Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New York Restoration Project Replants Trees in Bushwick Destroyed By September Tornado

The New York Restoration Project (NYRP), in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, announced the planting of 74 new trees in Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick. These trees replace the more than 50 large, caliper trees that were lost as a result of the tornado that devastated parts of New York City on Sept. 16. The Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership donated an additional grant to support supplementary park landscaping and maintenance. 

“New York Restoration Project’s partnership with the New York City Parks Department to replant these 74 new trees in Maria Hernandez Park is a proud example of how our continued collaboration allows us to accomplish great things on behalf of New York City,” said Amy Freitag, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project. “As a helping hand to the Parks Department, it’s NYRP’s job to step up to the plate when tragedy, devastation or budget cuts strike and make sure our city’s parks, community gardens and open spaces remain green and accessible and our urban forest continues to grow strong.”   

“Last September, New York City and its parks, and Maria Hernandez Park in particular, were hit by one of the worst storms in modern history,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  “But New Yorkers are known for their resilience, and I am so proud to be here today, only three months later, to celebrate the first effort to rebuild and restore what was lost in that natural disaster.”

The tree planting in Maria Hernandez Park was made possible through MillionTreesNYC lead sponsors BNP Paribas, The Home Depot Foundation and Toyota, as well as funds raised at NYRP’s annual fundraising gala, Hulaween – which raised more than $460,000 to support the organization’s tree-planting activities citywide.

On September 16, 2010, two tornadoes and a macroburst tore through New York City, uprooting trees, damaging cars and peeling roofs from houses. The storm’s tree destruction stretched uninterrupted from Park Slope through Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick in Brooklyn, into Ridgewood, Queens and all the way through Queens to Bayside. More than 3,500 trees were damaged or destroyed during this storm.

Maria Hernandez Park was especially a scene of devastation; endless rows of fallen trees struck by lightning or uprooted by the tumultuous winds that took the sidewalks with them. Trees — 2.5” caliper up to 5.0” caliper or 8’ to 16’ tall — that were planted in the park  include Silver and Little-leaf Lindens, Pin Oaks, Japanese Zelkovas, deciduous Evergreen Dawn Redwoods, Flowering Kwanzan Cherries and Yellow Woods.

Top photo: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, NYRP Executive Director Amy Freitag, President of the Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership Dan Biederman, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member Diana Reyna and Brooklyn Community Board 4 District Manager Nadine Whitted are joined by students from P.S. 123. 

Photos by Malcolm Pinckney from NYC Parks

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Brooklyn Green Team Eco-Challenge

The Brooklyn Green Team has entered month two of its new eco-challenge — the no new clothing challenge. The group is supporting local shops owned by locals that dig out wearable treasures from past and present. Among the stats they list as encouragement: the 12 to 15 percent of people who shopped at consignment and thrift stores in 2006 saved 2.5 billion pounds of clothes from re-entering the waste stream.

Click here for information on how join the challenge and to check out some resources, including a list of local secondhand shops. (I recently scored big-time at the Park Slope Beacon's Closet — there are fabulous secondhand clothes out there!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Recycled, Repurposed Film and TV Props at Gowanus Shop

Film Biz Recycling takes props and furniture from New York City’s movie, TV and commercial productions that would normally be thrown out and either sells them or donates them to charities and supply shops.

Tomorrow, Dec. 10, Film Biz Recycling will open on 540 President St. in Gowanus after relocating from Long Island City, Queens. But tonight, from 4 to 8 p.m., the store is opening its doors for a sneak peek of its new location, as well as a look at its stock of loot from holiday commercials and TV specials.

Green Edge NYC has the info about tonight’s event. Also see www.filmbizrecycling.org.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Local, Sustainable Food For St. John's Bread & Life Holiday Drive

St. John’s Bread & Life, the largest soup kitchen in Brooklyn, is currently seeking donations for its 13th annual Sponsor-A-Family holiday drive, which provides toys to more than 5,500 children and a Christmas meal to more than 2,000 families.

This year, the food given to those families will be locally sourced from three farms in upstate New York. Among the items provided to each family will be an antibiotic-free cooked turkey, potatoes, vegetables and cranberries. The baked goods, bread and cookies, will be produced with natural ingredients from local bakeries.

“Our goal is to provide the best and most nutritious food to our guests while contributing to the sustainability movement and to the local economy,” said Executive Director Anthony Butler.  “We started buying food from local farmers more than five years ago [for our soup kitchen] and we have found the process to be a great success. We receive fresh ingredients that are nutritious and taste great. And, we’re able to keep our own costs down while helping farmers who are also in need.”

St. John’s Bread & Life, located in Bed-Stuy, serves more than 2,000 hot meals daily. Its Mobile Soup Kitchen provides an additional 500 hot meals to people in two Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods. To make a donation, please call (718) 574-0058 or visit www.breadandlife.org.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fabulous Fresh Finds: Hanukkah Time

Since it's proven unrealistic to blog every time I visit a greenmarket — or expect to diligently visit the greenmarket every week — I've decided to label these posts according to theme, this one being my family's recent Hanukkah celebration.

My chosen/assigned dishes: potato latkes and applesauce. Our party was Sunday, so a trip to the GAP Greenmarket on Saturday gave me ample time to prepare. I visited a couple of booths in search of russet potatoes and found them at Evolutionary Organics (Ulster County, NY). I acquired apples, cider and shallots from Phillips Farms (Hunterdon County, NJ). All I had left to get was eggs and cinnamon.

So far in my greenmarket excursions, eggs have eluded me. I don't think I'm an early enough riser (anyone who's lived with me knows I'm not a morning person). They're always sold out by the afternoon, or maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. Either way, I visited the organic market near me and purchased cage-free eggs. Also cinnamon sticks (yes, I feel guilty).

On Saturday night I made the applesauce, using a recipe from my best pal — and devoted blog reader — Hanna. Just like she says, it was so easy! I just cored and chopped the apples, cooked them down in a pot with the cinnamon sticks and voila! Applesauce. I did, however, double her recipe. I bought 14 apples — gala, Fuji, and another kind, the name escapes me — and used 12. 

Sunday morning I rose "early" to make the latkes. I used a Food Network recipe, one that I've used before and know is pretty good. I've made potato pancakes on two previous Hanukkahs, and this was the first time I've had the luxury of a food processor, albeit a mini one (thanks, Mom and Dad). I doubled the recipe and fried up about 33 pancakes.

Needless to say, the latkes and applesauce (especially the applesauce) were a big hit. Fresh ingredients = delicious food.

The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round. The city's Greenmarkets are a program of GrowNYC, a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs. This particular Greenmarket, founded in 1989, is GrowNYC's flagship Brooklyn market and is its second largest market behind Union Square. 


Monday, December 6, 2010

Sustainable Flatbush Partners With Community Environmental Center

Sustainable Flatbush has announced a partnership with the not-for-profit Community Environmental Center (CEC) to conduct neighborhood-based outreach for their weatherization and energy efficiency programs. Implementing energy solutions locally is an essential part of Sustainable Flatbush’s mission of creating a sustainable urban community in Brooklyn.

With CEC's support, Sustainable Flatbush will work with local elected officials, community boards, neighborhood and block associations, houses of worship, and other community organizations to increase awareness and use of energy efficiency programs. These include the federal government’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), state programs provided by NYSERDA, and programs available through National Grid and Con Edison. Primary emphasis will be on WAP-eligible 1-4 family owner-occupied homes.

The Community Environmental Center, located in Queens, NY, was founded in 1994 to address the housing and energy efficiency needs of low- and middle-income communities. Partnering with CEC will provide Sustainable Flatbush with resources to inform Brooklynites about subsidized opportunities to weatherize their homes, resulting in lower energy costs, improved housing stock, and a reduced carbon footprint for New York City.

Sustainable Flatbush brings neighbors together to mobilize, educate and advocate for sustainable living.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Whole Foods Brooklyn Store to Have Green Features

Whole Foods is now officially moving to Brooklyn — on Third Avenue and Third Street in Gowanus, with groundbreaking expected in 2012 — and the project is planned to have several green elements. 

According to a statement issued by the company, the store will feature parking for energy-efficient vehicles, as well as specially designated recharging stations for electric powered vehicles. The parking lot will include bike parking in front of the store and along a pedestrian promenade. 

Most excitingly, there will be a 20,000-square-foot rooftop greenhouse that will grow fresh, organic produce onsite.

Pictured here is an architect's rendering of the planned Whole Foods.

Rendering courtesy Whole Foods

Monday, November 22, 2010

Get a Living Holiday Tree This Season

Williamsburg florist Rose Red & Lavender, owned by Kimberly Sevilla (who was given an award for green entrepreneurship last year around this time), has begun offering living holiday trees in addition to their regular selection of fresh cut trees.

After the holidays are over, instead of discarding the tree, a living tree can be planted outside, either in a planter or in the ground. Rose Red & Lavender is offering a 30 percent discount for those who don't have access to outdoor space and would rather return the tree.

You can choose between a Boxwood Pyramid, a Baby Blue Spruce and a Big Blue Spruce. To reserve your living tree, call (718) 486-3569 or email lavender@roseredandlavender.com.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference at Brooklyn College

This Friday, Nov. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 21, Brooklyn College will host the first annual Black Farms and Urban Gardeners Conference, The nation's first conference to address the issues of food, farming and policy solutions for the black community. Farmers, gardeners, activists, students and community leaders from across the nation will come to Brooklyn.

Most conference events will take place on Saturday and Sunday, with a fundraiser on Friday. Workshop topics include: resources for rural and urban farmers, linkages between upstate farms and downstate food desert communities, training the next generation of urban farmers and undoing racism in the food system.

For a full conference schedule and information on how to register, visit www.blackfarmersconf.org.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Project LeafDrop Collects Leaves From NYC Residents for Composting

Two years ago, due to budget cuts, New York City stopped collecting leaves separate from garbage. In response, a Park Slope community garden called 6/15 Green decided to expand its already large composting center to accept leaves from non-members, in order to divert those leaves from the landfills. That year the garden collected one-and-a-half tons of leaves.

Last year 6/15 Green teamed up with 23 other community gardens, botanical gardens, greening groups, environmental organizations, City agencies and community partners to form NYCLeaves, and together they created Project LeafDrop, a mission to reduce organic material in the city’s wastestream. Over eight tons of leaves were brought to Project LeafDrop sites and turned into compost and mulch for garden beds and street trees.

This year Project LeafDrop is back, with participating sites across the city. In Brooklyn, sites stretch from Williamsburg to Kensington/Ditmas Park, Sunset Park to East New York. Neighborhood residents are welcome to bring their leaves in clear plastic bags without twigs or trash to participating locations on specific dates. To find information on times and locations, view an interactive map here

Pictured above is a 2008 photo of the three-bin compost system at 6/15 Green Community Garden in Park Slope.

Benefit for Green Theatre Collective Tomorrow

Tomorrow night the Green Theatre Collective (GCT), a Brooklyn-based theater group that uses minimal resources to perform in natural environments, will hold a benefit for its inaugural season. The benefit will be at Pianos NYC at 158 Ludlow St. in the Lower East Side of Manhattan from 7 to 10 p.m.

Attendees will hear live music from Reuben Chess of the band Quintus, Acoustic Electra and Sara Banleigh, and sample baked goods from Monicakes Bakery. The show will start at 8 p.m.

