A Farm Friendly and Sustainable Summer 

By Peter Aronson

Buying locally produced food and dining at farm-to-table restaurants is one way we can all work together to fight climate change.  

Here we will offer tips on how you can turn your summer into an educational farm-to-table extravaganza.

You can start out by visiting one of the many urban farms in New York City or elsewhere in the state, and then you can dine at one of the many farm-to-table restaurants.

Eating locally produced foods helps to cut down on one of the largest contributors of climate change: Transportation. Transporting food great distances to the East Coast is one of the leading sources of carbon pollution. Eating locally produced food, at home and in restaurants, is one way to drastically reduce that carbon footprint.

You can start your educational adventure by visiting a wonderful hidden gem along the Westside Highway, at 34th Street, where the seven-acre Javits Convention Center rooftop garden provides a stirring view of the Hudson River. Few people know that the facility has one of the largest green roofs in the United States and that it includes a one-acre farm. The area, a sanctuary to dozens of local and migratory birds, grows up to 50 crops a year to provide, literally, rooftop-garden-to-table food for events at the Javits Center. 

The roof is open to tours April-November. The cost is $5. Great for a family outing.

If you live in Brooklyn or wish to visit, there’s the 6,000-square foot Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Greenpoint. The organic farm, a non-profit sitting atop a warehouse, runs a weekly market and sells its produce to local restaurants. They also accept volunteers. For more info: http://rooftopfarms.org/volunteer/

There’s also Brooklyn Grange farms, with two locations open to the public, at the  Brooklyn Navy Yard and in Sunset, Queens. The multi-acre organic farms offer a great variety of public events, from tours and yoga to events such as weddings. They produce more than 100,000 pounds of vegetables a year for its farmer’s market and host events.

Or you can take the family to the 40,000-square-foot Randall’s Island Urban Farm. It’s open on weekends from 10-4. They offer free events where you can learn about urban gardening, composting, sustainable agriculture, and even rice paddies, which the farm has.

Or, if you want to be more adventurous, try volunteering at NYC’s Billion Oyster Project, which is restoring the devastated oyster reefs to New York Harbor. The oysters, through their own filtering system, naturally clean the harbor water and their reefs protect the shoreline from erosion. To learn more why oysters are environmentally important to New York waterways (they are called “ecosystems engineers”), click here: https://www.billionoysterproject.org/ecosystem-engineers

To explore volunteering, click here: https://www.billionoysterproject.org/volunteer.     

If you live in or want to visit the greenest borough in New York City, wander over to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island. The center, which has 14 botanical gardens on its 83-acre campus, is open seven days a week, dawn to dusk, and is free to enter. For more info, visit https://snug-harbor.org/hours/. And if you want to volunteer in a beautiful, outdoor setting, visit https://snug-harbor.org/volunteer/

Snug Harbor includes the 2.5 acre Heritage Farm. To volunteer at the farm’s composting program, click to learn more: https://snug-harbor.org/heritage-farm/ 

If you want to learn more about bees or beekeeping, visit the hives in Bryant Park. You’ll learn about how bees help make our plants healthier and more beautiful.

If you want to take a short boat ride south, visit the one-acre urban farm on Governors Island, known as the GrowNYC Teaching Garden. They offer teaching events for kids and older adults and is open to the general public as well. Click here for more information about Governors Island and here for more about the rest of the sustainable happenings in the city.  

To learn more about the benefits of farming and locally-sourced produce on Long Island, visit the Suffolk County Farm and Educational Center in Yaphank. One of its stated goals is to help educate the public so as to “pave the way for a sustainable future.”

Westchester Family lists 13 farms to visit with your family in Westchester County.

If you want to stay on a farm in the Catskills, there are plenty of options.  

There are family farms in the Albany region. In the Adirondacks, Up Yonda Farm Environmental Education Center is a good option.

To find the best farm-to-table restaurants in NYC, see Wanderly, TimeOut New York, Culture Trip, Open Table, or just Google for your own preference or neighborhood.

The I Love New York website lists favorite farm-to-table restaurants throughout the state.    

Happy sustainable eating. 

Green Tips for Spring Cleaning

By Peter Aronson

The term spring cleaning should take on new meaning as we all strive to make our homes and communities more environmentally sustainable.

Websites from Planet Aid to Eartheasy to One Tree Planted to Bob Vila’s home improvement site all have articles suggesting ways to spring clean while collectively lowering our carbon footprints.

When reading these articles, one thought stands out: This is an opportunity for a reset, to start new, green habits that will carry on even well past spring.

Here’s a compilation of their suggestions, all quite easy to do:

  1. Use reusable rags, not paper towels to clean;

  2. Use homemade or eco-friendly cleaning solutions. Homemade cleaning solutions can be made with vinegar, lemon, essential oils and baking soda. See webmd article for details;

  3. Donate, don’t toss. Donate old clothes, furniture, books and knick-knacks to an appropriate charity. Upcycling items we no longer need reduces waste going to landfills and helps individuals less fortunate;

  4. Start participating in local composting … or get ready to do so. It’s now available throughout Queens and in some areas of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, and coming soon to every New Yorker. For more info on NYC composting, click here. (PS: You’ll be amazed how much fun it is placing compostable food waste in a biodegradable bag and dumping it in a curbside bin. All you have to do is download the NYC Smart Compost app to your phone.)

    Also, if you want to clean out your fridge and shelves, compost food past date, and donate canned food that’s still good.

    If you don’t live in New York City, search the Internet for composting sites in your community;

  5. With more local fresh produce on the way at your local green market, start buying produce not contained in plastic containers or plastic bags and then continue this practice past spring and summer. Reuse old containers, paper bags, or buy reusable plastic bags, easily found on the Internet;
  6. While you’re at it, start using recyclable trash bags for all your garbage;

  7. If you haven’t already, make a commitment to using reusable bags whenever shopping for anything;

  8. If you have an outdoor space, dry laundry outside, instead of using a dryer;

  9. Seal doors and windows that were drafty during the winter;

  10. Although this should be encouraged any time of the year, since spring brings many signs of change, make a commitment to canceling delivery of all paper statements. It’s surprisingly easy to do online. If you can’t figure out how to do it, ask someone who is more familiar with these tasks; and

  11. Unless it’s too unbearably hot, try opening the windows instead of using air conditioning. The less electricity we use, the lower our carbon footprint.

For more info about all of these suggestions, please see: One Tree Planted, Eartheasy, Planet Aid and Bob Vila’s home improvement tips

Happy green spring cleaning!

NYLCV Honors Earth Month With Advocacy and Education

By Sunday afternoon the rain clouds had parted and the sun was beaming on the corner of Wyckoff & Jefferson in Brooklyn, and the hundreds of people gathered for the House of Yes’s Earth Love Festival. There, and three miles away on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at the NYC Earth Day Grand Bazaar, among music acts, shopping, games, and scores of vendors, Team NYLCV set up shop to engage visitors about the League’s mission and the importance of clean energy and sustainability in addressing the climate crisis.

On Saturday–Earth Day–the League was educating for the environment along the banks of the Hudson River at Green Ossining’s 13th annual Ossining Earth Day Festival. 

It was the conclusion of a week-plus of advocacy and education work for the League that began on Friday, April 14, when NYLCVEF & Siemens hosted a panel discussion at the IBM Learning Center in Armonk, NY, about the hardware, software and infrastructure upgrades needed to make the transition to a zero-emission vehicle fleet a reality in New York. 

Then, to kick off Earth Week proper, League staff set up shop in Union Square in Manhattan for Earth Day Initiative’s annual Earth Day Festival. It was a great afternoon featuring dozens of environmental groups & climate campaigns, interactive workshops & speeches, & a loud call to elected officials to prioritize environmental justice.

It was also a big week on the policy side. On Tuesday, NYLCV President Julie Tighe joined New York’s environmental leaders to announce the completion of eight large-scale renewable energy infrastructure projects, a powerful reminder this Earth Week of New York’s commitment to a clean energy future.

Later in the week, Mayor Adams released PlaNYC, New York City’s strategic climate plan. PlaNYC identifies high-priority areas that require immediate attention, including improving air and water quality, creating a circular economy, expanding green spaces, and enhancing resilience to extreme weather events, a critical effort that will be greatly enhanced by a newly established flood and climate resilience bureau. We were very pleased that the plan also identifies reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution as a priority–a new rooftop solar initiative and new low- and no emission zones will go a long way toward achieving this goal. 

Much of our advocacy work coalesced around the ongoing state budget negotiations. NYLCV is pushing hard for our priorities to be included, including cap and invest and a slate of measures to decarbonize the buildings sector. 

As budget negotiations continued to drag on, NYLCV Policy Director Pat McClellan provided an update on our priorities stand and asked supporters to support our ongoing efforts by making an Earth Day donation to NYLCV. 

On Friday, McClellan joined Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Dan Goldman and partners at the choke point of the Manhattan side of the Lincoln Tunnel to call for the implementation of congestion pricing. It’s been over a decade since congestion pricing was proposed in NYC & as the area population & commerce have grown, so too has traffic & gridlock–which causes higher GHG emissions & worse air pollution. NYLCV is emphasizing the urgency of the issue and that it’s time to turn plans into action and move forward with congestion pricing now.

Earth Month is not over yet, however, and on Tuesday NYLCV will join partners in Albany for Earth Day Advocacy Day. Advocates from across the state will meet with legislators at the Capitol and Legislative Office Building to call for the advancement of a package of environmental legislation which addresses energy efficiency, climate & environmental justice, clean water, lead poisoning prevention, waste reduction and toxins in products.

Whale Tales and Whale Facts

By Juan Torres 

On Tuesday, April 4,  NYLCVEF hosted a webinar with the NY Offshore Wind Alliance and Citizens Campaign for the Environment on whale protection called Whale Tales and Whale Facts. Attendees heard from experts about threats to whales off NY’s coast and what we can do to protect these endangered species. 

The program included experts from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Atlantic Sea Conservation Society, and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and was moderated by Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. She was joined by Julie Tighe, President of NYLCV & NYLCVEF; and by Fred Zalcman, Director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance. 

Esposito kicked off the event by emphasizing how much New Yorkers care about the whale population and how recent events have sparked an interest in learning more about whale conservation. She also highlighted research from Gotham Whale, a non-profit citizen-science organization that tracks whale populations around New York Harbor. 

That research indicated that there were sightings of over 260 whales (mostly juvenile Humpback Whales) in the New York City area in 2022, while a decade ago there were only five sightings. This is the result of a law that protects the Menhaden fish species, a big food-source for many whales. The growth in the whale population is also a result of removing ghost gear that is harmful to whales within New York waters. 

Speaker Meghan Rickard, a Marine Biologist with The Division of Marine Resources for The New York State DEC, spoke about how endangered large whale species found in New York are a priority for the state. She highlighted management plans that focus on whale surveys and whale monitoring for a variety of species. This follows the New York Ocean Action Plan which had a 3 year time-frame for baseline monitoring. 

The second speaker, Dr. Erica Staaterman, a PHD Scientist with BOEM, presented her research in bioacoustics and their effects on whales. Bioacoustics is the investigation of sound production, dispersion and reception in animals. She spoke about which sources of underwater sound are the most harmful to whales and noted that despite what some anti-offshore wind groups are contending, the sound created from offshore wind construction is less harmful than other sources of bioacoustics such as airguns and Navy sonar. 

The final speaker, Robert DiGiovanni, the Executive Director and Chief Scientist for the Atlantic Sea Conservation Society, has over 33 years of experience working in whale conservation and protection.  He spoke about how his organization has responded to whale strandings and deaths, and encouraged attendees to contact his organization if they come across a deceased or distressed whale. He spoke about the growing number of whales in and around New York waters due to successful legislation demanding safer fishing practices and protecting more marine species. As the number of whales increase,  DiGiovanni noted, whale deaths and strandings will also increase, unfortunately, but the major threats to the species can be traced back to ship strikes and unsafe fishing practices, not offshore wind.

If you missed our Whale Tales and Whale Facts webinar, you can watch the recording here


New York’s Offshore Wind Sector Marches Forward

By Peter Aronson

New York state, and particularly Long Island, took another step forward recently in the state’s multi-pronged effort to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040.

The Town of Brookhaven, in Suffolk County, and Sunrise Wind announced a Host Community Agreement recently, whereby Sunrise Wind will pay a total of $170 million for community projects in exchange for access to land necessary to enable its proposed offshore wind farm.

Sunrise Wind’s turbines would be located approximately 30 miles east of Montauk and would deliver enough clean energy to power 600,000 homes. The Community Agreement will allow Sunrise Wind to get access to 18 miles of land, so it can house a cable to carry the power generated by the turbines.

The New York League of Conservation Voters applauds this project as a shining example of synergy between community leaders, elected officials, labor, clean-energy business and environmental advocates – and one with strong economic benefits, as reported in Long Island Business News.  

It is time for us to move beyond setting goals and making plans and to start delivering on climate action, which means constructing projects,” said NYLCV President Julie Tighe. “And we know that offshore wind means opportunities not just to fight climate change and reduce pollution, but also for investments in our communities.” 

The Host Community Agreement with Sunrise Wind will bring millions in investments and hundreds of family sustaining union jobs to Long Island while bringing enough clean energy to power half of LIPA’s customers. 

“We are thrilled to see such strong bipartisan support for this project and we congratulate Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on this agreement and for continuing to embrace offshore wind,” added Tighe

And those will be clean-energy jobs, the kind of jobs that serve the dual goals of providing economic security to thousands of New Yorkers, while at the same time replacing carbon emissions with clean energy across the state.

To understand the full impact of the Sunrise Community Agreement, it’s important to look at the details. Under the terms of the agreement,

  • Sunrise will pay a total of $169.9 million over 25 years;
  • $5 million will go towards construction of Tri-Hamlet Park and other projects, including for schools, in the future;
  • $10 million will go towards construction of a National Offshore Wind Training Center in Brentwood; 
  • Sunrise will create of a state-of-the art Operations and Maintenance Hub in East Setauket, which will create up to 100 new long-term jobs; 
  • $5 million will go towards a Research and Development Partnership with Stony Brook University; and 
  • Hundreds of union construction jobs will be created to build the 18-mile underground transmission infrastructure and related facilities.  

A second development regarding offshore wind was also welcome news.

Equinor, one of the largest offshore wind-energy developers in the world, and BP submitted a joint bid to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), for a large wind farm project 60 miles off the coast of Long Island. The project, known as Beacon Wind 2, would provide electricity to approximately one million New York homes.

For more details on Equinor’s bid, please see its press release. 

NYLCV understands wind energy is vital to New York State reaching its mandated energy goals, which is why it is a major priority for us in our 2023 agenda. 

Under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019, New York State has committed to developing nine gigawatts of offshore wind powered electricity by 2035, enough to power six million New York homes, the most ambitious target in the country. And NYLCV is now pushing for that target to be increased to 20 gigawatts by 2040.

Regarding the state wind-power projects now in development, NYSERDA provides an overview here and a detailed report here.

Long Island is the center of the state’s wind power efforts, with multiple projects in the works.

The South Fork Wind project, the state’s first operational commercial wind farm that could start supplying energy by the end of this year, would power 70,000 homes.    

There’s also Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2, both now going through the New York state and federal application process. Collectively, these four wind power projects would provide power to more than 2.4 million New York homes by providing 4.3 gigawatts of power, almost half the state’s nine gigawatt wind-power goal by 2035.

NYLCV often talks about Greening the Grid, and we will continue to advocate for a robust offshore wind sector as the state makes progress towards replacing carbon emissions with clean energy. 


New York’s March to Achieving 100% Clean Energy by 2040

By Peter Aronson

It’s called greening the grid, and New York State is racing to do this by 2040.

New York has committed to achieving 100 percent clean energy within 17 years from now (and we’re counting!) and the state is pushing forward on multiple fronts to reach that goal.

Front and center are vital offshore wind projects on Long Island, like the South Fork Wind Farm, a 130-megawatt wind farm in development off the east coast of Long Island that is expected to be New York State’s first operational offshore wind farm and the country’s first operational commercial scale offshore wind project. It will provide “enough renewable electricity to power 70,000 homes and offset 300,000 tons of carbon emissions each year,” according to the Long Island Power Authority. It could begin supplying power as soon as the end of 2023.

NYLCV also supports additional offshore wind projects on the horizon, like Empire Wind, which would generate 2.1 gigawatts of wind power, enough to provide electricity for more than 1 million homes. The turbines would be located 15-30 miles southeast off the coast of Long Island and provide almost a quarter of New York’s stated wind-power goal for 2035.

“This project is a vital contributor to decarbonizing New York’s energy grid,” said Casey Petrashek, the NYLCV’s deputy director of politics. “In terms of economic benefits, Empire Wind 2 will promote clean, reliable, and safe development of domestic energy sources and create thousands of clean energy jobs throughout the state.”

Empire Wind, which is divided into Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2, is currently going through its New York state and federal application process. 

The state is pushing forward with other offshore wind projects by signing contracts for the Sunrise Wind and Beacon Wind projects. Combined with Empire Wind 1 and 2, these four wind-turbine projects would provide power to more than 2.4 million New York homes by providing 4.3 gigawatts of power, almost half the state’s 9 gigawatt wind-power goal for 2035.

Another step that is vital to New York state achieving carbon-zero energy emissions by 2040 is increasing its energy storage. Energy storage is an essential and complicated process that basically allows communities to store unused energy, often generated by solar, wind or water, to be used when it is needed. This is crucial statewide because, as The New York Times explained, New York has “two separate electric grids: “upstate, where most of the state’s growing clean-power supply is generated, and in and around New York City, the area that consumes the most energy and relies most heavily on power from fossil fuels.”

To help solve this problem, on December 28, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a comprehensive plan to vastly expand the state’s energy storage to 6 gigawatts by 2030. This would include constructing energy storage units and enlarging existing ones, as part of a plan to bolster our state’s energy grid feeding all sectors: manufacturing, office, residential and educational; public and private; and urban, suburban and rural.

A significant percent of program funding would be dedicated to supporting projects that deliver benefits to disadvantaged communities, according to the Governor’s press release.    

NYLCV supports climate justice and equitability and is fully supportive of the Governor’s essential project.

“If New York is to meet its nation-leading climate goals, we will need more clean energy flowing to our buildings, our transportation, and our homes, and a critical part of that is ensuring we have the necessary storage capacity in place,” said NYLCV President Julie Tighe. “NYLCV strongly supports Governor Hochul’s updated target of 6 gigawatts  of storage by 2030, as well as New York’s 2022 Energy Storage Map and its multi-front approach to reaching this new target in a way that is both efficient and environmentally just, and with a commitment to providing prevailing-wage jobs to get it done.” 

A third major component to achieving zero emissions is expanding the State’s reliance on solar power.

New York State is trying to make solar more affordable and accessible through NY-Sun. Financing options are available for homes and businesses.

Transitioning  to solar power is a major component in New York state’s plan to attain 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. We encourage New Yorkers across the state to explore their solar options, for business and home.  

Winter Activities In and Around New York City

By Varsha Rammohan

As we head into the final weeks of winter, New York City weather continues to alternate between cool February drafts and warmer, above-average temperatures. Instead of spending the next few weeks holed up inside, spend a day or two outside with all these activities that the city has to offer.

  1. Take a walk in the park:
    New York City has more than 1700 parks and outdoor recreational facilities across all five boroughs that have walking trails, playgrounds, athletic grounds, and more. Some recommendations are Alley Pond Park in Queens—which has a zip lining and ropes course—Eas River State Park, The Cloisters, and Governors Island.

  2. Lace up the skates:
    With New York City’s first dedicated rink opening in Central Park in 1858, there is a long and mixed history of ice skating in the Big Apple. These days, dozens dot the city, and whether you choose to skate at an indoor rink or one of our city parks or even 1,200 feet above Manhattan, there is no doubt that lacing up the blades is terrific fun and wonderful exercise. Time is running out to hit many of the city’s outdoor rinks, so be sure to check the schedules before you head out. (Note: Some ice rinks, like that at the LaFrak Center in Prospect Park, become roller skating rinks when the weather turns. Roller disco anyone?)

  3. Check out an outdoor market:
    A lot of markets in New York are year-round, open even during winter months. Grand Bazaar is the largest outdoor market in the City and has a diverse collection of clothing, antiques, and trinkets. Ludlow Flea and Bushwick Market are also open year-round and feature secondhand and vintage goods. As we always say, reduce, reuse, and recycle.

  4. Go on a bike ride on Long Island:
    Long Island enjoys a number of off-road and paved paths that are perfect for biking, walking, and running–all great activities for those unseasonably warm days. And we may have more fun in the future if the Long Island Greenway proposal to create a 175-mile pathway from Manhattan all the way to Montauk linking 26 parks is built.

  5. Take a hike:
    New York City is surrounded by a vast number of natural preserves and hiking trails. Bear Mountain State Park has countless trails. Nyack Beach State Park is a popular site for kayakers and bikers during the winter and is just an hour bus ride from Manhattan.

  6. Venture out to the Adirondacks for a winter getaway:
    The Adirondack Mountains are the perfect place to spend the last couple weeks of winter with a number of activities like cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowboarding. This region’s land preservations would not be possible without the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which has helped fund large land purchases which is why NYLCV is currently lobbying the legislature and governor to expand the EPF’s annual funding for the next fiscal year.

Composting: A Fun and Easy Way to Help Save the Planet

by Peter Aronson

There are several ways to think about composting your food scraps. One way is to realize that by doing so, you are actually – honestly, truly – reducing your carbon footprint and helping fight climate change. 

Another angle is that it’s a fun family project that can include the kids and also help the environment – and probably raise a few nostrils along the way. The rotting banana peels, egg shells, leftover spaghetti and rotten tomatoes, mixed and moldering in a plastic container in your kitchen, can produce quite a mighty stink. But a mighty, worthy stink it is.

Because, and this is a third way to look at composting: By doing so, you’ll realize how much food you are wasting. It is staggering how much food we buy and never eat. Staggering how much food our country produces that ends up being tossed into landfills, where it contributes mightily to climate change  .That’s because we cooked too much food and had to throw away leftovers, or because the crackers or the cereal or whatever went stale in the back of the cabinet or because those hidden vegetables or fruit rotted in the fridge.

More than one third of all food produced in the United States is wasted – as in, never eaten, according to a 2021 report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the ripple-down impact of this shortfall is truly devastating for our society, in multiple ways.

Not only is the food wasted never eaten in a world where there are hungry people everywhere, but the waste is having a devastating impact on our environment. Worldwide, food loss and waste represent eight percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, according to that EPA report. This figure is derived from all the tangential waste associated with food- the wasted water and fertilizer used to produce the food, the wasted packaging used to pack the food, the wasted transportation used to transport the food and the greenhouse gasses (methane) produced when the food rots in the landfill. 

According to studies, food scraps in a landfill produce 20 times the amount of methane as composted food scraps. And methane is quite dangerous. It accounts for about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which is bad enough – but it is 25 times as destructive as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, according to the EPA. 

No wonder, then, that experts say we need to stop wasting food. According to the EPA report, 492 to 1,032 pounds of food is wasted per person per year in the United States. Digest those numbers for a second: 492 to 1,032 pounds a year, per person, per year, of wasted food – equal to 35 percent of the U.S. food supply.   

As we try to break old habits and reduce our waste, we are fortunate that New York City has been rolling out more composting programs in recent months. In October, Mayor Adams and the NYC Department of Sanitation began in Queens the largest curbside composting program in the country. The program, available to everyone in the county of more than two million people, has been hailed as a huge success. More than 12.7 million pounds of organic waste has been collected in three months, far outpacing the 2.1 million pounds of waste collected in seven districts in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, where residents need to opt-in and go through multiple steps to participate. 

The NYLCV calls on the Mayor to expand this program citywide.

And in the past few weeks, organized composting has arrived in upper Manhattan in the way of 45 Smart Compost bins placed on street corners. The orange metal containers, located in Morningside Heights, Central Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, have a scanning link on the front and invite you to download the NYC Compost App with your phone in order to open the bins to dispose of waste. Accepted items include all food scraps – fruits, vegetables, meat, bones, dairy, etc. – and food-soiled paper and plants.

Again, composting can be a fun project for a family. Find a container in your house that has a sealed top and daily place your banana peels, apple cores, chicken bones, leftover or uneatable anythings (oatmeal, bread crust, egg shells, rotten tomatoes, etc.) and place them in a sealed container and periodically make a  trip to the composting bin.

“Since starting to compost I have become so much more aware of our food waste,” said Emily Russo, a Morningside Heights resident, who now makes daily trips to the composting bin on Broadway and 112th Street. “It feels truly empowering to bring our food scraps down the street and deposit it in the compost bin as part of a daily routine. And it has significantly lessened the garbage we dispose of. This feels like such a win-win!”   

And, an eye opener. It makes you sadly conscious of the food you waste, and how you can take steps to change a bad habit and help the environment. 

As New York City ramps up its composting programs, the city has organized dozens of food-scrap drop-off points throughout the five boroughs. A map of the locations can be found here. 

Fortunately, more and more communities around the country are focusing on the importance of composting. The New York Times recently wrote about a community in the Columbus, Ohio, area. 

These programs can’t come soon enough, as The Times also reported recently that in 2022, U.S. carbon emissions grew 1.3 percent from the previous year, even as renewable energy surpassed coal power for the first time in more than six decades.

With carbon emissions rising  and signs of climate change all around us, that makes sensible, sustainable food purchasing and composting all the more essential.

Green Tips: Holiday Gift Wrapping

The period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is full of holiday cheer, but it also marks the time when we generate the most waste: 25% more than during any other time of the year. Unsurprisingly, much of this waste comes from gift wrapping. With just a little extra thought, you can help make a huge impact in reducing waste. Check out this week’s Green Tips to learn how to gift wrap the eco way!

Simple is Better

One easy way to cut down on waste is to avoid over-wrapping your gifts. Your recipient will appreciate simply wrapped gifts just as much as intricately wrapped ones; the gift itself doesn’t change, after all. Here are a few tips:

  • Ditch the bows and ribbons.
  • Avoid using metallic and foil wrapping paper, as these cannot be recycled. 
  • Address the gift (i.e. To: Sally / From: Doug) directly on the packaging instead of using a sticker or name tag.

Upcycling is Okay

Rather than buy new wrapping materials, you can make your own by upcycling other items which would otherwise go to waste. The best part about these wrapping materials is that they cost you nothing!

  • Read the newspaper? Why not give it a second life as wrapping paper! It looks especially festive when the paper is colored in. Recruit a youngin’ to help!
  • Decorate paper bags from stores or deliveries. Better yet, use this DIY stamp roller.
  • An old shipping or shoe box can be a great way to package a gift.
  • Use an old sweater to wrap a wine bottle.
  • Make tins from old paint cans.
  • Upcycle empty candle containers by removing the wax. You can then glue unused wrapping paper to their sides, creating a festive jar. Great for holiday cookies!
  • Reuse wrapping paper. From envelopes to shipping insulation, the potential uses are endless.

Consider Wrapping Paper Alternatives

Wrapping paper is inherently wasteful. Most of the time it gets ripped through and discarded. However, there are many alternatives that can be used over and over again.

  • Package gifts in paper bags stuffed with tissue paper. These materials can be reused to wrap other gifts later.
  • Use the manufacturer’s packaging. Did your package ship in a box? Use it! Did you buy your gift in person? Don’t be afraid to use the retailer’s bag! You can even decorate the box or bag yourself for some heartfelt homemade gift packaging.
  • Replace that bow with a fallen conifer branch or pinecone.

If none of these ideas work for you, get creative! Any homemade gift wrap will be appreciated as thoughtful, and don’t be afraid to tell the recipients of your gifts why your gift wrap is different and how they can cut down on the waste.

Thank you for reading this week’s Green Tips! We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season!


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