Hudson Heights Weather

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day: Northern Manhattan Top Ten List

Its Earth Day.  Here are ten big ideas for greening your life while living in Northern Manhattan. 

1.              Choose Renewable Energy.  In New York City, Con Edison delivers the gas and electricity.  But customers can choose the company that supplies their power.  Most residents don’t know it, but you can go to Con Edison’s website and learn about renewable energy options, including wind and hydroelectric energy produced here in New York State.   Check it out at:  In my home, we use a mix of wind and hydroelectric electricity, all delivered by Con Edison.

2.              Choose Hybrid Vehicles.  If you can't take public transportation, choose your vehicle wisely.

           The federal government sets “corporate average fuel economy” in the United States.  Today, it stands at about 27 miles per gallon.  Hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, earn 50 miles per gallon or better.   Cars are responsible for approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emission in the United States—imagine cutting that in half!

            Check out the federal government’s fuel economy website for information on fuel economy in all vehicles sold today:

3.              Install Solar Panels on Your Cooperative Building.  The initial cost to install solar panels is high.  But federal tax credits and state grants can lower the actual price by about two thirds.  Check out the website of the New York State agency that oversees energy incentives, the New York State Energy Research and Development Corporation.

4.              Donate to Environmental Organizations in Lieu of Giving Gifts.  My favorite environmental organizations in New York include New Yorkers for Parks, Parks and Trails New York, the Fort Tryon Park Trust and the Friends of Van Cortland Park.  Instead of buying gifts, buy your friends and families memberships in these or other organizations.  If your friends live out-of-state, look for an environmental organization near them.  Each Christmas, I buy my brother and sister-in-law a membership at their local wildlife preserve, which is run by Massachusetts Audobon. 

5.              Join a park cleanup.  See my prior blog entry about how to find or organize a cleanup of a local park.  The NYC Partnership for Parks, for example, is an organization dedicated to just this purpose—helping New Yorkers find and organize volunteer activities in parks.

6.              Mind what you eat.  Food production in the United States has an increasingly detrimental effect on the environment.  For example, despite all the media attention on the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the biggest threat to that water body is the toxic stew of pesticides and fertilizers that flow into the gulf each year, creating a biological dead zone the size of Louisiana.  Look for organic foods; locally-produced foods; and humanely produced meats.  See my prior blog entry on the Certified Humane label and check out the Inwood Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.

7.              Clean up after your dog.  When it rains heavily in New York City, waste and refuse on the streets and sidewalks wash directly into our rivers.  It is NOT treated in a sewage treatment plant.  There are an estimated 1,400,000 dogs in New York City.  Just imagine the environmental impact of that much…..

8.              Arrange for Graffiti RemovalNew York City removes graffiti for free!  Building owners can call 311 to arrange for removal.  This message is for all the other fancy cooperatives that allow graffiti to linger for decades on their rear-facing walls.  Walk along Overlook Terrace and look up.

9.              Drink New York City Water.   New York City’s forefathers were ingenious enough to set up the nation’s best water-supply system.  About 10% of our water comes from reservoirs in Westchester and Putnam Counties.  About 90% comes from reservoirs to the west of the Hudson River in Schoharie, Greene and nearby counties.  A pumping station on the Hudson River kicks in during severe droughts.

            Overdevelopment has polluted the Westchester and Putnam reservoirs, which has required the City to construct a multi-billion dollar filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park.  To avoid the same fate for the other 90% of our near-pristine water sources, the City is avidly purchasing open space buffers around the western reservoirs.  Drink NYC tap water and become an advocate for protection of our watershed whenever you can.

10.          Install a green roof.  This one is easier said than done.  But New York City now offers a hefty property tax reduction for buildings that install green roofs.  And new companies are developing modular green roofs that can be more easily installed and removed for maintenance.

This article omits many of the other, smaller steps you can take to save the planet (compost, recycle, buy carbon offsets when you fly, VOTE intelligently).  More to come on all those topics in the future!

-Chris Rizzo

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