Does It Have To Look This Bad?


Does It Have To Look This Bad?!!

Does It Have To Look This Bad?

A recent change of jobs in the NY Fashion Industry created free time for long reflective walks from my home in Clinton Hill Brooklyn to Prospect Park and back home again.  On these walks my never quiet inner critic became disgusted by the appearance of everyone’s garbage cans in front of their homes.  Day after day, the critic got louder so along came my camera to mugshot the offending objects.  30 years of fashion problem solving for production set me up to think I could improve on this curbside blunder!   Our Waste Matters~ Cans with a Conscience!!

The Phoenix of Waste


The Natural Resources Defense Council  teamed with The Ad Council on this video to educate people about Food Waste.  Set to Michael Giacchino’s Academy Award Winning soundtrack from the critically acclaimed movie “Up,” the life of a strawberry was created pro bono by SapientNitro as part of a new “Save The Food” campaign.

It is part of a national public service campaign to combat food waste from its largest source — consumers.  We collectively waste more food than grocery stores, restaurants or farms.

ReFED, Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data, is a collaboration of over 30 business, government, investor, foundation, and nonprofit leaders committed  to reducing food waste in the US.  “The magnitude of the food waste problem is difficult to comprehend,” states the report. “The U.S. spends $218 billion a year — 1.3 percent of GDP — growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food that is never eaten.”

The “Roadmap To Reduce U.S. Food Waste By 20 Percent”, released by ReFED on March 9, is the first national economic study on food waste to develop a plan of action by this multistakeholder group.

The Roadmap estimates that it will cost $18 billion over a decade, or roughly $2 billion annually, to reduce food waste by 20 percent.  The economic value of all the food we waste is equivalent to $218 billion annually, so investing that one percent to drive a 20 percent food waste reduction can unlock $100 billion in savings over a decade.

The Roadmap focuses on the three most scalable solutions for each category:  Prevention: Standardized date labeling; Consumer education campaigns; and Waste tracking and analytics.  Recovery: Donation tax incentives; Standardized donation regulation; and Donation matching software.  Recycling: Centralized composting; Centralized anaerobic digestion; and Water resource recovery facilities with anaerobic digestion.


One of the nation’s greatest success stories is Phoenix, Arizona.  By creating efficient ways to prevent wasted food, donate food and divert food waste, they are a leader in food waste management.

For example, during Super Bowl 49, hundreds of thousands of rabid football fans converged on downtown Phoenix for a week of partying before the big game.  Phoenix’s “Kick the Waste Initiative” was the perfect test for their pilot food waste collection and composting program.  By placing containers for food scraps and food-soiled paper in the 12-block perimeter of the party zone for the Super Bowl, they achieved a 73 percent diversion rate.  This is consistent with ReFED’s analysis, which finds that 73 percent of recycling opportunity is expected to come from centralized composting and anaerobic digestion facilities.  Through the same program, the city took the food scraps and soiled paper to their new pilot composting facility and three months later, they used it on city landscape and gardening projects.

In January 2016, Phoenix hosted the College Football Playoffs  increasing their diversion rate to 82 percent of the event’s waste.

The nation has a 50 percent food waste reduction goal by 2030.  Under a federal government initiative to lead partnerships between charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments, it intends to reduce food waste in the United States as an important step in improving  food security and conserving our nation’s natural resources.

Then there is Jake Mace!  He has the best “at home” compost instructions on the web. You can follow him at but better yet click on his link and learn how you can make the most amazing compost.!_by_VeganAthlete/

How You Can Help:


  • What are you eating?
  • How is it packaged?
  • How far did it travel to get to you?
  • How was it grown or processed?
  • Will you eat it or throw it away?
  • Can it be composted?
  • Make jam!  It’s a lot easier than you think.

Until next week, images

Garbage Girl

Rats Aren’t Wasting Brooklyn’s Popularity


Headlines have recently reported the increasing number of rats moving to Brooklyn.  The upscaled popularity of the borough seems to be attracting more than millionaires!

