Category Archives: Groceries/Bodegas

Recycling Tips from “Trash is for Tossers”

While we are all excited for flannel plaid jackets, pumpkin-spice everything, and that familiar smell of turning leaves in Prospect Park, the cool air of fall also ushers in some not-so-sustainable lifestyle choices. In the summer you might have gone out to eat and sat outside, but as the weather changes ordering in sounds better and better even with its superfluous packaging and utensils. Sure, you know it’s expensive and inefficient to take a cab, but sometimes it’s chilly and home is just too far away.

Bloomberg’s “Recycle Everything” campaign launched this past July in an effort to do exactly that. The hope is to double the recycling rate by 2017. Though it’s been going strong the past two months, it can be easier to remember the environment when you’re spending as much time as possible outdoors – making the upcoming “R” months more of a challenge.

To understand how to be better in greater detail, I spoke to Lauren Singer, an urban sustainability promoter, who runs a blog called Trash is for Tossers. The site features Singer’s tips and discoveries while she works for a zero-waste lifestyle as an active resident in a wasteful city. 

1. The “Recycle Everything” campaign focuses a lot on food composting and organic waste. How would I do that best in the city?

Composting in New York City could sound like an oxymoron, but in reality it’s not as daunting as you might think. It might not look like throwing your food scraps into a huge steaming pile of dirt and worms, but it turns into the same thing: Nutrient-rich, healthy compost.

The easiest way that I have found to compost in NYC would have to be the freezer method that can be found on my blog here. I collect all of my food scraps and put them into upcycled containers (like a plastic soil bag or a leftover paper bag) in the freezer, which prevents smell and keeps insects and mold away. Then I bring it to a GrowNYC Food Waste Drop-Off site once a week or so. NYC Recycles provides a list of what is acceptable to compost and drop-off locations throughout NYC here.

If you are one of those people lucky enough to have a yard in NYC, first off, I want to be you. Secondly, there are household sized composting bins available through NYC Recycles or at your local hardware store that you can use outdoors. Can’t get much easier than that! Except, well, if you like the idea of compost pickup which is rumored to be mandatory in NYC by 2016!

2. If my building only has one big bin for recycling, is it good enough to just toss all those items in there? Should I be separating further? And if so, where do I go with recyclable items that don’t fit the general categories? 

If your building has only one big bin for recycling I might question if they were actually recycling. I would definitely ask the building super if the recycling was hand separated and put into clear bags or containers that are labeled either “PAPER” or “METAL, GLASS & PLASTIC”. This is because NYC’s recyclables are collected in two separate streams: paper & cardboard in one and metal, glass, plastic, and food cartons in the other. So, technically, you should be dividing your recyclables like that.

If you are not sure what to recycle or how to recycle an item, a list can be found here. Also, for items that do not fit in the general categories or for items that you are not sure about, NYC Recycles has a “How do I get rid of…” page that lets you type in household objects to see how to dispose of them or if they can be recycled.

3. Plastic bags from grocery stores – obviously, we shouldn’t use them, but what about when we do? Do we recycle those? Do they just go in the plastics bin? 

My first suggestion is, although it might be difficult at first, refuse to take plastic bags and always bring your own reusable tote wherever you go. Plastic bags are a large percentage of New York City’s residential waste stream, almost 3 percent! If you have plastic bags in your home that you don’t want to throw out, you can recycle them. Under the New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling Act, certain retail stores in NYC are mandated to accept plastic bags. You can often find these bins in the front area of your local grocery store. But again, first and foremost is refusing to even accept plastic bags. It took me a little while, but I am now in the habit of having a bag with me throughout the day.

4. I would like to do more than just make sure I’ve got a tote bag for groceries and different bins for different items. What about on a bigger scale? Are there any petitions someone could sign to support having more recycle containers around the city? 

Finding a petition should be easy so it can be accessible to everyone. I could not find any online petitions that specifically targeted having more recycling bins in NYC… hint for anyone that wants to start one! 

5. What are your thoughts on the “Recycle Everything” campaign? What measures are they taking that you personally endorse? 

The Recycle Everything ad campaign is a great first step towards decreasing the 11,000 tons of landfill waste that is generated each day in New York City and will help motivate people to recycle. According to City sources, the initiative will help to reach NYC’s goal of diverting 75% of solid waste from landfills by 2030 and will save taxpayers $600,000 each year.

However, I definitely believe it is better to prevent problems before they start than figure out how to solve them. While I think that recycling is a really great anecdote for our waste problem in NYC, I don’t think it is the solution. I believe the solution to NYC’s waste problem lies in making smart choices as a consumer and being conscious of your household and individual waste streams.

