WNP takes on a new co-living project

Dab smack in the middle of Imani Garden now stands a new building! Built on the site of a derelict 1920s frame house, the new three-story home is designed to be a co-living space with up to 8 bedrooms. It will feature 3 1/2 baths, a shared living/dining room, 16 foot high first floor, 3rd floor kitchenette, a community room in the basement and shared roof deck. Designed to appeal to environmentalists, it is was built to Passive House standards with triple glazed windows, super-insulated and sealed roof and walls and an energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system incorporated into the design. Greg, the executive director of WNP, has started a Gofundme campaign to help assist in the completion of the house which is now about 60% completed. We are now seeking people interested in living or investing in the house. If you are such a person, please reach out to us at nestforenviros@gmail.com Hope to be hearing from you soon. We are now in the midst of a visioning process to help us decide key features of the Nest, like how it is governed, how it is owned and how it is laid out. The sooner you email us, the sooner you can be in on the ground floor of this exciting project. See more information about this project under the “co-living project” in the banner.

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Oppose the proposed recycling of Styrofoam in NYC

Beached whale with a recent meal of plastics from ocean.

It was with great pride that I was able to testify on behalf of Brooklyn Solid Waste Advisory Board (BSWAB) at a hearing on May 12th about proposed legislation (Intro 1480) that would declare Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene or EPS) to be recyclable in New York City. I have testified previously at other City Council hearings but this was by far the most lengthy and well-attended hearing I’ve attended. The attendees filled at least two over-flow rooms in addition to the main room that seated perhaps 50 people.

At least 15 industry experts testified in support of the legislation, including the chief recycling officer for Dart Industries, a billion dollar manufacturer of EPS, the owner of the PRI plant in Indiana that would recycle the dirty EPS from DSNY, an economist, a scientist, several plastics producers who use recycled polystyrene, the owner of the company from Mexico City that designed the recycling plant in Indiana and several others.

Opposing the legislation were the current and former Sanitation commissioners, the former head of DSNY’s Recycling program, Ron Gonan, Eric Goldstein from NRDC, a large collection of environmentalists including Riverkeepers and several kayaking and boating groups, NY Lawyers For The Public Interest, a resident of Los Angeles talking about LA’s negative experiences with recycling EPS and me.

Council members attending included CM’s Reynoso, Lander and Rosenthal, opposing, and Cabrera and Constantinides who supported. Lander in particular grilled the industry spokespersons, questioning the promise that the EPS would actually be recycled and wondering if this effort was not a desperate attempt by Dart to protect its sales. Rosenthal asked the owner of PRI if he’d be willing to donate his profits to the City of New York. Of course he claimed that he could not make that commitment. Cabrera, who supported the legislation, had in fact visited that PRI plant in Indiana and begged other CM’s also do so.  Reynoso said he was not interested in visiting the PRI plant because he disliked plastics and felt the City should move to less harmful materials.

I was in the 5th panel of testifiers, appearing after some 3 hours of testimony. By the time I spoke, much of what was in the BSWAB prepared statement had been covered many times. So I submitted 25 copies to the Council staff person and read instead from a report stating that by 2050, there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean, by weight. The report also states that less than 5% of the plastic packaging is actually recycled and that up to 1/3 ends up in the oceans. I felt this particularly important given than all of the industry testimony focused on the recyclability of EPS, yet none of it addressed the fact that 95% of plastic packaging is never reused.  I also pointed out, that unlike other materials such as paper, metal and glass, plastic never breaks down which is why so much accumulates in the oceans.  My testimony appears at the 3:01:49 mark in this video of the hearing.

In fact, CM Reynoso asked the scientist supporting EPS what the “half-life” of EPS was. The scientist said he had no idea, to which Reynoso responded “precisely”.

All in all, a great time was had by all and yet the outcome is still uncertain. Brad Lander after the hearing was over said he was pleased to see such a strong showing against EPS and felt we had slowed the considerable momentum the bill had been gathering.

We will see!

I would encourage you all to contact your NYC Council Member and ask they vote no on Intro #1480.

Greg Todd, Co-Director

Waste Not Permaculture

 

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Will The Oil Glut Continue?

 

What if the current cheap oil is replaced with expensive oil?  Will what is happening now in Venezuela be happening in Brooklyn?  Will we be ready?  Will community gardens help ease the transition?

While we may be able to use wind and solar power to replace fossil fuels in our electrical grid, the transportation sector will prove much more difficult.   Forget about the Teslas, Leafs and Volts.  It’s moving freight, not people, that will be the problem.  Ships, airplanes and trucks are not going to be battery powered.  The numbers just don’t work.  And these are the backbones of modern industrialized society, the means by which we get our cheap imported food, cars, shoes, clothes, electronics and just about everything else we consume.

Read this analysis of what’s going on now in the oil industry.  It’s a long article but worth the read.  Thanks to Dan Miner for bringing this to my attention.

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