Suggested donation is $10, which will go to GCT’s production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, slated for summer 2011. For more information, visit www.greentheatrecollective.org

The Green Theatre Collective is founded by Windsor Terrace resident Hal Fickett. Read my story about it here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Green Dry Cleaner in DUMBO, Cobble Hill

Recently I met with Ken Kinzer (above), a dry cleaner who has locations on Front Street in DUMBO and Court Street in Cobble Hill. After telling me about GreenEarth Cleaning, one of the methods he uses to dry clean — the other is wet cleaning, which simulates hand washing — I told him about a memory I have from when I was younger and got a sweater back from the cleaners. I smelled it, wanting to snuggle into my nice clean sweater, but I was immediately confronted by the most horrific chemical smell.

The smell was most likely perchloroethlyene (perc), a technically organic compound used by most dry cleaners. It's also a carcinogen. Kinzer's method, GreenEarth Cleaning uses silicone to clean clothes and it doesn't leave a smell.

“It’s safe for the clothes, it’s safe for the customer, it’s safe for the environment,” he said.

Read my story about Kinzer and his dry cleaning plants here.

The Million Pound Challenge: NYC Recycles Clothes to Reach Goal

Back in September GrowNYC — a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs — launched The Million Pound Challenge. This challenge calls on New Yorkers to bring unwanted or worn out clothes to eight weekly drop-off sites, with the goal of reaching the million pound mark by Dec. 31. Instead of going to waste, materials are sorted and redistributed to secondhand clothing markets, rag makers and fiber recyclers. So far, 830,000 pounds of textiles have been collected.

“When the City published the findings of its comprehensive Waste Characterization Study in 2006 we were shocked to see that 6 percent of our waste consists of textiles — this is after residents have sifted out items to donate to their favorite charities,” said GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. “There is no easier way to reduce this figure than to add textiles to your recycling routine. Our collections are unique in that we’ll take all of your clean, dry, unwanted textiles.  Now there’s a solution for what to do with those bleach-stained towels.”

Each ton of material kept out of the trash represents a savings to taxpayers, who foot the bill for sending discards to out of state landfills. Visit the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn to drop off textiles for recycling.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Weeks 7 and 8: Fall Fun

Well readers, it happens to the best of us: I've fallen off the blog train, as I have in the past and probably will again. But I really have been going to the GAP Greenmarket (though we did miss two weeks due to yet more weddings).

On Oct. 23, we stopped by on the way to a pumpkin carving gathering at Lowlands Bar in Gowanus, in the hopes of getting a pumpkin. Not only did we get a regular pumpkin, we also got two mini pumpkins for decorating and some ornamental corn, all from Lebak Farm (Burlington County, NJ). We got a bunch of Fuji apples and — because it's my favorite fall vegetable — butternut squash from Phillips Farms (Hunterdon County, NJ).

We harvested the guts of the pumpkin, then separated the seeds from the core. We used the core to brew a Brooklyn Brewshop Pumpkin Dubbel beer — by roasting the pumpkin with brown sugar and adding the mixture to the mash and the boil — and I toasted the seeds up with some salt using this recipe. The seeds made a delicious snack while brewing and for several days after. The beer is still fermenting; we'll bottle in the coming week. (You can read about our progress on our blog, beerunion.net. How's that for some shameless self-promotion?)

I roasted the squash with some butter and cinnamon, then mashed it. As for the apples, they were great on their own, or also paired with some leftover Lynnhaven goat cheese and drizzled with honey from Brooklyn bees (which I purchased at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's "Bee Day" celebration back in June). Totally local and totally delicious.

This past Saturday (Oct. 30) we were back at the market, stocking up on another butternut squash from Phillips Farms — I can't be without it for too long during the season — and some spinach, garlic and green beans from Cedar Hill Farm/Kernan Farms (Cumberland County, NJ). We also got broccoli rabe from Evolutionary Organics (Ulster County, NY), which we blanched and sauteed, then added to orecchiette and topped it with shaved grana padano cheese, for a lovely Italian-inspired meal. We also snapped up some grapes from Buzzard Crest Vineyards (Yates County, NY).

Of course, I couldn't leave without a non-food item. I kept seeing people with these large bunches of green leafy flower-looking things, so I investigated Lebak Farm's stand. It was eucalyptus, and I had to get some. The bunch was so big I had to split it into two vases (and my hands got pretty sticky handling it), but it's gorgeous, and it smells great in our apartment.

The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round. The city's Greenmarkets are a program of GrowNYC, a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs. This particular Greenmarket, founded in 1989, is GrowNYC's flagship Brooklyn market and is its second largest market behind Union Square.

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 6: Poor Planning
Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 5: Adjusting Expectations
Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 4: Change of Plans
Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 3: On the Road
Fabulous Fresh Finds: Week 2
New Blog Feature: Fabulous Fresh Finds

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mayor Breaks Ground on Recycling Facility in Sunset Park

Mayor Bloomberg today broke ground on a new Sims Municipal Recycling Facility that will serve as the principal processing facility for all of the City’s metal, glass, and plastic recyclables.

The new, state-of-the-art facility is located at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park and will create 100 new jobs when opened, which is expected in December 2011. 

“This recycling facility will reduce the distance that our collection trucks currently travel by more than 260,000 road miles each year by allowing recyclables to be delivered by barge,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This will help advance two of the biggest goals of PlaNYC: cleaning the air we breathe and shrinking our city’s carbon footprint. The Sims recycling facility will also help us revive Brooklyn’s working waterfront.”

Sims Metal Management is investing $44 million to create the new 100,000-square-foot facility, which will include processing and storage buildings, and a Visitor Education Center where school groups and visitors can learn about recycling. The facility will receive collections from Brooklyn by no more than 100 trucks per day, while the remainder of the City’s metal, glass, and plastic recyclables will be delivered to the facility via barge from two existing Sims facilities in the Bronx and Queens.

