Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Local Thanksgiving!

I gathered together with some good friends and good food yesterday to once again celebrate a local Thanksigiving. Yum! Just like last year, the food was collected primarily from the nearby farmer's market. And the rest from local businesses.

I recently heard that approximately 70% of the money spent at a local business will stay within the community. The same amount of money spent at a chain store will only keep about 45% of the money in the community. I'd much rather spread my money to my neighbors than someone I've never met before.

In keeping with that theme, we had stuffing with bison sausage from the Union Square farmer's market and bread made from the corner bakery.

Brussel sprouts were in attendance.

The cranberry sauce made a reappearance from last year.

A few local birds. Hi there.

Some wine from around NY. Kudos to Stacy who found a bottle of Brooklyn honey fermented wine. You can't get much more local that that! It's possible a bottle of French wine slipped it's way in there. Ah well, we're only human locavores.

And for the grand finale some sweet potato custard with whipped cream from Ronnybrook farms and baked apples with maple syrup and butter.

Good, fresh, local deliciousness! If we're lucky, my nice neighbor lady Rachel, might post a few recipes over on her blog. Although, like me, she doesn't follow recipes well. It's more of a "handful of this" and "big chunk of that". I like my creative freedom when cooking. Which is probably why I don't bake much. You have to get the baking soda/flour combo right.

While the food was local and everyone in attendance currently lives in New York City, we grew up all over. We had Spain, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Boston, and Long Island represented. And while not everyone was a hardcore locavore, it was a celebration of local food. I even overheard Adam say "I never realized how far my food comes from. This got me looking at labels in the grocery store in a way I never have before." That, is exactly the point.

Good food, good friends, good times. Yum!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

garbage - what a waste!

I got an up close look at a landfill for the first time last week. And boy was it up close. It was part of a project that I'm doing with TerraCycle and our assignment was to go digging around a landfill in Central New Jersey. Wow - was there a mountain of waste. Speaking to Joe, this landfill's head-honcho, I learned that this mountain was garbage collected just in Burlington county. It took them 11 years to fill up 1 enormous hole and then cover it up. They were well on their way to filling up another. Walking through all of the materials, I discovered most of what was in there could've been diverted had it been handled appropriately before tossing. There was paper, glass bottles, plastic containers, leaves. All covered with a layer of gunk. It was so gross and smelled utterly nauseating! I've been known to dig through my fair share of dumpsters and piles of garbage, but once this stuff lands in a landfill, even I don't want to touch it! There was a layer of slime on everything.

This visit reconfirmed that what I've been doing - diverting scraps before they get this far - is so important. And it made me realize that there's a supply of garbage out there that is seemingly unlimited at this point. We have a long way to go before we reach zero waste but it's not impossible. We just have a lot of work to do. I guarantee it won't be a waste.

Both photos were taken from my cell phone. The photo at top is from on top of the 11 year old landfill that has been covered with grass, looking onto the new landfill. The photo above is a "small" pile of garbage accumulated from a few weeks. Landfills get layered with garbage and then soil, so behind that garbage pile, there's another larger pile covered in soil.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

giving garbage a second chance

Listen to our chat on "Giving Garbage a Second Chance". It starts about 6 minutes into the clip and it aired today on WILL - an NPR radio station in Illinois.

The picture above is of the microwave CD holder. It's one of the first "upcycled" projects I ever made. It just seemed like such a waste to throw out something so large and sturdy. So I gave it a second chance. After all, garbage has feelings, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

packaged goods

I love bright colorful packaging! Tony the Tiger, the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee dude, Toucan Sam - I love them all. Cereal boxes in particular are one of my favorite items to recycle - as you can see in Craft's recent green issue. The graphics on the outside of the boxes add snap crackle and pop to any project and these containers of cereal have structural value long beyond their first life.

Then there's statistics. About 40% of landfill volume is packaging. Holy cardboard! This brings us to the question of whether packaging should be made in the first place. Granted a certain amount of packaging is necessary to transport objects home, but by offering clever reuse solutions are we giving manufacturers encouragement to continue to overpackage goods? Do we really need 20 twist ties to hold down a single toy doll? Should instead we encourage packages to be more reusable? Design the first life with the second life in mind? Should all packaging be biodegradable? Then should composting collection for packaging start to be put in place? Whew - one solution creates another need.

Which comes first - the chicken packaged in biodegradable packaging or the egg carton that can be turned into game play?

Mancala egg carton image from This into That Garbage Games book

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sustainable NYC!

Do you live in NYC and want to get your hands on a bottle lamp without the trouble of having it shipped? Look no further than Sustainable NYC! It's located at Ave. A and 9th St. and it just reopened this week in a fancy, new space. Our friends over there just had too many great, sustainable goods and had to expand.

If you're not in NY you can always order the kits at or contact Streamline NYC to find a retailer near you. Hurray for recycling!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

good Times!

I'm very pleased to share that our ReMake It recycling kits have found their way into the gradaddy of news reporting in this fine town - the New York Times! Woo hoo!!! And what a nice article, too.

"There is so much garbage, why not use it?" Maybe our next project will be upcycling newspapers.

Hurray for recycling and do-it-yourselfing!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Craft: Green

I just love Craft Magazine and I love being green - so when these two worlds collide it's a compact book overflowing with goodness!

I've already read my issue cover to cover, so a few highlights include Michelle Kaufmann's DIY herb dryers and Diane Gilleland's mix-and-match greeting cards. And don't miss my very own cereal box projects and sweater scarf.

This issue is intended for the holiday season - so you can make things rather than buy them. What better way to show you care, than with some good old-fashioned scrap materials? My friends and family know that's truly the way I share my love.