With the hopes of curtailing New York’s rat problem once and for all, Mayor de Blasio is spending $3 million on a citywide rodent-extermination plan.   Our rats have been battle-hardened since the city was born so it will take a citywide, every person doing their part, push to make a dent.

Rodent complaints surged 19 percent citywide from 20,545 complaints to 24,374.  You too, can complain about rats by calling 311.  Or   to report rat sightings.

The highest number of rat calls in the city came from Brooklyn with 7,842, Bronx had the second-highest with 5,573, Manhattan had 5,508 complaints, followed by Queens with 3,987 and Staten Island with 1,197.

The most complaints came from residents of 335 E 148th St.  Called, Bronx’s Rat Central, they set the record for the most rodent complaints at a single address by calling the city’s complaint hot line 131 times this year.


Rats are popular these days; gaining celebrity on social media.  Complete with commentary and lots of high pitched screeching these rat videos can actually get you to admire the critters.

There’s the pigeon killing rat caught on video in Brooklyn.  In broad daylight, this rat caught an injured pigeon by the neck and dragged it a few feet.  The pigeon freed itself but the rat gave chase, showed a fearless determination, and finished the job.  John Freund recorded the encounter in Williamsburg and posted the clip to YouTube last year — but the video suddenly went viral this week.

Rats in New York are now being given names for their notoriety, like Pizza Rat.  A bold undetered vermin who carried a slice of pepperoni pizza down a flight of subway stairs. Then there is McDonald’s Rat.  This guy caused all sorts of problems for the food chain in Thailand when its behavior went viral.  We topped that, though, with Subway Rat.  Not the normal commute that day when this rat came on board with all of the other passengers.

The video that really peaked our yuck factor was Selfie Rat.  A rat crawled into the lap of a man sleeping on the subway platform and took a picture of itself with the man’s phone.

If you need more! You can take a tour with Motherboard and a Rodentologist to Columbia Park in Chinatown and learn all about rats.

How You Can Help:

  • Keep food waste really well contained.
  • Place household waste at curbside as close as possible to pickup times.
  • Use the new really cool solar powered waste compacting and signaling receptacles, that the Sanitation Department gave us, for all of your street trash.
  • Never litter food on city streets or sidewalks.
  • Report rats or mice where food is served.
  • Report rats or mice in sewers, on streets or sidewalks.
  • Report rats or mice in public schools.
  • Report rats or mice in parks.
  • Report rats or mice in public transportation.
  • Report a condition that could attract rodents such as trash or food left out.
  • Call 311 to report rats or mice in your home or building.
  • Unfortunately rats can carry diseases that kill humans or they might actually be able to help pick up after the messier of us!  Let’s send these guys packin’.

Until next week:19166021-Illustration-of-Cartoon-rat-get-out-Stock-Vector-mouse

Garbage Girl







Plastic Waste Solutions


Ankit Mishra made a very comprehensive tool available to us all that helps us understand plastic pollution and manage plastic waste.  Click on each of the 35 slides below and get a really quick, easy to understand lesson in plastic that can inform your plastic awareness and how it affects us.


Another amazing plastic resource became available to us recently when Precious Plastic, by Dave Hakkens surfaced.  This really great idea started as his graduation project from the Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands, an interdisciplinary educational institute for art, architecture and design with an international reputation brought about by the work of its faculty and alumni.

Dave’s concept has grown since 2013 to include  open sourcing his recycling machines for free.  They are easy to build, using basic tools and universal materials.  Now anyone can download his blueprints, start a business and clean up their environment.  This idea really deserves getting shared.  Click on the url and check out his video!

How You Can Help:

  • Every little bit of plastic properly discarded helps. In NYC, any plastic caps, packaging scraps, and random plastic bits that we see everyday on the sidewalks get washed into the storm drains and flushed out to our oceans when the system’s capacity is overwhelmed by heavy rain.
  • Plastic washed up on the beaches is actually a blessing.  If we pick it up, we get a second chance to make sure it won’t get washed out to sea.
  • Spread the word for Dave Hakkens and Precious Plastic.