6. Do you have any tips specific to fall regarding sustainable urban living? How will this zero waste lifestyle change as the weather changes? 

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the change of weather is fall clothing. Sweaters, jeans, scarves, the works. That to many could conjure thoughts of heavy shopping bags and low bank accounts. This isn’t the case for a Zero Waste gal! I get all of my clothing secondhand. NYC boasts some of the best secondhand stores in the world carrying every designer under the sun. It is baffling that people will spend so much money on designer or new clothing when spending a little more time at a consignment or thrift store gets you the same results for less: Less money, and less of an ecological footprint. So I suggest checking out your local secondhand stores to stock up on your fall and winter essentials or revisit your closet to rework some of the pieces you already have.

The second thing that I would suggest, as a self-proclaimed fall food addict, is to shop at your local farmers market. The apples, the cider, the pies, and pumpkin flavored everything. There, in my mind, is nothing better. (But don’t forget your reusable bags!)

The final thing that comes to mind is the weather. As it becomes cooler, walking and biking can become more leisurely and less, well, sweaty. There is nothing more sustainable than getting places on nothing but “natural ass” as my friend from Pedal Power NYC says. I suggest walking, biking, running, boarding, skating, etc., everywhere. Not only will you look good and feel good, you will be doing good.

So remember to compost your pumpkins this year, check out her blog to get more advice on zero-waste living, and stay tuned for other autumn updates. 

Does Anyone Remember: Bruno’s Grocery Store?

This is John Bruno of Bruno’s Grocery Store, which was at 17th St. & 6th Ave. Angelo posted this picture of his great grandfather. Apparently, the store was going throughout the 1950s until they took the building for the Prospect Expressway: “That’s when he came to live with us at Ave U and East 5th,” he says. “He passed away in 1957.”

Bruno’s wasn’t the only shop that got razed by the Prospect Expressway. “My parents had a delicatessen (Henry’s) on the corner of 7th Avenue and 18th Street, a couple of blocks away,” writes PSPhoenix. “It also was destroyed to build the expressway. A year later they bought another delicatessen on 7th between 10th & 11th streets. Both now gone, but I still live there.”

Who else remembers Bruno’s and Henry’s?

Fixing for Some Frozen Edamame?

You don’t have to be a vegan to love this healthy little legume. Edamame is a Japanese cuisine staple that when steamed and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt or tossed into a stir fry is a protein packed delight. Well we’re not the only ones hooked on it. It seems Carmen can “eat the hell out of this stuff and would love to be able to run out and buy some” close to her apartment. We know that Trader Joe’s has it, but that is a bit far away if you go through a bag as quickly as Carmen contests, so where can a girl get her fix?

Kelton Flencher suggest Key Foods on 7th and Quigley names Key Food on 5th, Associated on 5th, Union Market and 5th Ave Deli. Honorable out of bounds mentions go to Costco and Fairway, but where do you get your edamame? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion on the Park Slope message board.

Talking Turkey Over at the Park Slope Coop

Thanksgiving is almost here and if you haven’t started your grocery list we suggest you get to it! SweetTea is already planning for next Thursday’s feast and as a new coop member would like to know how long she should wait to buy her turkey:

it’s my first year as a coop member, and i’d like to get my (small-ish) thanksgiving turkey there. i gather from the newsletter that you don’t order the turkey in advance. on the one hand, I’m guessing it’s a bad idea to wait until wednesday night to go buy one, but on the other hand, I’d like to minimize the amount of time i have to store the beast.
Anyone have experience on how quickly the suckers sell out?

Pitu, a long time coop member, offered this advice:

From past experience, the small ones go first – but even that varies from year to year depending on how many small ones the purveyors supply.

According to NYkittyNY the coop already has 3 different kinds of turkeys in stock, in all sizes. She also had a chance to speak with the buyer for the market:

I spoke to the guy there who was in charge of ordering them, and he advised to get my turkey by at least the weekend, unless I was hoping to get a heritage bird, which wont be in till next week. (At $3.99 per pound, they are an excellent deal compared to elsewhere, but still pricey.)

Sounds like this weekend will be a busy one at the coop. Do you have turkey shopping experiences to share? Join the discussion over on coop turkey talk.

Grocery Round Up for Park Slopers

Lizschillare, a new member of the neighborhood, wonders:

Where’s the best grocery store?”

Well, we’re glad you asked! LongTimeSloper was the first to chime in:

“Key Food on 5th Avenue-it’s far from you, but they do deliver and they have a large parking lot if you have a car.”

