply Store and website, and free on-line video series provides to the general public a concrete body of knowledge and materials to live more sustainably. The educational G-I-Y Workbook series illustrates key cost-effective and "green" strategies that the average consumer to immediately integrate into their everyday life routine. Read the FAQs for more information.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First U.S. City to Ban Bottled Water

Last week residents of Concord, Massachusetts voted to ban the sale of all bottled water by next January, making it the first U.S. town to take such action.

The effort was lead by Jean Hill, an 82-year old activist, who lobbied neighbors and officials alike on the consequences of plastic bottles filling landfills and polluting local waters. "All these discarded bottles are damaging our planet, causing clumps of garbage in the oceans that hurt fish, and are creating more pollution on our streets,'' says Hill. "This is a great achievement to be the first in the country to do this. This is about addressing an injustice.''

Of course, the $10 billion industry is less than thrilled with the news and has even threatened a legal challenge. They argue that singling out bottled water is unfair when "thousands of food, medicinal, beauty and cleaning products packaged in plastic." But this isn't the first time bottled water has been targeted.

More than 100 towns across the United States already prohibit spending city dollars on the product. Read the rest of the arcticle at

Saturday, May 15, 2010

GM Vote on Support of NYS Gas Drilling Ban

On Tuesday, May 25 the Park Slope Food Coop General Meeting will vote on whether or not the Coop supports a statewide ban on hydraulic fracture gas drilling. If so, we will join the list of organizations on this petition. The Environmental Committee, with the help of other concerned Coop members, plans to reach out and encourage other NYS coops to join in support of a statewide gas drilling ban.

The General Meeting starts at 7pm and is held Congregation Beth Elohim Social Hall (Garfield Temple), 274 Garfield Place between 8th St. and Prospect Park West. Please consider attending this meeting to vote in support of a statewide gas drilling ban.

If you want to read the latest information on the gas drilling situation, see the recent article in the May 6 Linewaiters' Gazette.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tree Care & Compost Lessons

Saturday, May 15
The Old Stone House
5th Ave & 4th St., Park Slope

Tree Care 10 am - 1 pm: Tree bed gardening on the south side (4th St) of Washington Park by our new farm garden. Help plant a tree garden bed and learn more about how to care for trees.

Free cookies and coloring books for the children and home-made biscuits for the dogs - as long as they last.

Making City Soil Sweet!
BBG Master Composters Julia Kim and Liz Neves will answer your compost questions. Sign-up for vermi-compost materials between 10am and 1pm. Instant garden bed-building demonstration at 11am. The sheet mulch - or lasagna gardening -technique uses on site materials to create new garden space or improve a weedy area. Also called "lazy bed" gardening because it is so easy.

12 pm: Vandra Thorburn will introduce a revolutionary way of handling food waste based on the Japanese method of fermenting organic matter called bokashi. Her business, Vokashi – kitchen waste solution – is a unique service to help households, small businesses and catering companies recycle their food waste.

* no smell, no bad odors

* no bugs, flies or pests

* convenient kitchen container

* add to your compost bin, or

* call for collection service

Vokashi provides buckets and bran to households, small businesses and catering companies. They collect full buckets of fermented food waste and plant as natural microbial enriched fertilizer in gardens, farms, parklands, or produce nutrient-enriched top soils and mulches.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Film Screenings

Fowl Play
Thu May 13 at 6:30 pm

Walter Reade Theater
165 W 65th St., upper level

Tickets available at the box office or online at
Adam Durand, 2009, USA; 50m

Most Americans are opposed to the inhumane treatment of animals-which is why the egg industry is so secretive about the operations that yield food for our breakfast tables. Fowl Play investigates hen abuse in the industry, drawing on the dedicated documentation of activists. Interviews with rescuers, veterinarians, and animal behaviorists challenge us to consider the politics of ethical eating.

also Cows Are Nice (Kor ar Fina), Stephan Jarl, 2007, Sweden; 13m
With the rise of large industrial farms, small farmers, unable to compete, must sell their dairy cows, and Sweden is now importing milk.

Following the screening there will be a Q&A with
  • Matt Rice, Mercy for Animals;
  • Jenny Brown, Founder, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary;
  • Martha Lazar, chicken keeper, blogger (
  • Wyckoff Community Garden and Farmers Market.
Followed by a reception in the Furman Gallery.

