Late Night (non) Shopping

Hey ya’ll, here are a few photos from the trash tour of Greenwich Village last night, which followed an excellent discussion about garbage with author Elizabeth Royte and freegans Janet and Cindy.



Janet digs through baked goods in front of Le Pain Quotidien

Gristedes looks so much better from the outside!

Bagel Bob’s just keeps on giving.


November 7, 2007 at 5:15 pm Leave a comment

Savoring the Shower, or, Miserable Failure.

At last night’s discussion on eco-footprinting, we fiddled with the numbers on this fabulous website, and I learned that taking shorter showers would reduce my ecological footprint respectably, if not hugely. In that light, I decided that one of my eco-footprint goals would be to take one ten-minute shower every two days, or to spend an average of five minutes a day in the shower: hygienic, and environmentally friendly!

Something you should know about me is that I really like taking showers, especially if the water is hot. Lukewarm showers do not interest me very much, and cold showers strike fear and disgust into my heart. I spent last year in Ecuador, and there was no hot water where I lived, so every time I wanted to shower I boiled a pot of water on the stove and used only that mixed with a bit of cold water: environmentally friendly, but thoroughly unpleasant.

So you see I have really been savoring my showers ever since my return to the US. Nevertheless, I thought a more ecologically friendly shower was worth a try. There is a drought in California, people! I looked at my watch — six ten. I got in the shower; a flurry of shampoo and conditioner, efficient cleanliness, oh how lovely the hot water is; I got out. I looked again at my watch — it was six thirty! How? I really did try to go as fast as I could. It seems I am incapable of taking quick showers, so my new plan is one fifteen minute shower every three days. Hygienic? Less so, but definitely permissible. Environmentally friendly? That’s the idea, I guess.

Hygienically yours,

Shane Crary-Ross

November 7, 2007 at 5:57 am 5 comments

7 items you didn’t know you could recycle – but should!!

Hi fellow footprint-ers! I think this all good to know (especially #1), so I thought I’d share. Share your comments/reactions/suggestions.

‘Grist’ experts tell you what to do with old sneakers, iPods, and more
By Chip Giller and Katharine Wroth
Grist Magazine
updated 4:07 p.m. CT, Mon., Nov. 5, 2007
Sure, you know how to recycle newspapers and soda bottles. But what about that old stuff that’s cluttering up your closets and your basement — is there an eco-friendly way to get rid of some of that? Yes, say Chip Giller and Katharine Wroth from environmental magazine Grist. They’ve got tips and resources for green ways to get rid of everyday items you no longer need.

1. Athletic shoes

Got a pair (or a pile) of old sneakers that are too worn-out to give to charity? Nike will recycle any brand of athletic shoe through its Reuse-a-Shoe program. You can drop shoes off at any Niketown store or Nike Factory store; the company also has other drop-off spots, and if there’s not one near you, you can mail shoes in. (Get details on the Nike website.) The company processes and recycles the footwear to make sports surfaces for basketball courts, tennis courts, running tracks and playgrounds. Right now they’re collecting shoes to make athletic surfaces for New Orleans, to help bring youth sports back to the city as it rebuilds. To date, about 20 million pairs of athletic shoes worldwide have been recycled through the Reuse-A-Shoe program.

2. “Techno-trash”

As you upgrade your technology, you find yourself saddled with outdated items: VHS tapes, game cartridges, digital cameras, mp3 players, cords, cables, cassettes — not to mention bigger items like VCRs and computer monitors. Fortunately, there’s a company that will take it all from you and reprocess it in an eco-friendly way: GreenDisk. Mail your “techno-trash” to the company and they’ll take care of the disposal. The cost starts at $6.95 for 20 pounds of equipment — a small price to pay to relieve your conscience (and your closet!).

3. Computers

Computers contain a number of harmful chemicals, so it’s important to make sure they’re properly recycled. Most major computer manufacturers now offer some type of recycling program. Dell will recycle any Dell product for free, and if you buy a new Dell, they’ll recycle any other brand of computer for free. Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Apple and Toshiba also have recycling programs — check their websites for details.

You can also find independent recyclers who meet high standards for eco-friendliness and safe labor conditions through the Computer TakeBack Campaign. The campaign also has a detailed analysis of manufacturers’ recycling programs, explaining how all they all work and what the costs are.

4. Mattresses

In most areas of the country, you can’t recycle your mattresses, and they’re even hard to give away — charities like Goodwill often refuse to take them. But remember that “recycle” has another R-word counterpart: “reuse.” If your mattress is in usable condition, you can probably find it a good home through the Freecycle Network. It’s an Internet community with chapters all over the country, in which people offer up items they no longer want and other people happily take them. The online bulletin board Craigslist also has a section where you can offer things for free to people in your area. In fact, you can get rid of just about any usable item (and some items you didn’t even think were usable) via Freecycle and Craigslist, and you can find some great free stuff for yourself, too.

5. Handheld devices

If you feel the need to get a new gizmo (and remember, an upgrade isn’t always necessary), don’t just chuck the old one. Small electronics are full of big toxics. Instead, drop off your old cell phones, pagers and PDAs at Staples stores around the country. The company has partnered with nonprofit CollectiveGood, which collects and recycles the phones. When possible, CollectiveGood refurbishes them and puts them to use in developing countries. Otherwise, the phones and other items are broken down in an eco-friendly process and the metals are separated out for reuse or proper disposal. If there’s not a Staples store near you, you can mail your phone to the CollectiveGood — and even get a tax credit for the donation.

6. Dry-cleaning hangers and plastic

Wondering how to get rid of all those wire hangers from the dry cleaners? Some dry cleaners will take them back and reuse them, and some tailors and alteration shops will take them as well — so just ask. And what about all that plastic that comes back from the dry cleaners? In some cities, you can recycle it right along with other plastic bags. And some dry cleaners will take the plastic back and make sure it’s recycled. So yes, there are solutions, but here’s a note of caution to all you dry-cleaning fans: The process uses a harmful chemical known as “perc” that is a suspected carcinogen and has been outlawed in some areas. What to do? Look for cleaners who offer “wet cleaning,” consider hand-washing some garments, or better yet, avoid buying clothes labeled “dry clean only.”

7. Soiled glass and plastic

It seems like a silly question, but it’s one people wonder about: Can you recycle a beer bottle even if a lime wedge is stuck in the bottom? What about those last bits of peanut butter in the jar? The answer to both is a qualified yes: Put the items in with your regular recycling, and the recycling plant should be able to remove most contaminants. Paper recycling, however, is a more delicate process (which is why pizza boxes are a no-no). And in general, the cleaner your recyclables are, the less energy it’ll take to process them. We’ll drink to that.

Chip Giller is president of and Katharine Wroth is the magazine’s story editor.

© 2007, Grist Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved.

Source: The Today Show, 6 November 2007.

November 6, 2007 at 1:47 pm Leave a comment

On Adaptation

The toughest part of this week for me, I think, will lie in the scheduling. Colin brought this up yesterday when he pointed out that we’ve structured our lives in a way that “accordions together” the stressful or work related parts, with little time for decompression or everyday “life-maintenance.” We rush between trains and taxis, eager to hit the next obligation head on.

This week, I’m going to see what its like to bike to NYU each day. I already do this a couple of days per week; I live up at 108th street, so it makes for a nice half hour jaunt each way. On days like Tuesday, though, when my schedule begins at 8 and ends around 11:30, that means getting in the saddle at 7 am, and not dismounting till after midnight.

Obviously, if I relied exclusively on my bike for transportation, I would have scheduled my life differently, spreading things more evenly to make the riding as convenient as possible. I also probably wouldn’t even live at 108th street. Whatever the perks of being near Central Park, there are days when you just don’t want to ride.

This example hints at a larger point: this week, as we attempt to reduce our ecological footprints, we’ll be working firmly within the frameworks of our “normal” lives. That means that things like getting over to the green market to go shopping, avoiding plastic cups, or biking to school will require a little extra effort. But these things aren’tnecesarily harder by their very nature. They’re simply harder because, for the time being, they aren’t the norm. We aim to make them that way.


Nelson Harvey

November 5, 2007 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Starting Footprint Forward

After the discussion Colin Beaven led yesterday afternoon, I had to go and sit for a long time and journal my thoughts. I had first become passionate about global warming and its affects last year when I was assigned An Inconvenient Truth to study as a project in AP Lang. Whenever people would deny or argue against it, I would get upset and have a hard time articulating my feelings towards the subject and how worried I was (and still am) about our planet.

Hearing Colin made me realize there are so many who feel the way I do. He also made me realize the only thing I’ve done to solve the problem is get angry. I already live a lifestyle not focused on materials and not driving, etc, just because of my upbringing, but there are many things I could be doing besides. For instance, I had never thought about the impact of garbage. Deep down, I knew what was happening, but I would never admit it to myself.

 I thought a lot about what this means for me. A new lifestyle, one that is not generally accepted by a lot of people I know, and new things to fight for. I think– no, I know, I am ready to start doing my part to help make our world healthier and happier again.

I’m glad to begin this lifestyle within a community. Having others who are participating in Footprint Forward to help me with this change, as well as those in NYU’s Green Arch, will help encourage me stay with my commitments and teach me how to change my life (as I really know nothing about living a “greener” lifestyle). To be honest, I think my hardest part will be dealing with people who don’t agree with me. Acknowledging this to myself and others in this community, I think, will help me overcome that.

 Here’s to a new life- a healthier and happier one 🙂


November 5, 2007 at 4:02 pm Leave a comment

Adam’s Footprint Forward Goals

The past year for me has been a continual adventure in footprint-shrinking. Every week, I learn a little bit more about what contributes to my planetary impact, and I’ve begun to realize that living in an  environmentally-responsible way isn’t nearly as hard as I thought, once you make the commitment to do it. Some of the biggest steps I’ve taken so far:

  • I convinced my roommates to sign up for a CSA (community supported agriculture), giving us a bounty of fresh local veggies every week.
  • I quit flying in airplanes after I got back from India this summer. When I go home to Denver for winter break, it’ll be on a train with a bunch of my friends.
  • I carry around a glass bottle and a plastic container wherever I go, in case I want to pack up some leftovers.
  • I set up a worm bin in my backyard (relocated to my room for the winter) where we compost a portion of our food scraps.
  • I dry my clothes on a clothes line, also in my yard, instead of using the dryer.

But there’s always more impact to reduce, and this week gives me an opportunity to experiment with some more extreme ideas that I haven’t incorporated into my daily life. I’ve already started showering by candlelight, and found that it makes the shower really relaxing. I’ll be trying as hard as I can to unplug, cutting down on the amount of time I spend on the computer and listening to music, and making an effort to only turn on the lights in my house that have CFLs in them (I know, they all should at this point… I’m working on it).

The biggest change for the week will be reviving an experiment that I tried earlier this year of carrying around all the trash I create, with the logic that by feeling personally responsible for it, I’ll have an incentive to create less of it. Hence, I’ll be cutting down on buying food in plastic packaging, recycling all the paper scraps that find their way to me, and composting all of my food waste (I’m certainly not gonna want to be stuck with rotting apple cores all week). I’ll let you know in the next few days how it’s going.

– Adam

November 4, 2007 at 4:51 pm 1 comment

a closet tv and email lover revealed

Hello World!

Footprint Forward is less than one week away, and it is all so very incredibly exciting. Myself and a group of students have been working so hard on this whole event, that it seems so surreal to imagine that it all starts on Sunday. In fact, I have been so focused on getting OTHER people excited about Footprint Forward that I almost forgot that during the week I plan on going low-impact as well.

Yesterday I decided to do a pre-no-impact no-impact week. As in, I am trying to ease myself into going no-impact (or, rather, lower impact). I only took the stairs. I carried around a plastic water bottle I had bought on Monday. I let my computer charge, but then unglugged it to do all my work, and turned it off at night. I tried to check my email less often, but I failed on that count.

It embarrasses me to say it, but I think what will be hardest will be to turn off the music and TV for next week. I have challanged myself to not turn on the TV at all. I dont think of myself as a TV junkie, but in my very very small studio apartment it feels like the TV has such a huge presence, that it is hard to ignore. I suppose I will have to double the amount of books I take out of the library for next week?

Anyway, I look forward to hearing everyones thoughts on what they find challenging, and hopefully rewarding in the upcoming week.

And, if you have any ideas about ways to ease into no-impact, I would love to hear them.

impactfully yours,

November 1, 2007 at 12:13 am Leave a comment

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