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.   http://coaltarfreeamerica.blogspot.com/p/references.html

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 gfrpartners.com

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





Don’t Let Your Remains Go To Waste

More people are embracing a concept that has been around as long as we have!

Green, or natural, burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact.  It aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduces carbon emissions, protects worker health, and restores or preserves the habitat by using non-toxic and biodegradable materials, such as baskets, shrouds, and urns.

The group that educates organizations and advocates for individuals about the environmental, societal, and economic benefits of green burials is The Green Burial Council .   Google them or look for GBC certificates at your funeral facilities.   http://www.gravematters.us/faqs.html

GBC certification makes distinctions between the three levels of green burial grounds: hybrid, natural or conservation.  It requires cemetery operators to commit to transparency, accountability and third party oversight.  It prevents them from going back on ecological or aesthetic promises, such as limitations on burial density. that protect a local ecosystem or prohibitions against the use of monuments that would negatively impact the setting.

More and more death care professionals are embracing this new ethic.

Embalming fluid is usually comprised of the carcinogen chemical formaldehyde.  A study by the National Cancer Institute revealed that funeral directors have a much higher incidence of myeloid leukemia as a result of constant exposure to formaldehyde.  Fortunately, there are now several formaldehyde-free embalming fluids, including one made of nontoxic and biodegradable essential oils, earning the GBC seal of approval.  The sanitation and preservation of a decedent can almost always take place without the use of chemicals, as is done in just about every nation in the world.

Concrete and metal vaults may be considered “natural.”  However, manufacturing and transporting vaults uses a tremendous amount of energy and causes enormous carbon emission.  They last a very, very long time and cannot give nutrients back to the land.

Cremation uses far fewer resources than almost any other disposition option, but it still has an environmental impact.  Cremation burns fossil fuels, and some older cremation facilities can use significantly more energy compared to newer ones.  Mercury is  emitted when a person with dental amalgam fillings is cremated, but effective filtration devices that can fully mitigate mercury pollution are coming on the market soon.  Other metals and substances are intensified in the cremains after burning, so the ashes may not be as pure as we think.

No standards exist yet that allow consumers to determine which crematoriums produce the most pollution and carbon emissions.  Recycling medical parts and making a contribution to a carbon fund are ways to make the process more environmentally friendly.

Caskets used in a standard burial are steel, wood, plastic, or metal and they require a much larger amount of land.  Caskets, urns, or shrouds suitable for a green burial are made from materials or substances that are nontoxic, readily biodegradable, and not harvested in a manner that destroys habitat.  The land used is only as big as the body.

Standard grave sites are landscaped and manicured environments that require fossil fuels, pesticides, and fertilizers to maintain.  Natural burial sites are left natural.

Home funerals allow for families to care for a decedent and all aspects of a funeral at their home.  Common in the U.S. until the mid-20th century, a home funeral can be facilitated by a family in almost every state, or may be done with the assistance of a licensed funeral director.  A home burial might require a minimum number of acres and often the filing of a plat map with the planning department.

How You Can Help:

  • Plan and direct your end of life needs.
  • Eliminate the impact on your loved ones and the environment.
  • Learn about the options for a natural burial and let your loved ones know your concerns and desires.
  • You too could become a field of flowers!

Until next week,green-funerals

Garbage Girl

The Fish Are Really Getting Wasted


This is a hard one folks!  It is critical to change our use of plastic.  There will be more plastic by weight than fish in our oceans by 2050!

A feature length adventure documentary film, called Plastic Ocean, is being made to expose the devastation on our marine coinhabitants  by the huge quantities of plastic entering the oceans every year, thanks to us.  Here is their trailer through Waste Management News.


The film project began four years ago, when producer, Jo Ruxton, joined an expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch just 1500 miles off the coast of San Francisco and discovered free-floating microplastics instead of the anticipated solid mass that could be contained.  Jo  started a charity to raise funds for the project, created a team of scientists, environmentalists and a free diving champion and set off on a globetrotting expedition that covered 20 locations.  Their film documents the global effects of plastic pollution and introduces workable technologies and policy solutions that could, if implemented in time, make the difference.

The report that announced “there will be more plastic by weight than fish in our oceans by 2050″ was produced as part of Project MainStream – a collaboration between the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum, with analytical support from McKinsey & Company.  It provides a global economy vision where plastics never become waste.  It outlines concrete steps towards achieving the systemic shift needed to create  a new circular plastics economy.

The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics states that between $80 and $120 billion of plastic packaging enters the waste stream each year, 95% of that is lost to the economy after a short first use, with significant environmental implications.

The report outlines a new model based on creating effective after-use pathways for plastics, drastically reducing leakage of plastics into natural systems (especially oceans) and finding alternatives to crude oil or natural gas as the raw material that makes plastic.

Dominic Waughray, Head of Public-Private Partnership, World Economic Forum said, “This report demonstrates the importance of triggering a revolution in the plastics industrial ecosystem and is a first step to showing how to transform the way plastics move through our economy.”

The use of plastics has increased twentyfold in the past half-century and is expected to double again in the next 20 years. While plastics and plastic packaging are an integral part of the global economy and deliver many benefits, their value chain entails significant drawbacks.

Dame Ellen MacArthur of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said, “By demonstrating how circular economy principles can be applied to global plastic flows, this report provides a model for achieving the systemic shift our economy needs to make in order to work in the long term.”

The change will require major collaboration between all stakeholders across the global plastics value chain – consumer goods companies, plastic packaging producers and plastics manufacturers, businesses involved in collection, sorting and reprocessing, cities, policy-makers, consumers and NGOs.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation said that it will initiate a global dialogue mechanism and drive the shift towards a New Plastics Economy.

“Plastics are the workhorse material of the modern economy – with unbeaten properties,” said Martin R. Stuchtey, McKinsey Center for Business and Environment. “However, they are also the ultimate single-use material.”

A first of its kind study of plastic pollution in the waterways of New York City and northern New Jersey turned up a sobering statistic: At any given time, an estimated 165 million plastic particles are floating in the estuaries that stretch from the Tappan Zee Bridge, along the lower Hudson River, south to Sandy Hook Bay, in New Jersey. That is more than 256,000 particles per square kilometer. That’s half a NYC block heading out to sea!

How You Can Help:

  • Follow up on the EPA new Clean Water Rule set by Barack Obama. It found that small streams and wetlands have the greatest impact on the health of downstream waters and sets out to protect those areas from polluters.  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/06/03/3665579/waters-of-united-states-rule-ocean-health/
  • Stop buying one use plastic anything.
  • If you do find yourself using it throw it away responsibly.
  • Pick up plastic around water bodies of all sizes.
  • Make our marine cousins happy!

Until next week,shutterstock_152866337

Garbage Girl


Reducing Waste Gets Competitive


As Fashion Week draws to another close and buyers from all over the world place their orders, its important to focus on the global impact this huge industry has on our planet’s resources.

The Global Change Initiative is a collective of minds from the worlds of academia, business, institutions and government brought together for an interactive summit to focus on sustainability, conscious consumerism, responsible thought leadership and social justice.  Endorsed by the United Nations Canada, GCI became the first global change forum that is results driven, not ideas focused.

They gave their first Global Change Award at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, this February.  The five winners were chosen by an expert jury and a global online voting public to share a grant of €1 million given by the H&M Conscious Foundation, a non-profit funded by H&M, the Sweden-based clothing manufacturer and store chain.

The Foundation’s mission is to drive long-lasting positive change and improve living conditions by investing in people, communities and innovations. They established the Global Change Award to take on one of the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry today; protect the earth’s natural resources, continue to create fashion for a growing population, reduce its impact on the environment and bring fashion closer to  a more circular economy.  This is the first such initiative in the industry.

This year’s winning teams were lead by:

1. Michael Hummel, Finland. Making waste-cotton new – conversion of waste-cotton into new textiles.

2. Akshay Sethi, U.S.A., The polyester digester – using microbes to recycle waste polyester. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lky0GVjIb7o

The Polyester Digester – Polyester, produced from raw petroleum, is the world’s most common fibre for making textiles and clothes.  It is difficult to recycle waste polyester because it is often mixed with other fibres. The Polyester Digester uses unique microbes that eat polyester and break it down into its most basic substances. The raw material can then be sold to polyester manufacturers  to produce new textiles without a loss in quality.  This process also works on textiles where polyester and, for example, cotton is mixed as well as dyed polyester. The method is currently under development, partnering with a producer/manufacturer and an early-adopter brand are the next steps in starting a pilot project.

3. Ann Runnel, Estonia. An online market for textile leftovers – a marketplace for industrial upcycling of spill in production.

