Archive for April, 2009

the wild lunch

April 28, 2009

Last weekend we (my bf and I) ventured out into the wilds of Prospect Park to go a-foraging with Leda Meredith. So far this is our third foraging tour, the first time we’ve searched for wild edibles in Spring. This year, I feel especially aware of the seasonal changes – the sprouting leaves, the blooming flowers, the increasing cacophony of bird song.

A lot of the tour was a review of plants I knew, though in some cases, I didn’t recognize them in their Spring habit. Here are some of the new things I learned:

Every flowering tree with edible fruit has an edible flower. If a tree blooms in Winter then experiences a deep freeze, it won’t fruit that year. This can become a serious problem for farmers (and us) as our climate shifts.

Cherry blossoms in full effect!

There’s a tree we’ve admired every Spring that grows little clusters of tiny pink flowers around its branches. Found out it’s called Redbud (Cercis canadensis) and the little flowers and buds are edible. They taste a little bit like green beans.


Close up of Redbud

The last couple of weeks of April are Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) season. The thick stalks can be prepared like rhubarb – they can go sweet, like in a pie, or savory, like in a soup (Leda brought some Japanese Knotweed soup for us to taste). The plant contains reservatrol, the same beneficial substance that’s in red wine.

Japanese Knotweed

The stalk of cattail (Typha) is like hearts of palm (you just have to peel off the harder outer layer). The male cattail produces something similar to baby corn. Cattail pollen is a flour substitute. According to Leda, cattail pollen pancakes are delicious.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flowers are only available for a couple of weeks as well. The whole plant is edible, and it’s the only diuretic that does not deplete potassium. It’s also delicious beer-battered and thrown in a salad.

Fryin’ dandy-lion

Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a mild little flowering plant that’s good in salads. Some think that it dissolves fat in the body (still waiting for the clinical trials on that claim!). These were in our salad as well.


Yummy foraged salad!

Check out last year’s foraging adventures

go plant a tree!

April 23, 2009

Did you know that tomorrow is Arbor Day? I hadn’t a clue until I just got this email from MillionTreesNYC. If I didn’t have to work tomorrow, I’d be doing this (boo to work!):

Still looking to do something green this Arbor Day – Friday, April 24?

Join New York Restoration Project (NYRP) in celebrating MillionTreesNYC Month with presenting sponsor BNP Paribas by planting over 200 trees in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Friday, April 24. By volunteering, you will be helping MillionTreesNYC create a cleaner, greener New York City, while also having some fun under the Brooklyn sun! So dig in and demonstrate just how green you can be by registering today!

Only 100 volunteer opportunities remain available for our Arbor Day celebration tomorrow. So, register today.

Friday, April 24
9:00 am to 3:30 pm
Volunteer sign-in begins at 8:30 am

Sternberg Park – East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(On Lorimer Street, between Montrose Ave and Boerum Street)

IMPORTANT REGISTRATION INFORMATION: All volunteers must be 18 years or older. To volunteer you must register in advance by contacting Olivia Chen at Upon registration, you will receive an e-mail confirming your participation.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided for registered volunteers. Tree-planting will end at 3:00 pm and culminate with an ice cream social in NYRP’s Heckscher Foundation’s Children Garden.

Not in NYC? Find Arbor Day activities in your neck of the woods.

earth day events from just food

April 22, 2009

In keeping with the Earth Day theme today, here are some more ways to get involved – through education – from local food advocacy group Just Food.

Garden Maintenance, Planting Techniques and Growing for Market: April 22, 6-8pm, East New York Farms! 613 New Lots Ave corner of Schenck Ave, Brooklyn

Cooking demonstrations and legalize beekeeping outreach at the Earth Fair 2009: April 24-25, Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall (inside) and 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue (outside)

McKinley’s Children’s Garden Earth Day Celebrations’ Seed Saving Workshop: April 25, 12-1pm McKinley’s Children’s Garden, 108-56 Union Hall Street at 109th Avenue, Jamaica, Queens

Garden Planning: April 25, 1-3pm Hattie Carthan Community Garden 654 Lafayette Ave at Clifton, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn And check out Just Food board member and La Familia Verde Garden Coalition member Karen Washington talk about turning a vacant lot into a thriving community garden at Mayor Bloomberg’s new volunteerism project, NYC Service. What step will you take this Earth Day for food justice?! Share your commitments/ideas.

earth day ideas from the brooklyn green team

April 22, 2009

Some more ways to get involved this Earth Day (and every other day of the year) from the Brooklyn Green Team:

In honor of Earth Day 2009, the Brooklyn Green Team would like to suggest some ways to ring in the event…

Volunteer with us this Saturday, APRIL 25 at Prospect Park. 10am-2pm @ Prospect Park Grand Army Plaza entrance (2/3 to grand army plaza). Join us in fulfilling the YES WE CAN Volunteer Challenge as part of Hands-on New York Day! Bring your closed-toe shoes and long pants and do some weeding, path edging, sweeping, and general clean-up. RSVP by emailing and let us know the number of people you plan on bringing.

Greenmarket Head to the Union Square Greenmarket (or another one in your hood that’s open on Wednesday) and get all your ingredients and make a local dinner. Click here to see all NYC Greenmarkets.

Search on If you can’t resist combing the internet for the latest developments of Miley Cyrus’ career, try using this Yahoo-powered search engine that donates a penny per search to your favorite environmental cause.

Support Local (and sustainable) if you’re a BK resident. Pop into 3rliving and help them celebrate their 5-year anniversary and make a $1 donation to their recycling services they provide the community. Or pick your favorite mom and pop (sister or brother) in your neighborhood and support them.

Go Outside and sit in the park.

Give to your favorite local charity. There are so many great green groups in NYC. Our YES WE CAN VOLUNTEER Challenge post has a list of organizations worthy of your support.

Plastic-free for the day. Don’t purchase or take anything new that’s plastic, from the produce bag you grab for at the grocery store to a bottle of Vitamin water.

Check Out the myriad of Earth Day events in NYC. Check the Earth Day NY site or visit our partners at GreenEdge Collaborative NYC for event listings.

Turn Off either your computer, your ipod, your TV, or all of the above for the day.

Spread the News to others and remind them it’s Earth Day and to do one good green thing. You could even forward them this email.

We agree with Grist that Earth Day is everyday, but don’t quite agree with their Screw Earth Day concept. One has to start someplace. Just do one thing and have a great day.

Stay tuned for the next challenge. . .



grand opening: green in brooklyn

April 22, 2009

Live in Brooklyn and not sure where to get things like biodegradable trash bags or organic linens? Now there’s one shop that carries it all, Green in BKLYN and they’re having an Earth Day grand opening today. I wish I could make it, ’cause it looks like a great place to connect with other green-minded Brooklynites.

I’ll be sure to bike on down there soon to check out their eco-friendly merch and chat with the Clinton Hill locals about their new biz.

tomorrow’s earth day

April 21, 2009

(If the sun hugged a tree you could kiss that tree goodbye… sizzle sizzle. Ok, maybe I’m being too literal.)

Yeah, big deal, tomorrow’s Earth Day. I kind of agree with the sentiment expressed by environmental mag Grist: “Screw Earth Day.” By now we should all be doing our part, or at least trying to take small steps daily toward cultivating a healthier planet (and selves). I guess it’s easy for me to have this attitude since I’m one of those people who’s trying her darndest to lighten her impact on the planet. But there are plenty of people and policies that haven’t been infected by the green bug that’s been sweeping the nation over the last few years. It’s really for them that we still need Earth Day.

Not sure how to honor Earth Day #39? Here are a few ideas:

get outside!
Been cooped up inside so long you’ve forgotten how? Listen to the Nature Conservancy’s urging to Spring Outside! and learn about ways to find nature near you.

bid on Leo’s stuff
Leonardo DiCaprio is auctioning off some of his goods, and his time, on eBay to benefit Global Green USA.

Global Green USA is greening America’s schools, affordable housing, and cities to combat global warming, lower energy bills, and create green jobs. Global Green is the US affiliate of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross International, and is leading the green rebuilding of New Orleans.

A few great ways to do so, via Grist (with a few edits):

get on the bus – to Albany

Join the Audubon Society of NY for a big environmental lobbying event, Tuesday, May 5th from 9:30am to 4pm.

Earth Day Lobby Day is New York’s largest annual environmental event, bringing together people from all over New York to hear from government and environment leaders, learn about current legislation, and lobby elected officials on environmental issues that are important to you. We’ll be focusing on global warming, e-waste recycling, wetlands protection, and SEQRA standing (aka the “environmental access to justice act”).

The all-day event is free and open to all, but you must pre-register by Friday, May 1st.

Please put “Audubon New York” in the organization line when filling out the form. We will send out directions and more detailed information to all registrants in advance of the event. Sign up for Earth Day Lobby Day today by clicking here!

clean out the closets and recycle your e-waste
Two events in NYC are coming up –

Sunday, April 26th, 10AM – 4PM, Central Park, Manhattan
W 67th Street and Central Park West

Saturday, May 2nd, 10AM – 4PM, at Tekserve, Manhattan
119 W 23rd Street (btwn 6th and 7th Aves)

Not in NYC, not to worry. Check out Earth 911 for electronics recycling in your area.

support local recycling efforts (Park Slope, Brooklyn)
The Park Slope 5th Avenue BID has partnered with the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce to launch a new recycling campaign. Green Grows in Brooklyn, will take place from April 20th-April 22nd — right in time for Earth Day. For more info on this initiative, check out Green Brooklyn.

rainy day, bright idea

April 21, 2009

We’re having a string of rainy days here in NYC. Of course we need the rain – the street trees need it, the urban gardens need it, the reservoirs upstate need it. But there’s a phenomenon that occurs every time it rains here. And I’m not talking about the trashy run-off that pollutes the waterways. I’m talking about the broken umbrella pandemic.

I’d guess that for every rainy day we have, there are hundreds of umbrellas abandoned. They litter the sidewalks and streets, they fill the trash cans, they even end up in the gutter. All I can do is shake my head as I pass all of that wasted metal, nylon, polyester, and even wood.

