Part 2 of 3 in a series, how to live sustainably in nyc.
A class I recently attended at Borough of Manhattan Community College helps New Yorkers find simple ways to live more sustainably. Led by Les Judd of Green Boroughs, the class consisted of an initial classroom session, two walking tours, and finally a panel discussion with green business leaders.
My favorite part of the class was the panel discussion. Four green business owners and four leaders of sustainability in the non-profit sector spoke about their work creating or maintaining their organizations and the challenges they face. Here’s a little taste of what the panelists had to say.
Panel 1: Green biz
Green Apple Cleaners
Green Apple is no ordinary dry cleaner. And they’re not one of those so-called “organic” cleaners either. To clean clients’ clothes they use liquid CO2 that was recaptured from processes like beer brewing. In a Consumer Reports study, CO2 dry cleaning was found to be the most effective dry cleaning method, beating out conventional, toxic perchloroethylene (PERC)-using dry cleaners.
They also skip the disposable plastic bag to cover your freshly cleaned clothes in favor of reusable garment bags.
Green Apple’s pick-up and delivery service, which is powered by biodiesel, is so far only available in Manhattan and North Jersey. David hopes to open a Brooklyn location early next year (I hope so!).
According to David, Green Apple is more than a dry cleaning operation. They do interior work for clients such as ABC Carpet & Home, they sell cleaning products, and they also have a not-for-profit educational program for school-aged children. David also consulted on the Greenopia guide.
Mark was an environmental lobbyist and his wife, Samantha was a buyer for Fishs Eddy. So it was only natural for them to open a store like 3R Living. It’s a great resource for eco-friendly gifts and housewares, with two locations: Park Slope, Brooklyn, and Maplewood, NJ. Though the towns aren’t so near to one another, Mark said it was a fairly easy decision to open the second Maplewood store, since so many Park Slope transplants now live there.
You can also shop through their online store.
Corporate Director of Business Development
Green Depot is an amazing source for green building supplies. Some of the notable projects they’ve supplied include the new Brooklyn Center for Urban Environment building, the platinum LEED certified Bank of America Tower, and Entourage star Adrian Grenier’s Brooklyn townhouse.
They also work with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to create affordable, sustainable homes for New Yorkers.
According to Catherine, one of the biggest challenges with green building is the installation learning curve (I know this from experience!*). To solve this problem, Catherine works directly with builders to educate workers on how to use their materials.
*When we were having coconut palm composite (DuraPalm) flooring installed in our kitchen last year, it didn’t go so smoothly. The carpenter laid down the entire floor using traditional wood floor nailing methods. Almost every board ended up cracked or split. He had to rip up the entire floor and we had to checked every single board for damages to see which pieces were salvageable. Not fun!
Movers, Not Shakers
Back when Mark was a stock broker, the moving business was the furthest thing from his mind. When the dot com bubble burst, a friend suggested that helping people with moves was an easy way to make a buck. So Mark started small, using rented trucks to relocate people. Now he runs the sustainable moving company, Movers not Shakers.
His trucks run on biodiesel and instead of wasteful cardboard boxes, Mark’s company uses reusable plastic ones he calls GothamBoxes.
At the end of the business year, Mark gave part of the company’s proceeds to the Prospect Park Alliance to support a New York City green space, and in a way, offset carbon. He plans on contributing to environmental organizations as a regular business practice.
Look for part 3 of how to live sustainably where I highlight the non-profit green business panelists.