eco-friendly

Ecofriendly Activities

With just a few weeks until the start of school, take the family out to enjoy what’s left of summer in the city! Check out our free ecofriendly activity suggestions and let us know if we missed something in the comments section.

<a href=”http://conferencehouseparkconservancy.org/calendar.htm” target=”_blank”>Dunes, Drawing and Dendrology: Drawing ‘Chalk and Talk'</a>: Receive basic how-to instruction for exploring and capturing the varied landscapes of natural areas onto paper. No need to being art supplies as drawing material are provided in this introductory workshop. Conservancy House Park, Friday, August 15th, 10 a.m. to noon.

<a href=”http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/2014/08/16/entomology-exploration” target=”_blank”>Entomology Exploration</a>: Join the Urban Park Rangers in an exploration of the shores of the Harlem Meer as you and your little ones enjoy the abundance and diversity of insects, including dragonflies, honey bees, damsel flies, and lady bugs. Central Park North, Saturday, August 16th, 11 a.m.

<a href=”http://socratessculpturepark.org/programevent/saturday-greenmarket/” target=”_blank”>GrowNYC Greenmarket</a>: Pick up farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, drop off your <a href=”http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2014/08/nycs-first-family-promotes-composting/” target=”_blank”>compost</a>, and enjoy the Manhattan skyline as you visit the farmer’s market in one of the city’s few free outdoor art exhibitions. Free Art Bus is also on call to shuttle visitors to many of LIC’s other famous art venues. Long Island City, Saturday, August 16th, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

<a href=”http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/summerstreets/html/route/activities.shtml” target=”_blank”>Midtown City Picnic</a>: Enjoy free samples, discover creative cooking, and learn about healthy school food in this Midtown picnic, and then follow it with a free bike rental. The picnic is a part of the annual Summer Streets program, when seven miles of NYC are closed off to cars for pedestrian and cyclist enjoyment. Park Avenue, Saturday, August 16th, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

<a href=”http://www.nycgovparks.org/events/2014/08/17/nocturnal-wildlife” target=”_blank”>Nocturnal Wildlife</a>: Join the Urban Park Rangers as they guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots in the city, identify the nocturnal residents that call the park home, and teach you about the ecology and myths that surround these mysterious animals. Blue Heron Park Nature Center, Sunday, August 17th, 8 p.m.

<a href=”http://www.prospectpark.org/calendar/event/pop-up-audubon” target=”_blank”>Summer Fishing</a>: Children have the opportunity to learn about aquatic ecology, fishing safety, and how to use a rod and reel in this catch-and-release fishing program at Prospect Park Lake! Be prepared to get their paws dirty, because kids get to collect their own bait as well! Prospect Park Wellhouse, Saturday, August 16th, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

<a href=”http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/calendar/wildlife-theater-from-the-central-park-zoo-8/” target=”_blank”>Wildlife Theater from the Central Park Zoo</a>: Inspire the little ones in your life to learn more and care more about our natural world through an interactive performance using drama, puppetry, games, and songs. From penguins to polar bears, dinosaurs to butterflies, children leave the theater with a new wonder for the world around them. Poe Park, Friday, August 15th, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Tips for a More Environmentally-Friendly Spring Cleaning

By Ashley McAvoy

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Spring has arrived! It’s time to say goodbye to the cold weather and hello to new life once again. The flowers are just breaking through the soil, the birds are singing, and the trees are growing new leaves. These are familiar images and usually mark the beginning of longer days, picnics in the park, riding bikes and more than anything else, enjoying the warmer weather. If you’re like me, one annual task looms in the way of that fun: the dreaded spring cleaning. This chore is tedious and incredibly time consuming, but it’s necessary after months of being cooped up indoors. There are so many things to do: tidy up the garden, wash the car, dust the curtains, sweep the floor, etc. Don’t forget to use cleaning methods and cleaning products that are the safest for your family, your home, and the environment. Here are some reminders before you get started.

Reuse whenever possible

  • One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Give your unwanted clothes a new life by donating them to your local thrift shop or charity. By reusing clothing and other goods, we can cut down on waste entering landfills.

Recycle all that you can

  • Always check with your local recycling center for any recycling restrictions in your area. Some places only accept certain types of plastic or metal. You should check the bottom of any glass or the back of any plastic container for the recycling number. This number will indicate the type of plastic that it is.
    Check out more at the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle website.

Use cleaning products that are safer for your family and the environment

  • Look for products that are labeled biodegradable, eco-friendly, or non-toxic

Find more information about environmentally safe cleaning products at the Protecting Your Health website

  • Avoid products with labels that read toxic, corrosive, irritant, flammable, or combustible

Conserve water

  • To water the lawn, consider using grey water or even rainwater. An average family typically uses 30% of its water for the garden or the lawn. By using alternative water such as rainwater from a rain barrel, you can cut down on wasted water and even lower your water bill.

For more information about safer cleaning methods for your home and the environment, please visit the Green Homes website.

Happy cleaning!

About the author: Ashley McAvoy is an Intern with the Office of Web Communications for spring 2013. She is a double major in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Help Put the “E’s” in E-Cycling

By Grace Parrish

Since childhood, recycling has been an effortless task that was part of my daily routine. Using five bins labeled: aluminum, plastic, glass, paper, and tin, I thought I was the bee’s knees when it came to being eco-friendly. During my internship at the EPA this fall, I realized that although it is beneficial to keep these items out of the waste stream, I was mistaken in thinking my responsibility ended there. I always recycled my yogurt cups, pizza boxes, and cell phone boxes, but never thought about where the phone itself ends up. My role in recycling must extend a bit further to “e-cycling,” otherwise known as the recycling of electronics.

In this era, everyone’s buzzing with the newest laptops, cell phones, TVs, cameras, you name it! I am guilty of getting caught up in this hype. As a student at the University of Maryland, I must keep up with the latest trends and I rely on my cell phone and laptop daily to receive emails, check class information, research, and of course for everyone’s favorite, Facebook.

Now I find myself questioning where these devices end up once I’m done with them. During my time with the EPA, I gained a fresh perspective on electronics beyond tearing apart the box to a new cell phone received during the holidays.

According to the EPA, we generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics every year in the United States. By recycling electronics, we can do our part to improve the health of our environment. E-cycling lessens pollution, shrinks landfills, saves resources from manufacturing, and conserves precious metals, including gold and silver, and other materials used in production. EPA is working with big retailers and manufacturers in its Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge to make sure they are recycling electronics in a safe and responsible manner.

So next time you bee-line it to the store for a gadget that is luring you in, think first if you really need it; when the urge inevitably takes over, rethink your options about where your previous electronics will go. Is donating to a family member, friend, or charity an option? If not, check out an electronics take-back location near you, simply visit: “Where Can I Donate or Recycle My Used Electronics?” We can do our part to put the “e’s”—electronics and environment, in e-cycling!

About the author: Grace Parrish is an intern for the EPA office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, and is intrigued by the impact of recycling electronics. She hopes that her pursuit of an Environmental Science and Policy degree at the University of Maryland, College Park will facilitate her in promoting the ideal of sustainability in a future career.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Greening of America’s Favorite Pastime

Yankee Stadium

By Jim Ferretti

Professional sports in the New York area have a large and historic following, whether you are a fan of the Jets or Giants, Mets or Yankees, and Devils or Rangers. Over the past 10 years, these teams have implemented substantial sustainability and eco-friendly programs and processes. Met Life Stadium, where the Jets and Giants play, is considered one of the greenest stadiums in pro sports.  Major League Baseball has also implemented a number of programs to be green while still keeping the field green.

Many major league scoreboards seem to be getting bigger and bigger. Many teams have switched to LED lighting and have saved substantial energy. Scott Jenkins is vice president of ballpark operations for the Seattle Mariners and he’s also a founding member of the Green Sports Alliance. It’s a group of 30 pro teams – hockey to soccer – working to shrink the environmental footprint of pro sports teams. For example, replacing high-energy-use bulbs in the scoreboards with LED lights and other electric saving measures saved one team half a million dollars a year on power bills. A simple scoreboard uses enough energy to power 100 homes for a year.

The scoreboard at Seattle’s Safeco Field.

The Green Sports Alliance has made progress in the areas of renewable energy, a greater use of recycled products and products made from biodegradable materials, and carbon offsets where teams can pay up to one half of the carbon costs of their travel. In the 2008 All Star Game played at the new and cavernous Yankees Stadium, the game was powered 100 percent by donated wind power and used hybrid buses to brings fans to the stadium (for those not on the subway!), used materials that were recycled and biodegradable and also gave out 700,000 re-usable grocery bags.

The Washington Nationals built a brand new stadium that was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council a few years ago and implemented lighting that was energy efficient, low-flow sinks and toilets, and recycling bins with recycled materials. Eco friendly services include VIP parking for hybrid vehicles. The field has a state of the art water filtration system and is built on a former Brownfields site.

Also, the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox have installed solar panels at their older-built stadiums. Other clubs, including the New Jersey Devils hockey team, have initiated food waste recycling programs and many have switched their concession stands to bio-made materials. Also the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are using incentives to reach the fans in their area. They have developed an innovative program to recognize organizations in the area that have implemented eco friendly solutions in their own business. They have awarded a number of businesses $1,000 and tickets for recognition on the field during the game for their environmental stewardship in the community. So here’s hoping that whatever baseball or football team you root for, they have the greenest field possible.

About the Author: Jim is a team leader for the Sanitary Chemistry and Biology Team for the Laboratory Branch in the EPA’s Division of Environmental Science and Assessment.  He has a Masters Degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University and a BS Degree in Water Analysis Technology from California University of PA.  Jim has a diversified background in environmental studies and biological laboratory testing.  He has been employed at the EPA since 1990, starting out in the water program in headquarters and moving to New Jersey in 1992.  Prior to the EPA, Jim was a project manager for five years at a consulting firm in New Jersey where he performed laboratory and field environmental studies. Jim is an avid baseball fan and has been heavily involved in youth baseball as a manager and was president of his son’s high school Baseball Booster Club for the past two years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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