Category Archives: News and Current Events

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. 

A Final Cheers to Jackie’s 5th Amendment

jackie's 5th amendment photo

After a day of hunting for my first apartment in Park Slope, my friend and I were rewarding ourselves with pizza and discussing how realtors make up names for neighborhoods to differentiate a few blocks when the area picks up in popularity. While listing various labels, a man chimed in that, “Back in the day, this whole place was just South Brooklyn”. For those of us who did not grow up in the area, we feel almost personally responsible for changes that have come about as Manhattan moves east, and attempt to show our commiseration with the local crowd. For those of us who did grow up here, we cannot really help our resentment, and we certainly don’t apologize for it.

The closing of Jackie’s 5th Amendment is its own personification of the battle between what we now view as ‘old New York’ and ‘new New York’. Whatever those are exactly.

It’s the sort of place where there are ‘regulars’ in the most literal of senses. People have been coming for years, and for them, this isn’t just the loss of their favorite drinking spot, it’s the loss of a Friday night hangout with friends – including the bartenders.

The joint is famous for attempting to secede from the neighborhood last year, as reported by Brooklyn Magazine. It is a quintessential dive bar, complete with a ten dollar bucket of six beers, an electric jukebox spouting anything from Johnny Cash to Nickelback, red lights shedding an eerie 80’s glow, and a glorious faded sign stating “No Smoking Behind the Bar”.

After chatting with the bartender, she confirmed that it was indeed set to close on September 14th, with a rumored open-bar night to celebrate the end of a family business providing cold brews since the 1950’s. Apparently the pharmacy next door, with a 20 year lease, will be taking over the space.

Sipping on my Budweiser, I was surrounded by an eclectic group of drinkers – ranging from some kids playing darts in the backroom to married couples sharing a beer and discussing what they could do to save the place to a group of older men tossing jokes back and forth.

This is not a new issue. Every day, old pubs are closing down and new spots with mixology menus are take over that sacred space. In comes the local organic grocery to demolish the shelves of canned preservatives! Derelict buildings are restored into apartments, and new schools are built as families move to affordable neighborhoods. Everything changes; that is how cities grow. Are these changes a bad thing? In this particular case, perhaps yes. In general, I suppose that’s a matter of personal opinion.

Regardless of how you may feel about this evolution, pop by on Saturday September 14th and join the crew in a final ‘cheers’ to good memories.

No Christmas Tree for Grand Army Plaza


Well, we’ve gone from a not-as-great Christmas tree last year, to NO Christmas tree at all this year! According to the Daily News, the city won’t put up the Christmas tree this year because they are short on cash. So how much green are we talking? A grand total of $3000 would have been needed. Officials blamed storm cleanup (including Hurricane Irene) for the lack of money.

This may be the first year since 1920 that there is NO tree at Grand Army Plaza. Daily News quoted Frank Dellatorre of Sunset Park: “There is a lot of fat in government that could be trimmed … They are crying about $3,000. Give me a break.” The office of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz says that next year, a “benefactor” will be sought to fund the Christmas tree.

Person Fatally Struck by N Train at Union Street

Gothamist reports a man was struck and killed by a southbound N train at the Union street stop this morning shortly after 5:00am. WABC 7 provided more details on this tragic news:

A witness told police the victim was pushed onto the tracks, and detectives were investigating that claim.

Morning service on the M, R, D and N trains were impacted by the ongoing investigation that left many unknowing commuters experiencing long delays and overcrowded trains. Bookistan writes:

My child – trying to get to school at the Union St. R train – reported police activity this a.m. – lots of police cars, and the R train was closed down for at least an hour.

Park Slope Message Board: Helicopters again this morning

Writing Workshop for Young Adults — What’s Your Teen Doing This Summer?

A Summer Writing Intensive

What is Reading-Based Writing?

The basic idea behind reading-based writing is that we read to write and write to read. Because these two disciplines are intertwined, we’re always thinking critically, not just when we’re “studying.” The course will improve students’ writing skills by teaching them how to:

• Comfortably read/write in different genres
• Organize concepts critically
• Develop an organic voice
• Present an effective argument
• Integrate revisions

How it Works

• Classes meet for 2 hours, once per week in July. Instructor will provide all reading materials.
• Students are expected to complete one reading assignment (a story; a poem; an essay) each week and be prepared to discuss it.
• Since the course is run as a workshop, all students will present individual work to be discussed by the class. Additionally, all students will offer written feedback to their peers.
• Instructor will provide individual student evaluations, which include a writing diagnosis.
• The cost of the course is $450.

