Best of the GrowNYC's 2013 Plant Sale

We're happy to say that the GrowNYC's 2013 Annual Spring Plant Sale, in its 28th year, was a huge success!  Over 500 community gardens, schools, block associations, and more received flowers, vegetables, and herbs grown by five local Greenmarket farmers.

We've spent weeks working at our new Bronx pickup site, College Avenue GreenThumb, and Hattie Carthan Community Garden in Brooklyn, helping them rebound from the beatings they took in Hurricane Sandy, and both gardens looked beautiful for the sale.  

Thanks to everyone who came out - gardeners, volunteers, and our hard working Open Space Greening staff!

         

Greenmarket and Compost+Textile Recycling Easter Schedule Changes

Easter Greenmarket Schedule - Sunday, March 31st
Also, Some food scrap composting and textile recycling collections at Greenmarket will be affected by the Easter holiday:

MANHATTAN
Tompkins Square Park Greenmarket - OPEN Saturday, March 30th (food scrap collections-YES, textile recycling-NO). CLOSED Sunday, March 31st (no food scrap and textile collections). 
79th Street Greenmarket - OPEN
Columbia University Greenmarket - OPEN

QUEENS
Jackson Heights Greenmarket - OPEN

BROOKLYN
Carroll Gardens Greenmarket - CLOSED, No food scrap or textile collections.
Cortelyou Greenmarket - OPEN

Meet a Recycling Outreach Coordinator

At GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education, five stellar staffers are responsible for covering outreach activities throughout the five boroughs. For almost five years, Ermin Siljkovic has spent countless hours getting to know Manhattan’s communities and working to improve their recycling habits. Ermin took a few minutes between recycling presentations to answer a few questions about his job, and his personal quest for a more sustainable NYC.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Interacting with so many people from all different walks of life and informing them of choices we have available to us, and which of those can have a positive impact on their lives. I guess I am sort of a good deed machine and this is essentially what drives me every day.

What is one of the most common public misconceptions about recycling in NYC?
That it is “too confusing” and “has changed so many times”. Both are untrue!

What is one golden rule you try to teach New Yorkers about recycling?
I encourage folks to stick to the basics by simply going by the tips we teach. There many things in life that we must learn in order to adapt to our roles at home or at work. Recycling is one of those things and thankfully, learning how to recycle at home is not very difficult. Unfortunately, we are not where we would like to be in regards to our diversion rate so I think a big part of our mission is to promote the simplicity of the DSNY curbside residential recycling program. If we can do that successfully I believe we will have then made great strides toward achieving our goal.

Did you recycle as a kid?
I grew up in an era in NYC when our trash burned right under our noses, and later, our family moved to a suburban area where recycling wasn’t implemented until I was practically on my way out to college. Other than occasionally recycling bottles at the supermarket, the short answer is “no”.

What got you interested in recycling?
The realization that I am accountable for my actions and that how I manage my waste plays a big role in this consideration.

What are some steps you have taken in your personal life to leave less of a footprint on the environment?
Aside from composting more of my food scraps (most recently with indoor Bokashi composting) or donating more of my unwanted personal items, I have been really big on growing at least some of my own food during the year and buying locally whenever I can. I am encouraged that this not only benefits the environment but helps build resilience in our communities.

Do you have a favorite story from the field?
Hard to pick just one. I know it sounds cliché but every day there is another new story. I always love finding “diamonds in the rough” which can be best described as individual people who want to recycle but just don’t know how or where to recycle or a property manager or building superintendent who has been looking for advice but just didn’t have access to a person who can explain it to them in way they could understand.

Have a Superbowl Party as Green as the Big Game

This year’s Super Bowl is being touted as the “greenest ever”.  Out-green the Meadowlands with these tips for your own Super Bowl party!
 

Greenmarket Food Scrap Collection Surpasses 2 Million Pound Mark

Since 2011, GrowNYC has worked to expand food scrap collections at Greenmarket. In partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation, the program has grown to 30 markets, averaging 100,000 pounds a month diverted from disposal and used locally for renewable energy or fertile compost for urban farms, gardens and more.

To date more than 2 million pounds of food scraps have been dropped at market, which would fill enough of our collection boxes to create a stack taller than Mount Everest! But the impact is even greater: every apple core deposited in a compost bin has been a vote for increased composting citywide, which has come to fruition with the Department of Sanitation’s new Organics Collection Program. Keep on composting!

Read the complete press release here.

NYC Residential Organics Collection is Growing!

Morningside Gardens Composts

(Residents at the Morningside Gardens cooperative celebrate their new compost program)

Organics make up almost 30% of NYC's residential and institutional waste stream. This includes yard waste, food scraps, compostable paper (tissues, napkins, soiled paper, paper plates, etc.), and other materials suitable for industrial-scale composting.

By collecting this material, NYC can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and incinerators, reducing expensive export costs and greenhouse gas emissions, all while generating a valuable material that can be used as fertilizer in NYC parks and gardens.

In May of 2013, the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) began a bold, new initiative to provide curbside collection of organics. The Program started in Westerleigh, Staten Island and this fall has expanded to include communities in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, with further expansion in the spring of 2014.        

Wondering how you can participate? 

The City provided bins and participation instructions to buildings with 1-9 units included in the pilot areas. DSNY is also recruiting large apartment buildings—on the west side of Manhattan, in parts of Brooklyn, and on Staten Island—to participate in the program. GrowNYC is assisting with this effort, and we can help your building with the signup process, and to prepare your tenants and staff to participate. 

Take Morningside Gardens, who joined the DSNY Organics Collection Program in June, for example. Prior to the program’s implementation, many of the residents dropped off food scraps at GrownNYC’s Columbia Greenmarket and a group of residents formed a Compost Club.  GrowNYC worked with club members, property management, and the co-op board to help the 980-unit complex create a plan to establish organics collection to be serviced by DSNY.  GrowNYC provided hands-on assistance in creating a suite of educational materials and training to ensure that staff and residents were well-informed about the program, which included mailers detailing the program, attendance at a series of public meetings, and signage in every trash room.

With the addition of this initiative, Morningside Gardens now diverts 39% of all waste from landfills through recycling and composting, compared to an average diversion rate of 14% for their community district as a whole.  Overall improvement of waste separation and storage has also reduced the presence of rats on the property. To highlight the success of the program at Morningside Gardens, Mayor Bloomberg chose the site as the location to announce the expansion of the DSNY Organics Collection Program and to launch the “Recycle Everything” advertising campaign in July of 2013.

Does your apartment building want to take recycling to the next level? 

Get more information on Organics Collection in Large Residential Buildings and contact GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education to get started. 

 

 

A Day in the Life: Recycling Champions Coordinator Julia Goldstein

GrowNYC's School Recycling Champions program works with schools in all five boroughs to help them achieve and exceed the NYC recycling standards. They work to inform and empower the key participants in a school by providing hands-on education through materials, workshops, assemblies, and on-site demonstrations.

Recycling Champions has five outreach coordinators, each of whom works in a particular borough. Below, Manhattan Outreach Coordinator Julia Goldstein takes us through a typical day in her life as a Recycling Champion.

What I love about being a Recycling Champions coordinator is how much creativity and dedication the principals, teachers, custodians, kitchen staff, recycling coordinators, parents, and above all the students, all over the city bring to making their school environment more sustainable.

Let me give you some examples from a typical day:

The first stop of the day is my office, where I pick up materials for workshops I’m doing on the new Organics Food Scraps Collection program at Chelsea Prep (281 9th Avenue in Chelsea). I make sure to grab a coffee from Laughing Man on the way to the C train.

In the 2013-2014 school year, over 300 schools in Staten Island, Manhattan, and Brooklyn are participating in the Organics Collection Program, a joint initiative between the NYC Departments of Education and Sanitation. The goal is to collect the organic material from school cafeterias and kitchens to reduce the waste NYC sends to landfills. Organic Food Scraps Collection includes: meat, fish, dairy, vegetables, fruit, grains, baked goods and all soiled food service paper products.

I chat with the school’s Fireman, Ed Pierre, who has been working hard to get the new Organics signs up in the cafeteria

On Saturday I’ll go to another workshop at Chelsea Prep that includes parents, and we’ll use this, a trivia game created by RCP’s Thaddeus Copeland. The Trivia Game is one of several tools we use to engage the students in participatory learning. A student spins the wheel and depending on which icon they land on, they are asked a recycling-related trivia question

I hop back on the C to 110th Street to my second stop: Wadleigh Secondary School for the Visual & Performing Arts (215 W 114th Street in Morningside Heights).

I touch base with Al Spechar, the Custodial Engineer, who shows me a new system he is trying for separating the curbside recycling – he has painted green lines around where the paper recycling goes, and hung a mixed paper and cardboard recycling decal. Great idea! It makes it easier for the Sanitation workers if it’s always in the same place, and it makes it easy to check to make sure each type of recycling has been put out.

I jump back on the C train to 86th Street and go on to my next stop: Louis D. Brandeis High School (145 W 84 Street in the Upper West Side).  I check in with Helena Fisher, the SchoolFood Manager , to see how the Food Scraps Toter bins are working for them. We talk about how frequently they need new bags – the students are catching on to the Food Scraps Organics program faster than we had hoped!

I board the cross town bus and grab a seat and work on email. I spend so much time on public transportation it feels like my second office.

My next stop: Robert F. Wagner Middle School (220 E 76th Street in the Upper East Side). I meet with the 6th grade cafeteria recycling monitors, who make the fantastic recycling station work every day. They bring both knowledge and tact to the job of reminding their peers of the recycling rules.

I take the 4/5 back downtown to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall for my final stop of the day: Murry Bergtraum High School (411 Pearl Street in the Financial District). The sustainability coordinator, Bob Menning, walks with me through the school. Bob takes his role seriously and his energetic and talented Green Team students, like Elena Tsoy, bring creative flair to the task -- they’ve hung signs throughout the cafeteria and school reminding classmates and faculty/staff of best recycling practices.

That’s my last visit and all that’s left is to convince my fellow rush-hour passengers on the 4/5 train to make room for me and my Santa-sized bag. To their credit, being New Yorkers, they hardly give it a second glance.

Big Apple Crunch Takes New York!

The Big Apple Crunch is an attempt to set the world record for the "Most Participants in an Apple-Crunching Event." This event will take place on FOOD DAY - October 24, 2013. New Yorkers can participate by finding a crunch near you: at any of GrowNYC's Greenmarket Farmers' Markets or another location near you or by hosting a crunch yourself! We want it to be the crunch heard 'round the world!

Please pledge to take a bite with us at 12pm or at any time during the day that works for you. RecordSetter.com - a New York City based organization tracking new world records - will be tracking our progress towards having the "Most Participants in an Apple-Crunching Event!"

Register your team at bigapplecrunch.com

GrowNYC Supports City Efforts to "RECYCLE EVERYTHING"

GrowNYC is proud to support Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership in expanding recycling in NYC with the launch of "Recycle Everything."

In 2006, the City created GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education to assist their ambitious goals to divert more waste from disposal. Whether promoting textile, e-waste, and increased plastics recycling or working with the Department of Sanitation to establish organics recycling programs like those happening at Morningside Gardens (where this week’s press conference took place), GrowNYC is thrilled to be a component of the City’s efforts. The "Recycle Everything" ad campaign launched and the expansion of the City’s organic food waste recycling program shows how far New York has come in managing the 11,000 tons of waste generated every day. Together, these initiatives will help double our recycling rate by 2017 and reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills.

GrowNYC was proud to help establish the Morningside Heights organics collection and will promote the City’s Recycle Everything campaign in its education outreach across the five boroughs.

New York News

Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools


GrowNYC formed a partnership with Wagner Middle School in Manhattan called Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools, funded by NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin. Under one roof, we are providing support from five GrowNYC programs: Learn It Grow It Eat It, Grow to Learn School Gardens, Greenmarket Youth Education, Recycling Champions and Environmental Education. For an entire year, GrowNYC staff is educating young people about how to lead lives that improve their personal health and that of the environment around them; so that eating, growing, learning and going green become second nature.

On the recycling front, we recently helped Wagner launch a school-wide cafeteria recycling program – 1,200 students in grades 6-8 sorted everything from trays to milk cartons, placing them in their proper containers with help from dozens of student volunteers and Green Team members. 1,200 students recycling milk cartons for one year will save 31 trees!

To keep it fun, grades are competing to see who can reduce their overall waste – on a weekly basis, the amount of waste will be calculated and the winning grade announced on Fridays. At the end of every month, the grade that has reduced waste and recycled the most will receive special “Out-Lunch” privileges. Wagner has averaged a daily reduction of 9 bags of garbage or 17%, while generating an extra bag of recyclables.

The contest, designed by the Green Team, was the culmination of an outreach campaign they undertook to educate their classmates. Working with their advisor, teacher and sustainability coordinator Jessica Gordon, students created posters, morning announcements, and a PowerPoint. The success of the program could not have been possible without the support and help of Wagner’s administration and staff.

Pages