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Composting in Urban Areas

By Claudia Gutierrez

On a recent trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, I purchased the latest Brooklyn Botanical Garden Guide for a Greener Planet titled, “Easy Compost.” For those of us who live in urban centers, with limited space, sometimes it’s challenging to compost. Composting, however, can play a large big role in reducing waste that is sent to landfills. Studies have shown that as much as 40% of our organic waste can be diverted from landfills if composted. New York City just recently passed legislation to begin a residential composting program. Check out the NYC Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling web site at: www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/composting_nyc.shtml.

While you’re at it, also check out the “Easy Compost” guide. The guide focuses on teaching the reader how to compost at home. It details the type of bins, worms, etc. that one should choose based on their needs. It is a very resourceful guide for urbanites who want to help mother earth in diverting organic waste from landfills. For more resources about gardening and composting, please visit www.bbg.org.

About the Author: Claudia Gutierrez is currently a Senior Advisor on Caribbean issues for the Regional Administrator since 2010. In this capacity, Claudia is working on different partnerships, including the White House Puerto Rico Task Force on Status, Vieques Sustainability Task Force and both the Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Recycling Partnerships.

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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Building Community |Sustainable food purchasing in Weehawken, NJ

By Claudia Gutierrez

The Township of Weehawken, New Jersey is “luckily” geographically situated!  It is a short distance, by way of Lincoln Tunnel, to the Big Apple. Weehawken has a population of about 14,000. Historically, Weehawken has been a town of working class people who held jobs mostly associated with the nearby Hudson River. Recently Weehawken has experienced an influx of people who desire its proximity to New York City, a very small school system (~1,200 students) and an urban, yet somewhat suburban feeling. Not to mention its river front parks and views of the Hudson and NYC.

We moved to Weehawken in 2004.  Through the schools and local parks we met a bunch of native and non-native “weehawkenites,” who brought fresh ideas to the town and began a close community oriented neighborhood. Here are a few things that we have done:

First, one of our neighbors/friends began “the milk club.” The milk club first consisted of a handful of families. You ask what is a milk club? It consists of a different family picking up, every two weeks, fresh, organic, free range cow’s raw milk in a reusable container at a sustainable farm in upstate New York.

Second, within the same group, five families (including my own) who are meat eaters began to price out the cost of organic meat and its origin. We then realized that we should embark on a trial base purchase of an entire cow from a local sustainable farm! We began by researching the closest local organic farms. Our research entailed: cost, distance to the farm, cow roaming/grazing and diets. After our successful research in finding a farm, we purchased our first cow in the fall of 2010.  Subsequently, we purchased a pig; and soon after, some families also began sharing a lamb. More

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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Students for Climate Action: Locally Grown Produce

About the Author: Michelle Gugger graduated from Rutgers University in 2008. She is currently spending a year of service at EPA’s Region 3 Office in Philadelphia, PA as an AmeriCorps VISTA

In the US, produce travels an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches the grocery store. If you were to travel that same distance in your car for a piece of produce, you would be emitting almost a ton of carbon dioxide emissions into the environment with every trip! Most of the produce that we buy at our local grocery stores comes from miles away, from all over the world. This means that some of our produce is being sent to our local grocery stores in ships, planes and trucks – all of which release significant amounts of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions along the way.

We can definitely reduce our environmental impact the next time we go produce shopping by purchasing locally grown produce. According to Sustainable Table, if Iowa provided 10 % more produce for its local consumers, an average of 280,000 – 346,000 gallons of fuel would be saved, and 6.7 – 7.9 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced each year!

Eating locally grown produce is also one good way for you to become a climate ambassador in your community. You can educate your friends and family about our food system and the environmental importance of eating locally grown produce.

  • LocalHarvest.org will help you find local farmers in your community.
  • BackyardGardener can help you learn more about staring your own garden to take advantage of the spring and upcoming summer season by growing your own tomatoes, herbs, carrots, peppers, etc.

Be sure to share some more ideas on how we can all eat locally!!!! And let us know how you plan on reducing your environmental impact through sustainable produce practices.

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.