Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

give synthetics the boot (bag)

October 1, 2009

Icebreaker, maker of some of the finest Merino wool activewear around, will be “bagging synthetics” next week.

Starting Monday, October 5, the New Zealand based company will be taking your stinky old synthetic, petroleum-based t-shirts (think polyester) and turning them into reusable marathon shoe bags in the Paragon Sports store window, on the spot, and for absolutely free.

Bonus for marathoners and aspiring marathoners: get 26.2% off your Icebreaker GT purchase and get a free pair of Icebreaker socks (from Oct 5 to 12).

So why should you ditch your old synthetic tee for a Merino wool one?

Synthetic tees:

  • stink after a run
  • feel unnatural
  • are made from oil

Icebreaker merino apparel:

  • made from all-natural wool from free-range Merino sheep
  • feels soft to the touch
  • has natural wicking abilities
  • doesn’t stink when you sweat in it
  • non-polluting
  • biodegradable
  • suitable for all seasons

Plus you can run in Icebreaker apparel for weeks without washing it, so energy costs are reduced and less detergents are put into the environment. Read more about Icebreaker’s ethos.

And here are the details for the event:

Monday, October 5 to Monday, October 12
11 am – 7 pm
Paragon Sports
867 Broadway at 18th Street, NYC

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milkweed and stinky piglets

September 30, 2009

Rainy days have their benefits. The first, most obvious benefit is the replenishment of available water for plant, animal, and human use. The second is that rain keeps people from enjoying outdoor activities. Why is that a benefit? Well, if you’re visiting Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture and want to go on a vegetable tour, you may just be the only one on the tour on account of rain. And being the only ones (bf & I) on the tour last Sunday, we got special attention. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me.

We went on a whim, despite the rain and forecast for more of it throughout the day. Looking at the clock, we realized we’d have just enough time to grab a bite from the cafe and go on the two o’clock tour. So up we went, to Pocantico Hills, just north of Tarrytown. It’s lovely up there, just an hour’s drive from Brooklyn, the leaves along the Saw Mill Parkway just starting to change into their autumnal habits. Here are some of the magical things we encountered on our tour of the educational, experimental, sustainable agricultural center:


A tasty lunch at the cafe


What’s on today?


Selling the bounty at the farm market


Asclepias gomphocarpus, a type of milkweed, attracts butterflies


Happy bees on past-peak artichokes in the dooryard garden. These delicious thistles are apparently difficult to grow in the Northeast, but Stone Barns is figuring out how.


Go ahead, try one! Stone Barns encourages sampling


Super-juicy Asian pears growing in the main field are an experiment. A very tasty experiment.


Self-seeding sunflowers take over where the arugula leaves off


Purple brussel sprouts in the field…


…and yummy purple mustard greens in the greenhouse


The expansive greenhouse allows 4-season farming


Seedlings in custom compost are kept warm through water-filled, compost-heated tubes


Hoop houses on tracks also extend the seasons


Four kinds of compost are cultivated at Stone Barns


Berkshire pigs, right home in the forest mud


Hey little piggy


Sorry, we’re too busy to look at your camera


Oh, hello there. These pigs sure are cute, but they were also a little stinky.

Stone Barns is a magical place where everything is grown for a reason, everything is harvested, nothing is sprayed with pesticides or grown in artificial fertilizers. And everything is repurposed, from food scraps to plastic tarps. You can visit Stone Barns for a tour, to volunteer, or to enjoy an 8-course meal at the amazing Blue Hill restaurant.

This Saturday, October 3, is their 6th Annual Harvest Festival. Get your tickets here.

Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, NY
914.366.6200

fresh: the film

September 22, 2009

If you didn’t get your fill from Food, Inc., Fresh looks like it takes the story of sustainable agriculture one step further. Featuring Will Allen (Growing Power), Michael Pollan (the man who needs no introduction), and Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms), Fresh looks at the solutions to the problems of our current food system.

Fresh will be screening at BAM, Tuesday, October 6, 7pm, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Gabrielle Langholtz (Editor of Edible Brooklyn) with the director/producer, Ana Sofia Joanes, plus Reverend Jackson of Brooklyn Rescue Mission, David Shea of Applewood Restaurant, and Letitia James, District 35 – Council Member.

Check out the official site.

even old new york was once new amsterdam

September 14, 2009

It’s been 400 years since Hudson “discovered” what is now the great city of New York. And people are celebrating this historic occasion in varying ways. Here are a handful of interesting events happening now:

New Amsterdam Market

I got a taste of delicious local food at this open air market where the old Fulton Fish Market once called home. Pasture-raised dairy from farms like Hawthorne Valley, Painted Goat Farm, and Valley Shepherd Creamery; natural meats from Fleisher’s and Dickson’s; and other tasty treats from the like of Marlow & Sons, Stone Barns, Saltie, and Hot Bread Kitchen filled the stalls, doling out samples and food for purchase. A couple of newcomers included Maple Hill Creamery and Basis, a healthful/local/affordable food market coming soon to 14th Street in Manhattan.

Three more opportunities are coming up for you to get in on the scrumptious action: Sundays October 25, November 22, and December 20. Get the details.


(left: peppers from the Garlic Farm; right: olive oil cake from Saltie)

Pioneers of Change

Longing for a bit of the old world? Look no further than Governors Island this coming weekend:

A festival of Dutch design, fashion and architecture on New York’s Governors Island to celebrate a 400-year Dutch-American friendship

Conceived and curated by Renny Ramakers, co-founder and director of Droog, as part of the NY400 week celebrations, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Dutch to New York.

Pioneers of Change highlights a more responsible and sustainable approach to living by celebrating the blurring of low- and high-brow, establishing new collaborations, encouraging involvement, emphasizing sustainability and valuing handcraft and the local context.

Activities will take place in and around eleven officers’ houses at Nolan Park, Governors Island, New York.

[via Droog]

Open: Fri 18 Sept, 10am – 4:30pm
Sat 19 Sept / Sun 20 Sept 10am – 6:30pm
Download Ferry schedule.

Get the full details here.

Enviromedia Mobile: Urban Trekkers’ Summer Festival ’09
Designated as an official Quadricentennial Ambassador by the State of New York.

I happened upon The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy’s Enviromedia Mobile Museum yesterday in Red Hook (after hopping on the free water taxi to Ikea). What an impressionable display complete with tepees, information on falconry, info about threats to native wildlife and health, and a live barn owl!

The Enviromedia Mobile Museum will be back at Erie Basin Park (next to Ikea, one of the sponsors) on October 10th. But if you can’t wait that long, here’s their full schedule.


(top: barn owl in tepee; bottom: info on PCBs)

the virtues of raising beef on the pasture

August 31, 2009

I came across this terrific video where cattle farmer Will Harris describes simply why he raises cows on the pasture. He started his career like most cattle farmers in this country, growing beef in a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) where the animals are fed commodity corn and kept in pens – the fast and cheap way. He compares applying chemical fertilizers on grass to cocaine – it feels good at first, but then you become dependent on it. Everything he says makes complete sense to me. It’s a bit long, but it’s shorter than your average TV program and definitely worth a watch. Check it out and then let me know what you think.

CUD from Joe York on Vimeo.

do chickens get seasick?

August 19, 2009


Below the BQE, in a barren industrialized part of Brooklyn, was docked the Waterpod

Do chickens get seasick? Does sea air help or hinder the tomatoes? If you get a chance to visit the Waterpod – 3,000 square foot living ‘art-installation’ barge – could you do me a favor and ask these questions? A combination of heat and a weekend’s worth of permaculture lessons fried my noodle when I went to visit the operation on the Brooklyn waterfront last Sunday.

Here are some things to look forward to on your visit (they’re currently docked in Staten Island):


Bucky, eat your heart out.


Hey, your squash is hanging out!


These ladies are just minding their own business.


Grey water filtration system – awesome!


There shouldn’t be a mutiny on this bounty. (Ouch!)


Looks like a healthy tomato crop – no scurvy here


Some worthy shipmates saving amaranth seeds


Inside the living room – it was pretty cozy I’ll have to admit

Get the poop on the Waterpod

And some press on
NY Times

simplify, simplify

July 23, 2009

My mantra for the year. I’ve been decluttering, refocusing, letting go of bad habits and saying hello to new (good) ones. Part of living in a sustainable way is making sure the ol’ noggin’ can sustain all that’s thrown at it as well.

And who do I have to thank? Well, yours truly, of course. But I couldn’t have done it without my loved ones, and a few dear strangers that I know mostly through books and blogs. Here’s a list of those who get me through the day in one piece:

Thich Nhat Hanh

It doesn’t matter which book you start with, all of this Vietnamese Buddhist monk’s writings are simply stated and sure to calm the mind and spirit. Not one iota of religious dogma. I’m psyched to be hearing him speak at the Beacon Theatre this October.

Patanjali & Sri Swami Satchidananda

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – this is what yoga is all about. I read a sutra or two before I go to sleep at night.

Gail Blanke

I was skeptical of this one, especially since the title is telling me to ‘throw out’ things. I don’t take kindly to that sort of message. But inside this little gem are some practical (and somewhat ecological) tips on letting go of the stuff that clutters your physical and mental space. Right on, Gail.

Elephant Journal

I can’t quite remember how I stumbled upon the elephant, but I’m ever-so-glad I did. I caught them just as they were shutting down print ops to launch their all-online version. I knew as soon as I opened the first page and saw what kind of ads they were running (yoga, healthy food, eco stuff) it was my kind of magazine. Here’s a little story: I was in a cafe in Sydney, Australia last year, reading one of the ol’ paper & ink issues of the mag and a young lady (another American) sitting at the table next to me asked where I got it. I told her I subscribed. She told me she contributed, and was just so surprised to see someone in Oz reading the humble magazine from Boulder, Colorado. Small world.

Bikram

I’m not really talking about the man, here, more about the method. Not sure how I feel about all of his principles (the proprietary ones), but this 90-minute, hot & sweaty, 26-posture “open-eyed moving meditation” has sure gotten me through some tough days. I’d say it’s at least 95% mental, and it ain’t so bad for the bod, either.

Think Simple Now

Through a sparse and thoughtfully written blog, Tina Su, et al, help others do just as the title suggests: Think Simple – Now. I used to be skeptical of self-help stuff like this, but some little voice started telling me that it can actually help to be open-minded and take a serving of helpful advice once in awhile. It’s good to listen to those little voices sometimes.

Zen Habits

Nope, this isn’t a blog about monk’s robes. It’s another well-thought-out and simply stated blog that reminds me to keep it simple, and do it with a smile.

Lots of Tweeters
Twitter can be a distraction, but it’s also been an amazing resource for connecting with some new friends and like-minded individuals. Here are a few (off the top of my head) who remind me to simplify:
@HappyLotus
@unitedyogis
@thedeeperwell

And here are a couple of tools that don’t hurt:

My zafu & zabuton (meditation cushions)

Made in Vermont by Samadhi Cushions

Meditation candles

100% Beeswax & essential oils by Big Dipper Wax Works

Who keeps you sane?

farm to table guest post

July 21, 2009

On Sunday, I visited Rooftop Farms, an amazing (as the name suggests) rooftop farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Read all about it in this guest post I did on Farm to Table, sustainable food blog and reality show.

design for a living world

July 13, 2009

When I look at the tag inside a t-shirt to find out its origin, that “Made in Bangladesh” label is only telling a tiny part of the story. Sure, the shirt may have been sewn together in Bangladesh, but where was the cotton grown? Where was it spun, woven, and dyed? How many hands touched that one t-shirt in order to be sold in a retail shop in the US?

Design for a Living World, a fairly new exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum developed by The Nature Conservancy, removes the mystery of origin, at least in part, of some of the items we might encounter day to day. It shows us that natural is beautiful and knowing the source and inspiration of design is powerful.

Take, for example, the organic sheep’s wool rug designed and knit by Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma. We see the sheep of Lava Lake Ranch in Hailey, Idaho, grazing on pasture. We see the raw materials, the just shorn wool, all balled-up and dirty with brush. And then each subsequent stage of preparation, from the cleaned wool, to the spun yarn, to the giant knitting needles, to the finished product. Many sheep, some farmers, and one woman. There’s no questioning the source, the process, the final product.

Several other materials and products are displayed, showing the region of origin, a peek at the people who are stewards of that land, who harvest the materials, and a profile of the designer. Alaskan salmon skin clothing from Isaac Mizrahi, FSC-certified red maple furniture from Maya Lin, and, my favorite, vegetable ivory jewelry of the Pohnpei ivory nut palm tree from Ted Muehling (manta ray earrings below).

Surrounded by these beautifully executed designs, all as sustainably created as possible, I still left wanting more information. How do these products compare to their conventional counterparts? Considering how (relatively) few steps are required, how few hands touched these products, does that make them more or less accessible to the general public? Of course, the designs on display are not meant to be sold in stores, but how could they serve as models for those that are?

I hope that I’m underestimating the impact this exhibit might have on a young designer, or a seasoned designer looking to turn over a new leaf. And I hope that designers like Isaac Mizrahi, who has churned out (not-so-sustainable) designs for Target, and now Liz Claiborne, will not just see this project as a one-off but as a guide for the goods they design in the years to come.

Design for a Living World
Now through January 4, 2010
Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
2 East 91st Street New York, NY 10128 | 212.849.8400

growing and greening ny

December 19, 2008

Learn all about PlaNYC2030, the city’s plan to improve the environmental conditions of NYC while adapting to its growing population at this new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. Details below.

Growing and Greening New York
December 11 through April 12
Museum of the City of New York
1220 5th Ave (@103rd St)

Today 8 million New Yorkers daily get up, go out, and live their lives. By the year 2030, there will be a million more people living in New York City. And the city will have undergone a great transformation, becoming cleaner, greener, more responsible, and more robust–if the projections of PlaNYC2030 are correct, and if we take action on them now...

…Growing and Greening New York and PlaNYC will pose vital questions: How must New Yorkers change to make a sustainable future possible? How will the daily lives of all New Yorkers, and those who visit New York, be affected by sustainability initiatives at home, in the workplace, and in many of our public and recreational spaces? What might a more sustainable city actually look like?

Special event tomorrow:
Saturday, December 20, 2:00 PM
Gallery Tour of Growing and Greening New York
FREE (with suggested $9 admission price)
Get tickets