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The Green House

NYC Sustainability Events: October Roundup

NYC Sustainability Events: October Roundup

It’s getting cold out, which means it’s the perfect weather for attending educational talks when you can no longer go to an outdoor happy hour. Because typing ‘climate change talk’ into google gets overwhelming very fast, we’ve curated a selection of sustainability-focused events happening in New York City this fall. From pop-up clothing swaps to career fairs, we have a wide variety of talks, panels, and shows grappling with the anthropocene happening in our city this month. 

Conscious Cities Festival, October 15

This four-day festival hosted by the Pratt Institute is packed with talks imagining sustainable, thriving, inclusive cities of the future. Each event brings together designers, community planners and organizers, activists, scientists, and government officials, inciting dialogues in the hopes of finding multidisciplinary solutions to the specifically urban effects of climate change. You can find tickets for each event individually, or the whole festival, here

Made Here Intersections: Sustainable Fashion & Equity, October 15

Spotlighting women entrepreneurs in the sustainable fashion world, this conversation between local industry leaders will tell you everything you want to know about sustainable fashion in this city, and features a Co-Founder of Sustainable BK, the Director of Fiber Sustainability for Theory and more. The discussion will focus on the intersection between ecological sustainability and sustainable employment for women and communities of color. The event is free, but you can register here.

Sustainable Brooklyn Food & Fashion Tour, Multiple Dates 

Every Friday this fall beginning October 18th, sustainable fashion designer Amalya Meira is leading tours of Williamsburg oriented around sustainable fashion, restaurants, and architecture. The walking tours include natural wine tastings, vintage stores, and an organic tea ceremonies. Get tickets here.

Green Careers: Government Edition, October 29

If you are considering a career attempting to work on sustainable solutions to climate change from a city government perspective, this panel is designed to help you figure out what government agency might be aligned with your career goals. NYC and NY state officials from the EPA, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and other state and city offices will be talking about their agencies roles in combating climate change. Get tickets here.

The Sustainable Fashion Community Meeting: Pop-Up & Storytelling Party, October 30

The NYC Fair Trade Coalition is hosting a pre-Halloween party! Featuring a swap closet of costumes (you know we love a closed loop) and a pop-up shop with free trade threads, the event will also include a story hour. Get your tickets here.

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All Your Questions About Composting, Answered

All Your Questions About Composting, Answered

We all know we should be composting, but we also know that saving your food scraps for composting can seem daunting (and a little gross) at first. Luckily, we are here to give you the low down on what you can compost, how to store it, where to drop it off, and how you can get even more involved in New York’s composting community. 

In New York City, uneaten food makes up 21% of our total waste, so composting can cut down your total landfill contribution by over a fifth! Composting ensures that your food waste ends up as fertilizer for urban farms and gardens, or contributing to renewable energy production. 

What can I compost? 

Any and all food scraps! That includes everything from your leftover Chinese foods to your orange peels and apple cores. You can also compost food-soiled paper (as in the wax paper your bacon, egg and cheese came wrapped in). 

How do I store my compost? 

The easiest way to store compost is keeping it in a large plastic zipper bag in your freezer. NYC wants to help us compost – Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the NYC Department of Sanitation are currently running a joint project to educate New Yorkers on the how and why of composting. At Brooklyn Botanic Garden, you can check out the Composting Exhibit to see organic waste in various stages of decomposition, so you aren’t freaked out by the bag of compost in your own freezer once you start doing it yourself. 

Where do I drop it off, and how often?

There are dropoff locations in every borough! This map will show you the ones closest to you. In Manhattan, all buildings are eligible to sign up for curb-side organic waste collection through this portal, so you might not even have to go to a dropoff site. Ask your super to sign your building up! If you live in Brooklyn or Queens, the majority of community boards have made their areas eligible, but you can find out for sure here. If you have a collection bin for curbside pickup, make sure to put your organic waste outside after 4PM the night before your collection day. 

How else can I get involved in composting in New York? 

If you want to see where your compost might go after it leaves your home, you can volunteer at the Red Hook Community Farm, which uses NYC compost as fertilizer. The farm takes drop in volunteers on Saturdays between 10am and 1pm, so you can get some volunteering in without having to plan in advance the next time you have a few hours free on a lazy Saturday. 

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Your How-To Guide to Finding Eco-Friendly Fabrics

Your How-To Guide to Finding Eco-Friendly Fabrics

By now, we’ve all seen the instagram advertisements for athleisure garb made from recycled plastic, not to mention Reformation’s water-saving TENCEL wrap dresses. You’ve seen the statistics about greenhouse gas emissions from the fast fashion industrial complex, and know that the crop tops lining the shelves of Forever 21 are not exactly moral purchases. But, the sustainability (or not) of the fabrics that cover our couches, chairs, and pillows gets talked about far less often. 

However, the same rules still apply, whether or not we are paying attention. The production process for synthetic fabrics like polyester, used in both clothes and furniture usually goes like this: petroleum (yep, the same fossil fuel that gets turned into gasoline) undergoes an industrial process that transforms it into fabric fiber, usually polyester. On top of the greenhouse gas emissions from fiber production, every wash on a synthetic material puts little bits of microplastic into the water, and if you eventually trash something upholstered in a synthetic fabric, it won’t decompose in a landfill. 

In contrast, natural fibers, like hemp, linen, and organic cotton, are not made straight from fossil fuels. Similarly, semi-synthetic upcycled fabrics use some fossil fuels during production, but are made by deconstructing used items – water bottles, old clothes, and more – and repurpose their parts to create fibers. Both options produce far fewer emissions than traditional fabrics. Some synthetic fabrics, like polypropylene, are completely recyclable, which works toward neutralizing the carbon emissions involved in producing them. 

If the science is confusing, or you’re getting overwhelmed in West Elm, the Higg Index is an easy way to check out how sustainable the fabric you’re considering is. Created by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, it ranks fabrics based on the sustainability of their product. Polypropylene comes out on top, followed closely by organic cotton. Polypropylene will be making its Sabai debut this fall, coming to the site in the next few months. Before you buy that polyester pillow on sale, try to make purchases that use some or all of these fabrics! Continue reading

Furniture Recycling Made Easy - A How-To Guide

Furniture Recycling Made Easy - A How-To Guide

If you’ve gotten new furniture recently, especially in New York City, you’ve probably experienced the extremely relatable struggle of figuring out what to do with your old stuff. We’ve all been there, and abandoning your newly rejected couch on the curb is quite the tempting option. After all, you don’t have to interact with strangers on craigslist, and every one of us has felt the thrill of finding that perfect piece on the street (even if we were too afraid of getting bed bugs to take it home) – why not give that experience to someone else? 

Because all those sofas left streetside add up, contributing to the huge uptick in American furniture waste production in recent decades. As of 2015, Americans were throwing away over 5 million more tons of furniture per year than we did in 1990. Out of all those castoff couches, tables, and chairs, a mere 10,000 tons were recycled. While some of the remainder was combusted, the vast majority – 9.69 million tons – ended up in landfills. 

There is no reason for your old sofa to be one of the millions thrown away each year. There are easy ways to give your old couch to a family in need, an organization that will sell it to raise money for a great cause, or a group that will salvage its materials for reuse. In New York City, Housing Works, Habitat NYC Restore, and Big ReUse will all come right to your home to save your old sofas from landfills.

Housing Works runs twelve thrift shops across New York City. The shops sell donated goods (including furniture) to raise money for the fight against the intertwined crises of homelessness and AIDS in New York City. The organization funds access to housing, healthcare, food, counseling, job training, and legal assistance, in addition to an advocacy arm. They will pick up your furniture for you if you fill out this online pickup request form, no van rentals or arduous attempts to drag your couch down multiple flights of stairs required.

Habitat NYC ReStore is an arm of Habitat for Humanity NYC that provides donated furniture to low income families. Last year, ReStore kept over 1,460 tons of furniture out of landfills. They will also pick up your furniture, as long as you email them with 48 hours notice.

Big ReUse is a Brooklyn-based organization devoted to promoting the circular economy within the furniture world. They will pick up your unwanted furniture and bring it back to their headquarters, where it is evaluated for either resale or material upcycling. 

If you live elsewhere in New York State, or have access to furniture transportation, Saint’s Place takes furniture donations and uses them to furnish apartments for refugees placed in the Rochester area. 

If you live outside New York, there are many other ways to find your furniture a new home outside of the landfill. The simplest way to recycle furniture is through furniture banks, which accept all kinds of used furniture and make them available to low-income families. Furniture banks have helped evicted families furnish new homes when landlords do not allow them access into former homes, and helped people who suddenly get off affordable housing waiting lists furnish new homes quickly. You can find one in your area at this furniture bank directory, and many will pick up a couch directly from your home.  

Recycling your furniture should be something we all do as religiously as we recycle our kombucha and cold brew bottles. Luckily, these organizations - much like our closed loop promise - are here to ensure finding your couch a new home is as easy as getting it delivered in the first place. 

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Welcome to The Green House

Welcome to The Green House

It’s 2019, and we’ve all realized that the daily activities we never used to think twice about – using disposable coffee cups, eating burgers, accepting the plastic bags at the grocery store – are pieces of our carbon footprints we can and should change, as climate change becomes ever more dire. We are all trying to limit our everyday impact on the environment as much as possible, but we rarely think about how our actions inside our own homes contribute to larger environmental damage. 

On this blog, we will be figuring out how we can change the way we act inside our own homes to minimize our environmental impact. The inside of your apartment – what you furnish it with, how you clean it – can play a surprisingly large part in your environmentalism, even though it’s a part of all our lives we rarely think of that way. 

We’ll give you our tips and hot takes on the best ways to avoid thoughtlessly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and landfill buildup in your own home. We’ll be writing about the things you’ve wondered about and the things that have never even crossed your mind, from our favorite environmentally friendly houseware brands to how to get a stain out of your couch without using toxic chemicals. If you have any burning questions about sustainable living, DM us! We’d love to explore them here.

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