nyc

Welcome to the Weekend!

Looking for more ways to appreciate the summer around NYC? Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA!

Friday – July 24, 2015

Land_Slide Art Gallery
Brooklyn
6 – 9 p.m.

Land __ Slide features Caroline Voagen Nelson’s and Rebecca Sherman’s dynamic representations of moving environments in a sustainable, eco-conscious era. Both artists used sustainable products and materials (including sustainable inks and wood) and no harmful chemicals during the process and production of the artworks in this exhibit.

Observing with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York
Manhattan
7 – 10 p.m.

See Jupiter, Venus and the Moon through members’ telescopes which will be set up on the plaza just north of the fountain at Lincoln Center.

Billopp Shores: The Ebb and Flow of Man and Nature
Staten Island
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

This retrospective exhibition offers a glimpse of man and nature’s impact on the development of the waterfront in Conference House Park.

Saturday – July 25, 2015

Being Green at Home
Hillsborough Township, NJ
9 a.m. – Noon

Have you ever wondered what you could be doing at home to be more sustainable? Join Duke Farms staff member, Clifford Berek, and discuss three main areas where small changes make a big impact. During this program, we will discuss the four “R”s, your options when it comes to power and your impact on your local water resources.

Yoga on the Green with New York Sports Club
Queens
9:30 10:30 a.m.

Summer’s here so join us for some yoga on the Center Green in Glendale. Classes are free. If the weather is questionable or rainy the class will be moved inside NYSC. You don’t need to be a member of NYSC to participate.

Coffee & Tea | Bed-Stuy Community Forum
Brooklyn
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

This environmental, arts, and educational initiative calls on citizens to co-produce creative and open ways to share skills and showcase recent cultural and environmental initiatives happening locally in order to amplify the diverse voices and encourage future civic engagement.

NYC Poetry Festival
Governors Island
Saturday – Sunday
11 a.m.

The Poetry Society of New York will once again invite New Yorkers to come together for this two day festival to celebrate NYC’s vibrant poetry community. The event will include over 60 poetry organizations and 250 poets on its three stages; a Vendor’s Village where local booksellers, artists and craft makers will sell their wares; a beer garden sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery; healthy and delicious food options; poetic installation art throughout, the Ring of Daisies open mic; and last but not least, the Children’s Poetry Festival, complete with writing games and its own fourth, all-kids stage.

Sunday – July 26, 2015

6th Annual Butterfly Day
Lyndhurst, NJ
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The highly-anticipated butterfly festival is back!  Join us for a fun-filled day of butterfly walks and FREE kids activities. Kids activities include a scavenger hunt, face painting, a butterfly costume contest (12 and under), and butterfly crafts. Onsite experts to help identify the various butterflies and provide gardening tips.

Family Art Project: Butterfly Habitat Hats
Bronx 
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

See them and sketch them, flying and sipping the nectar of their favorite shrub or flowering bush. Then learn about local butterfly species and make a butterfly habitat hat.

Wave Hill Garden Highlights Walk
Bronx
2 – 3 p.m.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights.

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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Celebrate Summer

Every weekend should be a celebration when it’s the summer! Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series guarantees you’ll have a fun, affordable, and green summer.

If you do attend some of these events please be sure to use our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag, #WTWEPA, on twitter so we can share the fun!

Friday – July 17, 2015

Zumba on the Green with NYSC
Queens
8000 Cooper Avenue
Friday, July 17, 2015
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Join New York Sports Club in Glendale on Friday evening for an hour of Zumba fun! The class will be on the Center Green and if weather is questionable, don’t worry – the class will be moved inside! This is a treat – you don’t even have to be a NYSC member to take the class.

High Line Park Art Performance
Manhattan
On the High Line at West 34th Street
Friday, July 17, 2015
7 – 8 p.m.

This unique event brings you into the world of local artist Francisca Benitez. Watch as she ‘probes the visible and invisible boundaries that populate our urban space’ at the High Line Park this Friday! Using sign language, her performance will engage park visitors in a series of vignettes that weave throughout the park. This free event open for all ages is one you won’t want to miss!