The facility, designed by Selldorf Architects, will incorporate sustainable elements including green roofs and renewable energy production, on-site stormwater treatment, and landscaping that serves to offset heat and provide a pleasing visual aesthetic for the surrounding community. It will operate 24 hours a day, six days a week.

Currently, New York City spends more than $90 million each year to deliver recyclables collected by the Department of Sanitation to three different facilities in the Bronx, Queens, and Jersey City. The City is investing over $80 million on infrastructure upgrades to support the development of the Sims facility and an adjacent auto processing and cargo handling facility for the Axis Group, currently under construction.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sustainable Flatbush's Fall 2010 Street Tree Walking Tour

On Sunday, Oct. 24, Sustainable Flatbush will host its second annual Fall Street Tree Walking Tour, an opportunity to enjoy beautiful and local fall foliage in Brooklyn's historic Victorian Flatbush. The neighborhood is filled with a variety of street trees, including some that are more than 100 years old. Tour guides this year will be Sam Bishop of Trees NY and neighborhood resident Chris Kreussling, aka Flatbush Gardener.

Throughout the tour, the guide will identify trees and their characteristics, explore local tree history, discuss the beneficial role of street trees in the urban environment and explain the basics of street tree stewardship.

Tours start at Sacred Vibes Apothecary, 376 Argyle Rd. just south of Cortelyou Road. at 11 a.m. and noon, rain or shine. Tours take about two hours to complete and are one mile in length. There is a suggested donation of five dollars.

For additional information, email info@sustainableflatbush.org, call (718) 208-0575 or visit sustainableflatbush.org.

Green Theater Company in Brooklyn Raises Money For Inaugural Season

Six months ago Windsor Terrace resident and actor Hal Fickett (pictured below) founded the Green Theatre Collective (GTC), combining his “love for theater with an interest in the green movement.”

GTC’s mission is to use minimal resources to perform captivating stories in natural environments, he explained. Each show will be performed during the day, outside in a green space, which eliminates the need for electric lighting. The actors’ costumes will be made from reused or recycled materials, and will be reused from production to production, said Fickett. Any music will be produced by instruments the actors play on stage, and all the marketing and promotion for the Green Theatre Collective is done online, through Facebook, Twitter and a blog.

The first production is slated for summer 2011, Shakespeare’s As You Like It, and Fickett hopes for it to be performed in Prospect Park or a community garden.

The choice of play is significant, said Fickett. “The background is in the Forest of Arden; it’s a green and natural background,” he noted. “The play touches upon city life versus country life and the serenity that can come from living in the natural world.”

After Brooklyn, GTC will go on tour, with a definite stop in Newbury Port, Mass., Fickett’s hometown.

Fickett graduated with a bachelor’s degree in acting from Emerson College in 2006. He has acted in nearly a dozen Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions. So far, Fickett has been joined on his GTC venture by Nidia Medina, who signed on as managing director of the collective, and Melanie Closs.

Right now, the group is working on raising funds to acquire and maintain a web site, apply for grant money to assist in production costs and to cover administrative costs leading up to production. They’ve set up a page on fundraising web site indiegogo.com and have scheduled a fall benefit for Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Pianos NYC in Manhattan, which will be as green as possible.

“The green movement is very relevant to where we’re at. It’s what the Earth needs for the present and the future,” said Fickett. “I wanted to put in my two cents. I’m really doing everything I can to have a green lifestyle.”

Check out the Green Theatre Collective on the web at greentheatrecollective.blogspot.com and on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @GrnThtrClctive.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Green Courses at City Tech

This fall semester, through its Division of Continuing Education, New York City College of Technology (City Tech) is offering several courses geared toward sustainability:

Intro to Urban Farming: Wednesday, Oct. 20 from 6 to 9 p.m., $40
Wind Power Workshop: Thursdays, Oct. 14 through Dec. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m., $375
Urban Energy Seminar: Saturday, Nov. 13 from 1 to 5 p.m., $40
Energy – Savers Toolkit: Thursdays, Oct. 21 through Dec. 9 from 6 to 9 p.m., $50 per session

For more information on courses, visit www.citytech.cuny.edu. To register, call (718) 552-1170.

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 6: Poor Planning

We had this past Saturday all planned out: we were going to walk over to the Botanic Garden for the Chile Pepper Fiesta then hit up the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. A good plan, in theory, but a slow morning led to a late start to the Fiesta. Of course, even though I tack it on the end of every Fresh Finds post, I couldn't remember the hours of the greenmarket. Did it end at 4, or 6? (It ends at 4.)

So, at around 5:30, we wandered over to an almost empty Grand Army Plaza, where only Phillips Farms (Hunterdon County, NJ) and Lynnhaven Farm (Ulster County, NY) were operating stands.

We bought broccoli rabe (more this time!) and green beans from Phillips Farms. Lynnhaven Farm had a selection of cheeses. Since they specializes in goat's milk cheese, we bought an assortment: plain, herbed, and rosemary garlic. All three flavors are delicious! We've been putting the cheeses on everything and have almost finished our container.

The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round. The city's Greenmarkets are a program of GrowNYC, a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs. This particular Greenmarket, founded in 1989, is GrowNYC's flagship Brooklyn market and is its second largest market behind Union Square.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Mayor Releases Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mayor Bloomberg this week released the 2010 Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the City’s fourth annual comprehensive carbon inventory. The entire city, including the City government, reduced emissions in 2009 below 2008 levels, putting the City on track to achieve the carbon reduction goals in PlaNYC, the Mayor’s long-term vision for a greener, greater New York.

