Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Antibiotic Overuse in Farm Animal Feed

Federal food regulators took a tentative step Monday toward banning a common use of penicillin and tetracycline in the water and feed given cattle, chickens and pigs in hopes of slowing the growing scourge of killer bacteria.

Some 100,000 people die every year in the United States as a result of infections caused by bacteria known as 'super bugs', which have developed a resistance to antibiotics due to their overuse in the livestock industry. Anyone familiar with factory farming and the fast food industry knows that these antibiotics are pumped into animal feed to make them grow larger and faster unnaturally, and that the livestock grow sickly and dependent on them.

The FDA has long sought to combat this process, and has been routinely thwarted by powerful agricultural interests in Washington. Now, the FDA is trying again: The agency just issued a policy paper stating that antibiotics should only be used under a veterinarian's supervision, and only when an animal is naturally sick. Could things finally change?

Read the rest of the story in Treehugger.

Graph from HealthCare Without Harm: Antibiotic Resistance and Agricultural Overuse of Antibiotics. 2005.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Don't Trash that Cell Phone !

Bring your old electronic equipment to the
Summer E-Waste Recycling Days

The Lower East Side Ecology Center will accept electronic waste ("e-waste") from NYC residents - we cannot accept any electronics from businesses. Bring your unwanted or broken electronics and have them recycled responsibly. See the list of what you can recycle at these events. We do not accept home appliances such as microwaves or refrigerators.

Saturday July 10, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Tekserve, 119 West 23rd St NY, NY

Saturday July 17, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
RING Garden, Riverside Dr btwn Seaman Ave & Broadway, NY, NY

Sunday July 18, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Stuyvesant Town, 14th St Loop; enter from 14th St & Avenue A; event is on right side, NY, NY

Saturday July 24, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Essex St., east side of Essex St btwn Hester St & Grand St, NY, NY

Sunday July 25, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Essex St., east side of Essex St btwn Hester St & Grand St, NY, NY

***Saturday July 31, 2010 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
Smith St btwn President St & Union St, Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vanity Fair Covers Hydrofracking!

The article is called, "A Colossal Fracking Mess -- The dirty truth behind the new natural gas."

It's an online feature which includes a video look at a town transformed by fracking. Please read it and send the link to others.

And please urge everyone to sign the petition to ban hydrofrack drilling in New York State.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Those Dry Cleaning Bags

If you use dry cleaners (hopefully one of Park Slope's green cleaners) you may still be plagued by the ubiquitus plastic cleaning bags. Although some green cleaners advertise bags made of recycled plastic, it would be better not to use something that is quickly going to end up in the trash. See Take Them to the Cleaners, Again and Again for an article about reusable dry cleaning bags--an innovation we certainly need.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Caring For and Using Fabric Produce Bags

Many PSFC members have ditched the plastic produce and bulk bags in favor of reusable fabric bags. Thank you!

Here are a few recommendations for using and caring for your fabric bags:

  • Wash your bags every other week or whenever they begin to smell or look moldy.
  • Wash your produce bags on the gentle cycle or soak in the sink using a mild detergent, like Dr. Bronner's.
  • To remove mold or stains, soak your bags in warm water and add a little vinegar or lemon juice. (Avoid bleach. It is a toxic to you and the environment.)
  • If your bags are permanently discolored or stained, remember that they are not a fashion accessory and let them be "colorful".
  • To keep fast-wilting produce, like lettuce or leafy greens, fresh in the fridge, double bag using one dry bag and one damp bag.

    Place your produce in the first dry bag and then soak the second with water. Ring out the second slightly and double bag. (Depending on the type of produce you might try it the other way around.)
  • Remember to eat your produce within the week. Unlike “conventional” produce or packaged food, fresh organic produce is not meant to last for weeks on end.
  • Use mesh fabric bags to hold big items, like apples and oranges.
  • Use tight weave bags for grains, like rice, salt, and flour and for delicate produce, like grapes, lettuce, and greens.
  • Many hardy products, like carrots, celery, and potatoes, don't require a bag at all. Just place them in your shopping bag!
MYOB (Make Your Own Bags):
  • For many of us “Going Green” seems to be all about buying the next Green product. That misses the point. Re-use what you already have and save money.
  • Making a produce bag is easy. Simply sew two pieces of fabric on three sides or modify an old t-shirt or even a pillowcase. Be creative!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brooklyn Fixers Collective