Future Visions movie and discussion series presents:
Food, Inc. (93 minutes)
Friday, May 14 at 7 pm

The Community Church of NY
"The Gallery" at John Haynes Holmes House
8 East 35th St., NYC

suggested donation $5

How much do we really know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets?
Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner exposes the highly mechanized hidden underbelly of the nation's food industry. With the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA, our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad. But we also have new strains of E. coli, widespread obesity and epidemic diabetes.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Environmental Cancer Risks Underestimated

Exposure to potential cancer risks in daily life is widespread but underestimated, especially for children, a presidential panel said today. The President’s Cancer Panel said the public remains by and large unaware of such common cancer risks as formaldehyde, benzene and radon. It’s the first time the group has focused on environmental cancer risks in its annual report to the president.

The report also faults U.S. policy for allowing most of the 80,000 chemicals in use to go largely unstudied and unregulated. For example, the report says, bisphenol A (BPA) remains unregulated in consumer products such as plastic bottles, can liners and food wrap “despite the growing link between BPA and several diseases, including various cancers.”

Risks of environmental exposure are especially acute for children, who weigh less but – pound for pound - take in more food, water and air than adults. Toxic chemicals also remain active longer in children’s bodies and their developing brains are more prone to chemical exposure.

To lessen cancer risks, the 240-page report also recommends:
  • Removing shoes before entering the home to avoid tracking in toxic chemicals such as pesticides.

  • Filtering tap water.

  • Using stainless steel, glass or BPA-free plastic water bottles.

  • Microwaving in ceramic or glass instead of plastic containers.

  • Minimizing consumption of food grown with pesticides and meat raised with antibiotics and growth hormone.

  • Minimizing consumption of processed, charred or well-done meats, which contain carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

  • Reducing radiation from X-rays and other medical sources.
The report singled out three chemicals as dangerous: formaldehyde, benzene and radon.

Almost all homes contain formaldehyde, considered a probable human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. Formaldehyde is used in plywood, particle board, foam insulation, carpet and draperies, furniture, permanent press fabrics and toiletries. Exposure is highest when these are newly installed, the report said. Also, an estimated 2 million Americans are exposed to formaldehyde at work, raising their risk of dying from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers, according to the report.

Exposure to benzene is also widespread. Exhaust from cars and other vehicles contain benzene, listed as a known human carcinogen by the EPA.

Radon, which forms naturally and can collect in homes, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, behind smoking, resulting in an estimated 21,000 deaths annually, according to the report. The report recommends periodically checking the radon levels at home.

Excerpted from CNN Online by David S. Martin

Sunday, May 02, 2010

U.S. to Prevent GMO Labeling Worldwide

Countries around the world have banned or restricted the production of GMOs (or “genetically modified organisms”), because they have not been adequately tested and proven safe for human consumption. In the European Union GMO food labeling has been in effect since 1997.

The Obama Administration, however, recently appointed former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, as the country’s chief agricultural negotiator. Monsanto is the leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed.

The USDA and FDA are claiming that the labeling of GM/GE products is “false, misleading, or deceptive.” and could “suggest or imply that GM/GE foods are different from other foods.”

Now, the Administration intends to prevent GM/GE labeling worldwide. Obama is sending officials to the May 3rd meeting of Codex, the United Nations body that sets food labeling rules for international trade, and will urge them to adopt the same position.

If you would like to tell the USDA and FDA that we have a right to know what's in our food, please SIGN HERE.

To learn more about GMOs, visit the Non GMO Project.

Image: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Where Do Recycled Batteries Go?

At our recent Earth Day outreach, several Coop members stopped by and some had questions for us. We were collecting batteries for recycling (something the Food Coop does not normally do) and sending them off in a prepaid mailer to Waste Management, Inc. One person wanted to know:

What happens to the recycled batteries?
The recycling process starts by removing the combustible material, such as plastics and insulation, with a gas fired thermal oxidizer. Gases from the thermal oxidizer are sent to the plant's scrubber where they are neutralized to remove pollutants. The process leaves the clean, naked cells, which contain valuable metal content [nickel, chromium, iron].

The cells are then chopped into small pieces, which are heated until the metal liquefies. Non-metallic substances are burned off; leaving a black slag on top that is removed with a slag arm. The different alloys settle according to their weights and are skimmed off like cream from raw milk.

A related question came up at the Earth day table. Why do we pay money to have these things recycled?
Current battery recycling methods requires a high amount of energy. It takes six to ten times the amount of energy to reclaim metals from recycled batteries than it would through other means.

Battery recyclers claim that if a steady stream of batteries, sorted by chemistry, were available at no charge, recycling would be profitable. But preparation [sorting, which is a manual process] and transportation add to the cost.

You can search by zip for places to drop off batteries for recycling at Earth911.

***If you have questions for us, email us at