In 2009, New York City emitted 49.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, a 12.9 percent reduction from 2005 levels and a 4.2 percent reduction from 2008 levels, even though the City’s population grew and the number of buildings increased. The reductions are attributed to less carbon-intensive and more efficient electricity generation, reduced per capita energy consumption, and reduced emissions of sulfur hexafluoride, a potent greenhouse gas. The City is on track to achieve PlaNYC’s goal of a 30 percent reduction in citywide greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.

In fiscal year 2009, municipal government greenhouse gas emissions were 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, 1.1 percent below fiscal year 2006 levels and 3.5 percent below fiscal year 2008 levels. These reductions occurred largely as a result of less carbon-intensive and more efficient electricity generation, City improvements in the efficiency of streetlights, reductions in emissions associated with the transport of solid waste to final destinations outside the city, and reduced City government energy consumption. 

To view the inventory, visit www.nyc.gov.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Electronics Recycling Event at Brooklyn Bridge Park Saturday

Brooklyn Bridge Park will team up with the Lower East Side Ecology Center to host an E-Waste Recycling Event this Saturday, Oct. 2nd. The event will take place at Pier 1 on Furman Street, between Old Fulton and Doughty Streets.

Residents and small businesses (50 employees or smaller) are invited to stop by and bring their unwanted electronics such as working and non-working computers (laptops, desktops, servers, etc.), monitors, printers, keyboards, mice, cables, TVs, audio-visual electronic devices, and cell phones.

In case you can't make it out to the park for the event, here are some other options for electronics recycling:

The 4th Bin: This New York City organization takes e-waste from residences and businesses. They accept computers, monitors, printers, scanners, fax-machines, copiers, network devices, peripherals (keyboards, mice, cables, etc.), components (hard drives, CD-ROMs, circuit boards, power supplies, etc.) TVs, VCRs, DVD Players, Audio-visual equipment, cell phones, pagers, PDAs, telecommunication (phones, answering machines), digital cameras, MP3 players, toner, and UPS batteries. They refurbish and resell as much equipment as possible, and whatever cannot be refurbished is transported to one of their partners for processing. You can fill out a form on The 4th Bin's web site to let them know what you have to collect and schedule a pick-up date.

The Mac Support Store: As a member of NYC's Retailer Take-Back Program, the Mac Support Store is a collection center for any unwanted computer equipment, Mac or PC. Simply drop off your stuff at its location at 168 7th Street, 2nd Floor, in Gowanus during its open hours, which are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The e-waste is then picked up by a C7 NY State registered/NJDEP registered recycler.

Goodwill: Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey has partnered with Dell to launch Reconnect, allowing people in New York and New Jersey to recycle any brand of computer or computer equipment for free at any of the 38 participating Goodwill donation centers and retail stores. Here you'll find a list of what Reconnect accepts and be able to search for a Goodwill location to drop off items.

GrowNYC: A non-profit working to improve the city's quality of life through environmental programs, one of GrowNYC's key programs is its recycling program. Through its Office of Outreach and Education (OROE), it works to improve the city's recycling rate by educating residents about recycling and waste prevention, and working with landlords to make sure building recycling programs are adequate. There is a section on GrowNYC's web site for upcoming recycling events (though many are held by the Lower East Side Ecology Center), but you can also contact the organization with any recycling-related questions at any time, just fill in the contact form on the site. Also, here are some of GrowNYC's recycling resources.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 5: Adjusting Expectations

I happily loaded my two empty Ronnybrook milk bottles into my tote bags this past Saturday for my usual jaunt to the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket. I was looking forward to not only the Ronnybrook Farm Dairy stand, where I would return said bottles for a new one (this being for the milk-drinker in my household) and also purchase a quart of yogurt, but I was also hoping for more sausage from Flying Pigs Farm. I could almost taste the pork. Yum.

Upon getting there, I found a much smaller market than in previous weeks. Ronnybrook and Flying Pigs were nowhere to be found! Shopping with admittedly less excitement than usual, I stopped at Evolutionary Organics (Ulster County, NY), where I found broccoli rabe and my excitement was restored. I love broccoli rabe. I also bought a red pepper. I then got a "party pack" of blackberries and raspberries and a bunch of arugula from Phillips Farms (Hunterdon County, NJ), and — my favorite food item of the day — grapes from Buzzard Crest Vineyards (Yates County, NY).

Then, I just couldn't resist the lure of the Lebak Farm (Burlington County, NJ) flower stand. I bought a bunch of sunflowers. Be aware about these though, if you're carrying sunflowers, you might be followed for a block or two by a bee (or two). Totally worth it though.

The grapes are fabulous — they taste like little balls of grape juice that pop open in your mouth. I didn't realize how bland store-bought grapes were until I had these. The fresh broccoli rabe tasted much less bitter than store-bought broccoli rabe. I blanched it and sauteed it with some fresh garlic (from a couple of weeks ago) and oil. I definitely didn't buy enough though, it cooked way down (duh).

We're going to a wedding on Long Island this Saturday, so no market again for a week! Oh well.

The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round. The city's Greenmarkets are a program of GrowNYC, a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs. This particular Greenmarket, founded in 1989, is GrowNYC's flagship Brooklyn market and is its second largest market behind Union Square.

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 4: Change of Plans
Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 3: On the Road
Fabulous Fresh Finds: Week 2
New Blog Feature: Fabulous Fresh Finds

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Coming Up: New Green City Fair

Following the success of last year's "Green Brooklyn...Green City" fair at Borough Hall, GrowNYC will hold "New Green City" at Union Square Park's South Plaza on September 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The free, day-long event will feature a one-day textile collection, interactive exhibits, DIY tutorials, multi-media art exhibits and the Union Square Greenmarket.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Calculate Your Carbon Footprint!

Click here to go to a carbon footprint calculator on the Nature Conservancy's website. You fill in information about whether or not you use Energy Star appliances, what your most frequent mode of transportation is and whether or not you recycle, among other things. The number that's generated is your estimated greenhouse gas emissions in tons of carbon dioxide.

It's pretty cool, and you can see areas where you can decrease your number. Thanks to Hanna for the tip!

Green Block Party Coming Up in Carroll Gardens

On Oct. 2, local non-profit GreenHomeNYC will hold a free block party — "The NEW New York GreenHomeNYC's DIY Green Street Festival" — focusing on teaching New Yorkers how to green the built environment. It will take place on Third Street between Hoyt and Bond streets in Carroll Gardens, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

During the day, attendees will have opportunities to learn how to install and plant a green roof, learn about worm bin composting, complete an energy audit and learn how to capture and reuse rain water to water plants.

Various exhibitors will be on hand to showcase environmental programs, such as Brooklyn-based Vokashi with its compost system and kits and Foro Marble presenting eco-friendly counter tops. Also have the opportunity to see the Jerko, a motor-less houseboat with a built-in wetland, rainwater harvesting, solar thermal, solar photo voltaics, and a composting toilet.

Kid-friendly activities will include solar car building and racing with SolarOne, and jewelry making from bike parts with Recycle-A-Bicycle.

The Lower East Side Ecology Center will be on hand for electronics recycling, Wearable Collections will be on hand collecting clothing and textiles, and Recycle-A-Bicycle will be collecting bicycles.

There will be boating on the Gowanus Canal in conjunction with talks about environmental remediation. The Jerko, the Gowanus Water Vacuum, an off the grid houseboat will take its maiden voyage, surrounded by a built-in wetland. Hudson, developer of J Condo and the Village at Atlantic Center, will give tours of Third + Bond which is expected to be LEED-Gold and EnergyStar certified.

This event will compost its food waste, minimize the use of paper, utilize bio-fuel, and offset its carbon footprint.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 4: Change of Plans

This past Saturday, I was forced to wait at home all day for the DirecTV tech. Alas, I couldn't make it to the GAP Greenmarket. Not wanting to go another week without farm fresh produce (gasp), I made a quick trip yesterday to the Borough Hall Greenmarket, which is close to my office.

Facing limited options at this particular market on this particular day, I came away with tomatoes and onions from Phillips Farms (Hunterdon County, NJ), peaches from Wilklow Orchards (Ulster County, NY), plums and — most excitingly — juice from Red Jacket Orchards (Ontario County, NY).

The juice was raspberry apple. Having never seen this combination before, I decided to try it. It was refreshing. I will absolutely go back for a bigger bottle (I bought the individual size). We plan on using the tomatoes for a caprese salad and will snack on the fruit this week.

The Borough Hall Greenmarket is held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays year round, and on Thursdays from April 1 through December 30. The city's Greenmarkets are a program of GrowNYC, a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs. This particular Greenmarket celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. 


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Festival's Green Panel Wrestles With Consumer Decisions

In a panel entitled, “It Ain’t Easy Being Green” at the Brooklyn Book Festival this past Sunday — moderated by Ted Hamm, founding editor of the political journal Brooklyn Rail — environmentalists Colin Beaven (No Impact Man), Heather Rogers (Green Gone Wrong) and Anna Lappé (Diet For a Hot Planet) gathered to speak about the green movement.

Before starting the discussion, I was happy to notice that Beaven removed three of the Poland Spring water bottles from the table (the panelists had their own reusable water containers, Ted Hamm did not). It always frustrates me that these water bottles are supplied at so-called "green" events, sometimes even the same events at which stopping the use of said water bottles is discussed.

Anyway, the overall theme of the discussion was how corporations and consumers have misapplied the label of sustainability. As a case in point, Lappé, who has been working to change the country’s food system, spoke about how McDonald’s claims to be a sustainable company — a "community-building sustainability organization," in fact — in part because its Happy Meals have come with stuffed animal versions of endangered species.

"We cannot just let food be at the mercy of our market sources," she continued. "We have to change the food system from the ground up."

Rogers pointed out that "getting to environmental sustainability isn’t a product we’re going to buy. It's a process." She travels around the world looking at how other cultures tackle environmental solutions. "I don't know if we can solve the problems of mass consumption through more consumption," she said, mentioning an example of an organic sugar company that grew its sugar cane in the place of a forest that it had destroyed.

"Shopping isn't voting, it's shopping," she noted. "There are so many technologies we already have. And yet in the United States we're constantly focused on the technology that's just around the corner."

Beaven spent a year of his life living in New York City producing no environmental impact. That year produced a blog, a book and a documentary film shown at the Sundance Film Festival. He explained that if people start by making lifestyle changes, they can then get involved in the political process.

"We don't need to know much more that we already do. The question is whether we believe we can do anything about it," he said, "Our capacity to do more good is infinite. The question is: What do we use our resources for?"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wylie Dufresne at the Farm City Fair in Cobble Hill

Pictured here, celebrity chef Wylie Dufresne — executive chef of Manhattan eatery wd~50 — prepares a poached egg during the Farm City Fair inside the Invisible Dog Art Center in Cobble Hill. Though I'm not a fan of eggs that aren't cooked through (yes, I know, I should have sucked it up and ate an egg that Wylie Dufresne made), I was told it "tasted like runny yolk but it wasn't runny," and was delicious.

A take on the traditional county fair, Farm City took place yesterday inside the center and along part of Bergen Street. Brooklynites sampled produce from bk farmyards, Added Value, and several small-batch artisanal food purveyors. Children watched a clown make balloon animals and danced to music from Asphalt Orchestra.

Various workshops throughout the day included one on foraging with Leda Meredith and one on rooftop farming with sub-irrigated planter systems. There was also a Brooklyn Food Experiments cook-off on the third floor of the Invisible Dog.