4. Enrica Arena, Italy.  100 percent citrus – creating new textile out of citrus juice production by-products.

5. Tjeerd Veenhoven, the Netherlands.  Growing textile fibre under water – utilizing algae to make renewable textile.

Inspired by the response from the global innovation community, and to spark impact beyond the five winners, the Foundation said that it has now launched the Global Change Award Network, a public digital space where teams and ideas can grow. https://network.globalchangeaward.com

“When the application period closed, we sat with thousands of amazing ideas,” commented Karl-Johan Persson, board member of the H&M Conscious Foundation and CEO of H&M.  “So we decided to create the Global Change Award Network.  You can look at it as a matchmaking site, where innovators can present their ideas, get feedback, make contacts and investors can find the next big thing.  A digital greenhouse for innovative ideas,”

How You Can Help:

  • Keep your current clothing and textiles out of the landfill.
  • Make responsible fashion purchases by reading the labels.
  • Is that T shirt from Bangladesh really worth supporting what made it?
  • Stop buying fast fashion. Invest in timeless pieces that get passed on.
  • Join Akshay Sethi, submit your ideas to the Network and get happy!

Until next week,  akshay-sethi-and-moby-ahmed

Garbage Girl


Share Your Waste


Brooklyn-based, Josh Treuhaft, founded Salvage Supperclub in 2014.  He sporadically organizes dinners for a mere $50 per patron.  On a mission to save waste, his delicious food is made from perfectly edible and safe ingredients that are past their prime and headed for the trash.

And!  His customers get to eat their gourmet meals inside a dumpster! The totally cleaned and hygienic venue is a symbolic gesture to demonstrate the enormous amount of food we trash without thinking.

Food waste is a growing problem both in the United States and across the globe.  In North America, 30-40% of perfectly edible food ends up in the trash each year; almost 20 pounds of food/person/month!  Most of it ends up in our landfills, while over 48 million Americans, including 15.3 million kids, do not have sufficient food.

People everywhere are coming up with creative solutions to share what we waste.

In New York’s Westchester County, students at 18 schools participate in a program called We Future Cycle.  Started by Anna Giordano and Ashley Welde in 2014, students are taught to recycle, compost, and curb food waste at their school by using three clearly marked bins – compost, recycle and share.  https://wefuturecycle.com

While the first two are self-explanatory and common in schools, the third is rare.  This is the bin where kids can toss their unwanted drinks, fruits, and untouched sandwiches.  Items in the container are available for any student who wants them.  Whatever remains at the end of the day is donated to the local soup kitchen or food bank.  Giordano says the three bins have helped reduce the number of trash bags generated at the mid-day meal from an average of 22 to just 2!

After your local supermarket closes,  countless items are taken off their shelves. From canned vegetables and salad dressings to fresh vegetables and deli meats, approaching their expiration dates or because they are no longer at their peak quality, most stores consider them unfit for sale.  With 15,000 different products in an average supermarket and 25,000 in a superstore, food retailers in the US are left with endless “past their prime” items.

So, fresh vegetables and meats get cooked up for in-store deli and salad counters, some portion gets thrown into the dumpster and ends up in landfills or gets picked over by dumpster divers. Surprisingly much of it finds its way to food banks, soup kitchens or salvage stores.

Salvage stores are seeing a steady uptake in business from cost conscious consumers.  Food banks reported an increase of 40% in the demand for emergency food assistance in the last year, according to Feeding America, a network of over 200 food banks.

Expired food is becoming an increasing part of America’s diet.  The Food and Drug Administration approves.

“Food can remain safe to consume for some time beyond sell-by and even use-by dates provided they are handled and stored properly,” says Dr Ted Labuza, professor of food science at the University of Minnesota.  For fresh produce and refrigerated foods this means storage at below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.  Canned foods and shelf-stable goods like salad dressings can be consumed for years beyond their expiration dates.  While their quality might suffer, they will not pose a safety hazard unless contaminated.

Apart from baby formula and certain types of baby foods, product dating is not uniformly required by federal regulations.  Dating of some food is required by more than 20 states, but there are areas of the country where much of the food supply has a type of “open date” and other areas where almost no food is dated.

Check out Rob Greenfield   http://robgreenfield.tv  He finds enormous amounts of food for free. 1411536318117_wps_33_DonateNotDump_Food_Waste_





How You Can Help:

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Until next week,

Garbage Girl


Our Wasted Infrastructure Gets a Better Grade


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What the civil engineers’ ranking really shows is that the United States can create an opportunity to surpass our competition, succeed at “A” levels in the global economy  and improve our quality of life if we understand the needed improvements at all local levels.  Our country continues to demonstrate an ability to compete and innovate at high levels when we grasp the problems we face.

How You Can Help:

Until next week,    highway-infrastructure

Garbage Girl






Wasted Water and Whose Responsible


The recent failures of local government officials and the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce safe drinking water in Flint, Michigan have raised concerns over our public water quality and the condition of its delivery infrastructure.

States, territories and authorized tribes establish the water quality standards for their waterways to protect human health and aquatic life.

The  EPA, then, evaluates the local authority’s standards for the desired condition of a waterbody and mandate the level of protection for those waters into the future.  They enforce those mandates as law under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

This law is the basis for controlling pollution entering the waters of the United States from a variety of sources (e.g., industrial facilities, agriculture, wastewater treatment plants, runoff, flooding, storm sewers, etc.) and for monitoring officials who have responsibility for keeping your water clean.

The EPA lists all testable water contaminants on their site, the safe amount of exposure (action level), the potential health affects from long term exposure, common sources of drinking water contamination and the safe exposure goal for public health. http://www.epa.gov/dwsixyearreview and click on Contaminants currently regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act

In Flint, Michigan the contaminant that went unregulated was lead. The EPA identifies lead as an inorganic chemical /  action level 0.0015(15 micrograms per liter) / delays in mental and physical development in infants and children, behavior problems, kidney damage and high blood pressure / corrosion of household plumbing fixtures and errosion of natural deposits / public exposure goal is zero.

You can reduce the amount of lead in your water:

  • Run the tap until water is cold to the touch before using it for drinking or imagescooking. This is especially important after the water has been standing in the pipes overnight or over many hours. (save the flushed water for house plants, washing dishes or general household cleaning)
  • Use only cold tap water for cooking, drinking or making a baby’s formula. Hot water is more likely to leach lead from pipes and solder.
  • Check household plumbing for lead-based pipes or solder.
  • Use only lead-free materials in all plumbing repairs or new faucets and pipes. The use of lead solder in plumbing was banned in most states in the 1980s.  Ask the plumber to show you the label from any solder packaging being used. It should state that the solder is lead-free.
  • Your local Department of Health can help you contact water testing facilities and help you if you have concerns.
  • Hold your local officials accountable.
  • You can get information about your local waterways testing from the EPA http://watersgeo.epa.gov/mywaterway/mywaterway.html
  • Safe drinking water should come from the tap and not a plastic bottle.

Until next week,enviro_drinking-water_minisite_banner

Garbage Girl

Our Waste On Exhibit


New York City has a Garbage Museum!

Located in DSNY Sanitation Garage 11 on 99th street between First and Second Avenue, in a space deemed unsafe for garbage trucks, is a gallery filled with found objects from the city’s trash.  For those of us who have furnished our apartments with cool free stuff found on trash day, this is a welcoming sign of approval.   Curated by Nelson Molina, a retiring sanitation worker and Robin Nagle, anthropologist-in-residence for New York City’s Department of Sanitation, “Treasures in the Trash” is a uniquely New York space.

DSNY_TrashMuseum_NYC_UntappedCities_bhushan-mondkar-021Nelson grew up poor in New York City.  Before Christmas he discovered that he could go out on the streets and find stuff in the trash to fix up for his six brothers and sisters.  “I was Santa Clause in my family.” After passing the civil service exams, Nelson could chose to work at three city agencies. Not surprisingly, he chose the sanitation department and continued his passion for finding interesting New Yorker discards.

Nelson’s route, Manhattan District 11 between 96th Street to 110 Street and between 1st and 5th Avenues results in more than 90% of the museum’s collection.   As it grew, he started categorizing similar pieces together.  A variety of things from door knobs to train sets, watches, chinaware, toys, paintings, and chairs are all brilliantly organized, even though they were collected years apart.  Many pieces are in working condition, from an old projector of the silent films era to dolls, toy trains and the ubiquitous Nordic Tracks, of which my Martin has four.

Nelson used to document every piece by date, time and address where found until it became too time consuming. Yet, the unofficial count of over 50,000 pieces in the collection gets cleaned and fixed up before going on exhibit.  “If it looks cool, it becomes part of the museum.”  All of this experience gives Nelson the ability to detect just by the way a garbage bag sounds if it has anything worth checking out inside.

