Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

For years, I’ve been bothering my roommates about the intricate rules of plastic recycling in NYC. The only plastics that are recyclable are bottles and jugs! Well, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, not anymore. Now we can finally recycle ALL hard plastics! Yes, that means those yogurt cups and food clamshells! And I can finally stop yelling at my boyfriend for trying to do good, but not knowing the rules. This is expected to save taxpayers $600,000 a year in costs associated with shipping the 50,000 tons of plastic waste out of town. Win-win for all of us! Hey Bloomberg, good job! Next, can you please ban plastic bags?

Here’s the new poster explaining what plastics can be recycled:



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Electronics recycling isn’t talked about much, but it’s definitely gaining traction. With electronics making up a huge part of daily lives (from our laptops to our iphones to our ipods), it’s important to know the implications of throwing electronics way in the trash.

20 to 50 million tons of electronics waste (often called e-waste) are discarded globally every year, according to Greenpeace. And e-waste is the fastest growing component of the municipal solid waste stream, currently making up five percent of all municipal solid waste. According to the E.P.A., electronic waste contributes 70% of the toxins found in landfills, while only contributing 1% of the volume of materials in landfills.  Electronic waste contains many toxic materials including lead, mercury, cadmium, phosphors and flame-retardants. Recycling your electronics waste decreases energy and water use, reduces pollution, and keeps hazardous chemicals out of our air and water.

As of January 1st, 2012, businesses, non-profits, government entities, and anyone other than an individual or household consumer in the state of New York are prohibited from sending certain electronics to the landfill. This is the second phase of New York State’s Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, which first went into effect last April, requiring manufacturers to provide free and convenient recycling options for items they sell in New York.

So what does that mean for you and me? Well, right now, we technically can still throw our unwanted electronics away with our regular garbage. But there are so many resources around that we really shouldn’t. Plus, we have to get in the habit of recycling our electronics, because the third phase of the Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act will take into effect on January 1st, 2015, when individual and household residents will no longer be permitted to discard electronics with household waste.

Below lists three ways that you can discard your electronics properly in New York City:

1. Lower East Side Ecology Center.  The LES Ecology Center offers free public compost collection and education, electronic waste recycling, stewardship of public open space, and environment education. It offers a number of programs that focus on teaching about environmental issues facing NYC and how to take responsibility for solving these problems. It holds electronics recycling events throughout the year, and in January there are a number of recycling events as part of its “After the Holidays E-waste Events”. Check out its website for more information.

2. Best Buy. All Best Buy stores in the US, including Puerto Rico, offer in-store solutions for customers to bring their old, unused, or unwanted consumer electronics — no matter where they were purchased — for recycling. And they’ll take just about anything electronic, including TVs, DVD players, computer monitors, audio and video cables, cell phones, and more. We all love Best Buy, and this is one more reason to love it even more!

3. The 4th Bin. Too lazy to go drop off your electronics? Then you can call up The 4th Bin and have them pick up your e-waste. The 4th Bin is actually the only electronic waste collection and recycling company in New York City that provides door-to-door pickup services for both business and residents. However, there is a slight fee associated with the pick-up. Check them out here for more info.

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Recycling certain things for me is so simple, it’s really not a matter of why, but why not? And now there’s a new item that I will not be throwing away – wine corks. Just last month, Whole Foods partnered with Cork ReHarvest to make it easy for people to properly dispose of corks at all 292 Whole Foods Markets in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Cork ReHarvest is a nonprofit organization that helps collect and recycle corks in order to reduce the demand placed on cork plantations while maintaining the ecosystem of the Mediterranean forests. Mediterranean oak forests that supply cork support one of the world’s highest levels of forest biodiversity and the second-highest number of plant species in the world.

The process of natural cork extraction  does not involve a single tree being cut down. Instead, renewable bark is stripped by hand every nine to 12 years and cork oaks can live up to 300 years. Therefore, recycling cork from wine bottles can help lessen the pressure to harvest too quickly and reduces the need to use virgin resources to fashion other cork-made goods.

Through Cork ReHarvest’s cork recycling program, the corks collected in the West will be turned into recyclable wine shippers containing 10% cork. In the Midwest, corks will be sent to a company that produces cork floor tiles. And on the East Coast and in the UK, corks will be transported to a cork manufacturer where the corks will be made into post-consumer products.

That sounds great, but what about the environmental impact of this program? Is it really worth all the carbon emissions to pick up and transport these little things? Apparently the transportation is pretty carbon-neutral. Corks are sent to distribution centers on trucks already headed that way en route to their destinations, which means a virtually zero increase in carbon footprint.

I think it’s great that we can put one less item into the trash. Corks may be tiny objects and may not be as harmful to the environment as plastic is, but they just don’t belong in our overflowing landfills. And if it’s convenient, then why not? With Whole Foods giving us such an easy way to recycle corks, you can drink lots of wine AND be environmentally sound about it! Recycle the bottle, and then bring the corks over to Whole Foods Cork ReHarvest drop off boxes. Easy peasy.

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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!


84 E. 7th St

Between 1st and 2nd Ave

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As some of you may know, I volunteer for GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education, which works to improve NYC’s recycling rate by educating residents about recycling and waste prevention. There are a few different events coming up this week that I think are definitely worth checking out!

Lower East Side Stop N Swap

Sunday March 21, 11 am – 3 pm

Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Education Center

107 Suffolk St at Rivington

I’ve been volunteering at Stop N Swaps all over Manhattan for the last year. These are my favorite events to volunteer at. People come and drop off anything that they don’t want or need anymore – from clothes to books to kitchen utensils and home goods. Once you’re there, you can shop around and take whatever you want – for free! Maybe that’s why I like it so much – I get to go shopping while volunteering? It can’t get any better than that. The point of the Stop N Swap is to allow people to exchange unwanted items instead of throwing it away. And people bring some great stuff that you and I would actually want. I’ve seen lightly worn Banana Republic and Ralph Lauren clothing, functional housewares like irons and toasters, fun cookbooks, etc. etc. I’ll be there this Sunday volunteering (and browsing…) from 1pm – 3pm. Come visit me and shop around at the same time!

Electronics Recycling Day

Sunday, March 21, 10 am – 3 pm

District Office of Councilmember Gale Brewer

563 Columbus Ave, at 87th St.

Bring your unwanted or broken electronics (no TVs) to Council Member Gale Brewer’s day of E-Recycling with Per Scholas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to community empowerment through technology and education. A $5 donation is requested.

Real New Yorkers Recycle Premiere

Tuesday March 23, 6:30 pm

Walter Reade Theatre

165 W 65th St between Broadway and Amsterdam, upper level

The short film that I am featured in will be shown at the event hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center prior to the showing of Plastic Planet. Plastic Planet is a 95 minute documentary about the effect of plastic on the environment. Since I was featured in the short film, I get complimentary tickets! Click here to purchase your ticket.

Composting Workshop

Sunday, March 28, 12 – 2 pm

E 103rd St Community Garden, E 103rd St. between Park & Lexington

This workshop will be beneficial for you if you want to learn how to set up and maintain a compost bin in your backyard or community garden. Discounted compost bins will also be available for purchase. Workshop fee is $5 per person. Click here to register.

Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center Inc.
107 Suffolk St at Rivington

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So the Winter Olympics in Vancouver have started! Although the opening ceremony wasn’t as good as Beijing’s, and there was a tragic fatal accident even before day 1, I did hear some pretty awesome news about the Olympic medals. As part of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC)’s sustainability efforts, all 1,014 medals awarded in the next two weeks will contain a small percentage of recycled electronics. A little more than 1.5 percent of each gold medal was made with metals harvested from cathode ray tube glass, computer parts, and circuit boards. Each copper medal contains over one percent e-waste, while the silver medals contain small traces of recycled electronics.

Now this may not sound like a lot, but it’s a step in the right direction to eliminate e-waste. According to the EPA, electronic waste contributes 70% of the toxins found in landfills, while only contributing 1% of the volume of materials in landfills. Electronic waste contains many toxic materials including lead, mercury, cadmium, phosphors, and flame- retardants. To be honest, I don’t even know what the last three are – but I don’t like the sound of them! But what I do know is that recycling your electronic waste decreases energy and water use, reduces pollution, and keeps hazardous chemicals out of our water and air.

Actually, a recently passed law will make it illegal for New York City residents to dispose of electronic items, starting July 1, 2010. A great way to recycle your electronics is to drop it off during e-waste collection events run by the Lower East Side Ecology Center. They accept the following working and non-working equipment:

•    Computers (laptops & desktops, servers, mainframes)
•    Monitors
•    Printers, scanners, fax-machines, copiers
•    Network devices (routers, hubs, modems, etc.)
•    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, etc.)

I will try to post something when I find out when the next event is. In the meantime, hold on to your used electronics – don’t throw them out!

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Check me out in this video from the Council for the Environment of New York City!


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