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Manhattan
2 West 64th Street
Ceremonial Hall- 4th Floor
Friday, July 17, 2015
6:30 – 9 p.m.

If you’re in the area and want to learn more about ensuring a sustainable future, check out Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn’s Documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. The film screening will be followed by an engaging discussion featuring inspiring environmentalists from our area!  

Saturday – July 18, 2015

City of Water Day
New York and New Jersey
Saturday, July 18, 2015
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This free, day-long event will be held on Governors Island, NY and Maxwell Place Park in Hoboken, NJ. It will draw thousands from the metropolitan region to celebrate the water that surrounds us! Join the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and its 800 + partners as they’ve organized hundreds of waterfront activities for this major celebration.

Community Paddle
Manhattan
Concrete Plant Park, Bronx
Saturday, July 18, 2015
24 p.m.

Bring your family out on the water this weekend! This free canoe trip for beginners and families will surely be a fun time. If you decide you want to join last minute, no worries – this event is free and requires no reservations.

Electronics Recycling Collection
Manhattan
119 West 23rd Street
Saturday, July 18, 2015
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Have you ever wondered if there was a better place for all your old iPhones and MP3 players? Consider this the haven for your old electronics. Responsibly recycle all your unwanted or broken electronics but please, no appliances like microwaves or refrigerators. For more details and information click here. 

Sunday – July 19, 2015

The Rubin Block Party
Manhattan
150 West 17th Street
Between 6th and 7th Avenues
Sunday, July 19, 2015
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This event is double the fun! When you attend the block party you also get FREE admission to the museum all day. Inspired by their exhibition, “Becoming Another: The Power of Masks,” the Rubin Museum invites you to ‘transform yourself this summer’. So, why not? Give it a try this weekend and enjoy tours, art making, outdoor family yoga, and a costume contest with your friends and family! You might even catch a performance by the Tibetan Language School of NY and NJ!

*This event will happen rain or shine!

Stop ‘N’ Swap
Manhattan
Soha Square Market, Harlem
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Noon – 3 p.m.

Calling all of Harlem! Come out to the Soha Square Market with any reusable, clean, and portable items that you no longer need. If you see something new-to-you, you can take it home for free! Please – no furniture or large items!

*You don’t have to bring something to take something

Laughter in the Park
Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Enter Old Fulton Street, bear left to Pier 1
Sunday, July 19, 2015
2 – 4 p.m.

Don’t rely on your Twitter or Instagram newsfeeds for your weekend dosage of laughter, just swing by the park for some comedic relief! Keep the weekend spirit alive on Sunday by sitting in on New York’s only free, outdoor comedy show at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Summer Weekends for Unwinding

As you recover from the Fourth of July festivities, we hope you are settling back into your routine and that you will take the time this weekend to unwind and enjoy the simple and rich pleasures of the environment and eco-friendly activities. Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA.

Friday – July 10, 2015

Exhibition: Living Landmarks
Manhattan
Central Park
Friday, July 10, 2015
9 a.m. 5 p.m.

Want to appreciate the outdoors through a variety of media? The Living Landmarks exhibit is celebrating the 50th anniversary of NYC’s landmarks law, displaying historical and contemporary photography, renderings, maps, artifacts, and memorabilia of the city’s nine individually landmarked public parks. Open weekdays until August 28.

Mommy, Music, and Me
Queens
Crocheron Park
Friday, July 10, 2015
10:30 11:30 a.m.

Expose your children to the great outdoors, movement, and music! This event will involve outdoor music and movement activities for children up to age 7. Please bring a low chair or blanket.

Summer Sports Experience
Bronx
Williamsbridge Oval
Friday, July 10, 2015
10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Summer Sports Experience is a free program focused on helping kids develop sports skills. At this particular event, there will be track and field, street hockey, basketball, soccer, flag football and kickball. Best for children ages 6 through 13. To register, email Sarah Bishow-Semevolos at Sarah.Bishow@parks.nyc.gov.

Saturday – July 11, 2015

Canarsie Beach Cleanup
BrooklynCanarsie Beach
Saturday, July 11, 2015
9 a.m.Noon

What’s a better way to spend your summer Saturday than to volunteer to help save the environment? Clean up Canarsie Beach with NYC H2O, Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna, City Councilman Alan Maisel and the National Park Service. You will also see the area’s shell fish and learn about the pier’s history. Optional bus transportation available from Union Square. Please register for the event here.

Bicycling Basics
Bronx
Van Cortlandt Park
Saturday, July 11, 2015
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Learn bicycling basics, such as starting and stopping, shifting gears, adjusting your seat and helmet, and choosing a bike. This free three-hour class is great for adults and mature teens who are beginners. To register, click on the event link in the title of this entry.

Coffee Bark
Brooklyn
Prospect Park
Saturday, July 11, 2015
7 9 a.m.

Calling all dog-lovers: bring your dogs to the park for free treats. There will be other dog lovers there, and you can learn great tips and tricks for having your dog off-leash.

GreenThumb Workshop: Building Your Garden’s Presence
Bronx
Neighborhood Advisory Committee Community Garden
Saturday, July 11, 2015
10 a.m. – Noon

You may love to engage with the environment by gardening, but have you thought more broadly about your garden’s presence? Come to this workshop to learn about how to collect a garden’s oral, written, and visual history. Bring a piece of your garden’s history with you – it can be an elder or founding garden member, photo, or story.

Yoga for Gardeners
Brooklyn
Tranquility Garden
Saturday, July 11, 2015
11 a.m. – Noon

While caring for their plants’ health, avid gardeners might sometimes neglect their own. Come to this yoga class especially designed to help gardeners of all ages and abilities avoid strains and injuries. Bring a yoga mat or large towel if you have one. There will also be some mats available at the event. To register, email mobrien@bbg.org or call 718-623-7385.

Sunday – July 12, 2015

Trail of the Month: Blue Trail (Northwest)
Staten Island
Blood Root Valley
Sunday July 12, 2015
11 a.m. 2 p.m.

Join the Greenbelt Conservancy for a challenging hike on the Trail of the Month, Blue Trail. Departing from the Greenbelt Nature Center, the hike will explore the Bloodroot Valley and provide an opportunity to learn about the history of Seaview Hospital (Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy). Best for advanced hikers. Be sure to dress for the weather and trail conditions.

Little Red Lighthouse Tour
Manhattan
Fort Washington Park
Sunday, July 12, 2015
1 – 4 p.m.

Urban Park Rangers are experts in studying human and natural history in New York City. In this historic walking tour, Rangers will explore the Jeffrey’s Hook lighthouse, also known as “the Little Red Lighthouse.” Attend this landmark’s open house on a first come, first served basis.

Family Art Project: Friendly Vegetables and Microbes
Bronx
Wave Hill
Sunday, July 12, 2015
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Join visiting artist and sculptor S.E. Nash to learn about the edible plants growing at Wave Hill. Participants will be able to look closely at the inner structures of fermented and fresh vegetables through a microscope. Then visitors are welcome to engage in a fun art project, creating mixed-media collages out of cardboard pieces, recycled materials and burlap.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Red, White & Blue? Make your holiday weekend Green!

Enjoy your 4th of July Weekend fireworks along with these family-friendly outdoor activities. Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this holiday weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA! 

Friday – July 3, 2015

Learn How to Forage in the Heart of the Urban Jungle – Central Park Edition!
Manhattan – Central Park
11:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m.

Learn how to forage in Central Park! In the Ramble, you can find large stands of field garlic with mild-flavored onion-like bulbs, plus the tender young leaves, which you use like chives. Wet lawn areas could feature spicy hairy bittercress and intensely flavored winter cress, while sunny, grassy spots with poor soil may produce shepherd’s purse, the most mild-flavored of the mustard greens.

Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Disco Party: Saturday Night Fever
Brooklyn – Prospect Park (Lefrak Center at Lakeside)
7:30 10 p.m.

Show off your disco moves at the Saturday Night Fever-themed roller disco party in the park!

Saturday – July 4, 2015

2015 Garden Street Farmers Market
Hoboken, NJ
9 a.m. 2 p.m.

The Hoboken Farmer’s Market serves three purposes. It helps small farmers in New Jersey sell their produce by giving them a venue they would otherwise not have. Local fresh fruits and vegetables are brought to the residents of Hoboken by the people that actually harvest them. And last but certainly not least the Hoboken Farmer’s Market has served as a gathering place for the community, where people exchange smiles, thoughts, and recipes.

Urban Farm Exploration Days 
Randall’s Island
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Come discover Randall’s Island Urban Farm – all are welcome at these free events! An urban farm expert will be on site to answer questions. You can discover a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, meet the chickens, and learn about the rice paddies.

Pop-Up Audubon II: Fishing Fun 
Brooklyn – Prospect Park
Noon – 6 p.m.

Join the Prospect Park Alliance to explore aquatic and avian ecology in Prospect Park.

Sunday – July 5, 2015

Moderate Nature Exploration Hike
Staten Island – Wilde and Melvin Avenues in Schmul Park
11 a.m. 1 p.m.

Urban Park Ranger hiking guides will introduce you to the hidden gems of New York City and places often off-limits to the general public. On these hikes you can gain orienteering skills, explore our city’s rich history, or just take an hour to unplug from the world. Moderate hikes feature longer, faster paced hikes on rugged terrain. For all hiking programs wear comfortable shoes or boots, and pack water and a light snack.

Fun on the Farm
Brooklyn – Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park
2 5 p.m.

Visitors of all ages can come help Prospect Park Alliance staff take care of the potato plot, herb gardens, and berry patches by pulling weeds and helping to water. Bring a hat and a bottle of water and we will provide the tools and gloves.

Summer on the Hudson: Amplified Sundays Presents Banda Magda
Manhattan – Pier I (in Riverside Park South)
7 – 9 p.m.

Banda Magda plays vibrantly danceable live music accompanied by a spectacular sunset over the Hudson River!

Alley Pond Park Adventure Course
Queens – Alley Pond Park
1 – 3:30 pm

The Alley Pond Park Adventure Course offers free outdoor adventure that fosters trust, communication, and team building. The program is two-hour adventure which includes both low and high elements. The Adventure Course is open for individuals, small groups of friends, and family.

Forest Crew
Manhattan – Highbridge Park
1 – 3:30 pm

The Highbridge Forest Crew works to remove invasive plants from the park and to care for recently planted native trees.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

All That Summer Brings

As you settle into the rhythm of summertime, we hope that you’re taking time to enjoy the wonderful outdoor activities that the New York City area has to offer! Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA!

 Friday – June 26, 2015 

River to River
Manhattan
Various locations on Governors Island
Friday, June 26, 2015
Noon 5 p.m.

Come to the final weekend of the annual, free 11-day River to River festival! There will be performances and exhibits involving dance, music, visual art, and new media projects. From this festival, you will learn about the history of Lower Manhattan’s architecture, socialize with fellow artists and art-lovers, and experience in a new way the area’s various waterfronts, parks, and historic landmarks.

Nature & Science in Dialogue
Queens
Queens Botanical Garden
Friday, June 26, 2015
8 a.m. 6 p.m.

Are you interested in the intersection of nature and science via art? If so, come to the exhibit of artist Emily Barnett! This exciting show puts science and nature into dialogue by featuring recent collages and installations about quantum corrals, snake skeletons, nests and constellations.

Parent & I Chalk Art
Staten Island
Midland Beach Splash Plaza
Friday, June 26, 2015
9:3010:30 a.m.

Engage your child in creative, hands-on learning while enjoying the outdoors! At this event, children and adults will collaborate to create outdoor chalk art masterpieces.

Tai Chi for Adults
Bronx
Poe Park Visitor Center
Friday, June 26, 2015
11:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m.

Exercising is a great way to enjoy the environment while taking care of one’s health. Come to this event to learn Tai Chi, the exercise regimen which includes movement and breathing techniques for health, balance and well-being. Great for senior citizens!

 Saturday – June 27, 2015 

Family Art Project: Lavender Blooms 
Bronx
Wave Hill
Saturday, June 27, 2015
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The calming and fragrant lavender flower makes for great arts and crafts projects and keepsakes. Join this event to make pillows, sachets, Hacky Sacks, and more out of this great flower.

Yoga on the Beach 
Queens
Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
Saturday, June 27, 2015
8 9 a.m.

Refine your flexibility, strength, and endurance while enjoying the beach! Yoga instructor Helen Kilgallen from Elaine’s Dance School will teach this beginner Hatha Yoga class. Bring a mat, large towel, or blanket.

Insect Walk 
Manhattan
Highbridge Park
Saturday, June 27, 2015
9:3011 a.m.

The concrete jungle provides us many opportunities to observe wildlife. Expert naturalist Mike Feller, who has over 25 years of experience in NYC Parks, will lead a tour focusing on Highbridge Park’s insects (and the birds they attract).

Solar Observation 
Bronx
Poe Park Visitor Center
Saturday, June 27, 2015
11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Are you interested in learning about the environment beyond what the eye can see? Join the Amateur Astronomers Association members as they help visitors engage in solar observations during the day! Telescopes specially filtered to view the sun will be provided.

 Sunday – June 28, 2015

Saltwater Fishing
Manhattan
West Harlem Piers Park
Sunday June 28, 2015
11 a.m. 3 p.m.

Catch-and-release fishing is a great way to interact with the environment without depleting it. Experienced Rangers will teach the ethics of fishing and the ecology of our waterways. All equipment will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Children 8 years and older are welcome. Participation in a safety review led by a trained Ranger is required.

Historic New York: Native Americans
Queens
Fort Totten Park

Sunday, June 28, 2015
1 – 2 p.m.

Urban Park Rangers are experts in studying human and natural history in New York City. In this historic walking tour, Rangers will explore the neighborhood of Bayside, originally inhabited by the Matinecock (meaning “hilly country”) Indians, a tribe of the Algonquin nation. The focus will be on the historic sites within the park and Native American culture.

It’s My Park 
Brooklyn
Brower Park
Sunday, June 28, 2015
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Don’t just interact with nature—volunteer to improve its health! “It’s My Park” presents a series of volunteer activities that you can participate in to care for your parks. In this event, volunteers are needed to mulch, weed, and plant a butterfly garden and tree beds. Please bring your own work gloves, and email info@friendsofbrowerpark.org to register for the project.

Frida Kahlo: “Art, Garden, Life”
Bronx
The New York Botanical Garden
Sunday, June 28, 2015
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This must-see exhibit explores the ways in which nature—especially plant imagery—influences the work of renowned artist Frida Kahlo. Visitors can engage in hands-on art activities for kids, access rare photos, footage, and expert audio commentary, and create their own Frida Selfie.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Crushed Couch on Broadway

By Linda Longo

Sanitation workers crush a curbside couch.

Sanitation workers crush a curbside couch.

The other morning just outside my EPA office building at 290 Broadway in Manhattan on my way to get my morning coffee I saw a perfectly good couch being crushed by a solid waste truck. I wondered why someone would not want that couch. Then on my way back from coffee I saw the same solid waste workers crushing perfectly good office chairs, the kind with wheels and adjustable seating! I don’t need a new office chair and I don’t need a blue couch, but there’s got to be someone in New York City that does.

I had a long conversation with the solid waste worker (I regret not asking his name) and he told me this stuff is nothing compared to what he crushes in other, wealthier neighborhoods, like leather couches and oak tables and fine china. Seriously? Now I didn’t get the sense he was pulling my leg because I’ve seen good stuff out on the curbs with the piles of garbage too often. It’s commonplace in NYC maybe because we have small apartments or we get a better one or it has a rip or it just doesn’t fit out needs. I’ve tried to donate good items and it’s actually harder than you think. Places that sell used items only want things that are not ripped or stained. And my solid waste friend said he even crushes items from these stores on a regular basis because if they don’t sell it, then eventually they need to get rid of it, hence call the solid waste truck guy, and crush it, and pile it up in a landfill.

I wish I had the time and wherewithal to buy a big truck and follow my friend around to save the good items from being crushed. I’d have a big warehouse to store these items too and it’d be open 24 hours a day for anyone to come and take for free. I’d even have a free delivery service – because I know that’s always an issue in NYC too – many of us don’t have cars. If you have a similar reaction, here are a few websites for getting rid of unwanted items:

Reuse Marketplace

Build It Green NYC

About the Author: Linda started her career with EPA in 1998 working in the water quality program. For the past seven years she’s helped regulated facilities understand how to be in compliance with EPA enforcement requirements. Outside of work Linda enjoys exploring neighborhoods of NYC, photographing people in their everyday world, and sewing handbags made from recycled materials that she gives to her friends.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

NYC‘s First Family Promotes Composting

By Tasfia Nayem

On my Twitter feed this weekend, in the midst of cat videos and movie trailers, was another video, this time featuring NYC’s own First Family. In the minute-long look into the de Blasios’ Brooklyn home, we see the mayor and his family collect their compostable waste for curbside organics collection.

Almost one-third of the waste generated by NYC residents is compostable. That’s 1.1 million tons of waste (enough to fill Yankee stadium from top to bottom!) unnecessarily being sent to landfills every year. To combat this issue, the city adopted a pilot program under which the Department of Sanitation offers curbside collection of organic waste to select NYC schools, residences, and institutions. Under the ongoing pilot program, which is in effect until 2015, 100,000 households in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island can have their compostable waste collected right from their homes. Residents not currently covered by the pilot program can bring their compostable waste to many farmer’s markets and other local organics drop-off centers.

According to the NYC Recycling program, curbside organics recycling can help the city reduce millions of dollars in landfill disposal costs, achieve recycling goals, and reduce pests by storing food waste in special rodent-resistant bins. The city will then turn organic waste into compost which can be used to fertilize gardens, parks, and street trees, or into renewable energy which can be used to power thousands of homes.

“Recycling food and yard waste is a lot easier than people think,” daughter Chiara de Blasio reminds us in the video. Curbside organics collection not only includes food and yard waste, but can include meat, eggshells, and soiled paper products, including pizza boxes and dirty paper towels. All that’s involved is placing the compostable waste into a collection bin similar to those used for garbage and recycling pickup.

Though my home is currently not in the curbside pickup pilot area, I can only hope the program is fully adopted by the city. Making composting more accessible would let New Yorkers take easy steps towards decreasing the city’s footprint, preventing pollution, and fostering a culture of environmentalism in NYC. Until then, I’ll just be taking my compostables over to the organics drop-off center at my local farmer’s market on my weekly trips to splurge on local cheese!

Find out more about NYC’s organics recycling here.

Learn more about composting.

See if your home is offered curbside organics pickup.

Find an organics drop-off center.

About the Author: Tasfia Nayem is an intern working in the Public Affairs Division of EPA’s Region 2. She holds degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology, and is going to go home and start a composting bin.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

By Elias Rodriguez

NYC now offers spray caps for a safe and legal way to play with the water from fire hydrants.

NYC now offers spray caps for a safe and legal way to play with the water from fire hydrants.

There were three public pools within walking distance of the Manhattan apartment where I grew up, but the long lines and adult supervision were a drag for an inner-city kid looking for fun and games. On sweltering, muggy days nothing was as attractive or exciting as the news that someone had (illegally!) opened a New York City fire hydrant in my neighborhood.

The most frequent location for this crime was a low traffic street where my school – closed for the summer – was located. Usually, some big looking kid sporting a mustache, would use some sort of special wrench to crank open the fire hydrant and word would quickly spread that our instant water park was open for mayhem. Ice cold plumes would rapidly flood the street sweeping kids along with dirt, cans, bottle caps, glass, and assorted debris towards the storm drain. An improvised device, usually a soup can opened at both ends, would serve to guide the high pressure cascade of water. Even as a precocious minor, I suspected this was wrong because everyone would skedaddle as soon as the police or fire department would show up to shut off the water.

Little did I comprehend that I was a juvenile accessory to delinquent behavior. With education and the benefit of several decades of maturity, I now realize that opening a fire hydrant is not just a serious crime, it’s irresponsible and puts people’s lives at risk. Water is a precious and limited resource.

An illegally opened fire hydrant lowers pressure that firefighters need in case of a fire. A single hydrant opened in this hazardous way can release over 1,000 gallons of water per minute. That’s enough wasted water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than half a day! Indeed, the pressure would topple most of us and injuries were common. This was a diversion at a cost that I did not appreciate at the time. The unauthorized opening of fire hydrants is harmful to our own communities. A further disincentive is the penalty. The perpetrator could face fines of up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

There is no excuse to commit this offense. In fact, the City has an easy way for people to request the installation of a spray cap on a fire hydrant for a controlled release of water. Among the lessons here is to never underestimate the resourcefulness of a bored pre-teen male. Hopefully this blog entry will dissuade someone from the idea that opening a fire hydrant is a victimless crime.

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

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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Tales from Our Trash: New York City’s Sanitation Workers, Sustainable Cities, and the Value of Knowledge

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By Rebecca Bratspies

screen_20060123182758_9talkingtrash2tsi's_pickup_crewWe have a problem in New York City: We generate more than 30,000 tons of waste each day. Roughly one third of that waste is household trash, and the daunting task of collecting garbage from New York City’s three million households falls to 7,000 workers from the NYC Department of Sanitation.  They are, in the words of artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “keeping New York City alive.”

All of NYC’s waste is shipped out of state for disposal. But first, the city must consolidate the garbage at one of 58 waste transfer stations. In addition to the overpowering odors the trash itself produces, these stations generate a constant stream of truck traffic, air pollution, noise pollution, and safety issues. So, of course, no one wants to live near them.

Thus, it may come as no surprise that most of NYC’s waste transfer stations are concentrated in poor and minority communities in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. In 1996, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance helped form the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods to address this injustice, and over the next decade these groups worked with hundreds of concerned citizens, ultimately culminating in the passage of the City’s 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan. Although the plan laid the foundation for a more equitable distribution of these facilities, attempts to locate a waste transfer station in Manhattan have been met with litigation and outrage.

frank justich wayI think about these numbers every time I place my family’s trash can on the curb for sanitation workers to empty. These workers do this thankless and risky job every day. Sanitation workers are far more likely to be killed on the job than are police officers or firefighters. In 2010, this was the case when NYC sanitation worker Frank Justich was hit by a truck and killed while on the job in Queens. My daily commute takes me past the corner where he died, which was renamed Frank Justich Way in his honor. How many of us know the names of the men and women who collect our trash? Their vital contribution to our welfare goes unacknowledged: their specialized knowledge and skills overlooked.

This is why the CUNY Center for Urban Environmental Reform (CUER) is launching its Whose Trash? Initiative, which uses NYC waste-handling practices to consider broader questions of urban sustainability. This initiative highlights the importance of including under-represented voices in the waste planning processes: communities burdened with landfills and transfer stations; workers tasked with collecting and handling wastes; and young people saddled with undesirable economic and ecological legacies.

The kick-off event, Tales from Our Trash, will take place this Thursday, November 14, at 6 p.m. at CUNY School of Law. Commemorating Frank Justich’s life and service, this event highlights the contributions sanitation workers make to urban sustainability. The event will be memorialized by Frank Justich’s widow, who speak briefly about what it means to her that this event is commemorating her husband’s life and work. Other participants include  Dr. Robin Nagle, anthropologist-in-residence at the NYC Department of Sanitation and author of Picking Up; CUNY School of Law Professor and CUER Director Rebecca Bratspies; artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, creator of Touch Sanitation and artist-in-residence at the NYC Department of Sanitation; NYC Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty; and three NYC high school students speaking on behalf of future generations. More information is available on CUNY Law’s website.  Don’t live in New York? No Problem! The events are free and it is open to the public, and will be live-streamed online. Hope to see you there!

About the author: Rebecca Bratspies, Professor, joined the faculty of CUNY Law in 2004. Her teaching and scholarly research focus on environmental and public international law, with a particular emphasis on how legal systems govern the global commons and how law can further sustainable development. Professor Bratspies spent a year seconded to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Environmental Protection Administration. Upon her return to the United States, she was a litigation associate with Dechert, Price and Rhoads where she worked with civil rights groups to bring two victorious class action suits challenging Pennsylvania’s implementation of welfare reform.

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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New Frog in New York City | In Search of the Richmond Ribbiter

In the wilds of New York City (photo: Seth Ausubel, EPA)

By Seth Ausubel

The air was chill and the skies leaden as our party slipped quietly through the thick woodland underbrush.  We soon reached a densely overgrown pond.  The still dark waters roiled as dozens of unseen creatures fled the pond’s edge at our approach.

An eerie calm beset the pond as we began a silent vigil.  Soon the chorus of alien clucks that had guided us toward our destination resumed.  Then, a ripple…a vague form in the murky waters… a pair of eyes.  There it was — the Richmond Ribbiter!

O.K., so the part I left out is that the pond is a mere twenty-five feet from the edge of a busy road, next to a gun club and stone mason yard in Staten Island, a.k.a. Richmond County, one of New York City’s five boroughs.  What is truly remarkable is that our quarry was a newly discovered species of leopard frog.

I was there that March morning of 2012 with my friends and fellow naturalists, Dave Eib, Mike Shanley and Seth Wollney, all native Staten Islanders.

You’re probably incredulous that a new species of frog has been discovered in New York City.  It is an extremely rare occasion when any new vertebrate species is discovered in a major population center.  But, in fact, while the existence of these frogs has been known, it was only recently shown that they are genetically distinct from the other leopard frog species in the region – the Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens), and the Southern Leopard Frog (Rana utricularia).  The new frog has not yet been described in scientific literature, nor has it even been named.  So for now I’m dubbing it…well, you know already.

While the Richmond Ribbiter looks very much like the other leopard frogs, its calls are quite distinct – a single “cluck” unlike the “chuckle” of the Southern Leopard Frog, and even less like the “snore” of the Northern Leopard Frog.  Seth Wollney has posted video and audio on his blog.  The calls of the other species can be found by following the links above.

Way back in 1936, Carl Kauffeld, the renowned herpetologist and Curator of the Staten Island Zoo, wrote that he thought there may be a third species of leopard frog in New York City.  But he never investigated further and the frog remained shrouded in obscurity.  Wollney, whose local knowledge is unparalleled, says he and others noticed the presence of an oddly singing frog a few years ago.  But it was the studies of Jeremy A. Feinberg, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University that identified the frog as a new species.

The range of the Richmond Ribbiter is still being investigated, but it is likely that only a small fraction of its former range still supports the frogs.  This shows the importance of habitat conservation, even in urban areas.

So, yes, there are wilds in New York City, and a unique frog.  Who knows what discoveries remain?

About the author: Seth Ausubel is Acting Chief of EPA Region 2’s Watershed Management Branch, and an avid birder and naturalist

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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