Other suggestions include, Steve’s C Town on 9th Street, Pathmark on 2nd Avenue, Union Market on 7th Ave or the one on Union Street, Eagle Provisions on 5th Avenue, and our personal favorite the newly renovated Associated on 5th ave and Union. If you don’t mind a longer trip for excellent produce there is always Fairway in Red Hook or if you rather make no trip at all, there’s the reliable Fresh Direct.

But tybur6 reminds us jokingly of another Park Slope option:

“I’m very proud of this group… 9 replies and no mention of the co-op! Well done.”

Yes, the Co-Op on Union Street. We love to hate it, but it does have an amazing selection if you can stand the membership ‘dues.’ Have another favorite to add to the list, post it on the Brooklynian Message Board: Best Grocery Store?


Best of Park Slope

Red Horse Cafe, Brooklyn

Originally uploaded by 536.

Yavel’s list:

Best Loaf – Lopez Bakery – 5th ave bet 18 th and 19th St. The bread is very good and cheap. I always get the 7 grain. They make a nice loaf, but stay away from the pastry. The bread is baked fresh every day, but the other stuff tends to be stale. Haven’t tried the tamales yet.

Bakery – Two Little Red Hens – 8th Ave. They’re expensive, but so good.

Bodega/small grocer – La Dolce Vita – 7th Ave – Clean store and nice owner, also has a good beer selection

Toy Store – Toy Space on 7th ave around 13th – Nice selection of toys, if a bit overpriced. This place has saved me on a few occasions when I had to get a quick gift for a kid. There’s also a place on 5th ave, but I can’t remember the name.

Children’s Shoes – Windsor Shoes – Prospect Park West – The staff is very helpful and they have a good selection.

Pizza – Pino’s La Forchetta – 7th Ave – classic pizza joint

Coffee Shop – 6th ave and 12th St – Red Horse Cafe – good coffee and not crowded

Sandwich shop – Pollios – 5th Ave – Good hoagies and specialty foods. It has a nice, neighborhood feel.

More lists in the Park Slope Message Boards

I Did It!

Park Slope Food Coop

Originally uploaded by Mar and Brod.

Con:I left the (Park Slope) Food Coop. Immediately after leaving, i felt afraid and guilty. Then a couple days later, elation set in. It’s like I’ve left a cult. In fact, I have.” (–sexylegs)

Pro:“I would conservatively estimate that I save a couple grand a year, probably more, shopping at the co-op … I’m not a political fanatic. In fact, I don’t even particularly care about the environment. I just like fancy food and good produce and am cheap.” (–linusvanpelt)

Eh: “I went to grad school so I did NOT have to work at a grocery store!” (–KosherDave)

Everybody else: Park Slope Message Boards

More Hating on the Park Slope Food Co-op

The Park Slope Food Co-op is quite a high-profile target these days. On Gothamist, Phoebe Maltz claims that it is “taboo to insult the Park Slope Food Co-op. Even if you are not a member, you are supposed to understand that joining is both a good deal and—more importantly—a progressive act.”

“I happen to believe it is neither, and have already made this semi-public by writing about it on my semi-read blog. If revealing this to a larger audience means I will be banished to, say, a townhouse in the West Village, so be it.” Read more…

Discuss: Park Slope Message Boards

Key Foods: Roach/Rat Sanctuary CANNED

From Dope on the Slope: “Kudos to Key Food for replacing the aromatic array of garbage bags that made the south side of Carroll Street [and 7th] a fly, rat and roach sanctuary with a fresh flower market.”

“Key Foods is a regional grocer, with several stores in Brooklyn. Does this new line of business make them a ‘daisy chain?'”


LINK: Block Beautification Award [Dope on the Slope]

Discuss: Park Slope Message Boards

Park Slope Food Co-op: “Please Don’t Paw the Persimmons”

From the New York Sun via Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn: “The Park Slope Food Co-Op is thought by many to be a terrifying place, a netherworld of rules and suspensions and withering stares if you forget to bring your own biodegradable shopping bag. The one time I’d gone there, as somebody’s guest, when I reached out to pick up a persimmon only to be scolded by a dutiful member, who must have been following me through the aisles the whole time. “Excuse me,” she said. “Guests aren’t allowed to handle the produce.”

Richard, leader of a recent Sunday afternoon orientation session, was so determined to present the Co-Op’s gentler side that he had set up a table with organic treats such as carrots and humus and peach nectar for 30 prospective members. Before getting into anything as off-putting as regulations or free-range ethics, he started off the meeting by telling us how much the Co-Op has improved his life. “My ingestion has really changed,” he said. “I’m juicing now!” Read the full text of this article…

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