Until next week,maxresdefault

Garbage Girl



Google Maps Didn’t Waste an Earth Day Opportunity!


This Earth Day, explore our beautiful planet with Google Maps.   

The main page gives you a selection of extraordinary places to visit.  Click on one and take a virtual vacation that will remind you of the glorious place we call home and how important it is to keep it alive and healthy.

How You Can Help:

  • Make a pledge to do whatever you can to keep our planet bountiful.
  • Take climate change seriously.   Yes, this video will scare you. Gwynne Dyer brings it home.
  • Reduce consumption.  All products use extracted oil or gas to produce them, package them, ship them to the store or directly to you.
  • Do not buy anything plastic.  Especially single use plastic containers, bags and packaging. Have you ever noticed how much plastic is in a drug store?
  • Create a community around waste awareness. It is the obvious tip of the iceberg.  Clean air, land and water is a really good thing!


Do your best.

With love!

Until next week,

Garbage Girl

Poverty, Waste and Women


Photo credit: UN Photo/Patricia Esteve

Over a third of the world’s population has inadequate sanitation facilities.  With no sanitation facilities, people have to urinate and defecate in highly populated, public areas.  With their waste remaining exposed to animals, insects, food, and other people it  leads to the rapid spread of diseases and diarrhea, a digestive system malfunction caused by viruses or bacteria.  One gram of human feces can contain as much as ten million viruses and a hundred parasite eggs.  Diarrhea is the main cause of death in children under four years old.  An estimated 5,000 children die daily from complications related to this ailment.

Communities with no safe water sources women-collecting-wateror latrines live lives dominated by the search for water and blighted by disease.  Women are traditionally the primary water gatherers, sometimes spending up to five hours a day collecting water.  The water can often be dirty and contaminated with diseases.  This makes women further burdened by their own illnesses and the care of others who are sick in their families.

6a00d8341c7ee953ef0167691df70f970b-800wiWomen are more vulnerable without adequate sanitation because they carry the double burden of looking after children with their own sanitation needs and finding work or resources often times with no sanitation facilities or breaks to relieve themselves. When women and girls cannot be together to urinate, defecate or manage their menstrual hygiene, they can find themselves in unsafe situations.

The Beijing Platform for Women began in 1995 by United Nations Women, an entity for gender equality and empowerment of women.  A lot still needs to be accomplished but a lot has been done.
The UN initiated World Toilet DayIMG_2157_2-300x225
and the We Can’t Wait campaign that featured an inflatable toilet on the main lawn of the UN bringing an awareness to the issues women have managing their sanitation problems.
Many humanitarian aid organizations are now putting gender policies in place, making natural resource management and sanitation more comprehensible.  They are finding that sustainable stewardship of the land, water, soil, plants, animals, and food in a community improves when women take a more central role in the decisions.  Effective involvement of women can be facilitated by considering:
The different roles played by men and women.
The differences between men’s and women’s rights to access and control natural resources.
Both men and women need to be involved in decision-making.
Both men and women need to participate in all stages of natural resource management.
Cultural and social barriers need to be made aware of.
Indigenous knowledge is key.
Gender appropriate technologies need to be designed with women in mind.
Work burdens of women can unfairly increase if gender isn’t considered.
The consequences of intervention may affect all members of the community.
How You Can Help:
  • These organizations are worth looking into:

Captive Daughters  Dedicated to ending sex trafficking

CEDAW  The Treaty for the Rights of Women

Madre  Demanding human rights for women and families around the world

UN WomenWatch  UN inter-agency network on women and gender equality

Women’s WORLD  because nowhere on earth are women’s voices given the same respect as men’s

Equality Now  working to end violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world through the mobilization of public pressure

WomenAid International   a women’s humanitarian aid and development agency which promotes all rights for all people in all countries