With Molina now retiring from the DSNY, with the building long unsuitable for its primary use, there are plans to bulldoze the current structure and build a new one. Nelson and Nagle are looking for the next home of this most unique of New York City places.  Check out his story & how to visit on YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RkxkFALKPc

DSNY_TrashMuseum_NYC_UntappedCities_bhushan-mondkar-018Eddie, this image is for you.

Until next week,

Garbage Girl



No Waste No Impact


My hero!!

Colin Beavan—aka No Impact Man—convinced his family to spend a year, while living in New York City,  making no negative impact on the environment.   His first challenge was getting through everyday life without producing trash.  http://noimpactman.typepad.com

Stage 1 was figuring out how to live without producing garbage.  Stage 2 was figuring out how to cause the least environmental impact concerning food choices.  Stage 3 was figuring out how to reduce consumption to only what is necessary and sustainable.

Below are some of his favorite tips and tricks.

  • No soda in cans (you’re probably less likely to get cancer from aspartame).
  • No water in plastic bottles (you get to keep your endocrines undisrupted).
  • No coffee in disposable cups (you don’t suffer from the morning sluggishness that comes from overnight caffeine withdrawal).
  • No throwaway plastic razors and blade cartridges (you get to participate in the straightedge razor comeback).
  • Use non-disposable feminine-hygiene products that are good for the planet. http://lunapads.com/learn/getting-started-guide
  • No Indian food in throwaway takeout tubs.
  • No Italian food in plastic throwaway tubs.
  • No Chinese food in plastic throwaway tubs.
  • Taking your own reusable containers to takeout joints (or start eating local so this tip is out altogether).
  • Admitting that you sometimes miss Indian, Italian and Chinese takeout so you learn to make some of your favorite dishes fresh.
  • Hopping on the scale and celebrating the 20-pound weight loss since eating takeout stopped.
  • Buying milk in returnable, reusable glass bottles.
  • Shopping for honey, pickled veggies and other goods in jars only from merchants who will take back the jars and reuse them.
  • Returning egg and berry cartons to vendors at the farmers’ market for reuse.
  • Using neither paper nor plastic bags and bringing our own reusable bags when grocery shopping.
  • Canceling your magazine and newspaper subscriptions and reading online.
  • Putting an end to the junk mail tree killing.
  • Carrying an ultra-cool reusable cup and water bottle.
  • Carrying reusable cloths for everything from blowing your nose, to drying your hands, to wrapping up a purchased bagel.
  • Wiping your hands on your pants instead of using a paper towel when you forget your cloth.
  • Politely asking restaurant servers to take away paper napkins and plastic placemats, straws, cups and single-serving containers.
  • Explaining to servers with a smile that you are on a make-no-garbage challenge.
  • Giving servers big tips to participate in your make-no-garbage challenge.
  • Pretending McDonalds, Burger King and all take out franchises with their paper and plastic wrappers are nonexistent.
  • Buying no individually packaged candy bars, gum, lollypops or ice cream.
  • Making your own household cleaners to avoid throwaway plastic bottles.
  • Using baking soda from a recyclable container to brush your teeth.
  • Using baking soda as a deodorant to avoid their plastic containers.
  • Using baking soda for shampoo to avoid plastic shampoo bottles.
  • Using the plastic bags that other people’s newspapers are delivered in to pick up Frankie the dog’s poop.
  • Keeping a worm bin to compost your food scraps and return nourishment to the earth instead of toxins from the landfills.
  • Switching to real, cloth diapers which your kid will probably like better.
  • Not buying anything disposable.
  • Not buying anything in packaging (and count the money you save because that means pretty much buy nothing unless it’s second hand).
  • Shopping for food only from the bulk bins and from the local farmer’s market where food is unpackaged and fresh.
  • Forgetting about prepackaged, processed food of any description.
  • Being happy that the result is that you get to eat food instead of chemicals.
  • Giving our second-hand clothes away to Housing Works or other charities.
  • Offering products we no longer need on Freecycle instead of throwing them away.
  • Collecting used paper from other people’s trash and using the other side.
  • Using old clothes for rags around the apartment instead of paper towels.

Making a little less trash is a concrete first step everyone can take that leads to more and more environmental consciousness. Try a few and note what happens to you!

Until next week,images-1

Garbage Girl