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Archive for the ‘A Greener Lifestyle’ Category

I have been a recycling volunteer for GrowNYC since 2009, so I am pretty well versed what can and cannot be recycled in NYC. Throughout these years of educating New Yorkers on how to recycle, I’ve realized that there is a huge misconception of what types of plastic can be recycled. I’ll say it one more time, people – The only plastics that can be recycled in NYC are BOTTLES and JUGS! Yogurt cups and plastic food containers ARE NOT recyclable in NYC. And neither are those plastic foam containers you see in delis and take out places. I always cringe when I have to use them, because they are not biodegradable. Yup, that means they will stay in our landfills FOREVER!

But, as I learned from this NYTimes article today, Mayor Bloomberg will be proposing a citywide ban on plastic-foam food packaging during his State of the City address this coming Thursday. The ban will require approval by the City Council, but his proposal does have some traction among voters. Quoted from the article,

Officials at City Hall said a plastic-foam ban could save millions of dollars a year. Plastic foam, which is not biodegradable, can add up to $20 per ton in recycling costs when the city processes recyclable materials. The city handles about 1.2 million tons of food waste each year; the mayor’s office estimated that the city’s annual waste stream included about 20,000 tons of plastic foam.

Saving $400,000 a year is a good chunk of change for city. Now, I know not everyone will agree with Bloomberg’s proposal. Plastic foam containers are cheap, so restaurant costs may go up. Habits will have to be changed.

I may not agree with Bloomberg on his soda ban, but I do endorse his plastic foam container ban. I think that this is just something restaurants will have to get used to. A few years back, restaurants had to innovate when trans-fats were banned. And we’ve all gotten used to that. And now, they may have to restock their supplies, but this is just another opportunity to innovate. If Whole Foods can do it, so can other restaurants. As for most consumers, I don’t think they’ll notice the difference between a paper container and a plastic container. But the environment will thank us for it!

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I’ve been working out in northern California (around Santa Cruz) for the past two months, and as much as I love being a New Yorker, I gotta say, Cali is SO NICE. The weather here is perfect, the people are very nice, the lifestyle is more laid-back, and there is definitely a strong focus on sustainability. So many environmentally friendly companies are based out in Northern California. Even though the company I’m currently working for isn’t selling products or services in the green space, it definitely has a strong focus on incorporating sustainable practices and approaches into its everyday operations. Not only is it really cool to be in a corporation like that, but it’s also really nice just being surrounded by people and things that really care about the environment. For example, look what I found at the Target parking lot this morning!

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I was pleasantly surprised, and this definitely warranted some more research. So here’s what I found out: The ban on plastic bags started in Watsonville, CA last Friday, and Watsonville was the first city in Santa Cruz County to ban plastic bags.

 A number of places have already banned plastic bags, such as China, Ireland, and Mexico City. And in the states, we’ve already seen Portland, Seattle, Washington DC, Hawaii, and even Los Angeles taking steps to ban plastic bags at stores. San Francisco was actually the first city to ban plastic bags from large supermarkets and pharmacies in March 2007. And starting October 1st, all retail establishments in San Francisco will be banned from providing single-use, non-compostable plastic bags. That means clothing stores as well! And then in October 2013, restaurants will be included in this ordinance.

Right now you might be thinking, who cares? Why is banning plastic bags a good thing for the environment? The answer is that plastic bags are made out of oil, and it takes millions of barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags that are being distributed at stores each year. It will also limit pollution because plenty of bags blow away everywhere and end up onto streets, trees, and waterways.

I’m definitely a supporter  of the plastic bag ban. As a society, we’ve become very dependent on plastic bags. Yes, they are extremely convenient, but I think that with a few easy lifestyle adjustments, we will do just fine without plastic bags. If China can do it, so can we. We can also purchase a paper bag for 10 cents each if we forget to bring a bag. I definitely think it’s one step closer to decreasing the amount of waste generated. Now I’m just waiting for New York City to pass a ban on plastic bags!

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I recently started practicing yoga at the Jivamukti Center in Union Square, and I’m loving it so far. Not only do they have an awesome vegan cafe, but they also offer meditation classes and sponsor workshops, lectures and performances. As I was scrolling through the events page online, I saw that Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man, will be there tomorrow night for a talk and book signing. For those of you who don’t know who he is, Colin Beaven spent one year experimenting how to make as little environmental impact as possible. He only ate food sold at the greenmarket. He walked or rode his bike, and only took the stairs. And then he took it further by not using any electricity (living by candlelight! No refridgerator! No washing machines!) and even not using toilet paper. Oh, and he took his wife and daughter on this journey too. All while living in Manhattan.

Sounds crazy, right? His wife certainly thought so. When she started this challenge with him, she wasn’t really on board. It really was Colin’s book. Of course he’d be willing to go to the extreme because it was HIS project. But it wasn’t HER book. It wasn’t HER project. She loved meat, reality TV, caffeine, and designer fashions. But after the year long experiment, she came out a different person. She was healthier, she decided to eat mostly vegetarian, and she kicked her TV, shopping, and caffeine habits. Their family’s quality of life really improved. Which meant that Colin’s challenge succeeded. The point of this project is not about getting everyone to do what he did. It’s about increasing awareness of the things we can all do to decrease our carbon footprints, even if we do live in a bustling city like New York. The documentary (which I highly recommend watching) has inspired me to do even more. I now take the stairs and shop at the greenmarket more often than I used to. I’m even considering getting a bike. I may never become No Impact Woman, but I’m happy knowing that my decisions will make a big impact on helping the environment as well as my own personal quality of life.

I will definitely be there tomorrow, and I hope you can make it too. PS. It’s free to the public!

Jivamukti Yoga School

841 Broadway

Between 13th and 14th St

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My friend Mike sent this clip to me recently, and he said, “thought of you when I saw this…crazy enough that I could even do it!”

I personally do not eat meat seven days a week, but I understand that some people are just not ready to made that commitment. And I think it’s wonderful that a lot of people are trying to cut down their meat consumption through structured plans such as Meatless Mondays and VB6 (Vegan Before 6 PM, a la Mark Bittman). Right now I want to share another option called “Weekday Vegetarianism”, started by TreeHugger.com founder Graham Hill.

Below is a clip of Graham Hill discussing how he became a weekday vegetarian. Weekday veg cuts down your meat intake by a whopping 70%, which means you will become healthier, live longer, and do your part in saving the animals and the environment. Monday through Friday, nothing with a face. Saturday and Sunday, “your choice”. I also loved his last point, which is definitely some food for thought: “If all of us ate half as much meat, it’s like half of us were vegetarians.”

Today’s Friday – maybe something to think about over the weekend?

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Thanks Emily Marmol for sending this over!

If you flip to page 50 of this month’s Marie Claire magazine (the one with SJP on the cover), you’ll find a list of Emily Deschanel’s fave eco-friendly products. Bones star Emily Deschanel has been vegan since high school, and has a passion for animals, working with both the Humane Society as well as Farm Sanctuary. I’m a big fan of her as well as her sister Zooey, who I found out was vegan too by watching an episode of Top Chef Masters last year!

You can view the full list of Emily Deschanel’s top eco-friendly items here, but below I’ve listed my favorites out of her faves!

Colorful flats - great for summer! Vegan shoes from olsen Haus (www.olsenhaus.com, or some styles are carried by Moo Shoes, 78 Orchard St NYC)

The Emily necklace, named after Emily Deschanel. Crafted in NYC! (www.loyaleclothing.com - check out the Valencia Mini on the website - so cute!)

Babycakes!! They have the BEST vegan doughnuts!! (248 Broome St NYC)

Organic and recycled tanks from Vaute Couture (www.vautecouture.com - I'm also in love with the In My Heart Sheep necklace on the website)

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Happy Earth Week!! Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, and there are tons of green events going on in New York City this week. Below are a few EarthDayNewYork sponsored events that you can attend to learn more about how to become eco-friendly.

EarthFair at Grand Central

April 19-25

Giant Earth Images (April 19-25): From 10 am to 8 pm everyday, Grand Central’s main concourse will be illuminated with inspiring environmentally themed quotes, messages, pictures, and graphic images.

EarthFair Indoors (April 19-24): A weeklong exhibit in Vanderbilt Hall highlighting substantive displays and exhibits

EarthFair Outdoors (April 23-24): A two-day festival of art, live music, as well as exhibits and displays from green businesses, organic food, and environmental groups.

EarthDay at Times Square

Thursday April 22

8 AM – 4 PM: Exhibits from organizations such as Greenopolis, Origins, Save the Chimps, Environmental Defense Fund, Burt’s Bees, Waste Management, & I Move Green

11 AM – 2 PM: 40th Anniversary Commemoration: the event will feature messages from local, national, and international environmental activists, business leaders, government officials and musical guests who are committed to environmental action.

New York’s Greenest at Battery Park City

April 17-25

Over 20 different events in celebration of Earth Day. Check out the full schedule here.

There are also a bunch of community Earth Day fairs happening throughout the city, including Washington Heights, Harlem, Staten Island, and Queens that would be great for both kids and adults. You can find more information on the GrowNYC website.




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Today I went to AuH2O, a clothing and accessories boutique on 7th St between 1st and 2nd Ave. At first glance, it’s a typical East Village boutique – a quaint space, fun accessories hanging on the walls, fashion forward clothes. But it’s far from your average store. First, it’s actually a consignment shop geared towards women who are young and hip. You can make an appointment to bring in your unwanted clothes, jewelry, bags, belts, etc. over and owner Kate Goldwater (get it? Au = gold, H2O = water!) will pick out items that she thinks will sell at the store. She then prices the items, and when the item sells, she gives you 50%. But besides selling consignment items, Kate also sells things that she designs herself. Kate makes clothing out of recycled materials such as old t-shirts, costumes, and unwanted fabrics. And she sews everything herself at her store, which means every piece is one of a kind. She also makes free alterations for you if something doesn’t fit quite right.

I highly recommend checking out AuH2O. Not only does the store have tons of cute (and cheap!) stuff, Kate is awesome. She was really chill about me running late for our appointment, and she has great taste. Her clothes are really unique with a feminist twist, and she even gave me great advice on a fun jacket I was eyeing, which I then bought, for only $10! She also told me about an Earth Week fashion show she will be participating in. Tomorrow, Sunday April 18th at 5 pm, there will be a sidewalk fashion show featuring the designs of AuH2O recycled clothing, Charmone vegan shoes, The Andean Collection fair trade jewelry, Ryann eco-conscious clothing, and TEICH eco-friendly handbags on 7th St between 1st and 2nd Ave. It’s free, so I encourage you to check it out if you have time. After the show, there will also be a clothing swap, where you can bring clothes to exchange with others.

What’s not to love about AuH2O and recycled clothing? I feel great knowing that I’m not dumping clothes into landfills, I get some extra pocket change from the stuff I sell, which in turn allows me to do some eco-friendly shopping for myself!

AuH2O

84 E. 7th St

Between 1st and 2nd Ave

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