Women Without Borders  an advocacy, PR and lobbying organisation for women around the globe

Women for Women’s Human Rights   a widely renowned non-governmental organization around the globe

Womankind Worldwide  enabling women to voice their concerns and claim their rights, and to work globally for policies and practices which promote equality between men and women

Association for Women’s Rights in Development   connects, informs and mobilizes people and organizations committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights

Women’s Human Rights net   provides reliable, comprehensive, and timely information and analyses on women’s human rights in English, Spanish and French

Stop the Violence Against Women Campaign  a part of Amnesty International involved in an international campaign to stop violence against women

Human Rights Watch  a part of The Women’s Rights Division fighting against the dehumanization and marginalization of women

Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran   promotes a greater awareness of the challenges women face living under fundamentalist regimes such as that of Iran

Women of Vision   a Christian humanitarian organization that has served the poor since 1950 through emergency relief and long-term development

Until next week,water-nepal-slider

Garbage Girl


Conquest, Spirituality and Waste


“History doesn’t fall from heaven; we make history. ”   Jean Ziegler                                                       Creating a new world governed by an alterna­tive system that is not based on domination, coercion, and control, does not depend on an unrealistic goal of being able to fully describe a utopian society for all at this point in time. From our position of growing up in a patriarchal, colonial, and white supremacist world, we cannot even fully imagine how a world that is not based on structures of oppression might operate. Nevertheless, we can be part of a collective, creative process that can bring us closer to a society that is not based on domination.  This is the final paragraph from Andrea Smith’s book, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide.  She is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside.                 

“Andrea Smith’s incisive and courageous analysis cuts through many of our accepted truths and reveals a new way of knowing that is rooted in Native women’s histories of struggle. More than a call for action, this book provides sophisticated strategies and practical examples of organizing that simultaneously take on state and interpersonal violence. Conquest is a “must read” for those concerned with violence against women and Native sovereignty. It is also a good resource for antiracist, reproductive rights, environmental justice, antiprison, immigrant rights and antiwar activists.” Julia Sudbury, Canada Research Chair in Social Justice, Equity and Diversity, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto

This book was brought to my attention by Penelope Duus, a student of archeology and anthropology at Vassar College because I have been known to say, in her presence, that we need to prioritize care for our planet over care for more people.  My thinking is formed by a practical simplicity that without a healthy earth, there will be no people.

The first European immigrants came to America with a way of thinking about the earth that involved dominion over her natural resources.  This thinking is dissected in a chapter titled Rape of the Land, where Andrea Smith shows the correlation between exploiting the land and exploiting the native cultures, particularly native women.

The native cultures were observed to practice holism.  Holism is a lived experience. Everything belongs together and is directly translated into the actualities of daily living; a coherent world where the different aspects of the divine interact.  The individual parts are always considered in the context of which they belong both spiritual and physical.  This thinking was considered weak and unproductive.

The most distinguishing feature of the spiritual context is the pervasive respect for the intricately woven pattern of the universe within which the individual, despite his, her or its relative insignificance is embraced.  Exploitation of separate parts could destroy or affect the whole.  To the settlers, exploitation and the separate importance of resources meant improvement and was considered evolutionarily righteous .

Spirituality connotes a belief that all elements of reality contain a certain amount of life force.  It entails believing and behaving as if nonobservable and nonmaterial life forces govern one’s everyday affairs.  Thus, a continuous sensitivity to core spiritual qualities takes priority in one’s life.  It is vital to one’s personal well being in a collective whole. This went beyond the European immigrants’ one God concept and its church affiliations.  It connotes a belief in the transcendence of physical death and a deep sense of continuity with one’s ancestors and surroundings.

Holism’s orientation is social rather than directed toward the conquest of objects or personal recognition.   An overriding importance is attached to social bonds and balanced social relationships.  One acts in accordance with the notion that duty to one’s social group is more important than individual rights, privileges or needs because that connection makes the whole ecosystem thrive in unison.  Hence, one’s identity is tied to group membership rather than to individual status and possessions.  Sharing is rewarding because it confirms the importance of your interconnectedness.   Self-centeredness and individual greed are frowned upon.   This was most difficult for the first immigrant/explorers to embrace because domination, not participation was their reason for being there.

In conclusion, I am holding to my logical understanding of “no earth/no humans”, as simplistic as it is.  Yet, I am striving to understand how we can act in community to heal our earth and ourselves.  Our Waste Matters is about our waste awareness.  Our waste is a coherent visible symptom of the disease that is hurting us in exponential ways with complexities beyond our current comprehension.   Individuals acting on a collective moral scale is imperative.

How You Can Help:

  • Take note about the resources you use in relation to your actual needs.
  • Create close communities that show you how your actions affect others.
  • Calculate whether your needs benefit or deplete the earth and her resources.
  • Thank Penelope for broadening this important conversation.

Until next week,images

Garbage Girl

Don’t Waste Earth Day This Year


April 22nd is Earth Day.   In connection with Arbor Day,  April is Earth Month.  Events happen all over the globe to support initiatives that will make living on our planet more beneficial for all of us.  A good place to get information about activities is through the Earth Day Network.  Their goal is to build the world’s largest environmental movement.

The mission for Earth Day Network is to broaden and diversify the environmental movement worldwide, mobilize the movement to build a healthy and sustainable environment, address climate change, and protect the Earth for future generations.

Many climate change experts would suggest that green initiatives and public policies are moving too slowly in the wrong direction to make any meaningful impact on our current survival challenge.  NPR reporter and author, Wen Stephenson unpacks the issue in his book What We Are Fighting For Now Is Each Other.

He’s calling for a radicalization of the mainstream.  “At this late hour, to be serious about climate is to be radical, because it’s really a radical situation. It requires us to go to the root of the systems that have created this. That’s not going to happen until enough people come to terms with and face up to the radical nature of the situation.”

In 1970, the first Earth Day activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement.  Passage of landmark, groundbreaking, environmental laws such as the Clean Air ActClean Water ActEndangered Species Act soon followed and Richard Nixon became known as the Environmental President by setting up the Environmental Protection Agency.

In 1990,  Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.  Today, more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year.  This is the largest civic observance in the world.

Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 50,000 partners in 196 countries, (the total of all countries in the world) to build environmental democracy working through a combination of education, public policy, and consumer campaigns.  They broaden the definition of “environment” to include issues that affect our health and our communities, such as greening deteriorated schools, creating green jobs and investment, registering voters and promoting activism to stop air and water pollution.

With partner organizations, EDN provides civic engagement opportunities at the local, state, national and global levels around the world.  Recognizing that climate change impacts our most vulnerable citizens first and most severely, EDN often works with low income communities to bring their voices and issues into the movement.

When the global population reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999 and seven billion in October 2011, according to United Nations, we have an enormous challenge ahead of us.  Our population is expected to grow to 10 billion by the end of this century.  Yet the earth’s capacity to provide space, produce food, supply energy and water all remain limited.

How You Can Help:

Until next week,178696_beers-outer-space-earth-relaxing-carlsberg-moon-landing-astronaut-1920x1200-wallpaper_wallpaperbeautiful_41

Garbage Girl

Wasted Wells

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 12.10.51 PM

Water!  In my recent search for a country home to retire towards, I found a dreamy, antique house in Connecticut that essentially had no water.  The home was set high on a ridge, water cascading everywhere from a recent storm, but the well test ran dry after 20 minutes!  This is a profound thing to witness.  I learned that water was in short supply on that ridge.   A new well would potentially reduce water from a neighbor’s well and in the case of this particular well it needed to be 5 X deeper.  Multiple wells were drilled on each of the properties in the area and more developers were coming in to take advantage of the views and the closeness to New York City.

Our water issue is intimidating.

Water is a permanent and inseparable element to human life.   As climate change affects our water supplies, and our population continues to grow and shift, it becomes increasingly important to develop and implement innovative, long-term strategies for making sure we have enough clean water when and where we need it.

March 22, 2016 was United Nations World Water Day.  In conjunction, the Obama Administration hosted a White House Water Summit to raise awareness of water issues in America, find potential solutions, discuss ideas and catalyze actions through innovative science and technology that can help us build a sustainable and secure water future.

Thirst for Power: Energy, Water and Human Survival by Michael Webber is a good place to start gaining an understanding of the issues.  He is the Director of the Energy Institute @ the University of Texas, Austin and he recently wrote an article for the New York Times titled, Our Water System: What a Waste.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s infrastructure for providing safe, clean water is seriously challenged.   Repairing our water and wastewater systems will cost more than $1.3 trillion.

We need breakthroughs in water treatment technology that would enable larger-scale recycling and reuse of storm water, treated water, desalination, aquifer storage and recovery.

We also have to fix our data gaps.  These gaps create blind decision making on a nationwide scale perpetuating waste and inefficiencies on how best to use the water we have. Compared to the energy sector, where solid statistics on prices, production and consumption are generated weekly, critical information on water use and supply is published only once every five years.  That means the latest survey completed in 2014 gave the statistics for 2009.

Creating a Water Information Administration, to collect, curate and maintain up-to-date, publicly available water data could inform policy makers and the markets in a timely manner.

As with hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, government-backed research and development could help prompt a wave of innovation and investment towards our water future.

David Sedlak, author, Professor and Director of the Institute for Environmental Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley, has developed cost-effective, safe and sustainable systems to manage water resources in California.  His four “tap” approach is presented in his TED Talk presentation.

How You Can Help:

  • Support and encourage your local authorities to upgrade your water infrastructure.
  • Water needs to be conserved.  Become aware of how much water you use and try new ways to reduce.   Your clothes probably don’t need washed after one wear.
  • Update and maintain your household water systems.
  • Water in plastic bottles is not the answer.  Protect and use your tap.  If your tap water is not safe, you can save a lot of money and resources buying water in 10 gallon jugs.
  • Look what a few people in Oregon are able to accomplish!!  

Until next week,images

Garbage Girl

Yogurt Wheyst



Greek yogurt is a booming $2 billion a year industry that produces tons of waste.  Greek yogurt companies, food scientists, and state government officials are scrambling to figure out uses for this waste that can make a profit.

In upstate New York, two trucks a day, seven days a week arrive at Neil Rejman’s dairy farm from Chobani with 8,000 gallons of acid whey, a byproduct of Greek yogurt.

The straining process that gives Greek yogurt its highimages protein content and lush mouthfeel creates acid whey, resulting in a byproduct as acidic as orange juice.  Most of it is water with five to eight percent other materials such as lactose (milk sugar), some minerals and a very small amount of proteins.

For every four ounces of milk, Chobani can only produce one ounce of creamy Greek yogurt.  The remainder, acid whey, is illegal to dump because its decomposition is toxic to the natural environment, robbing oxygen from streams and rivers.  If it can’t be used, it must be transported to approved water filtration facilities.

The scale of the problem—or opportunity, depending on who you ask—is daunting.  The Greek yogurt market has become one of the biggest success stories in the food industry with production in New York, alone, nearly tripling from 2007 to 2013.  New plants continue to open all over the country adding to the waste stream.

Chobani is so desperate to get rid of their whey that they pay farmers like Rejman to take it off their hands.

Rejman, a third-generation dairy farmer with a Cornell animal science degree, mixes it with silage to feed his 3,300 cows, combines it with manure in a giant pit to fertilize his fields and converts it into biogas to make electricity for his farm and others.

There are challenges to integrating acid whey into the workings of a farm like when dried silage to feed the cows gets mixed with the watery, sugary whey it quickly becomes an unmanageable slop.  Due to the high sugar content of the whey, Rejman says its like feeding cows candy bars — they really like it but too much is bad for their digestive systems so it only makes a small dent in the waste problem.

Policy makers in Albany are also interested in addressing this issue.  The first-ever Yogurt Summit was convened in 2012 by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and attended by state and industry officials who are trying to deal with the ocean of whey that Greek yogurt is producing.  They are racing to find solutions, some of the most promising of which are listed below.

Attendees like, Dave Barbano, a dairy scientist at Cornell, specializes in filtration methods for the separation and recovery of protein.  The tiny amount of protein in acid whey might be usable as an infant formula ingredient if he can figure out how to extract it in a cost-effective way.

In a related part of the dairy industry, cheese-makers developed a lucrative business selling their byproduct, sweet whey, as body-building supplements and food ingredients.  Sweet whey is more valuable than acid whey because it has a lot more protein and its easier to handle due to its lower acidity.   The Greek yogurt industry would welcome a similar outcome.

Scientists from the Center for Dairy Research @ University of Wisconsin-Madison have been experimenting on how to get edible-grade lactose out of acid whey.  Dean Sommer, a food technologist at the center thinks that many companies are already considering building plants to convert acid whey into lactose.  The industry-financed research is proprietary so the conversion process is not being shared.

Neil Rejman, an Upstate New York dairy farmer, stands before a lagoon of manure mixed with acid whey. This slurry will be turned in to energy by a machine called an 'anaerobic digester.'

Neil Rejman, an Upstate New York dairy farmer, stands before a lagoon of manure mixed with acid whey. This slurry has passed through a system called an ‘anaerobic digester,’ which converted some of it into electricity.

What a smell!    Acid whey mixed with the large amount of cow manure Rejman’s farm produces creates a river of shit that flows into an underground concrete tank known as an anaerobic digester.  Here the fetid mixture percolates, gets heated up and keeps for 20 days so the bacteria can break up the lactose and release the methane.  The methane is fed into generators to power the farm and sell to the local utilities.  Odor control was one of the benefits that Rejman found by converting acid whey into methane.  The processed manure smells a lot less.

Only 20 of New York’s 5,200 dairy farms are operating with digesters because the $4.5 million setup cost is out of reach for most farmers.  Even with the Rejman’s $1 million state subsidy, this huge issue needs many simultaneous solutions to make a dent in the problem, according to Curt Gooch, a waste management engineer at Cornell.

If and when any of the big yogurt companies come up with a better whey, they’re being guarded and the tidal wave of acid whey is not slowing down.   As one producer said at New York’s Yogurt Summit: “If we can figure out how to handle acid whey, we’ll become heroes.”

How You Can Help:

  • Regular yogurt costs a lot less and has fewer calories!
  • Avoid single serving yogurt containers that add even more to the waste stream.
  • Consider a healthy environment while you make a healthy body.

Until next week,Unknown-1

Garbage Girl

Coal Tar Waste Sites~Surprise!

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Many areas of the country have sites that are a serious health concern and we don’t even know about them.  Some of them are your driveway.  Coal tar is the reason.

A study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology is one of the first steps in understanding how this widely used carcinogen is impacting human health.  Further information can be obtained from the blog Coal Free America.

Coal tar is a thick, black or brown liquid byproduct of carbonized coal for the steel industry.  Coal-tar used for pavement sealants is the viscoelastic polymer resin that has 50% or more PAHs by weight and is known to cause cancer in humans.