Farm City Fair was part of Crossing the Line, the fall festival of the French Institute Alliance Française, and kicked off a three-weekend celebration of urban agriculture called Where Are You Growing?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Green Panel at this Weekend's Book Festival

The Brooklyn Book Festival returns to Borough Hall for the fifth year this Sunday, Sept. 12. Among the many events will be a panel entitled "It Ain't Easy Being Green," in which experts will discuss whether sustainable environmental practices are really helping save the planet. With Colin Beavan (No Impact Man), Heather Rogers (Green Gone Wrong), Anna Lappé (Diet for a Hot Planet) and Miyun Park (Gristle).

The panel will be at 3 p.m. at St. Francis Mcardle Hall, on the first floor of St. Francis College.

Fabulous Fresh Finds, Week 3: On the Road

On my trip to Chicago for Labor Day weekend, I wasn't missing the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket for long: my Chicago friends took me to the Green City Market at the south end of Lincoln Park, right near the Lincoln Park Zoo. Though we didn't buy anything since we were going to be out all day, I thought I'd share some photos of the market.

(The salsa pictured above was delicious.)
The Chicago Green City Market is the city's only year-round farmers market. Its outdoor season runs through October 30 every Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the south end of Lincoln Park between Clark and Stockton Drive (approximately 1790 N. Clark). The indoor season will run from November 2010 through April 2011.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Coming Up: Farm City Fair

On Sunday, September 12, the Invisible Dog Art Center and Crossing the Line will present Farm City Fair curated by Derek Denckla. The fair is a celebration of art and food grown in Brooklyn and will be held at the Invisible Dog at 51 Bergen Street and along Bergen Street.

Some activities throughout the day: 

• Brooklyn farms such as Added Value, Rooftop Farms, and bk farmyards will sell their produce and explain its provenance.

• GreenThumb will host a premium "Blue Ribbon Contest" for gardeners to show off their produce and reveal the range of possibilities for home growing in the city.

• Brooklyn Food Coalition will present a day-long series of workshops on how to make or grow food at home, from canning to under-counter compost.

• Greenpoint Food Market will curate the best of Brooklyn’s small-batch vendors, including Anarchy in a Jar preserves and Brooklyn Kombucha.

• The Food Experiments, created by Theodore Peck and Nick Suarez, will select competitive chefs to respond to their Brooklyn roots, using one or more ingredients grown or made in Brooklyn in a cook-off.

• A bar of Brooklyn brews, wines, and cocktails, from Brooklyn Brewery, Six Points Brewery, Red Hook Wines, Brooklyn Oenology, Kings County Distillery and others.

• Chefs from The Meat Hook, Marlowe & Sons, Ted & Honey, Egg and others will serve up eats made in Brooklyn in collaboration with urban farms.


• Asphalt Orchestra, a Brooklyn-based 12-piece next-generation avant-garde marching band, will open the event and perform between 11a.m. and noon.

• Andrew Casner, compost painter, will demonstrate his acclaimed, agrarian work — the community process of developing a viable compost with an acid-etched canvas underneath created as a natural by-product.

• Mathilde Roussel-Giraudy, a Brooklyn-based artist, will present Ça pousse! (It’s growing!), human form sculptures made from material such as wheatgrass that change as they grow.

• Miwa Koizumi, Brooklyn-based ice cream maker of “NY Flavors,” will create a geographically inspired new ice cream flavor based on Bergen Street and the festival.

• Tattfoo Tan, the urban farming visionary artist, will launch his new bike-based S.O.S mobile Classroom, as the next installment in his two-year long public art project entitled S.O.S–Sustainable Organic Stewardship.

• Wylie Dufresne, renowned chef of wd-50, will create a new downloadable recipe based on re-imagining local ingredients, to be sampled at the Fair.

• Christina Kelly, Brooklyn-based artist meditates on loss and possibility growing blue corn in monumental street planters in a public art project called, Maize Field, located where Lenape Indians planted in the 1600s.

GreenBeat Links

Green Brooklyn updates from blogs and news sources around the web

The Birds on That Brooklyn Rooftop? Chickens [The Atlantic

Two Farms That Supply Local Greenmarkets Reap Inspection Violations [NY 1]

And from the Eagle:

"Green" Cannonball Project Fires Up Third Ave. Festival

Upcoming Chamber’s RED Nite To Be Held At First LEED Platinum Building in Brooklyn

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fabulous Fresh Finds: Week 2

This past Saturday the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket was packed. It was a beautiful day and we left laden with food, since this time I came more prepared (read: I brought along my favorite helper).

As for produce, we bought a red pepper, some potatoes and some cherry tomatoes from Cedar Hill Farm/Kernan Farms, who are in Cumberland County, NJ. We also got fennel and garlic from Bradley Farms, which are out of Ulster County, NY, and mushrooms from Madura Farms, out of Orange County NY.

More excitingly, we visited the Ronnybrook Farm Dairy stand (Columbia County, NY) and purchased a quart of vanilla yogurt — yum, especially with granola and a bit of jelly — and a quart of two percent milk, which I hear is delicious. Being a lactard (lactosally challenged, lactose intolerant, whatever you want to call it), I can't partake. We also got sweet Italian sausage from Flying Pigs Farm (Shushan, NY). More on that later.

One of my favorite items we brought home was a non-food item: lavender from Lavender By the Bay (Suffolk County, NY). I couldn't resist buying a small bunch after walking by the stand and smelling it. It lasts several years, though, so money well spent.

So what did we make? Well. We feasted. On Saturday night we sauteed the mushrooms up with an onion and ate those with some steak and the remaining carrots, green beans and zucchini from my first trip to the greenmarket. These we roasted in the oven. 

On Sunday we had an almost completely local meal. We sauteed (I use the term "we" loosely. I mostly cut and washed) the sausage and pepper with another onion (should have bought one at the market — an oversight), roasted the potatoes, and assembled a fennel and grape tomato salad. It was a fantastic meal, but the highlight was the pork sausage. Easily the best I've ever had. 