It's hard to avoid throwing things away when they break and you don't know how to fix them. The Brooklyn Fixers' Collective may be able to help you keep more things out of our growing landfills. For instance, the group turns broken umbrellas into tote bags, which they sell to help keep the collective going. See the You Tube video of Grist's Ask Umbra visiting the Fixers' Collective.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Video of Hydrofracking Press Conference

If you missed Friday's press conference at City Hall, see it on You Tube: and see some good speakers explaining the issues.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

NY Legislators, Environmentalists to Call for Fracking Moratorium

New York state legislators, environmentalists and other public officials will gather on the steps of New York City Hall Friday in support of a state bill (A-10490/S-7592) that issues a moratorium for proposed natural gas drilling in upstate New York until the federal Environmental Protection Agency completes its study of its safety nationwide. Joining them will be leaders of organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, that sent Memoranda in Support of the bill to the New York state legislature.

Press conference calling for statewide moratorium on drilling
Friday, June 11, at 12 p.m.
City Hall Steps, City Hall
1 Park Row New York, NY 10007

NY Assembly Member Steve Englebright (Bill Sponsor)
NY State Senator Joseph Addabbo (Bill Sponsor)
NY State Senator Liz Krueger
NY State Senator Frank Padavan
NY State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
NY State Senator Diane Savino
NY State Assembly Member Michelle Schimel
NY State Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh
NY State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal
NY State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried
Martha Robertson, Chair, Tompkins County Legislature
NY City Councilman James Gennaro, Chair, Environmental Protection Committee
Kate Sinding, Deputy Director of the NY Urban Program, NRDC
Carl Arnold, Gas Drilling Task Force, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Susan Lerner, Executive Director, Common Cause
Matt Wallach, Hudson Valley Prog. Coord., Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Joe Levine, President, NYH20
Julia Walsh, Project Director, Frack Action
Megan Klein, Associate Attorney, Earthjustice
Craig Michaels, Watershed Prog. Director, Riverkeeper
Nadia Steinzor, Marcellus Reg. Organizer, Earthworks Oil/Gas Accountability Proj.
Michael Lebron, Board Member, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability

*Legislators’ attendance pending Albany session schedule on Friday

Monday, June 07, 2010

Private Water Well Contaminated by Hydraulic Fracturing

DISH, TX -- Shortly after a natural gas well was fractured using the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing, a private water well within a thousand feet of the natural gas well site began showing sedimentation. DISH resident Amber Smith says shortly after the well was fractured a fine sand like sediment was present in the water from their private water well. The Smith family installed a water filtration system shortly after the sediment became present and continued using the water. However, after a year the sedimentation reached the point that it clogged the entire plumbing system, and the water well is now unusable.

The Smith family removed the tank from the water well and removed over ten pounds of the sand like substance. After dismantling and cleaning the well system, the Smith family reassembled the well only to have it completely obstructed after only 30 minutes of operation. Devon Energy who is the operator of the gas well has refused to take responsibility for the failure. The Railroad Commission of Texas responded and took samples of the tainted water for limited analyzing. The town of DISH also had independent testing accomplished to determine the content of the sand like substance.

The water well owned by the Smith family shows levels of arsenic at 7.5 times the acceptable level for drinking water. The water also contained lead at levels that were 21 times above the acceptable levels, and chromium at more that double the allowable limits. Independent testing shows elevated levels of butanone, acetone, carbon disulfide, strontium, as well as heavy metals, all above safe drinking water standards. The town is awaiting additional test results.

DISH is located in the epicenter of the Barnett Shale gas play and is home to a megacomplex of compressor stations, as well as pipelines, metering stations, gathering lines and gas wells. The town of DISH spent nearly 15% of its annual budget on a comprehensive air study after months of complaints to the state regulatory agencies and the operators of the compressor sites, gave the citizens no relief.

These results clearly show a correlation between the natural gas drilling process and water contamination, and this industry should no longer make claims that they have never contaminated a water source.

DISH resident Amber Smith is extremely concerned that her young children has been drinking this water.

Attached is a photo of the contaminated water.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Just Food

Introducing a new link for our blog:
Just Food. To see our other links, scroll down the right side of our blog.

Just Food connects local farms to NYC neighborhoods. In the city, they work on increasing the production, marketing and distribution of fresh food from community gardens and urban agriculture sites, and promoting Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives. They aim is to turn “food deserts” (i.e., neighborhoods underserved by supermarkets and other food retailers) into “islands of sustainability.”

In the countryside, they address the rapid decline of family farms and the loss of agricultural land by linking small and medium-scale producers to new markets in New York City.
Learn more about their work.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Marcellus Shale Gas Well Rupture Controlled After 16 Hours

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said it plans to "aggressively" investigate what may be the state's worst Marcellus Shale drilling accident ever.

Natural gas and drilling fluids spewed for about 16 hours on Thursday night and Friday morning after the operators lost control while they were preparing to extract gas from fractured shale, according to the DEP. It happened deep in Moshannon State Forest, down a dirt road. Emergency officials said a mile-wide area was evacuated.

Earlier in the day, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a temporary flight restriction in the immediate area. It will remain in effect until further notice.

According to a PEMA news release, a well which was in the frack process ruptured, spilling frack water and unignited wet gas. Frack water is water mixed with other substances used during drilling.

Elizabeth Ivers, a spokeswoman for driller EOG Resources, said the well was brought under control just about 16 hours after it started spewing gas. EOG Resources said the rupture happened because of unexpectedly high gas pressure after they fractured the shale about a mile below ground. See rest of the article and links to related stories.

Responses to the Oil Spill: Panel and Public Forum

Tuesday, June 8, 7 – 9 PM

Wollman Hall, 5th Floor
The New School
65 West 11th, NY 10011

The ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico opens up many questions: What should BP’s role be in the cleanup? What is BP's legal liability? Is greater regulation of offshore drilling enough, or should there be a complete moratorium? How do we eliminate fossil fuel dependence and embrace renewable energy? Should NYC act now to reduce our consumption of oil? How do we make this change happen--public education, or street protests? To succeed, we must answer these questions at the national, state, city, and personal levels.

Public brainstorming, starting with brief remarks from representatives of sponsoring organizations, moving into discussion groups to formulate possible actions, and finishing with feedback from all attendees. This is your chance to learn how New Yorkers can get involved and make a difference!

Sponsoring organizations:

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Bringing the Oil Spill Home

a response to the Gulf Oil Spill, spring, 2010

Do you feel angry, sad, hopeless, or ho-hum about the oil spill?
I'm angry, grieving over what we do to our oceans and the life they support, and, along with the emotions, looking for a constructive response.

So far, this latest spill killed eleven workers, then moved on to poison the ocean, decimate wildlife, and lately was gushing over 2 million gallons into the Gulf daily.  No end of consequences yet in sight.

Reviewing what's already known, here's what I think: First, we're all involved.  Not only the oil industry's desire for profits, and government's allowing them to have their way caused the spill. Also we users of petroleum products who increase the demand for oil, even if unintentionally, put our stamp of approval on off-shore drilling with our spending.  We helped create this situation;  we can help change it.  In summary:

You + I + government + oil = environmental destruction

This is the present reality.  Change any variable; the result changes.  Pressure to change certainly should be applied to all variables in this particular equation.  Yet our point of greatest power is ourselves.

Second, petroleum products include a staggering array of goods, from the obvious, like fuels for transportation and home heating, to the less so, such as crayons, dental floss, plastic bags, candles (parafin), ink, bicycle tires, clothing made from synthetic fibers, generating electricity.  (In NYS, for example, about 8% of our electricity comes from oil.)   

And, third, we can't dismiss this spill because of its distance from us.  In fact, the oceans of our planet are all one.  Poison will travel.  Seafood, seaweed, and eventually all life within or dependent on the ocean is affected.  And without strong political will to stop it, offshore drilling will soon be coming to a location near us on the east coast.

Considering all this, I think we would best take this Gulf spill as a call to action.  May corporations, our country, and we ourselves all find within us the will and the persistence to use this horrific spill to move us to change the way we treat our planet.

Specifically in our own co-op, let's find a way to make our next contribution to this change.  We've already stopped using the larger plastic grocery bags at check-out.  Now let's work on getting plastic produce bags out of the co-op.  For the sake of the ocean alone, not even considering any of the other benefits, to divorce ourselves from plastic bags will help in at least two ways:  decrease demand for the oil that is raw material for the bags and thus decrease need for off-shore drilling, and also decrease the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean later to poison water, wildlife, and us.

There are of course other important and needed responses to the oil spill, but  to discontinue use of plastic produce bags is especially appropriate to us as a food co-op.  Let's do it!   

FYI:  a partial list of products made from a barrel of oil, and a good book:  Coming CleanBreaking America's Addiction to Oil and Coal, by Michael Brune.

Photo credit NASA, on Flickr