PAHs are a group of chemical compounds (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) that form whenever anything with a carbon base is burned.   PAHs are of environmental concern because several are toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic (causing birth defects) to aquatic life, and seven are probable human carcinogens.  Of all known PAH sources, the highest concentrations are in coal tar and the related compound creosote. The International Agency for Research on Cancer states that up to one-third of the contents of coal-tar sealants is cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

PAHs are substances that remain in the environment for a long time, do not decompose and bioaccumulate in the human body.   Substances that combine these characteristics represent a particular level of environmental concern labeled PBTs.  (Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic substances)

images-1And!  PAHs don’t stay put.  Wear and tear from tires and sneakers on coal tar sealed pavement breaks down the dried sealant allowing tiny PAH particles to be tracked into homes or blown through open windows. The small particles from tire abrasion can be washed off by rain and carried down storm drains into streams.  Other sealcoat particles adhere to tires and get transported to other surfaces or blown offsite by wind.

Sealcoat in high traffic areas wears down within a few months and manufacturers recommend a new application every 2 to 4 years.


Partners for a Healthier Community

Black house dust is a source of human exposure to many contaminants, including PAHs.  Small children, who spend time on the floor and put their hands and objects into their mouths and active kids playing ball games are most vulnerable.   In 2008, the United States Geological Society measured PAHs in house dust from 23 ground-floor apartments and in dust from the apartment parking lots.   PAH concentrations in the dust from the parking lots with coal tar seal coats were an average of 530 times higher than parking lots with other surface types.  The indoor concentrations were 25 times higher.

Anything above 1.0 is considered a mutagen.  Coal tar sealants average 450.  Mutagens are physical or chemical agents that change the genetic material of an organism and  increase the frequency of mutations that can cause cancer.

Motor oil, a product that’s illegal to pour down storm drains, contains about 500 milligrams per kilogram of PAH chemicals.  Coal tar contains about 50,000 mg/kg, but we’re still spreading it on our parking lots, driveways and playgrounds with the potential for rains to wash it down storm drains.

Oddly enough, coal tar is rated Category I (safe and effective) for over the counter products to treat dandruff, seborrhoea, eczema, and psoriasis, according to the Food and Drug Administration.   Because of its use in medicines, as well, many studies have been performed over nearly a century to see if the patients who intentionally expose themselves to high level doses of coal tar for long periods of time have increased risk of cancer.  All the studies have reached the same conclusion – there is no evidence of cancer.

Brand name products using coal tar to treat  skin disorders are Betatar Gel, Cutar Emulsion, Denorex, DHS Tar, Doak Tar, Duplex T, Fototar, Ionil-T Plus, Medota,  MG 217, Neutrogena TDerm, Neutrogena TGel.

How You Can Help:

  • Create a no-shoes policy.  PAHs are easily tracked into the home, so shedding shoes before entering the home can cut back on exposure.
  • Close your windows.  Coal-tar-treated surfaces continually shed dangerous PAH chemicals, but the air levels are extremely high in the hours and days following a fresh coal-tar application.
  • Don’t trust labels.   Coal tar may not appear on the sealant bucket.  There are dozens of names for coal tar, including RT12, distilled tar, or refined tar. “Tar,” is the word you want to avoid.
  • Do your homework.  An online search of the product name plus Material Safety Data Sheet will reveal the number unique to coal tar as 65996-93-2.
  • Shop where it’s not.   Home improvement chains like Lowes, Home Depot, Ace, or Menards have all banned coal tar sealants nationwide.
  • Know the product.  Find out the exact name of the sealing product your driveway company uses.   Warn neighbors.  Applicators typically try to sell their services to an entire neighborhood.
  • Alert store managers and playground officials of the dangers of carcinogenic coal-tar sealants, and let them know that alternatives containing thousands of times fewer PAHs are readily available.
  • Speak up.  For broad-sweeping protection in your city, borough, or township, consider joining forces with concerned neighbors and lobby your local and state governments to ban the sale and application of coal-tar sealants.  These bans are popping up all over the country, from Washington, DC, to Washington state.  Look at Austin, Texas!
  • Go for gravel.  Consider building a blacktop-free driveway.  Healthier driveways made of gravel or permeable pavers helps reduce harmful motor oil runoff from your property.  That helps keep pressure off of water treatment plants and helps reduce flooding in your community.
  • Make driveway art safe!

Until next week,images

Garbage Girl