Or can I do something about it?

Every time it rains here, an opportunity is overlooked.

After the storm, couldn’t someone (or a bunch of someones) go around collecting all of this neglected material and do something with it?

I know of a shop that once lived in Park Slope (ai ai gasa) that makes clothing out of old umbrella material. Here’s a recipe for making an umbrella skirt from RePlayGround (via Treehugger and ReadyMade).

How about the metal parts? Maybe someone could make a chandelier with the frame, string some LEDs (like Kenzan Tsutakawa-Chinn) or wire up some bulbs a la Rody Graumans.

Any other bright ideas for ol’ broken umbrellas?

cosmetics consumption and conflict

April 20, 2009

There was a time in my life when I wasn’t a terribly conscious consumer. I would compulsively buy things like inexpensive clothing and makeup without really thinking about where it came from or what it was made of. Those days have long since passed, but I still hold onto some small reminders of that less mindful time. What were these little reminders? A crapload of makeup sitting in bags in my closet.

I don’t even really wear makeup. Maybe a little mascara every once in a blue moon. That’s about it. So why was I still holding onto these whispers of habits past collecting dust, taking up physical and mental space? Because I simply didn’t know what to do with them. I have a really hard time throwing things out that will just end up in a landfill.

Until… I got a tip-off from a fellow twitterer (thanks, Melissa!) about a place I could recycle these wastes of space.

An Origins store.

So inspired was I by this news (and by the book I’m currently reading Throw Out 50 Things – more on that in a later post) that I collected all of this old makeup and brought it to the Origins store on West Broadway and Spring Street. Before I made my way over there, I had to clean out all of the lipstick tubes, eyeshadow palettes, and blush compacts. When I was through, my hands were covered in nasty makeup and the trash can looked like a fairy threw up into it – all pastel and glittery.

When I got to the store, the sales woman was so enthusiastic about my decision to turn in these old conveyances. She rewarded me with the news that this weekend, the store was holding an Earth Day event offering free mini facials to its customers. She also gave me a couple of samples of products from their Perfect World line.

I didn’t think much about the exchange, other than feeling good about ridding myself of that old makeup and not having to resort to just tossing it all in the trash.

When I sat back down in front of my computer however, I had to look up the new samples I had acquired to see what their contents really held (ingredients lists don’t fit on those tiny tubes of product). Much to my dismay, they’re full of all the no-nos in beauty products today: parabens, petroleum, and some other nasty fillers. Check out the full list of what Origins uses at Not such a Perfect World after all.

So I’m left with mixed feelings. I’m glad that Origins accepted all of my old cosmetics vessels for recycling, but can’t really support their products because of the dubious contents. I’ve even taken down the banner I used to have promoting them (in the right-hand column).

What are your thoughts on this beauty product paradox?

what do you know for sure?

April 20, 2009

by Bob Hicok

Some people, told of witness trees,
pause in chopping a carrot
or loosening a lug nut and ask,
witness to what? So while salad
is made, or getting from A to B
is repaired, these people
listen to the story
of the Burnside Bridge sycamore,
alive at Antietam, bloodiest day
of the war, or the Appomattox Court House
honey locust, just coming to leaf
as Lee surrendered, and say, at the end,
Cool. Then the chopping
continues with its two sounds,
the slight snap to the separation
of carrot from carrot, the harder crack
of knife against cutting board,
or the sigh, also slight, of a lug nut
as it’s tightened against a wheel. In time,
these people put their hands
under water and say, not so much to you
but to the window in front of the sink,
Think of all the things
trees have seen.
Then it’s time
for dinner, or to leave, and a month passes,
or a year, before two fawns
cross in front of the car, or the man
you’ve just given a dollar to
lifts his shirt to the start
of the 23rd psalm tattooed
to his chest, “The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want,” when some people
say, I feel like one of those trees,
you know?
And you do know.
You make a good salad, change
a wicked tire, you’re one of those people,
watching, listening, a witness
to whatever this is,
for as long as it is
amazing, isn’t it, that I could call you
right now and say, They still
can’t talk to dolphins
but are closer,
as I still
can’t say everything I want to
but am closer, for trying, to God,
if you must, to spirit, if you will,
to what’s never easy for people
like us: life, breath, the sheer volume
of wonder.

Bob Hicok is the author of This Clumsy Living (University of Pittsburgh Press) and associate professor of English at Virginia Tech.

great scott, some good environmental advertising!

April 19, 2009

Brought to you by Greenpeace

After watching this I decided to take a look at Kimberley Clark’s website to see if they’ve done any cleaning up with regard to their environmental image.

It looks like they’re greening up their act, albeit a little half-heartedly. They’ve launched Scott Naturals line of paper products, “green Done Right.” They think “done right” is a “sensible” blend of sometimes up to 80% of recycled content. Some might think this is a step in the right direction, but I’m not sold. There are plenty of high quality 100% recycled paper products out there that, excuse the pun, wipe out Kimberley Clark’s attempts at greening.

Here they are: