Sierra Club Annual Report

Explore. Enjoy. Protect.

How bad has this year been for our environment?    Here are 60 things in the last 12 months:

29 rules overturned 24 rollbacks in progress 7 rollbacks in limbo

Michael Brune
Executive Director
Sierra Club

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Butterfly Solar

As scientists seek ways to improve the efficiency of solar , some have increasingly turned to thin film solar cells. Such cells are lighter and more manageable than traditional crystal-based cells and are expected to be more efficient if engineers can find a way to get them to work for longer periods of time.  One of the roadblocks to improving the efficiency of is the high expense of motion hardware that tracks the sun.  In this new effort, the researchers took inspiration from the rose butterfly, found commonly in India.  It has soft black wings that warm the cold-blooded insect during cool periods.

To learn more about the , a team of researchers from California Institute of Technology and the Karlsruh Institute of Technology collected some samples and looked at them under an electron microscope.  They found that the wings were covered with scales pockmarked with holes.  In addition to making the wings lighter, the holes scattered the light striking them, which allowed the butterfly to absorb more of the sun’s heat.

In their paper, published in the journal Science Advances, the group explains their inspiration for studying the butterfly wings and the details of their improved solar cells.
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-black-butterfly-wings-solar-cells.html#jCp

The researchers created similar structures in their lab using sheets of hydrogenated amorphous silicon sheets.  A top layer with extremely tiny holes of various sizes caused light to scatter and strike the silicon base below.   The design allowed for picking up roughly twice as much light as previous designs. The process took just five to 10 minutes.

Get off the fossil fuel grid!  Go butterfly solar.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Extra Plastic Bags?

This Coop next to a highly littered bus stop in our neighborhood let me attach my really cool Bag Bottle to their fence in hopes of creating waste awareness while people wait for the bus.

The Bag Bottle is made of plastic soda bottles and stuffed with plastic bags. Dog owners, litter haters, or people who may just need a plastic bag are welcome to give a tug!

I easily collect a bag full of plastic litter everyday on my way to work.  I will be bringing my own so there will be plenty to inspire others.  Our Waste Matters will be starting a block sponsorship for those of us who want to keep plastic out of our environment.

In NYC, we failed to pass Ban the Bag legislation because people with less means would be disproportionately affected.  If their neighbors provided extra bags for them to use at anytime, maybe we could be Bag Free?!

How is your state doing?   http://www.bagtheban.com/in-your-state

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Pie Hole Lovers Competition

Even though the following is littered garbage, I enjoy finding the huge variety of plates in their unwanted environments.  Now I see them everywhere.  Passersby and subway riders are stopping to watch me compose the images and some are asking me what I am doing.

Penelope and Martin contributed to this week’s collection so I invite all of you Pie Hole Lovers to send in your photos. ourwastematters@gmail.com

      

      

      

      

      

      

      

      

      

    

Some rats have been feasting on some of the plates.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

New York’s Prolific Pie Holes

       

      

Another OWM Hall of Shame culprit is NY’s famous Pizza lovers.  You know you are one block away from a Pizza Parlor when you start to see the plates littered along the sidewalks and streets.  It must take the same amount of time to walk one block as it does to enjoy a slice.  The plates make NYC’s sidewalks awash with white holes.  These eight were from my Monday morning walk to the subway.

      

      

Tuesday’s collection on the same walk.  The last one is my favorite!  That plate is now a permanent part of the sidewalk.

      

      

Wednesday’s walk was mostly about picking up plastic before the rainstorm but there were still enough holes to get eight more photos for the collection.

      

      

Thursday’s walk yielded some doubles.

      

     Thank God its Friday!

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

The Best Wash Without Waste

I have been using Soap Nuts for my laundry for almost a year now.  They come in a recyclable cardboard box and other than that they produce no waste.

Put five of them in an organza bag and throw them in the washing machine with your dirty clothes.

The challenge is to keep them out of the dryer when you transfer your clean clothes.  It won’t hurt them but it does make them last a little less long.

What are they? They are a deseeded, dried nut from a Soapnut Tree that contains a surfactant called saponin.

Surfactants reduce the surface tension of the water, essentially making it wetter and easier to penetrate into soiled fabrics. This combined with the agitation of your machine or handwashing removes the dirt or particles, then keeps them away from your clothing until rinsing occurs.

  • Sustainable: It’s a renewable resource, easily grown organically.
  • All Natural: No funky or harmful ingredients.
  • Eco-Friendly: Less processing, less energy and less packaging.
  • Affordable: They can replace multiple cleaners, and last longer.
  • Reusable: Each berry can be used up to 6 times before it’s spent.
  • Hypoallergenic: No skin or respiratory irritation and non-toxic.
  • Not Actually Nuts: They’re totally safe for those with nut allergies.
  • Simple: Throw them in your wash or make a simple liquid detergent.
  • Odorless: But you can always add your own essential oils.
  • Gentle: Their mild nature won’t damage delicate clothing or surfaces.
  • No Fabric Softener: They naturally soften your fabrics!
  • Save Water: They rinse easier so require less water.
  • Save Energy: You can use a shorter rinse cycle in your laundry, too.
  • Front-loading Friendly: No suds are perfect for HE machines.
  • Works in Any Temperature: Use them in cold, warm or hot water.
  • Non-polluting: 100% biodegradable and safe for graywater systems.
  • Compostable: Used shells can be thrown in your compost.
  • Self-sufficient: You can even grow a soap nut tree yourself!

To see if your soap nuts are still releasing saponin, get them wet and see if the suds are still present.  http://www.sustainablebabysteps.com/

If you prefer a liquid detergent, whip up a batch of homemade.

1/3 to 1/2 cup liquid lavender Castile soap
1/2  cup washing soda
1/2  cup borax

 Click product to  Amazon
Mix all ingredients in a 2-gallon bucket.  Add hot water to fill the bucket and stir well. This will be a thinner concoction than commercial laundry detergent.  Store your homemade detergent in a saved commercial bottle .  Shake before you use because it has a tendency to separate.  Use 1/4 cup for an average laundry load.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Nature Tackles Carbon

Over the past two years, the world experienced unprecedented global climate momentum.  In September 2015, international leaders adopted the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals to fight poverty, promote sustainability and address climate change.  Shortly after, nearly 200 countries came together in Paris to adopt the world’s largest ever international climate treaty.

At The Nature Conservancy, Bronson Griscom  radiates an optimism somewhat rare for seasoned environmentalists.  As an ecological accountant, he measures and analyzes the “carbon economy” of nature: the everyday role that trees, grasslands and coastal habitats play in the carbon cycle.  He can measure the carbon impact of logging in old growth forests, or how well different forest ecosystems work as sponges for absorbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.  Griscom helps link our economy with the economy of the biosphere.

Encouraged by what he sees, the goals of carbon reduction the world wants to meet by 2030 are closer to possible, if we act now.  Current business-as-usual trajectories, increased emissions entering the atmosphere and continued environmental degradation will lessen the impact that nature can have.  If natural climate solutions are mobilized over the next 10 to 15 years, they could provide 37 percent of the needed mitigation for global climate targets.  But if action is delayed until after 2030, that number drops to 33 percent, and drops again to only 22 percent after 2050.

https://global.nature.org/initiatives/natural-climate-solutions/natures-make-or-break-potential-for-climate-change?src=a_f.social.facebook.site_globsol.cam_ncs.link_initative.d_oct2017.info_sci

Plant trees, create city forests, adopt a city street divider, help sponsor a GreenBelt, learn and understand how your local ecosystems contribute to carbon absorption.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

NY’s Bottle Bill Joins The OWM Hall of Shame

A cheap drink made in Brooklyn that is polluting Brooklyn

How does New York’s Bottle Bill work?

New York State’s Returnable Container Act requires every deposit initiator to collect a $.05 deposit on beverage containers containing less than one gallon of carbonated soft drinks, beer, malt beverages, wine coolers or water, sold in New York.