Using a variety of writing genres, students will learn the techniques of reading-based writing. We will explore:
• Creative writing (fiction, poetry, spoken word)
• Personal narrative/memoir (college essay)
• The five paragraph essay (used on standardized tests like the SAT Writing Test)
• The analytic academic paper (high school, college, and beyond)

About the Instructor
Jill Di Donato holds a BA in English from Barnard College and an MFA in writing from Columbia University. She’s taught “University Writing” to undergrads at Columbia University, developed high school writing programs as a member of Columbia/Artist Teacher, served as a mentor in Columbia University’s Writing Pedagogy Development program for graduate/professional students, and
consulted for the NYC Board of Education on the Creative Curriculum. Her writing can be found in various literary journals and magazines.

EMAIL: PHONE: 917.655.8290
Brooklyn Heights & Park Slope Locations

A Tree Falls in Park Slope

Whoa… Diane writes on the Park Slope Message Board:

“Wow! At 3 AM, my son looked out the window – 6th Ave bet.10-11th St. and witnessed this huge tree come crashing down…totally destroying a Honda. Thank goodness this happened in the middle of the night and so there were no cars or people walking around. This happened because the city is finally taking down the “eyesore” vacant buidling and were digging with a big piece of machinery right in front of building.”

“Apparently they severed the roots of the tree & last night it came tumbling down. I think the initial digging had something to do with disconnecting the pipes but I really don’t know exactly what they were doing. The fire dept. sawed off the limbs but the entire tree trunk was still there this morning blocking all traffic in both directions.”

Here’s an image that was also posted over at the Brooklyn Record:


LINK: A Tree Falls in Brooklyn [Park Slope Message Board]

Seriously. What are you doing in Park Slope??

A Bomb In Nation

Originally uploaded by drp.

kensingtonmom writes on the Park Slope Message Board:

Does this latest terrorist plot make anyone wonder if living here is such a hot idea?

I can’t help but think when we are ALWAYS the target if I should cash in on my mega profits made from my Park Slope coop … and flee to another city before they do get us again.

Paranoid? Realistic?

Is it really so much better here than say, Philadelphia? And what happens when they do finally get the subway…is it worth it?

You know it’s always in the back of your mind and now it’s on the Park Slope Message Board

West Nile Hysteria: Let’s Put it in Perspective

Close-up of the spraying device

Originally uploaded by Kyrion.

quijibo writes:

oh feck. how much duct tape are we gonna need for this?

the media along with the medical community feed the hysteria
people wish to have a sense of control
even when we don’t

i’d wish they’d stop spraying that crap on the streets
couldn’t we release an infestation of bats to eat all the squeeters?

and then of course we’d need monkeys in the trees
right above the double parked mcclaren’s
on 7th avenue

Counterpoint from Dr. Carnivore: “Bats are a major rabies vector, and rabies is much more deadly than West Nile!”
In all seriousness, Carnivore notes that the situation is made to sound worse than it is: “Don’t get me wrong- it’s important to know where cases develop and when. It’s just not much of a threat to most healthy people. West Nile can be a serious or even fatal illness in the very young, the very old, people with HIV and others with impaired immune systems. Most people who contract it get a flu-like syndrome, feel lousy and get over it.”

“It’s an important public health issue, but the media has raised the level of hysteria to the point where young healthy people without any symptoms come the the ER demanding to be tested for West Nile (which requires a spinal tap) because they have a mosquito bite.

More on bugs and disease in the Park Slope Message Boards

Due to availability of class airline tickets, everyone wants to get on flights to boston or even flights to paris. Even the orlando flights are selling more since they became cheap flights.

Murder in Prospect Park

Coming on the heels of an active discussion on the Park Slope Message Board regarding the safety of Propsect Park, a man was found stabbed to death in the park last weekend. flickr image by keith 61-year old William Oliver was

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(satellite image), long a gay cruising ground, has been the site of anti-gay violence in the past, most recently in 2005. While it’s not known if Mr Oliver was gay, the NYPD is currently looking into the possibility of a hate crime. Read the New

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Boy’s Hat Flyer

Boy’s Hat Flyer

Originally uploaded by

Thanks to kosherdave for these photos. This might not make sense if you haven’t read the gender-bending foofaraw over the “Found: Boy’s Hat” post on Park Slope Parents list.

You can read some Park Sloper comments on this in the Park Slope Message Boards.

PS. Here’s the e-mail at the bottom of the flyer: