Sunday, December 30, 2012

Clean water, air and farms in NY State at Risk

The risk to the clean water and produce we enjoy from upstate New York, not to mention the beautiful land itself is at risk from hydrofracking. The time to comment on the latest plans from the NYC DEC is now—the deadline is January 11, 2013. Please don't put it off—every comment helps. The easy-to-use form at the New Yorkers Against Fracking site will help you quickly construct a few comments and send them. Otherwise, New York State may look like this:

Learn more about how hydro-fracking affects the food and water supply, as well as air quality and global warming.

Farms in upstate New York: Photo by Keturah Stickann/John Menier
Fracking image by J. Henry Fair

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Azerbaijan Creates Control System for GMO Crops

by Vladislav Vorotnikov21 Dec 2012 Source: http://www.allaboutfeed.net 
In December a decision made by the Cabinet of Ministers, has approved the rules for determining the possible dangers posed by genetically modified plants for consumers and the environment in Azerbaijan.

These rules in particular provide the establishment of the Expert Group of the Scientific and Technical Council, who will determine the direction of research into the possible harm of the genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Azerbaijan plans to establish a control system to clarify how dangerous the GMO products are that currently can be found on the markets of human food and animal feed.
According to the document, the research team will be studying the impact of areas planted with GMO crops on the nearby crop plants, the elements of the natural flora, as well as  farm animals and wild animals that will be feed with such products. This group will conduct research in the laboratories of state agencies, members of the Scientific and Technical Council, which will develop measures necessary to prevent the possible risk of GMO products.

On the basis of this research the use of GMO products as well as their cultivation and import can be additionally restricted. The representatives of the Consumers Right Protection Organization generally support the initiative.

"Scientists have not fully examined the effects of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in human health. However, experiments in animals have shown to have a negative impact of GM foods, said the chairman of the Free Consumers Union of Azerbaijan Eyyub Huseynov in an interview. He also pointed out that the use of GMO in the country should be banned immediately, before the results of the research is ready.  “It is necessary to restrict access to the domestic market of GMO or prevent its occurrence in Azerbaijan until it can be proven that genetically modified products are safe. "

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Brief History of Recycling

Thanks to Earth911 for this history of recycling infographic. Read the accompanying article to find out more fascinating details.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Letter from Dr. Theo Colburn

The following letter was sent from Dr. Theo Colburn, who first discovered and coined the phrase "endocrine disruptors."  Her Colorado-based non-profit, the the Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX), advocates for more widespread information and protection from endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment.

Dear friends and colleagues,
I recently gave a presentation at a TEDxMidAtlantic event in Washington DC in which I read a letter I sent to the President and First Lady of the United States. In this letter I remind them of the current epidemics of endocrine-related disorders and describe how the laws that were supposed to protect us have let us down. I close with two practical suggestions for the President to take action.

Please take a minute (actually 16 minutes) to view this, and if you agree, share it with everyone you know .

You can also copy the link and paste it in a message directly to the President.

Best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season,

Theo Colborn

Sunday, December 16, 2012

30 Days to Send Your Comments

The following is about protecting our air and water from hydrofracking—please read what Sandra Steingraber has to say and help out by sending your comments to the DEC now:

A note from acclaimed ecologist and author  Sandra Steingraber:
I’m writing to recruit you into a writing project I’m doing with Grassroots Environmental Education–and also ask if you will be an ambassador for it.  It’s called Thirty Days of Fracking Regs, and it’s a fun-yet-deadly-serious approach to commenting on the newly released, and completely absurd, draft regulations for fracking in New York State.
The story so far:  On Nov. 29, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation  issued draft regulations to allow fracking in New York. It was a cynical and reckless move—especially because the state’s own limited health review is not even finished, and Governor Cuomo has made no decision yet on whether to permit or prohibit fracking in our state.  The effect of the regs release has been to shift public perception toward the conclusion that fracking is on its way, like it or not.  (NOT NECESSARILY THE CASE.)
To add insult to injury, we have only until January 11th to speak out against these regulations as part of an official 30-day public comment period.
The rulebook of proposed regulations is complicated, long, tedious and scary.  One of the regs  would allow a drill rig to be erected only 500 feet from homes and water wells.  Another would allow drilling and fracking operations to tunnel under our rivers and streams.  None of them mandate how drillers have to dispose of their toxic waste water, some of which is radioactive.  None of the compel the industry to reveal the identity of the fracking chemicals that they are pumping into the ground.
So, we need to flood the DEC with huge numbers of critical comments on huge numbers of mind-numbing regulations during a thirty-day period that falls right in the middle of the holiday season.
It’s the writing assignment from hell.  I had to think really hard about how to make it engaging and meaningful for lots of people.  I decided it would be far less painful–and generate a lot more comments–if I served this task up as a series of small, daily, meditative writing assignments synced to the various days of the calendar (winter solstice, Advent, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, Epiphany, etc.).
So, I’m inviting people to compose and send in their thoughts on one reg a day for the next 30 days.  I’m doing the hard part–investigating the regs, translating them into everyday language, and providing the scientific context and evidence for each one.  And also attaching it to the right date on the holiday calendar, so we can get some lyrical, symbolic resonance going.  (Look for the solstice reg to have something to do with darkness and light.)
Click here to go to 30 Days of Fracking Regs and submit your comments to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dec-16: Pedal Power and Solar Cooking Demo

Pedal Power and Solar Cooking Demo
  
Sunday December 16 • 11am - 2pm

at the Cortelyou Greenmarket (on the corner of Cortelyou and Argyle)

Sustainable Flatbush brings a fun and delicious twist to being green at the Cortelyou Greenmarket with a demonstration of our Bike Blender and Solar Oven!

Everyone is welcome to join in the fun — using human-powered energy to pedal-puree fresh seasonal ingredients from market vendors for a delicious soup, which we’ll pair with fresh bread, baked using energy from the sun. 

Thanks to our sponsor ConEd for making the Bike Blender and Solar Oven Demo possible, and to GrowNYC market manager/chef Samantha Blatteis for providing all the materials, utensils and ingredients for the day's demonstrations. 
See you at the Greenmarket!

 

DIY Human Powered Energy

    • Bike your way to yummy snacks!
    • Fun for all ages!
    • Burn calories not fossil fuels!

    Fun with the Sun

    • Bake delicious treats using energy from the sun!
    • Easy, safe, and friendly to the environment!
    • Solar Power = Renewable Energy = No Fossil Fuels!

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    Our Organic Food Threatened by Fracking

    Park Slope Food Coop member Elizabeth Royte has written a new article, "Fracking Our Food Supply" for the Nation. She discusses, among other things, the effects of hydrofrack oil drilling on nearby farms and how that alters the safety of our food supply. Elizabeth interviewed farmers and learned of the increasing and sometimes bizarre illnesses and deaths of farm animals since fracking began in the area.

    This article is a must read for all of us, especially our lawmakers who are allowing this to happen. There is just no replacement for the clean air and water in New York State

    Sunday, December 09, 2012

    Solar Sandy

    Those who erroneously assert that such environmentally friendly power sources as solar are impractical  apparently overlooked the kind of conditions found in some coastal NYC neighborhoods since Sandy.  After flooding, using electricity from the grid is impossible until all electric has been replaced and approved.   This is  one situation in which solar can do what grid electricity cannot:  simply provide power.

    Mobile solar generators provided by the Solar Sandy Project are already helping  New Yorkers left without electricity by Sandy's flooding.  The solar generators, brought in by truck and set up in community gathering places in the Rockaways, Queens, Red Hook, Brooklyn, and Midland Beach,  Staten Island, make it possible for people to charge phones, power tools, and laptops, heat food, and run other critical equipment.

    At the Solar Sandy Project's website you can see a map of the solar installations, look at photographs, find about about volunteering, or follow links to donate or to reach the organizations that banded together to form the Solar Sandy Project.


    photo courtesy of Jason A. Howie, on flickr

    Sunday, December 02, 2012

    E-Waste Recycling in Park Slope

    When: December 08, 2012 |
    10:00am - 4:00pm

    This event will be held rain
    or shine
    .

    Where: P.S. 321 located at
    180 7th Ave. between 1st & 2nd Streets, Brooklyn, NY 11215

    See a list of acceptable materials for recycling.

    Electronics are accepted from households, not-for-profit organizations, and small businesses (less than 50 employees, please call ahead). We do not accept home appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, or air conditioners.

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Keep Autumn Leaves Out of Landfills

    Project LeafDrop resumes!  Join the effort to keep autumn leaves out of landfills by bringing them to a compost site near you.

    Rake your leaves and collect them in clear or paper bags (no branches or trash). Find a garden or other site that is accepting leaves in November and early December on the Project LeafDrop 2012 Map. Each group has its own, unique Project LeafDrop dates and times when they’ll be accepting leaves for composting.

    Don’t have leaves to contribute?  Volunteer with your local garden on drop-off days.  It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, too.

    Spread the word at your local library, school, church, arts collective, CSA or BID. For flyer ideas, check out the Printable Flyers and Facebook page.

    Thursday, November 08, 2012

    Our Right to Know GMOs


    This chart, published by Cornucopia Institute, contains interesting information.  One can quickly recognize the logos of familiar companies which supported or fought Proposition 37, a California proposition to label GMO-containing foods.  This proposition was voted down in the recent election.

    We may choose to buy foods from companies who support truth in labeling about GMOs in foods and to make note of which companies were in favor of hiding GMO ingredients.

    The Coop has been encouraging us to recognize GMO-containing foods for some time now.

    To view the larger version of this chart, click on the image above or download the PDF.

    For information on the PSFC GMO Shelf Labeling Committee, please scroll down to Other PSFC Committees on the right and click on their committee name, or click here:  GMO Shelf Labeling.


    Tuesday, November 06, 2012

    Build it Green

    If you're looking to do some hurrican repairs or more general building/remodeling, consider Build It Green as a source of materials. Build It Green! NYC, is New York City's only non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. Their warehouse has everything from panel doors to high end refrigerators and shutters to movie props.

    Their mission is to keep these materials out of the landfill, while offering deep discounts on their resale. The have over 75 tons of materials on sale at half or below their new prices such as doors, flooring, sinks, bathtubs and toilets, lighting, windows, trim, moulding,cabinets, furniture and much, much more...

    Gowanus Center
    Temporarily CLOSED due to storm damage
    You can volunteer at BIG!NYC-Gowanus for Hurricane Sandy Clean-Up, This Thursday & Saturday from 10am to 5pm!
    69 9th St. Brooklyn, NY
    718-725-8925
    gowanus@bignyc.org

    Astoria Center OPEN
    3-17 26th Ave. Queens, NY
    718-777-0132
    astoria@bignyc.org
    Open Every Day:
    M-F 10-6 & S-S 10-5

    Monday, November 05, 2012

    Why the Coop Should Stop Providing Free Plastic Bags

    When people think about the environment, attention may first turn to such topics as endangered wolves, declining forest acreage, or climate change.  Plastic may not even make the list.  Yet the Environmental Committee has found that our overuse of disposable plastics constitutes one of the most harmful actions humans take against the environment.

    Our awareness of the massive ill effects of plastic use, gained over years and with much research, coupled with discovering how relatively easy it is to change our plastic behavior, drives the Environmental Committee's proposal that the coop stop providing plastic bags on the shopping floor.

    Below  is a statement of why we, as a cooperative, should stop supplying ourselves with plastic bags for food.  The reasons come under four headings:  health, environment, social justice, and financial.

    The health implications of combining food and plastic result from the leaching of estrogenic chemicals, the most common endocrine disruptors, from almost all plastics, including those marketed as BPA-free.  When plastic bags or packaging hold foods, escaping chemicals get into food and eaters.

    One study performed a "fresh foods intervention" (participants ate nothing canned, or packaged in plastic), demonstrating a startling reduction in BPA (down 66%) and DEHP (over 50%) in their bodies in just days, confirming that plastic food packaging is a major source of these potentially harmful chemicals.

    Estrogenic chemicals produce many health problems , including disturbed reproductive capacity and increased rates of some cancers.  Fetuses and the young are most at risk from exposure to estrogenic chemicals.  It is known that estrogenic chemicals alter cell structure and function.

    The FDA's  approach has long been to allow low levels of estrogenic chemicals in foods when a single dose is not considered harmful.  Scientists, however, have learned that the effects of these chemicals are cumulative, the but FDA still does not consider cumulative exposure, nor does it consider how interactions of multiple chemical additives affect the body.