Since we'll be going away this weekend, our next greenmarket trip will have to wait a week. I will miss it.

The Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket is held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round. The city's Greenmarkets are a program of GrowNYC, a non-profit geared toward improving the quality of life in the five boroughs through environmental programs. This particular Greenmarket, founded in 1989, is GrowNYC's flagship Brooklyn market and is its second largest market behind Union Square.

Related: New Blog Feature: Fabulous Fresh Finds

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NY Times Feature on Habana Outpost Owner

Check out this feature in the New York Times on Sean Meenan, owner of Fort Greene eco-friendly restaurant Habana Outpost. Among the local hot spot's sustainable elements are "solar panels, a rainwater-collection system that feeds the toilets, a recycling and composting station, wheat-board wall paneling, corn-based plastic cups and a blender powered by a bicycle."

According to the Times, Meenan opened another location in Malibu and will soon be expanding to Las Vegas and LA.

New Interim Greenway on Flushing Avenue

New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken another interim step in the process to establish a Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway — a 14-mile, multi-use, off-road path spanning from Greenpoint all the way down to Sunset Park.

DOT has completed a new 2-way bike lane on Flushing Avenue from Williamsburg Street to Navy Street along the length of the Brooklyn Navy Yard — featuring a physically protected lane from Williamsburg Street West to Washington Avenue and a Class 2 (buffered) lane for the balance of the stretch.

Combined with previously created interim segments on Kent Avenue, Williamsburg Street West and Columbia Street, the groundwork has been laid for nearly 4 miles of the Greenway.

The final designed version of the Greenway will be between 20 and 30 feet wide in total, encompassing a 4- to 8-foot landscaped buffer between it and the street, a 10- to 12-foot bike bath, and a 6- to 10-foot pedestrian path.

The bike and pedestrian path recently opened at Brooklyn Bridge Park will also link to the Greenway route.

The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway was envisioned by Brian McCormick, Milton Puryear and Meg Fellerath, who incorporated as the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI) in 2004. They have been working with the DOT on the master plan for the entire Greenway route.

Earlier this year, DOT hosted a series of four community workshops in areas that will be affected by the Greenway — Downtown Brooklyn, Sunset Park, Red Hook and Greenpoint/Williamsburg — to hash out the details of the planned route.

For more information about the Greenway, visit www.brooklyngreenway.org.

And check this out if you haven't already: when I was looking up details about bike paths, I came across this handy little online guide by Transportation Alternatives called "Bike Lanes and Paths: A Primer." Also, a quick trip around the Biking Rules web site might give you some useful info.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Adopt-A-Farmbox: Empowering Brooklyn to Grow Its Own Food

Lately, it seems as though so many people talk about fresh, local or organic food that everyone must have access to it. In fact, there are neighborhoods in New York City that can be characterized as “food deserts” — areas with little or no access to food needed to maintain a healthy diet.

This is where Adopt-A-Farmbox comes in. A new project of Bed-Stuy couple Aki and Ronald Baker through their sustainable design company Baker Design and Build, it partners with schools and community organizations to donate farm boxes: plots of soil enclosed by 100 percent recycled wood in which to grow food.

“If we can empower people about food, what they eat and how that’s going to bring change into their lives, we can encourage them to take charge of their health, their community and their environment,” said Aki, a nutritionist and yoga instructor.

The boxes are custom made, depending on the size and layout of the space they are intended for. If the boxes are built at a school, they fit into the classroom structure. “We know public school teachers have a lot to do already — what we’re trying to do is make it easy for teachers to be able to integrate it easily into the curriculum they already have,” Baker explained. “Kids need to be able to think about [healthy eating] in every aspect of their lives.”

Baker Design and Build will donate all the materials to build and sustain the farm boxes, including the wood for the box structure, organic soil, organic seeds and plan layouts. They also provide consultation on seed placement optimization, soil composition, vegetable and fruit varieties, educational program integration and a standard based curriculum.

Currently, the project is in its early stages, with boxes being built and funds being raised to build more. Adopt-A-Farmbox will soon have a presence at the Brooklyn Brownstone School, P.S. 11 Purvis J. Behan Elementary School, P.S. 307 Daniel Hale Williams Elementary School, the Green-Hill School and LaunchPad creative gathering space, all in Brooklyn. They have one school partnership in Queens and one in Manhattan.

Right now the first boxes are at Community Counseling and Meditation’s Georgia’s Place in Brooklyn, a supportive housing facility for the mentally ill. There are four boxes there, Baker said. She explained that once the boxes are built and the soil is put in, the soil has to settle. Seedlings for new boxes will be started in February and taken outside to plant in April. During the fall and winter, workshops will be held in health, nutrition, farming and composting.

In the meantime, the Bakers are fundraising to cover the cost of the boxes through Kickstarter, an all-or-nothing based fundraising web site, which awards a project money only if it is fully funded by pledges. Adopt-A-Farmbox’s goal is to reach $10,000 by Sept. 11. As of Wednesday afternoon, 48 backers had pledged a little more than $3,500.

Money will also be raised through a party on Sept. 11 in collaboration with theCOMPOUNDbrooklyn, a social experiment designed by a collective of artists, activists and local businesses, in which they throw parties in order to raise funds for good causes. “Back-to-School @ theCOMPOUNDbrooklyn with Adopt-A-Farmbox” will be at 1281 Atlantic Ave. from 3 p.m. to midnight on the 11th.

Baker said they are also talking to council members to secure more funds for the project.

“[The response] has been overwhelmingly positive [so far],” Baker said. “Our hope is to empower people … using food as a catalyst for social change. Food is something that connects us together. We all have to eat.” 

Photo courtesy of Adopt-A-Farmbox