A deposit initiator is the first bottler, distributor, dealer or agent to collect the deposit on a beverage container sold in New York State. You’re a deposit initiator if you:

  • Bottle beverages in beverage containers
  • Distribute beverages in beverage containers
  • Sell beverages in beverage containers
  • Act as an agent on behalf of a registered deposit initiator

Dealers (“retailers”) pay the distributor or deposit initiator at least a 5-cent deposit for each beverage container purchased.

Consumers pay the dealers the deposit for each beverage container purchased. (we pay $.05 to Pepsico and Arizona Teas to litter our environment with every purchase)

Consumers may then return their empty beverage containers to a dealer or redemption center to get their deposit back.

Retailers and redemption centers are reimbursed the deposit plus a 3.5-cent handling fee by the distributor or the deposit initiator for each empty beverage container returned.

http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/57687.html

What beverages are covered by NY’s Bottle Bill?

Carbonated Soft Drinks, Sparkling Water, Carbonated Energy Drinks, Carbonated Juice (anything less than 100% juice, containing added sugar or water)
Soda Water
Beer and Other Malt Beverages
Mineral Water – Both carbonated and non-carbonated mineral water
Wine Products
Water that is flavored or nutritionally enhanced

What beverages are not covered by NY’s Bottle Bill?

Milk Products
Wine and Liquors
Hard Ciders
Tea  hello@drinkarizona.com
Sports Drinks  there is no contact info for Gatorade
Juice
Drink Boxes
Waters Containing Sugar

Let’s look at what is littered on our streets from Gatorade and Arizona Teas.  Both companies do not have deposit agreements with NY. I encounter this litter everyday on my 15 minute walk to work from Clinton Hill to Downtown Brooklyn on Dekalb Ave.

     

Take a moment to learn which companies have deposits for your state. It makes a difference.

The consumer deposit tax is not the best system to protect our environment but that is a topic for another blog.

Natural Ways To Consume Electrolytes

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Jamaica Junk

These are a few of the items Martin found during our cleanup of Canarsie Pol in Jamaica Bay.  You have to wonder what happened to Marcus Nigel Nicholas.  Did Ashley Carvalho and Cassidee Bush need multiple copies of so many credit cards?  Did they contact all of those banks that the cards were lost? They all have security codes on the back signature strip. Are they legitimate?

When I Googled fake credit cards with security codes…I was impressed with how many ways you can get a fake credit card.

The FBI suggests the following Tips for Avoiding Credit Card Fraud:

  • Don’t trust a site just because it claims to be secure. The URL is important.  It needs to state https://.  If it only states http:// Do Not Use It.
  • Don’t give out your credit card number online unless the site is secure and reputable. Sometimes a tiny icon of a padlock appears to symbolize a higher level of security to transmit data. This icon is not a guarantee of a secure site, but provides some assurance.
  • Before using the site, check out the security/encryption software it uses.
  • Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source.
  • Do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
  • Obtain a physical address rather than simply a post office box and a telephone number, and call the seller to see if the telephone number is correct and working.
  • Send an e-mail to the seller to make sure the e-mail address is active, and be wary of those that utilize free e-mail services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.
  • Consider not purchasing from sellers who won’t provide you with this type of information.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau from the seller’s area.
  • Check out other websites regarding this person/company.
  • Don’t judge a person or company by their website; flashy websites can be set up quickly.
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own country.
  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card. You can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
  • Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card number.
  • Keep a list of all your credit cards and account information along with the card issuer’s contact information. If anything looks suspicious or you lose your credit card(s), contact the card issuer immediately.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

The Easiest Reuse Ever

 

My friends, Niovi and Sam, have hosted many a Coop party by using cocktail glasses that reuse their cocktail’s main ingredient; preserves.

They are definitely onto something as mixologists all over NYC are using this ingredient to add sugar, flavor and citrus to their favorite spirit.

Cocktail science is a blast!!!

https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/how-jams-jellies-cocktails-article

Until next time,

Audrey