Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where Can You Recycle All That E-Waste, Anyway?

Recently I've gotten several e-mails regarding where to drop off electronics for recycling, so I thought I'd devote some blog space to it. Because if you have an old computer, a cell phone or two, or even a TV taking up space in your home, there's always something you can do with it, even if you missed the most recent electronics recycling event that cropped up in your neighborhood.

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.
The Lower East Side Ecology Center: Founded in 1987 as one of the first organizations in the city to offer community-based recycling and composting program, the Lower East Side Ecology Center started an e-waste recycling program in 2003, offering free collection events in neighborhoods throughout the city. They accept computers, monitors and peripherals (printers, keyboards and mice) as well as TVs and cell phones. Visit the center's web site for a calendar of upcoming events. 

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.

I hope this helps you all with your electronics recycling endeavors. As always, e-mails and questions are welcome anytime! Send them to

Monday, June 28, 2010

Volunteers Build Greenhouse in East New York

Almost 50 volunteers gathered in East New York on Saturday to build a Greenhouse on a recently acquired lot behind Euclid 500 Garden. The participants assembled planters with fruits, vegetable and herbs — which will be donated to a local food bank — and also built picnic tables and painted a mural. The project was sponsored by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, a foundation whose mission is to increase access and opportunity for all New Yorkers. The project was held just two days before the National Conference on Volunteering and Service, which is going on in Manhattan today through June 30. 

Photos by Lauren Farmer

Friday, June 25, 2010

New CSA in Crown Heights

The recently established Central Brooklyn CSA just had its second week of distribution at the Hebron SDA Church at 1256 Dean St. in Crown Heights.

This CSA is one of only a few citywide to accept food stamps/SNAP benefits as a form of payment. The Central Brooklyn site is the fourth CSA organized by the NYC Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH). It is located in the 10th Congressional District in Central Brooklyn, where 30.8 percent of residents faced food hardship in 2008-2009; the district has the sixth highest rate of food hardship out of all the country’s 436 congressional districts.

In addition to providing access to healthy food, the Central Brooklyn CSA supports both local agriculture and Grow NYC’s New Farmer Development Project, which helps immigrants with agriculture experience establish small farms in the region. The Central Brooklyn CSA produce comes from MimoMex farm, operated by Martín and Gaudencia Rodriguez in Goshen, N.Y. Mr. Rodriguez is the first farmer out of the New Farmer Development Project to own a farm.

Building Brooklyn Awards Coming up July 15

The Building Brooklyn Awards, presented by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, will take place July 15, and as per usual, one of the awards highlights excellence in green design. The National Grid Award for Energy Efficiency this year was given to Toren, the 37-story, 399-foot tall condo building at Myrtle Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension that contains 240 units, including studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Toren is LEED gold certified, in part because it has its own cogeneration plant, which generates heat and power for the entire building, costing less than traditional methods.

Also a winner of a Building Brooklyn Award in the retail category is Brooklyn Bowl. Though not honored for its eco-consciouness, Brooklyn Bowl is green. It uses 100 percent wind-powered electricity; wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC); pin-spotters that use 75 percent less energy than regular pin-spotters; draught beers sourced locally; no bottles or cans; 100 percent reclaimed cork floors in the bowler’s lounge; and a stage floor made of 100 percent recycled truck tires.

"The judging panel reviewed an excellent group of nominated projects and selected those representing the best of Brooklyn. This year's trends included an abundance of projects with sustainable features, many of them LEED-certified, and a high volume of interesting, local retail projects," said said Carl Hum, Brooklyn Chamber president and CEO.

Visit for the full list of winners and ticket information. 

With reporting by Linda Collins. Photos courtesy of Toren and Brooklyn Bowl. 

Greening Brooklyn Bridge Park

It's looking pretty green down at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 1, which was recently honored by the Municipal Art Society. 

To keep the park looking so lovely, you can join the Green Team, a volunteer stewardship team that provides hands-on care for Brooklyn Bridge Park from April through October. Green Team activities include mulching, planting, removing debris and environmental education, among other things. Visit the web site for more information on how to join. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rooftop Garden at Sixpoint Craft Ales in Red Hook

If you take a tour of Sixpoint Craft Ales in Red Hook, you can expect to see the inner workings of how beer is made, and you’ll be able to sample some of that beer. You’ll also be able to see the chickens that reside in a pen on the roof of the brewery.

Yup, Sixpoint keeps chickens. They cluck happily amidst a rooftop garden full of lettuce greens, kale, zucchini, corn, radishes, cauliflower, peppers, string beans, chamomile and of course, hop vines.

The garden is a project of brewery president Shane C. Welch, who founded Sixpoint in 2004 and has been gardening since childhood. “My parents used to grow vegetables when I was a kid, and I used to grow when I was in high school and college,” he said. “I used to love to grow corn, watermelons, pumpkins, and radishes. I kept the tradition alive at [my parents’] home well after they stopped vegetable gardening themselves.”

Welch started the garden at the brewery so he could repurpose old materials. “We had all of these used, broken kegs laying around, and then we thought to ourselves — ‘Whoa, couldn’t we just cut the tops off these things and turn them into planters? That would be sweet! Fresh food for the brewery, and lots of beauty as well.’”

Welch and his staff of four brewers, two salesmen and an engineer visit the garden at lunchtime for sustenance. Right now, “you’d find just what you’d get at a farmers market,” says brewer Dan Suarez: fresh greens and eggs from the four hens.

The keg planters are topped with coffee beans hulls from Stumptown café in Manhattan, Suarez explained, which help the plants grow. Other features of the garden include a rain collection system made of old kalamata olive barrels and a composting system.

In the future, produce gleaned from the garden won’t just be for lunch. “I hope to make a botanical beer,” said Suarez, picking some chamomile and smelling it. “I definitely want to brew at least a couple of beers with the stuff we have here.” But the hop vines won’t be too useful just yet. “They won’t produce many cones the first year,” he says.

Sixpoint — which takes its name from a six-pointed star, a hexagram, symbolizing the six elements of the brewing process: water, grain, malt, hops, yeast and the brewer — doesn’t bottle its beer, instead kegs it and distributes it to bars and restaurants.

“We’re brewing all day, every day,” said brew house manager Craig Frymark. One of the brewery’s most popular libations is its Sweet Action, an American Blonde Ale. “We want to make sure that everyone in the five boroughs should be able to get our beer at any time.”

Rooftop gardening isn’t the only way Sixpoint displays its eco-consciousness. “On days we brew, a chicken and cattle farm comes to pick up our spent grain for feed,” said Suarez. And of course they recycle.

“My commitment to sustainability comes from my upbringing, my values, and my feelings for the future,” said Welch. “I lived in a cooperative living environment when I was in college, where we pooled our resources and shared our food and housing like a commune. It was then that I realized the power of creating a less consumptive, more cooperative-based living structure. In other words, a different perspective on lifestyle.

“I think the way the world is headed, and the lifestyle that most western civilizations think they’re entitled to is simply not sustainable,” he continued. “Therefore, we need to break the mold by proposing a new way of looking at things — enjoying the simpler things in life and minimizing the footprint we leave behind. The less resources we use, combined with less waste we generate, is a long-term perspective that real forward-thinking people think about and consider. We try to be that way if we can.”

Friday, June 4, 2010

Flatbush Farm Share Holds First Seasonal Delivery, Fundraiser

On Wendesday, the Flatbush Farm Share (FFS), a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) based in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, held its first seasonal produce delivery behind the Flatbush Reformed Church. In an effort to make fresh, organic, local produce accessible to all, FFS uses a sliding scale for payment and subsidizes share for low-income members. Cost runs as low as $6 a week. FFS also accepts Food Stamps.

"A CSA is a win-win situation - it's good for your pocketbook, it's good for your health, it's good for the environment, and it's good for your neighborhood because it builds an amazing community," said Amy Seek, coordinator of FFS. 

To continue to keep the cost affordable for low-income members, FFS is hosting a fundraiser this Saturday, June 5 at Sycamore, a bar and flower shop in Ditmas Park. One of the raffle prizes is a whole season's share of organic produce.

A volunteer organization, FFS is organized in partnership with Hunger Action Network and Just Food. It is supported by the Flatbush Reformed Church and CAMBA.

For more information about joining this CSA or attending the fundraiser, visit

Top photo: members pick up their share of vegetables. Bottom photo: member Sally Moses hands out broccoli rabe. Photos courtesy of the Flatbush Farm Share

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spring at the Borough Hall Greenmarket

It was a hot day at the Borough Hall Greenmarket. People milled around, picking up fresh strawberries, asparagus and leafy greens. This greenmarket is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the spring and summer season. Visit for a list of the other greenmarkets in Brooklyn. Visit the Locavore's Guide to New York City to find out what fruits and vegetables are in season right now.

Tour de Brooklyn 2010

The Tour de Brooklyn is back for its sixth year and it’s bigger than ever. The 18-mile family-friendly bike tour, which takes a different route through the borough every year, is held by biking advocacy group Transportation Alternatives (TA). TA Spokesperson Wiley Norvell said they expect around 2,500 riders this time around, 500 more than last year.

The ride will take place this Sunday, June 6, and will start at 9:30 a.m. sharp. Online registration has already filled up, but “there will be several hundred spots available on the day of [the ride],” Norvell said. Prospective riders are suggested to get there at 8 a.m., but not before. Check-in is at McCarren Park, and concludes at 9 a.m.

While last year’s ride took bicyclists through southern Brooklyn and Coney Island, this year’s will start and end in Williamsburg, touring Greenpoint, East Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy and Prospect Heights along the way, with a brief respite in Red Hook Park.

Since riders of all ages participate, this ride is not a race, instead it is treated as a rolling parade, about five to 10 minutes from front to back. “It’s a slow, leisurely pace,” said Norvell. The group is escorted by the NYPD.

This particular route was designed with sustainability in mind, he noted, with riders going from Newtown Creek to the Gowanus Canal. “We’re highlighting different pieces of the [Brooklyn] Waterfront Greenway,” Norvell explained. “Bringing New Yorkers closer to their waterfronts.”

If you missed online registration, there are plenty of places to watch the ride. Norvell said the ride will be going down McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint in the morning. A good vantage point would be at Nassau Avenue and McGuinness, which he called “a very dramatic place to watch the ride pass.”

Other optimal views will be in East River State Park, at Kent Avenue and N 8th Street. The ride will also travel on Fourth Avenue for about 20 blocks, Norvell noted, between Bergen and Ninth. Or you can watch the ride on Van Brunt in Red Hook in the afternoon.

“It will be lovely to watch the ride come down Bergen Street in Prospect Heights, or Carlton Avenue [in Fort Greene]. You can hang out and have brunch or go to Fort Greene Park afterwards,” Norvell said. “But the best vantage point is as a rider.” 

Photo by Emmanuel Fuentebella