    Furthermore, the petrochemical industry is not required to disclose ingredients of the plastics that touch our food.  And  many of the chemical plants that rank high in carcinogenic emissions do plastic recycling or production.

    In summary, there are known serious health consequences associated with some ingredients in plastic food packaging.  We can't know which chemicals are in which plastics; this information is not disclosed to consumers due to US trade secrets laws.

    The environmental devastation caused by our plastic is immense and multi-faceted.  Manufacturing disposable plastic, made from non-renewable natural gas and petroleum products, is unsustainable.  More plastic was produced in the first decade of this century than in the entire twentieth century; we're drowning in it.  Our oceans and wildlife they once "supported are also "drowning" in plastic.  Just as plastic has health consequences for humans, the plastic trash clogging the oceans poisons the water and kills wildlife.  While a plastic bag will "break down," no longer be a bag, the tiny shreds and bits of plastic continue to exist, leaching and bioaccumulating toxins.

    The hope that the environmental havoc caused by plastic can be solved by recycling is misinformed.  Glass and metal break down into natural constituents; plastic cannot.  Glass and metal thus can be recycled; plastic cannot.  The best outcome of so-called plastic "recycling" is re-use plus delaying the inevitable deposit of that plastic into soil or water.

    Social injustice as it pertains to plastic means poverty-stricken people with little political clout or financial means are harmed by our indulging our plastic habit.  Our overuse of plastic has more concentrated negative effects on people living and working in areas where plastics are manufactured, recycled, or trashed, than it does on others.

    In urban dumps in South America, endless mounds stuffed with trashed plastic and food waste, homeless children scavenge for scraps to keep from starving.  In plastic recycling yards in Asia, again, children are working amid the chemical stench to turn our plastic bags into some new plastic item.  These places, ugly result of our plastic habit, are not safe.

    Toxic air, water, and soil, and a high cancer death rate are typical of places like Cancer Alley, LA, where petroleum refineries and manufacturing plants are concentrated.  Closer to home, people in the South Bronx, exposed to most of New York's trash and recycling, suffer from some of the highest asthma rates and cancer  risks in the city.

    The financial benefit to the coop of not providing plastic bags will be annual savings of almost $23,000.  The argument that there will be more theft if the Coop phases out the bags doesn't hold up.  The Coop, like most retail establishments, already has a theft problem.  This needs to be addressed, but plastic bags are not the solution.

    Consider also the larger financial picture.  Who gains from our plastic habit?  Those who extract petroleum products, and the manufacturers/suppliers of plastic.  Who loses?  Everyone else:  those whose food touches plastic, people who live/work in plastic-industry areas, wildlife, the planet.

    What, then do we have?  Plastic, an unsustainable petroleum product largely unnecessary for food packaging, when manufactured and used in current huge quantities, undermines human health, poisons the environment by releasing toxins into soil, water, and air, kills birds, turtles, and other wildlife, and pollutes oceans, city streets, and indeed the entire planet.

    Are these consequences an acceptable cost to pay so that we don't have to remember to carry bags with us when going shopping?  Resoundingly, NO.

    Please support the Proposal to Phase Out Plastic Bag Rolls, and, if you haven't already, examine and then reduce your own use of "disposable" plastics.  The proposal enacted will be a small but meaningful step toward improving our health, our environment, the well-being of people who live or work in plastic producing or recycling areas, and the society we live in.


    This article restated the main points supporting the environmental committee's Proposal to Phase Out Plastic Bag Rolls .   The article also appeared in the 11/1/12 Gazette.


    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    The People's Food Coop in Ann Arbor

    We’re always curious about how other food coops work. One of our committee members recently visited the People’s Food Coop in
    Ann Arbor, Michigan and took some photos.
    Established in 1971, the People’s Food Coop (PFC) is almost as old as our own PSFC. The idea for the co-op actually began as a graduate student project. Two students started a buying club as a way for low-income people to get fresh, healthy food. They brought food from the Eastern Market in Detroit and divided it into bags costing $5/week. In 1975 a second PFC location opened, followed by the opening of Wildflour Baking Collective, People’s Produce Co-op, and the Ann Arbor Tofu Collective in 1976, and the People’s Herb and Spice Co-op in summer of 1978, all on the same block. Later these various factions consolidated and grew to an over 6,500 member co-op.

    We were especially interested in how the PFC handled bulk items, as that is the most ecological and economical way to sell food. The PFC has a system which allows members to bring their own containers for food to avoid using disposable plastic bags. Since weighing your items in a container adds to the weight, and therefore the cost of the item, the PFC has a Tare weight system which allows you to deduct from the price based on weight. The following pictures shows how they do it:

    No worries if you forget to bring your own container—the PFC sells reusable containers in standard sizes:
    And there are many options to fill your reusable containers—
    for instance, spices:
    What else can you buy in bulk there? So many things. . .
    This machine (below) lets you make your own peanut butter and pour it into your reusable container:
    Honey and maple syrup can be purchased in bulk:
    And olive oil and soy sauce:
    Maybe our own coop can use some of these ideas to increase our bulk purchasing options!

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Reusable Replacements for Tinfoil & Plastic Wrap

    Earth911.com explains how you can reduce your use of aluminum foil and plastic wrap with replaceable options. For instance, did you know you could use a reusable parchment baking mat to bake cookies? Or a reusable mesh crisper for to cook on your oven rack? Or a thermal food wrap to keep cooked food warm and cover? These and other ideas are detailed in their great feature.

    Why reduce your use of foil and plastic wrap in the first place? In short, because we use a whole lot if it, and it's often difficult to recycle.

    More than 1.3 billion pounds of aluminum foil is produced in the U.S annually. If that doesn't make your head spin, we also use enough plastic wrap every year to shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.

    Aluminum foil is technically 100 percent recyclable. The trouble is that once it's used, your foil is often too soiled with food residue to be recycled without compromising quality - making cutting back on foil when possible even more important.

    Like foil, plastic wrap is also recyclable (if it's clean), but many curbside recycling programs do not accept it - which means it's easier to reduce waste if you nix this single-use product altogether.

    If you already have some plastic wrap or aluminum foil around the house, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned, and use Earth911 to find a recycling solution near you.

    Tuesday, October 09, 2012

    Formaldehyde and You

    Nicholas Kristof's column in the 10/7/12 New York Times talked about The Cancer Lobby. He asks us to:
    Just consider formaldehyde, which is found in everything from nail polish to kitchen countertops, fabric softeners to carpets. Largely because of its use in building materials, we breathe formaldehyde fumes when we’re inside our homes.

    Just one other fact you should know: According to government scientists, it causes cancer.
    and then goes on to say:
    The [chemical] industry’s strategy is to lobby Congress to cut off money for the Report on Carcinogens, a 500-page consensus document published every two years by the National Institutes of Health, containing the best information about what agents cause cancer. If that sounds like shooting the messenger, well, it is.
    The article is well worth reading in it's entirety, but at this point we'll pause to look at which products do contain formaldehyde.,br. It's scary to now know that Johnson's Baby Shampoo, for instance, so widely used for decades, contains formaldehyde. Due to the publication of the 2009 No More Toxic Tub report finally agreed, two years later to reformulate its baby products. We need to continue have open and accurate information about the chemicals used in everyday products. The chemical companies should put the millions they spend lobbying to surpress these reports into making safer products.

    Monday, October 01, 2012

    Making Greywater Pay !

    My apartment didn't really seem expensive.  (I live in Sunset Park.  Rents are quite a bit more reasonable than Park Slope).  Utilities didn't amount to all that much.  BUT, after realizing that I wasn't using water then RE-using water, I decided to catch most of the greywater I make and see what happened.  The results have been astonishing.  And pretty darned easy!  And I've saved money and I've saved fresh water.

    What is greywater?  All the water which I use then let go down the drain.  That's greywater.   I suppose it's called grey because it's not drinkable after using it - so it's not necessarily clear.  That is, dishwater, for one.  That's a big one.  Then there's the water I can catch easily when I'm washing my hands, taking a shower, etc.  That's the idea.

    Here are the kitchen/bathroom buckets ready to be filled from the standard dishpan in the kitchen sink.  And in the bathroom, the full bucket is ready for use instead of flushing the toilet with fresh water...what's needed for a good flush is simply poured from the bucket into the toilet bowl.  In the bathroom sink I use some containers for pouring water instead of running it (because some always seems to go down the drain when I just run water), and another tupperware container in the sink to catch greywater that would be normally lost down the drain.  All goes into the big buckets.

    The astonishing result is over a 6 month period I have saved over 1200 gallons of fresh water from being used, with that translating into savings in my pocketbook !

    Why do I care about doing this?  Since most of the world's population doesn't have fresh, clean drinking water, I have the opportunity to save my share of this precious natural resource so I can actively start to change this imbalance.  I save money and I'm trying to be thoughtful about the use of what the earth provides us with so generously.  I'm pretty sure that water isn't something which we will always be able to count on having, especially in the abundance we seem to have now.  I want to add to the solution right now.

    I'm not the only person doing this.  Europe is way ahead of our country.  By law many European cities mandate that greywater systems be built right into new construction.  They are making efforts to rebuild with greywater systems added.  But you and I can be on the cutting edge of change in our country. 

    If I can do this, trust me, anybody can!

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Upcoming Electronics Recycling Events

    People have been asking about upcoming electronics recycling events in the area. We have a list of upcoming events in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.
    Visit the Lower East Side Ecology Center website for additional locations in the 5 boroughs as well as a list of electronics that are accepted for recycling. These events are held rain or shine.

    Saturday, October 6 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
    Smith Street between President Street and Union Street, Brooklyn

    Sunday October 07 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
    8th Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets, Brooklyn

    Saturday, October 13 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
    119 W 23rd Street between 6th & 7th Avenues, Chelsea, Manhattan

    Saturday, October 20 | 10:00am - 4:00pm
    Cortelyou Road (between Rugby and Marlborough Roads), Brooklyn

    Sunday October 21| 10:00am - 4:00pm
    PS 29, Baltic Street between Henry Street and Clinton Street, Brooklyn

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Living Cheap is the New Green

    I wish I had come up with this great title, but I didn't. It's actually from an article on Mother Nature Network, which caught my eye, because I am interested in living ecologically as well as inexpensively and was glad to see an article about those aims often being one
    and the same.

    You can read their six basic tips for yourself (and I'm sure Coop readers will be able to come up with many more), but I want to discuss one in particular, #4: Ditch the Disposables.

    It makes sense that anything you use once and then throw away would not be a sustainable choice, yet how many of us think of it as a poor economic choice as well? We'll list a few disposables we can do without and invite readers to add more suggestions of
    their own:
    • Paper plates, plastic knives and forks: Even if you don't use these at home, you may be seeing them in the workplace. If so, can you convince the powers-that-be at you place of work to ditch the disposables and stock up with some reusable plates and mugs for people to use, plus encouraging folks to use their own.
    • Disposable pens: Back in the day there were fountain pens, which got replenished from an ink bottle. The modern mostly disposable pens you can buy in bulk may seem inexpensive, but how much is spent continually buying new ones? There are pens which let you replace the ink cartridge when done--a modern version of the fountain pen.
    • Paper towels: At about $1+ dollars a roll, these too seem cheap, but how many do each of us use in a year? Reusable rags and clothes are a better option, but if there are some task that you feel do work best with paper towels--get recycled paper. Even if you're not near the Coop, most bodegas and grocery stores stock Marcal paper towels and toilet paper, which are made of 100% recycled paper.
    • Disposable packaging: When we get prepackaged grains, nuts, tea and other items--we are using the packaging it comes in once and throwing it away. Yes, we can put some of this in our recycling bin, but if you can bring a reusable container to the coop and buy from the bulk bins, you will save money and avoid disposable packaging
    Feel free to comment with suggestions of your own.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    E-Waste Recycling on Saturday, 9/20

    Date: Saturday, September 20

    Time: 10am-4pm, rain or shine

    Location: Brooklyn Ave. between St. Marks Ave. & Prospect Place in Bedford Stuyvesant—See map

    Directions: Take the C train to Kingston-Throops Ave., walk 6 blocks south and 1 avenue east or take the B43 bus to Brooklyn Ave.and St. Marks Ave.

    According to the EPA, electronic waste contributes 70% of the toxins (such as lead, mercury, cadmium, phosphros and flame-retardants) found in lnadfills.  Recycling your ele ctronics waste decreases energy and water use, reduces pollution and keeps haqardous chemicals out of our air and water.
    Acceptable items include:
    • Computers (laptops & desktops, servers, mainframes)
    • Monitors
    • Printers, scanners, fax-machines, copiers
    • Network devices (routers, hubs, modems, etc.)
    • Peripherals (keyboards, mice, cables, cords, chargers, etc.)
    • Tablets and E-readers
    • Components (hard drives, CD-ROMs, circuit boards, power supplies, etc.)
    • TVs, VCRs, DVRs, & DVD Players
    • Digital Converter Boxes, Cable/Satellite Receivers
    • Portable music players
    • Audio-visual equipment
    • Video-games
    • Cell phones, pagers, PDAs
    • Telecommunication (phones, answering machines, etc.)
    They do not accept not accept home appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, or air conditioners. For more information, see the Lower East Side Ecology Center website

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    10 Year Old Changes Jamba Juice Policy

    From Earth911.org:

    Smoothie chain Jamba Juice announced last month that it plans to phase out its use of polystyrene cups by 2013, a decision that may have been influenced by the efforts of a 10-year-old girl.

    When Carlsbad, Calif. fifth-grader Mia Hansen stopped by Jamba Juice for summertime refreshment, she noticed that every smoothie was being delivered to customers in a polystyrene cup. With 752 locations throughout the U.S., Canada, Philippines, South Korea and the Bahamas and sales totaling $263 million in 2010, that’s a whole lot of polystyrene entering the waste cycle every day. So she decided to do something about it.

    Hansen went to Change.org and started a petition to end Jamba Juice’s use of polystyrene in all aspects of the business.

    “I'm 10 years old and when I was at Jamba Juice a couple of weeks ago, I ordered a smoothie and they gave it to me in a Styrofoam cup! The person behind me ordered yogurt and they gave her yogurt in a Styrofoam container, too,” Hansen wrote on the Change.org petition landing page. “That's just ridiculous. It bothered me so much, my mom encouraged me to start a petition.”

    Nearly 135,000 signatures later, the smoothie chain heeded the call and decided to phase out polystyrene cups by the end of 2013. It’s similar to a transition the company already made in Seattle when polystyrene was banned city-wide.

    “Jamba Juice responded to me within three weeks of starting this petition! I spoke with them on the phone and they just sent me a letter that says very clearly that they will not have polystyrene cups in any of their stores by the end of 2013,” Hansen recently wrote in an update to the petition. “Can you believe it??!!!”

    Polystyrene, widely known as "Styrofoam," is not widely recycled largely due to its composition, which includes as much as 98 percent air and makes it costly to ship and store. Learn more about why styrofoam is bad for the environment.

    Thursday, September 13, 2012

    Sustainable Sipping

    According to Ecocycle.org, Americans use 500 million straws each day —enough disposable straws to fill over 46,400 large school buses
    per year.

    In February 2011, Milo (then 9 years old) founded the Be Straw-Free project, to work together with members of the straw industry, restaurants and other businesses, schools, environmental groups and concerned citizens to reduce the use and waste of disposable plastic straws.

    There are reusable options, such as the stainless steels straws sold by Reusit.This is something we can all try —it will make a difference!

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    Make Your Mark

    From Earth911.com:
    Here's an idea NYC students, parents and teachers might want to try:

    Earlier this year, elementary school students and thousands of online supporters petitioned Crayola to start a 'take back' program to recycle the company's markers.

    Last month, rival art supply manufacturer Dixon Ticonderoga answered the call and started a marker recycling program of its own.

    It's an unexpected result of a campaign that started in May at San Rafael, Calif.'s Sun Valley Elementary School. As they worked with school art supplies, students at the school noticed that, as markers run dry, they’re simply tossed into the garbage bin.

    The students, along with the help of school volunteer and award-winning children’s book author Land Wilson, decided to launch a Change.org petition to ask Crayola to start a “take back” recycling program, since markers can’t simply be tossed in the recycling bin as-is. So far, over 82,000 people have signed the online petition.

    While Dixon Ticonderoga is admittedly smaller than Crayola, which manufactures a staggering half a billion markers each year, according to the petition, Dixon agreed to start a “take back” program simply because it’s “the right thing to do,” CEO Timothy M. Gomez said in a press release.

    Dixon Ticonderoga’s recycling program will process the company's Prang line of markers for recycling. The company will offer prepaid UPS shipping labels for marker hauls of seven pounds or more.

    The Crayola petition is still available to sign online at Change.org. Parents and kids: make your mark!

    Sunday, September 09, 2012

    Reusable Coffee Cups

    Sometimes you just need a cup of coffee or iced tea while out and about. But you can do it in a more sustainable way by using a reusable coffee cup.
    Fact: Americans throw away about 25 billion foam coffee cups a year.
    Many places will pour your coffee or ice drink into a reusable container if you ask. Smartplanet, Reusit and Starbucks make reusable coffee containers. Many of these products are BPA-free and therefore healthier to use. You can have your coffee on the go and be sustainable too!

    Saturday, September 01, 2012

    Alec Baldwin's New Lifestyle

    Alec Baldwin has been looking really good lately, due to a combination of factors—studying yoga, marrying the yoga instructor, and last, but not least, adopting a super-healthy plant-based diet.

    In this photo, he is appearing at a benefit for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research (i.e. they are opposed to animal testing.)

    On Monday, September 3 they are starting a 21-day Vegan Kickstart, for those who want some tips on adopting a healthier lifestyle. Coop members already have access to all kinds of healthy food, at low prices—the Vegan Kickstart can provide recipe and meal ideas, no matter what your general lifestyle. Alas, meeting Alec Baldwin isn't part of the program!

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Sean Lennon's Op Ed About Gas Drilling

    From the 8/28/12 New York Times:

    Destroying Precious Land for Gas By SEAN LENNON

    ON the northern tip of Delaware County, N.Y., where the Catskill Mountains curl up into little kitten hills, and Ouleout Creek slithers north into the Susquehanna River, there is a farm my parents bought before I was born. My earliest memories there are of skipping stones with my father and drinking unpasteurized milk. There are bald eagles and majestic pines, honeybees and raspberries. My mother even planted a ring of white birch trees around the property for protection.

    A few months ago I was asked by a neighbor near our farm to attend a town meeting at the local high school. Some gas companies at the meeting were trying very hard to sell us on a plan to tear through our wilderness and make room for a new pipeline: infrastructure for hydraulic fracturing. Most of the residents at the meeting, many of them organic farmers, were openly defiant. The gas companies didn’t seem to care. They gave us the feeling that whether we liked it or not, they were going to fracture our little town.

    In the late ’70s, when Manhattanites like Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger were turning Montauk and East Hampton into an epicurean Shangri-La for the Studio 54 crowd, my parents, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, were looking to become amateur dairy farmers. My first introduction to a cow was being taught how to milk it by hand. I’ll never forget the realization that fresh milk could be so much sweeter than what we bought in grocery stores. Although I was rarely able to persuade my schoolmates to leave Long Island for what seemed to them an unreasonably rural escapade, I was lucky enough to experience trout fishing instead of tennis lessons, swimming holes instead of swimming pools and campfires instead of cable television.

    Though my father died when I was 5, I have always felt lucky to live on land he loved dearly; land in an area that is now on the verge of being destroyed. When the gas companies showed up in our backyard, I felt I needed to do some research. I looked into Pennsylvania, where hundreds of families have been left with ruined drinking water, toxic fumes in the air, industrialized landscapes, thousands of trucks and new roads crosshatching the wilderness, and a devastating and irreversible decline in property value.

    Natural gas has been sold as clean energy. But when the gas comes from fracturing bedrock with about five million gallons of toxic water per well, the word “clean” takes on a disturbingly Orwellian tone. Don’t be fooled. Fracking for shale gas is in truth dirty energy. It inevitably leaks toxic chemicals into the air and water. Industry studies show that 5 percent of wells can leak immediately, and 60 percent over 30 years. There is no such thing as pipes and concrete that won’t eventually break down. It releases a cocktail of chemicals from a menu of more than 600 toxic substances, climate-changing methane, radium and, of course, uranium.

    New York is lucky enough to have some of the best drinking water in the world. The well water on my family’s farm comes from the same watersheds that supply all the reservoirs in New York State. That means if our tap water gets dirty, so does New York City’s.

    Gas produced this way is not climate- friendly. Within the first 20 years, methane escaping from within and around the wells, pipelines and compressor stations is 105 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. With more than a tiny amount of methane leakage, this gas is as bad as coal is for the climate; and since over half the wells leak eventually, it is not a small amount. Even more important, shale gas contains one of the earth’s largest carbon reserves, many times more than our atmosphere can absorb. Burning more than a small fraction of it will render the climate unlivable, raise the price of food and make coastlines unstable for generations.

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, when speaking for “the voices in the sensible center,” seems to think the New York State Association of County Health Officials, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New York State Nurses Association and the Medical Society of the State of New York, not to mention Dr. Anthony R. Ingraffea’s studies at Cornell University, are “loud voices at the extremes.”
    The mayor’s plan to “make sure that the gas is extracted carefully and in the right places” is akin to a smoker telling you, “Smoking lighter cigarettes in the right place at the right time makes it safe to smoke.”

    Few people are aware that America’s Natural Gas Alliance has spent $80 million in a publicity campaign that includes the services of Hill and Knowlton — the public relations firm that through most of the ’50s and ’60s told America that tobacco had no verifiable links to cancer. Natural gas is clean, and cigarettes are healthy — talk about disinformation. To try to counteract this, my mother and I have started a group called Artists Against Fracking.

    My father could have chosen to live anywhere. I suspect he chose to live here because being a New Yorker is not about class, race or even nationality; it’s about loving New York. Even the United States Geological Survey has said New York’s draft plan fails to protect drinking water supplies, and has also acknowledged the likely link between hydraulic fracturing and recent earthquakes in the Midwest. Surely the voice of the “sensible center” would ask to stop all hydraulic fracturing so that our water, our lives and our planet could be protected and preserved for generations to come.

    image courtesy of Onearth Magazine

    Junk Mail Creep

    Just when you think you've got it under control, junk mail creeps up on you again. If you order something online, you will generally begin getting regular catalogs from the company, even if you had previously asked not to. If you wrote to an organization like the Direct Mail Association, asking to get off mailing lists, be aware that they keep your name in their database for only 5 years. So it might be time to make that request again.

    Food for thought: Americans spend 8 months of life opening junk mail; 90 million trees are leveled each year to provide the paper for mostly unwanted mailings; out of 5.6 million tons of mailings generated each year, 4.3 million are thrown in the garbage; 340,000 garbage trucks are needed to haul away all the junk mail that doesn't quite make it to the recycling bin.*
    In your letter, request your name and address be deleted from all mailing and marketing lists. Provide them with all possible ways of spelling your name, as well as the names of anyone else at your address who does not want to receive junk mail. Be sure to sign and date your letter.

    Send your letter to:
    Mail Preference Service / DMA
    ATTN: Dept. 9407644 P.O. Box 643
    Carmel, NY 10512
    Tel. No.: 212-768-7277

    You can also eliminate those pesky credit card offers by doing the following:
      There are four credit bureaus: Equifax, Trans Union, Experian, and Innovis. These credit bureaus sell credit information to anyone who would want to purchase their lists. If you don't want your information sold, contact the four credit bureaus and request them not to sell your information. You can contact all four companies and stop them from selling your credit info by calling just one toll-free number: 888-5OPT OUT or 888-567-8688, 24 hours a day.


    * sources: Center for Democracy & Technology, Center for a New American Dream, U.S. EPA
    Image of artist Anne Cohen with her 5-foot-tall junk mail tower courtesy of Long Island Press

    Saturday, August 25, 2012

    Gardens Using Less Water

    With so many areas of the country suffering from drought this summer, we might want to think about ways to conserve water. The average lawn and many gardens use quite a bit of water, but there is no need to do without greenery in our backyards and community gardens. Think about growing plants that require less moisture. Treehugger has a nice slide show on would-be lawns that have been converted into gardens requiring minimum water. The Chicago parkway garden (above) is planted with native and drought tolerant plants that divert rainwater from sewers, provide food and forage for pollinators, and brighten up the neighborhood.

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    This Year's Dirty Dozen

    Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables which routinely contain the most pesticides. If possible, choose to get organic versions of these. Washing your fruits and vegetables won't remove all traces of pesticide and pesticides tend to remain within our bodies over long periods of time. These chemicals have been linked with many health problems such as asthma, autism and learning disabilities, birth defects and reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and several types of cancer. The Pesticides Induced Diseases Databases at Beyond Pesticides will tell you more.

    Here is the current list of fruits and vegetables to eat in organic form whenever possible:
    1. Apples
    2. Celery
    3. Sweet bell peppers
    4. Peaches
    5. Strawberries
    6. Imported nectarines
    7. Grapes
    8. Spinach
    9. Lettuce
    10. Cucumbers
    11. Domestic blueberries
    12. Potatoes
    EWG also lists a clean 15--fruits and vegeetables that aren't so bad to eat non-organic.

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    A Banana for Your Thoughts

    We're all about reducing waste, and it makes it easier if you have a great new use for would-be waste. Banana peels, for instance. Did you know that a banana peel can be used to remove splinters, polish silverware, polish shoes, reduce the itch of insect bites, and more. Get the details on reusing banana peels. Thanks to Kat G. for passing on this tip!

    After you're finished using your banana peels and other food waste, you can compost them. If you don't have your own compost, the Grand Army Plaza green market as well as others accepts compostable waste.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2012

    Safer Pest Control

    Insects are, for the most part, an important part of our ecosystem. Many of us prefer that they stay in the outdoor ecosystem rather than in our homes. Small spiders and ladybugs can easily be scooped up on a piece of paper and returned to the outside world where they and you will be happier. Other kinds of insects, like bedbugs and roaches, have a less clear role in the outside ecosystem and when discovered indoors need to be removed ASAP.

    Beyond Pesticides has advice about the least toxic pesticide options. Ants, for example, plague many Brooklynites during the summer months. Beyond Pesticides has a factsheet to help you cope. There is helpful information about bedbugs as well.

    The Food Coop carries food grade diatomaceous earth, a safer alternative to tackle and prevent a number of indoor insects.

    Sunday, August 05, 2012

    Fracking Update

    As the battle to gain statewide legislation banning hydraulic fracture drilling from New York State continues, various municipalities are passing their own local legislation to protect their water supply. Of course, ground water flows from one area to the next, and we really need statewide legislation to protect our environment, but every bit of local legislation helps. Fractracker has a map showing current fracking moratoria and legislation throughout the state.

    Thursday, June 07, 2012

    Plastic and People: The Plastic-Free Gardeners


    Where is the plastic-free gardener who can help us with gardening, as The Plastic-free Chef  does with cooking?  That person has not yet stepped forward.  Instead a bunch of people are tinkering, and sharing their experiences.

    Shreveport, 1950's:  my Aunt Grace lets me "help" harvest produce in her lovely and productive backyard garden.  We feast on beans, tomatoes, boysenberries, figs.  No petroleum products, no  plastic.

    NYC, 2012:  plastics have become deeply embedded in the gardening mindset and in supply sources.  Even organic gardeners often choose plastic pots, petroleum-based weed cloth and row covers, and buy organic fertilizers, composts, and manures in plastic bags.

    However, along with all the plastic window boxes and plastic mulch, hints and help with alternatives do exist.  For instance:

    • Beth Terry of My Plastic-free Life , entertaining and informative as usual, shares her plastic-free gardening adventure, parts 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 .
    • Organic Gardening offers thoughtful posts on oil-free gardening and on alternatives to plastic in the garden.
    • Jenna Spevack, artist and PSFC environmental committee member, recently did a gallery show, 8 Extraordinary Greens , that featured salvaged furniture retrofitted with stainless steel trays, hemp-wick sub-irrigation, and grow lights, in a system that beautifully grows vibrant plastic-free greens indoors.
    • Even YouTube has a few relevant offerings, e.g., 4 Tips on Plastic Free Gardening, and how to start seedlings in old cardboard toilet paper tubes.

    This gardener wishes today that she'd paid more attention long ago to Aunt Grace's gardening expertise, instead of devoting herself to eating boysenberry cobbler.  I find that plastic-free gardening in 2012 is, even given the available information, an experimental activity.  Try something, observe results; if it fails, change it and try again.

    Odd though, isn't it, on a planet with an 11,000 year history of agriculture, approximately 10,950 years plastic-free, that so many of us today don't know how to grow food without using plastic?

    My own most recent opportunity to learn:  the bamboo tripod I made to support climbing beans and avoid the big-box plastic-coated gizmo, fell flat on the ground in a big wind.  It's maybe fixed now; I await further developments.  Notwithstanding the collapse of my first plastic-free vertical gardening attempt, Aunt Grace would be pleased, I believe, to hear that I and many others are now learning again to garden plastic-free.

    Do you have experience with plastic-free gardening?  Please share with us.

    Photo by Vilseskogen, on flickr

    Wednesday, June 06, 2012

    BPA in Canned Foods & Drinks

    Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an estrogenic-like chemical used in many plastic products. BPA can can interfere with hormones and normal development in children and has been linked to everything from infertility to diabetes to heart disease. Some products—such as sippy cups for toddlers—advertise themselves as being "BPA-free".

    The presence of BPA in the linings of many canned products has been less publicized. Several manufacturers, such as Eden Organics, have voluntarily stopped lining their cans with BPA. Weruva is one of the few pet food companies to have canned food with BPA-free linings.

    Four Swedish reporters decided to do some informal research about BPA in canned foods. They ate nothing but canned food for two days and doctors found that their BPA levels rose between 2,800 and 4,600 percent. These levels are below what the Swedish government estimates to be safe, though what is a safe level of BPA is still being debated. Since April 2012, the Swedish government outlawed the use of BPA in food packaging for children under three, but adults are left to take their own precautions.

    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has some tips to help people avoid BPA. They have been urging legislation to phase out BPA from consumer products, but this has yet to happen.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2012

    Can You Recycle This?

    Question: Which of the following items are recycleable?
    1. hair
    2. blue jeans
    3. wine
    4. cotton swabs
    5. crayons
    6. keys
    Answer: All of them!

    Keys are made of valuable metal. Keys For Kindness is a small, family-run program designed to raise money through metal key recycling for the Multiple Sclerosis society.

    Wine really is a zero-waste beverage. Its bottle can by recycled in a glass program, and ReCORK America has drop-off locations for corks at local Whole Foods stores.

    Jeans to your local Goodwill, but if they are too worn to be reused they can be recycled into other products. Companies like Green Jeans Insulation and Bonded Logic manufacture insulation products from recycled denim and cotton fibers. The Grand Army Plaza and other local greenmarkets accept fabric donations as well.

