Archive for the ‘nyc’ Category

how to live sustainably in nyc: part 3

November 3, 2008

Part 2 of 3 in a series, how to live sustainably in nyc.

A class I recently attended at Borough of Manhattan Community College, led by Les Judd of Green Boroughs, helps New Yorkers find simple ways to live more sustainably.

In the final class, green business owners and non-profit leaders told us about their experiences working toward sustainability. [Read part 1 and part 2] Here are the representatives from the non-profit sector.

Panel 2: Green non-profit

Paula Lukats
CSA in NYC Program Manager
Just Food

Just Food works with local farms and communities in New York City to create a just and sustainable food system. They do this through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs that help
family farms stay in business, while providing city dwellers with access to locally grown produce that’s both high quality and affordable.

Just Food also serves the community by teaching people how to prepare farm-fresh food. Through the Community Food Education (CFE) Program volunteer food educators are trained to teach workshops on subjects such as cooking skills, food storage, nutrition and wellness, and the value of eating locally grown food.


Chris Collins
Executive Director
SolarOne

A solar-powered “Green Energy, Arts, and Education Center,”
SolarOne works to educate the public — especially students in grades K-12 — about renewable energy and the urban environment around them. One of their programs, called TruLight, empowers students to be green entrepreneurs through the marketing and sales of compact fluorescent light bulbs.

To help ensure that the demand for skilled green collar workers is filled for the emerging green economy, SolarOne also provides high school students with hands-on green jobs training.

SolarTwo, the city’s first carbon-neutral or net-zero energy use building, is expected to open next year.

Miquela Craytor
Executive Director
Sustainable South Bronx

In a part of the city frequently slated for waste management facilities, where brownfields are common, and the poor often don’t have a voice to fight against the pollution that is occurring in their backyard, arose an advocate: Sustainable South Bronx. Majora Carter founded SSBx 7 years ago as a way to revitalize the South Bronx by providing environmental education and tackling issues such as land-use and waste management policies. (Majora Carter, founder, not to be confused with Miquela Craytor, executive director. Their names are so coincidentally similar!)

Miquela mentioned so many incredible projects they are working on it was hard to keep up. They provide green job training and placement in jobs like green roofing, river front restoration, and brownfield restoration through their B.E.S.T. program. As part of their solid waste and energy program they’re part of a coalition that created a zero waste campaign, which provides the city with an action plan on how to achieve it.

SSBx also teamed up with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to create their own FabLab (fabrication lab), connecting community members with digital arts and technology to design and create real world solutions to environmental problems in their community.


Bob Muldoon
Associate Regional Representative NYC Field Office
Sierra Club

Bob is one of the rare staff members for a mainly volunteer organization. Most people are aware of the Sierra Club, founded by John Muir and other conservationists in 1892 as a way to preserve the natural places in the United States.

The Sierra Club has regional chapters and field offices with member-organized committees that help shape local and national environmental policy. From the very beginning, an integral part of the club has also been the organization of wilderness excursions for those with the common interest of enjoying the great outdoors.

Bob is part of a campaign to fight climate change through reduction of greenhouse gases, specifically through the reduction of coal-fired power plants. According to Bob, the Sierra Club recently helped block 50 new coal power plants.

Hope for a cleaner, greener future
Being able to hear these amazing advocates and activists talk about how they are making a difference was really inspiring. It really made me hopeful that there are people who care enough to take action in their communities to fight the big polluters, educate people about sustainability, and shape the future of our emerging green economy. I feel fortunate to have been in the presence of such motivating individuals.

how to live sustainably in nyc: part 2

October 30, 2008

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

David Kistner
CEO
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 Caserta
Owner
3R Living

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.


Catherine Barton
Corporate Director of Business Development
Green Depot

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!


Mark Ehrhardt
Co-founder
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.

Read part 1.

how to live sustainably in nyc: part 1

October 29, 2008

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.

The basics
In class 1 we talked about the basic steps to living sustainably, including shopping at the farmer’s market and community supported agriculture (CSA), plus reducing meat in our diets as ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

I learned a little something about recycling in this city — just because the plastic has a #1 on the bottom doesn’t necessarily mean it is recyclable. City recycling only processes plastic bottles with a #1; this excludes iced coffee cups, salad takeout containers, and the like.

We also discussed switching to alternative energy resources such as wind power through ConEdison Solutions.

The walking tours
Les took us to some great businesses in downtown Manhattan. We went to both the East and West Village locations of Birdbath Bakery and shops such as Sustainable NYC, Moo Shoes, and Organic Avenue. We also walked through community gardens like Toyota Children’s Garden, one of the green spaces saved by New York Restoration Project which was founded by Bette Midler.

Look for parts 2 and 3 of how to live sustainably where I highlight the green business panelists, including the CEO and founder of Green Apple Cleaners and the Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx.

signs of change

October 21, 2008


[Image: J. Schnakenberg/AMNH]

Starting this Friday at the Union Square Greenmarket, leave your mark on the world by adding your name to the traveling “Signs of Change” globe. It’s an awareness activity related to the recently opened exhibit, Climate Change: The Threat to Life and A New Energy Future, at the American Museum of Natural History.

