Sunday, September 26, 2010

Genetically Engineered Salmon?

The FDA is set to approve Genetically Engineered (GE) salmon, and will not require any labeling, so consumers will have no idea whether or not they are eating GE salmon. What's wrong with that? Well, for one thing, the long-term health effects of genetically modified foods are not known--we are serving as part of the experiment. People should have a choice whether or not they want to take their chances with this technology--without any labelling, we have no choice.

To make matters worse, the FDA is refusing to allow companies to advertise their products as GMO free (the ones that are). A recent Washington Post article quotes Rep. Kucinich as asking whose interests the FDA is protecting, consumers or industry. There may be another issue, namely the first amendment, if the FDA is not allowing the companies that sell non-GMO products to make true statements -- a very odd concept no matter what the reasoning, and seemingly unconstitutional.

Committee News

Dear Friends of the Environmental Committee,

Some exciting events of interest this fall:

1) On September 28, the General Meeting will be discussing the proposal to create an “Animal Welfare Committee” proposed by Jesse Oldham and Patrick Kwan. Their aim is to focus on research and education to share with PSFC members on products as they relate to animals or animal-welfare issues. Read more about this prospective committee.

Please spread the word to people who might be interested in this committee. The September 28 meeting will be a discussion, to give Jesse and Patrick feedback about their proposal. As always, the General Meetings are at 7pm at Beth Elohim at 274 Garfield Place between 8th Avenue and Prospect Park West.

2) Environmental committee member Judy was upset to learn just how many nefarious investments were held by her corporate bank. This led to her research about better banking alternatives, resulting in the coop joining a credit union so coop members could have the option to join as well. Read her article to learn more. You can also attend one of the credit union info sessions at the coop—see the ad on the bottom left hand corner of page 14 of the 9/23 issue of the Gazette.

3) Water issues are still very much a priority. We continue to oppose hydraulic fracture drilling in NYS (and elsewhere) – as serious threat to our own water supply and organic food supply from local farmers. The state senate voted for a 1-year moratorium; the push now is to get Assembly members to do the same. Ultimately we would like a complete ban of this drilling. Read more about the issue at NY Sierra Club and un-naturalgas .

4) Lastly, the Environmental Committee is looking for a few new members. If you know anyone who might be interested, have them write us at ecokvetch AT yahoo.com. As always, we are eager to hear your ideas and concerns about Coop-related environmental issues. Be sure to check out our blog at http://www.ecokvetch.blogspot.com.

Your friend,
The Ecokvetch

Thursday, September 23, 2010

GrowNYC presents New Green City

Wednesday, September 29, 10am-6pm
Union Square Park, South Plaza
E. 14th St. - E.17th St b/t Broadway & 4th Ave

GrowNYC is organizing New Green City on Wednesday, September 29 from 10am to 6pm in Union Square. The event will feature interactive exhibits, DIY tutorials and multi-media art exhibits. Also happening will be a special one-day textiles collection (weekly collections are at the Union Square Greenmarket Saturdays and Mondays ONLY) and the usual compost collection hosted by the LES Ecology Center, a feature of every market day at Union Square.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Prescription Drugs & OTC Drug Take-Back

The disposal of over-the-counter and prescription drugs has become a problem as scientists are finding that they migrate into our groundwater. A CBS newscast estimated that 41 million of us have traces of prescription drugs in our drinking water.

Prescription & OTC Drug Take Back Events collect leftover drugs and dispose of them safely. On Saturday, September 25 from 10am-2pm there will be drop-of sites in all the NYC boroughs. You can bring prescription and over-the-counter solid dosage medications (i.e. tablets and capsules). Not accepted: Intra-venous solutions, injectables, needles and illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine. Learn more about safe drug disposal.

To find the site closest to you. (Note: website will be updated as collection sites are confirmed, so check back before heading out on 9/25.) Questions? Call 212-337-2906.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Yorkers Protest Fracking at EPA Hearing

"Terrified New Yorkers Protest Gas Drilling"--read the CNN coverage of the hydrofracking issue at the EPA hearing in Binghamton, NY. Some compelling videos are included, such as "flammable water" as a result of nearby gas drilling.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Discuss NYS Lack of Enviro Laws

Wednesday, Sept. 15,
6 - 8 pm


Columbia Law School,
435 W. 116th St.
(corner of Amsterdam Ave.),
Room 101.

Nearest subway stop: #1 train at 116th Street

Join Environmental Advocates of New York and New York League of Conservation Voters to learn what the NYS Legislature did--and did not do--to safeguard New York’s natural resources this year. You'll also hear about the environmental community's plans to put our air, land and water at the top of lawmakers' to-do lists in 2011.

This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to the following email: RSVP@eany.org or at this site.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Credit Unions: Better for the Environment and You

After discovering that my big bank uses my money to fund mountaintop removal coal mining, I learned that moving to a credit union would be a big improvement.  Upon looking for a credit union, I found that I did not need to reinvent the wheel.  One positive response to recent economic woes in the US has been a massive movement of money away from big banks and into credit unions.  This movement in turn resulted in much online information that can help others change their banking.

Reasons to Switch
1. Environment: The Federal Credit Union Act created the credit union system in the US and limited the types of investments credit unions are allowed to make.  These include loans to members, and other safe, conservative, primarily government-backed investments.  This means your money will not be destroying wilderness.  (View the Act at www.ncua.gov, site of the federal agency that charters and supervises federal credit unions.  The list of allowed investments is in section 1757, 107, #7 of the Act.)

Credit unions are set up, under the same Act, as non-profit co-operative organizations whose purpose is to serve the financial needs of their member-owners.  Co-ops, as  democratically governed organizations usually rooted in a particular community, are also more likely to make decisions that foster that local community and support their environment.   Big corporate banks, on the other hand, may have a branch in your community, but their expertise and their loyalty lie elsewhere.  

The two big banks I deal with are not unique, but typical.  Many large banks finance destructive projects.  For example, Canadian tar sands oil extraction is financed by HSBC, ING, TD Bank, Wells Fargo, and other sources.  This huge project destroys boreal forest, producing scarring of the earth visible from space.  Mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia is financed by Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and others.  Visit BankTrack for more on big banks' effects on people and the earth.
   
2. Your money: Credit unions use money mainly to offer their member-owners higher interest rates on savings and charge lower rates on loans, on average, than banks.  Choose a good credit union, and you'll benefit both yourself and the earth.

Research 
Two well-known sources have called for abandoning the big banks.  Each has a group of inter-linked articles online offering both inspiration and how-to's.  Green America's "Break Up With Your Bank" and Huffington Post's "Move Your Money" campaigns were motivated by widespread anger at the big banks' big bailouts, well informed by careful research, and further supported by stories from individuals who changed their own banking.  For those considering a move to a credit union, looking at both series would be helpful. 
Credit unions had an exclusionist reputation in the past,  as most were dedicated to serving only the employees of a single company or members of a particular trade.  However, over the last ten years many credit unions have broadened their scope of membership.  Today they welcome new members.  It is possible to find one you are eligible to join.

Find a Credit Union
A quick search for a credit union turns up a number of possibilities in the NYC area. For instance: 
  1. Members of the Park Slope Food Co-op (PSFC) may join the Peoples Alliance Federal Credit Union (PAFCU). PAFCU is located at 67 Hanson Place, within walking distance of PSFC.  PSFC members voted at the July General Meeting to approve PSFC's joining PAFCU.  Once PSFC has joined this credit union, all PSFC members and employees are also eligible to join PAFCU.   Sometime in September, PSFC will hold sessions in the meeting room at which interested members can join PAFCU.  Watch for further news on this.

  2. The Municipal Credit Union, with branches in all five boroughs, serves not only city employees but also health care professionals (private or public) working in NYS and several other unexpected categories of people.

  3. The Lower East Side Federal Credit Union serves people with various ties to Manhattan's Lower East Side, but also anyone living within the five boroughs with a household income of less than $38,000.

  4. If you do not find a convenient credit union you are eligible for, look at Montauk Federal Credit Union, on 26th Street in Manhattan.  It is an "open charter" credit union.  All are eligible to join, regardless of job affiliation, neighborhood, etc.  One can bank here from a distance, by direct deposit, online banking, and ATM.

This is merely a sample of metro area credit unions. For additional options, try the Credit Union National Association's "7 Ways to Find a Credit Union".  You may also call their New York hotline [800 342-9835 x8108] to speak with someone who will help you find a credit union.  Or visit the National Credit Union Administration.

Consider Your Needs
Think about banking services you use and check your prospective credit union for those features.  Look at insurance, ATMs, and interest rates.  Accounts at most credit unions are insured by NCUSIF up to $250,000.  A majority of credit unions offer ATM cards and many participate in networks allowing free use of many machines.  Interest rates at a particular credit union may or may not beat the big banks.  If you don't find a single credit union that offers all you need, consider what some others have done  --  keep a small amount in a bank (e.g., for immediate cash access) and put most of your money in a credit union.

Make the Change
Do a good deed for both the environment and yourself.  Find a credit union that will work for you, take your money there, and get it out of the big banks.


*This article appears in the 9/9/10 issue of the Linewaiters' Gazette.
Photo by Patrick Hoesly

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Gasland Screenings in NYC

September 11
8-10pm

Solar One, on the pier
Kips Bay 2420 FDR Drive,
Service Road East at 23rd St. &
The East River, New York, NY 10010
Cost: $10.00 -- Purchase Tickets

More screenings of Gasland:
September 15-23 at IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West 3rd St., NYC
(212) 924-7771
Daily Showtimes: 11:45 AM, 2:05 PM, 4:30 PM, 7:00 PM, 9:30 PM

When a natural gas mining company offered Josh Fox and his upstate New York neighbors $100,000 each for the right to drill for gas on their land, Fox thought he'd better examine what was going on before he signed away his property. The result is the powerful and eye-opening documentary Gasland.