Monday, October 31, 2011

If they only had solar . . .

Several co-workers, friends and relatives have been without power since Saturday’s storm, and not for the first time, as each year brings several bouts of extreme weather. If any of them had thought to install some solar panels, they would currently have lights, refrigeration, and many other electric powered conveniences.

Once solar panels are installed, the actual energy generated by it is free. After a few years, the solar panels pay for themselves. And yes, you can use the energy when it is dark—it is generated and stored during sunny days for use later on. Best of all, it is non-polluting, which cannot be said of the energy from the grid which is largely powered by coal burning power plants. So maybe it’s time for more people to go solar. Rebates and tax credits are available in some areas. Learn more about solar panels.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saturday, Oct. 26 is Drug Take-back Day

Medicines are now found in our surface and ground water, as well as drinking water supplies. Wastewater treatment facilities do not remove most medicines.

Throwing medicines in the garbage—especially controlled substances like OxyContin and other pain relievers—is not safe because the drugs can be found and used by others.
Medicines thrown in the trash can also get into the environment.

Saturday, October 26, from 10am to 2pm
is the third annual Prescription Drug Take-back Day.

There are many drop-off locations in Brooklyn and the other boroughs of New York City. Check this site to find a drop off location near you. Check the list of accepted items if you have any questions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

GMO Labelling at Park Slope Food Coop

A big victory for the Non-GMO movement is occurring at the Coop! Starting on November 16, the GMO Shelf Labeling Committee will install on-shelf labeling of Non-GMO Project certified products. For those new to the issue: we basically don't know the long term effects of products containing genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) and would like food to be labelled so we can decide whether or not we want to chance eating these ingredients.

The US government and the NYS government have so far resisted requests by consumers to force manufacturers to indicate on the label whether or not the product contains GMOs. The European Union established labelling laws in 2004. Australia, Japan, Brazil, and China have mandatory labelling laws as well.

The Food Coop's GMO Shelf Labelling Committee wants to create labels inside the coop, so shoppers can have that information. Beginning November 16th, you will be seeing a 3/8 inch green dot saying "Non GMO" on the shelf label for all products that have been certified as GMO-free by the Non-GMO Project. In addition, the GMO shelf-labeling committee will be putting the Non-GMO Project logo next to the shelf label for these same products where space permits, which should be the case for about 80% of the products. Based on our initial survey, we expect to be labeling about 300 products at the Coop, including grocery products, refrigerated products and frozen products. Labeling will NOT be provided for dairy and fresh
produce items.

Labels will be updated on a bi-weekly basis by the committee to ensure that the labeling is up-to-date and accurate. To perform this work, the GMO Shelf Labelling Committee is looking to add four additional members. If you or someone you know would like to be a part of this effort and join our squad, please contact Greg Todd at

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sign the Petition to Stop Hydrofracking

Please take a moment to sign the petition to ban hydrofracking in New York State and pass it on to others.

The situation is pretty serious. Leases to hydrofrack land in upstate New York could be given out in early 2012 if we don't stop it, and we haven't so far. The good news is that many environmental groups and concerned citizens are working together on this--but we need everyone's help.

Send the petition link to your Facebook and other friends, if you can. And stop by one of the Environmental Committee's letter writing workshops to generate effective comments to the current SGEIS.

The next workshop is next Saturday, October 22, from 10 to 12pm. at the Park Slope Food Coop, 792 Union St., between 6th and 7th Avenues in Brooklyn. All are welcome--members and non-members alike. Please join us!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recycling CFLs - an update

Coop member Maureen asks:
I have a bunch of the compact bulbs that the coop sells and tried to return them to Brook's appliance for safe disposal. [they are listed on the NYSERDA site as a collection site] Home Depot and Lowes also do not accept these bulbs for recycling.

Do you have any advice you would be willing to offer?

That is indeed frustrating! Both Home Depot and Lowes are also listed (in error, apparently) on as accepting compact fluorescent bulbs.

Ikea is also listed on Earth911 as a collection site, and I have personally returned bulbs there (at the Brooklyn Ikea) within the past month. Their recycling collection bins are conveniently located just inside the entrance nearest the bike rack. By the way, adjacent to that bin is a collection bin for rechargeable batteries. (Unfortunately, they discontinued the collection of alkaline batteries earlier this year, despite what you may read on Ikea's own web site.)

A bit more background:
All fluorescent, and most high intensity discharge lights contain a small amount of mercury. Many states restrict or prohibit the disposal of some or all mercury containing light bulbs in the municipal waste stream. Due to environmental concerns, all mercury-containing bulbs should be recycled!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Two E-Waste Events next Weekend!!

It can't get any more convenient than this—two
E-Waste recycling events next weekend in Park Slope!!!

Check the list of acceptable materials which includes electronics from households, small businesses (less than 50 employees, please call ahead) and not-for-profits. They do
not accept home appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, or
air conditioners.

October 15, 2011 | 10:00am - 4:00pm Directions Flyer
8th Avenue b/w 14th & 15th Streets, Park Slope, Brooklyn

October 16, 2011 | 10:00am - 4:00pm Directions Flyer
7th Avenue b/w 4th & 5th Streets, Park Slope, Brooklyn

See the rest of the schedule for more possibilities. To recycle other things check

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pharmaceutical Take-Back Day

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has organized the third nautional pharmaceutical take-back day on Saturday, October 29, between 10am and 2pm in locations across the United States. The DEA website allows you to type in your zip code and find the locations nearest to you. There are numerous locations in Brooklyn and other NYC boroughs—more will be added to the database until the day of the event.

The amount of pharmaceuticals currently in use has become an environmental problem, because, like everything else, sooner or later the drugs turn into waste products. Trace elements of a wide variety of drugs including antibiotics, anti-depressants and sex hormones have been found in lakes and rivers as well as numerous municipal water supplies. In an effort to mitigate this problem, pharmaceutical take-back events have been organized to properly collect and dispose of left-over medications so they do not migrate into the environment.

This is not a reason to switch to bottled water, much of which
comes from municipal water supplies. Our drinking water is carefully monitored. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires hundreds of tests each month on municipal water supplies, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water, requires only one test per week. New York City is blessed with an exceptionally good water supply—let’s do what we can to keep it that way.

Last April's second National Prescription Drug Take-Back event garnered more than 376,593 pounds (188 tons) of unwanted or expired medications at the 5,361 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states. This is 55 percent more than the 242,000 pounds (121 tons) the public brought in during last September’s event.