Stop by to sign the 5-foot-diameter white acrylic globe, choose your color — browns and greens over the continents and blues and purples over the oceans. Signing the globe is a commitment to reduce your carbon footprint. Seeing the globe with so many signatures is a reminder that every voice counts and contributes to positive change on a large scale.

Related posts
climate change exhibit @ AMNH
learning events @ AMNH

can nyc be an exemplary eco city?

October 21, 2008

That was the question posed last night at the Open Center, in a lecture of the same name. The panelists approached sustainability from both an individual and governmental perspective.

Rohit Aggarwala
Director of the Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability in NYC

According to Rohit, PlaNYC started out as an economic plan. But with population projected to reach 9.1 million residents by 2030 (it’s currently over 8 million), it became clear that the focus needed to be on sustainability.

One consideration led to another: if you think about land use patterns, especially with regard to housing, you can’t ignore transportation infrastructure; when you consider transportation, air quality becomes a factor; a contributor to poor air quality is the city’s current energy resources — yet another layer; and those energy resources also pollute our waterways, so there’s water quality to think about.

Its population growth makes New York City unique among old American cities. There was no model to follow. So the mayor’s office turned to other cities around the world. For example, London was the model for congestion pricing, which is up for reconsideration. Or as one NYTimes reporter put it, Governor Paterson is “rescuing the controversial program from the brink of death.”

Read the full PlaNYC report.

Starre Vartan
One of the original green bloggers (eco chick), author of The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green, and managing editor for the Greenopia guide

Starre offered up 7 of her top 10 ways to live sustainably in NYC (her time was cut short).

In general, she says to consider what you do most in your daily life, and then figure out how you can make changes to reduce your impact.

[NB. I’ve paraphrased a bit]

1. Food. Support farmer’s markets and local food, as our food miles add a considerable heft to our carbon footprint.

2. Goods. Buy local. There are many great designers of furniture, clothing, and other goods right here in NYC. When you consider a simple article of clothing like a t-shirt, think about all that went into it. The cotton, grown with chemical fertilizers and treated with pesticides is grown in one country. Then it’s shipped to another place to be dyed. Then the fabric is sent somewhere else to be sewn together. The tags may be sewn on in an entirely different place. The carbon footprint of a t-shirt is astronomical! (Read about the perfect t-shirt ever made [!])

3. Transport. Keep using public transportation. Bike if you’ve got one. There are bike advocate groups you can join or support (like Recycle a Bicycle). Limit cab rides or share with a friend (or try a service like Ride Amigos).

4. Toxins. Get them out of your life. One of the simplest, easiest, and least expensive ways to do this is to swap your cleaning supplies. Toxic chemicals from cleaning products pollute our waterways and our bodies. Waste treatment facilities only filter out bio-organisms, so those cleaning biproducts are mixing together in our water. Another way to eliminate toxins is changing your beauty products.

5. Energy. Switch to clean energy through services like ConEdison Solutions, which offer wind and hydroelectric power that feeds into the grid (which unless you’re off the grid, and you’d know if you were, you’re hooked up to). It may cost a little more per month, but what you’re paying for is clean air and health. It’s really the one place you should spend a little more to help save our health and the planet.

6. Junk mail. Sign up for services that stop junk mail, like GreenDimes or DMAChoice (I know it works, ’cause I’ve used it!).

7. Office. Green your workplace. Some motivated employees may already be volunteering to help reduce the carbon footprint of their office. But many businesses still have along way to go to achieve eco-friendly status. Implement recycling, start a campaign to eliminate paper cup use (bring your own!), encourage printing on both sides. These steps will make the office more sustainable and help the bottom line!

Visit Eco chick for more green living tips.

Janna Olson
Sustainability consultant and NYC market manager & researcher at Greenopia

I was excited to see Janna there, as I’m currently taking a class with her (which I’ll write about soon). She had some technical difficulties (her Mac couldn’t communicate with the overhead projector), but Janna raised some really compelling points — many of them directed at Rohit Aggarwala.

One of the concepts Janna discussed was distributed energy generation, specifically solar empowerment zones — a term coined by City Councilmember and Infrastructure Task Force co-chair Daniel Garodnick [OnEarth]. Essentially, buildings in areas of the city that have been identified as suitable for photovoltaic solar panel installation (“low-density areas that have buildings with large rooftops to create a synergy for an entire neighborhood to become solar-powered,” according to Garodnick) would be given incentive to invest in solar. This method makes solar more cost-effective through sharing of maintenance responsibility, tax incentives, and the potential for a consolidated connection to the grid within the zone.

Janna also talked about the usefulness and importance of the Greenopia guide. While helping consumers living in cities like New York find green businesses, the guide helps green businesses — some of which might have a limited marketing budget — get the attention they deserve. She also stressed that living green should not be a chore, it can and should be a fun endeavor.

Read an interview with Janna [alldaybuffet].

Sign up for an upcoming eco event at the Open Center:

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, and Still Have a Great Life

with Colin Beavan (No Impact Man) and Janna Olson
Friday, January 16 2009, 7:00pm – 10:00pm

cooper-hewitt people’s design award

October 21, 2008

Really good design should be more than just functional, and more than just sustainable (that of course is key!). It needs to look good, too.

Cooper-Hewitt, as part of The National Design Awards, is letting you be the judge of what’s good design in their annual People’s Design Award show. There are many eco-friendly designs to vote for, from gDiapers to the Green Map System (which I’ve mentioned before). But if you want to get your two cents in, ya gotta act fast. Judging ends today at 6:00pm (you can also vote on facebook).

Winners will be revealed on their site on Thursday, the 23rd at 10:00pm (there’s also an after party if you’re interested).

Bonus!
Get free admission to Cooper-Hewitt all week long in honor of National Design Week (through October 25th).

Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, a subsidiary of the Smithsonian Institution, is the only museum in the US that focuses solely on design.

upcoming program explores adaptive reuse

October 20, 2008

The Municipal Art Society of New York City (MASNYC) presents…

A Second (and Green) Career for Industrial Buildings

New York City was once the nation’s power house for manufacturing, and many of the buildings and factories that fueled that industry remain. Preserving these buildings and using them to foster green-collar industries or adapting them to new housing, cultural, and retail uses is the most sustainable action New York could take.

This program will explore two approaches to preserving industrial buildings: keeping them for manufacturing uses (which also means retaining good-paying jobs) or adapting these buildings to new uses.

Panelists include Andrew Kimball, president & chief operating officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, home to traditional maritime uses and new green jobs, Robert Powers, preservation consultant on the tax-certified rehabilitation of the Austin-Nichols Warehouse, Norma Barbacci of the World Monuments Fund, with news of imaginative projects from Latin America, and Lisa Kersavage, MAS director of advocacy and policy. Moderated by Mary Habstritt, president of the Society for Industrial Archaeology.

Recycling New York’s Industrial Past: Inspiration From Home and Abroad
Wednesday, October 22, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Reception to follow.
$15, $12 MAS members/students. Purchase tickets online or call 212-935-2075.

For details of upcoming MAS programs, visit www.mas.org/programs, and for a downloadable version of our fall program calendar in PDF form, click here.

banksy dolittle

October 17, 2008


Instead of talking to the animals, he talks for them. Today, I took a look at British street artist Banksy’s latest statement at The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill (7th Ave South btwn West 4th and Bleecker). Animal testing, commodity meat, fur, and general animal exploitation all demonstrated in a fun animatronic medium. Now through October 31st.


Baby McNuggets



Cat? No coat.


Fishy sticks


Thirsty dog


Monkey pawrn


Bunny beauty
(I found it interesting that he chose Orly nail polish, which is NOT tested on animals. Though there is also a Revlon polish on that bunny’s bureau.)

bcue: introducing third thursday public forums

October 17, 2008

The Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (BCUE) launched their series of Third Thursday public forums yesterday, October 16th at 6pm. The series will explore the economic challenges facing the borough in greater detail.

I couldn’t make it to yesterday’s forum (and sorry I’m just announcing it now!), but I hope to attend future events. Stay tuned to BCUE’s website, or sign up to receive their announcements.

“Being Your Own Pied Piper: How the Song of Local Business Will Save NYC’s Economy,” will feature leaders in NYC’s local economy and discuss how our locally owned and operated industries are weathering the recent and ongoing storms on Wall Street. From manufacturing and construction to the food and event planning sectors, learn who and what the anchors of the new “local living economy” are —and how they can benefit businesses and local communities. Join us at our first “Third Thursday” forum to learn more about how strong community relations and environmentally responsible practices serve as capital to support and strengthen your portfolio and neighborhood economy.

Panelists include: Carl Hum, President, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; Max Carey, CEO, CRD Analytics; Jennifer Stokes, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership; and Catherine Bohne, Owner, Park Slope Community Bookstore.

Check here for details.

apple day, this sunday

October 17, 2008

Eat some apples in the big apple while learning simple ways to go green, this Sunday on the Lower East Side. It’s New York City Apple Day!

Sunday, October 19
11am to 4:30pm
Orchard St btwn Broome and Grand


  • Apple Tastings – Apple Pie to Chicken Apple Sausage to Chocolate Apple Truffles and Apples and Honey for Sukkot

  • Face painting and Family Activities for kids

  • Free giveaways! Toys, 500 Energy Efficient Light Bulbs, T-Shirts

  • Live Entertainment

  • Learn the best way to recycle

  • Learn how to save energy and money

  • Learn the simplest things to do in your home to Go Green

It’s true what they say, “an apple a day…”

I just read this fitting little tidbit from Yoga Journal editor Andrea Kowalski:

According to Ayurvedic medicine, apples help draw out of the body the heat that accumulates over the summer—heat that can dry out and cause digestive distress in the winter season. The pectin in apples also helps to clean and heal digestive mucosa, according to Ayurvedic doctor John Douillard.

Love apples? Share your favorite apple recipes here.


Honeycrisp, one of my favorites