    ► Read more about these less-known recycleables at Earth911

    .

    Saturday, May 26, 2012

    Rachel Carson's Birthday


    “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find
    reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature— the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

    — Rachel Carson


    Rachel Carson was born May 27, 1907 and died on April 14, 1964— at age 57— of breast cancer. She wrote Silent Spring, credited with starting the current environmental movement. Ms. Carson was alarmed by the hundreds of new chemicals, particularly synthetic pesticides, that were being introduced into the environment each year. The effects of these chemicals on human health and the environment was not known, but even in the course of her lifetime, Ms. Carson observed the "silencing" of spring—fewer birds, bees, butterflies and other life.

    She was villified by chemical manufacturers, not accustomed to being challenged, especially by a woman. She continued to speak out, even when ill with breast cancer. Her illness was not publicized at her request, which was not an unusual approach in the 1960s.

    Today we continue her battle—trying to protect ourselves from the even greater number of toxins being released into the environment. And we continue to gather strength from the beauty of nature.

    Monday, May 21, 2012

    Toxic Sofas

    We've been hearing about the dangers of brominated flame retardants for awhile now, yet there was always the assumption that they served some purpose. Nicholas Kristoff's column in the 5/20/12 New York Times, "Are You Safe on that Sofa?" tells us the truth about these chemicals and how they became so widely used.

    In his words:
    It turns out that our furniture first became full of flame retardants because of the tobacco industry, according to internal cigarette company documents examined by The Tribune. A generation ago, tobacco companies were facing growing pressure to produce fire-safe cigarettes, because so many house fires started with smoldering cigarettes. So tobacco companies mounted a surreptitious campaign for flame retardant furniture, rather than safe cigarettes, as the best way to reduce house fires.

    The documents show that cigarette lobbyists secretly organized the National Association of State Fire Marshals and then guided its agenda so that it pushed for flame retardants in furniture. The fire marshals seem to have been well intentioned, but utterly manipulated.

    Brominated flame retardants are known to be endocrine disrupters and pose health risks to pregnant women and young children in particular. In fact "The breast milk of American women contains the highest levels of BFRs in human breast milk found anywhere in the world."1

    The NYT article is eye opening and will hopefully lead to changes in the pervasive use of these chemicals.

    1 Health Care Without Harm

    Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Kids, Crayolas & Recycling

    A a group of elementary school children in California are campaigning to get Crayola to take back used markers and recycle the components. Inspired by their teacher, the fifth graders set up an online petition called Crayola: Make Your Mark. So far they have gathered over 60,000 signatures.

    The petition states:
    "Every year, Crayola makes about half a billion markers — enough markers to wrap around the earth more than three times! — and sells them all around the world. Millions of kids use and love Crayola products — including the students at Sun Valley School, where I volunteer. That's why we're asking Crayola to make sure these markers don't end up in our landfills, incinerators and oceans."
    Sometimes the environmental problems we face seem overwhelmming and solutions unobtainable. Yet tackling the issues one bit at a time, as these students are doing, can make a real difference.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    Hawaii Bans Plastic Bags at Checkout Counters

    Hawaii became the first state in the nation to ban the distribution of plastic bags at checkout counters. Rather than passing statewide legislation, the ban took effect county by county. This week Honolulu joined Hawaii's three other counties that had already passed bans. The county law bans non-biodegradable plastic bags at checkout as well as paper bags that are not at least 40 percent recycled.

    The legislation is the result of two years of rallies and lobbying, organized by the Sierra Club. Retailers in Honolulu County have until July 1, 2015, to make the change. Kauai and Maui counties already enforce bans, while Hawaii County's ban will become effective on January 17, 2013.

    Treehugger notes that there are loopholes in the bill. For instance, plastic bags can still be used to package loose items (produce, grains, coffee, etc.), prepared foods, frozen foods, flowers and prescriptions. The Sierra Club will continue consumer education to encourage the use of reusable bags in all situations.

    The site PlasticBanReport has a geolocation map showing bans and fees for plastic bags throughout the world.

    Tuesday, May 08, 2012

    More Greenmarkets Take Food Scraps & Textiles

    GrowNYC is opening new food scrap and textile drop-off sites this spring! Celebrate spring cleaning by starting food scrap collection in your kitchen and culling unwanted clothing or linens— ripped or torn is fine—from your closets. If you have questions about what you can bring, see GrowNYCs FAQs. Check the GrowNYC website for a complete list of collection days and times at various Greenmarkets in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

    Saturday, May 05, 2012

    Vermont Becomes First State to Ban Fracking

    The Vermont House of Representatives voted 103-36 today to pass legislation that will make Vermont the first state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

    Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas from deep in the ground by injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into dense rock formations such as shale, in order to crack the rock and release the gas.

    According to a minority staff report released last year by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, more than 650 commonly used fracking products contain chemicals that are "known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants."

    While New York State has not taken this step, many towns have acted to ban or delay any fracking in their area. On April 27, Bethel became the most recent town in upstate New York to ban fracking. This interactive map shows the locations of the 100 towns and municipalities in upstate New York which have banned fracking.

    Many local groups have joined the New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition to urge Albany to pass a statewide fracking ban in New York. Individual groups, such as the Catskill Mountainkeeper are very active in this issue and can keep you up-to-date on developments.

    Monday, April 30, 2012

    A Zero Waste Family

    While most Americans dispose of about a half ton of garbage per year, the Johnson family in California has only a handful of waste every six months. Seems incredible, doesn't it? The Earth911 article about this remarkable family, stresses several basic factors in their ability to reduce waste:
    1. Buying in bulk (i.e. no individually wrapped items)
    2. Using reusable bags and containers at all times
    3. Buying only what you really need
    4. Avoiding any purchases containing or wrapped in plastic
    5. Getting off catalogue and junk mail lists
    Bea Johnson, the mom of the family, says that shopping is like voting. She chooses environmentally sound products and does not "vote" for ones that are disposable or overly packaged.

    While she does write to manufacturers to request that they alter the packaging or other aspects of their products, Bea says that living a zero waste lfestyle is neither time consuming nor expensive.

    Bea Johnson is using a mesh produce bag for her vegetables (in the photo above left). These and other produce bags are available at a discount to PSFC members until May 30.

    Read
    the article for more great tips on approaching a zero waste lifestyle.