Making Policy, Public

There are two places where plastic goes in New Jersey.

Damon Rich takes it to the bottom line and helps launch Newark's recycling campaign at City Hall in style with a lovely infographic poster "Where Newark's Garbage Goes."

Below, Mayor Cory Booker with the chart in action.



>  17 February 2012 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
Combat Paper. Combat Paper “The Combat Paper Project utilizes art making workshops to assist veterans in reconciling and sharing their personal experiences as well as broadening the traditional narrative surrounding service and the military culture. Through papermaking workshops veterans use their uniforms worn in combat to create cathartic works of art. The uniforms are cut up, beaten into a pulp and formed into sheets of paper. Veterans use the transformative process of papermaking to reclaim their uniform as art and begin to embrace their experiences in the military.”
>  8 July 2011 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Plantable Seed Paper. Think your design project is “sustainable?” I’ll see your recycled paper and raise you: recycled paper infused with frickin’ seeds!
Seed Paper
>  23 December 2010 | LINK | Filed in ,
Flow Lamp. flow-lamp.jpg A self-powered lamp post for illuminating public spaces in developing countries, this bamboo wind turbine charges LEDs, and is both cheap and recyclable. What started out as a graduate thesis will be going into production soon.
>  15 March 2010 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Clothing Slashed. “It is winter. A third of the city is poor. And unworn clothing is being destroyed nightly.” Brief NY Times piece exposes big clothing retailers, particularly H&M, destroying clothes before discarding instead of donating or recycling.
>  7 January 2010 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Neo Gardenism

At the intersection of urbanism, DIY, food justice and sustainable agriculture, a crop of artists are making open source gardens and sharing instructions on the web and beyond.

Window Gardens Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray build hydroponic Window Farms from recycled materials. The farms are specifically designed with New York City apartments in mind, and the website invites window gardeners to share photos, plans, designs and information.

Edible Estates is a project to convert the classic American front lawn into a productive vegetable garden. Initiated by architect and artist Fritz Haeg on Independence Day, 2005, several prototype gardens were created in different cities across the United States, with instructions and documentation of the prototype gardens posted to the site. 2009 sites have not been announced, but the group is ideally looking for “A monotonous housing development of identical homes... where the interruption of the endless lawn would be dramatic and controversial.”

The Future Farmers’ Victory Gardens project is fought on two fronts: to deliver urban garden kits to urban farmers across San Francisco, and to ultimately develop and maintain a portion of the original Victory Garden space in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

South Central Farmers The Garden is a feature-length documentary film about a 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles that emerged in the wake of the 1992 LA riots. The film chronicles the origins of the plot and the South Central Farmers struggle to prevent it from being demolished.

On the more underground tip, Guerilla Gardening is illicit, nocturnal gardening in a space not your own. lists projects, mostly in London, each with a description, location, photos, and budget. The site includes tips for making your own.

Seed Bomb

Seed bombing is packing seeds in compressed soil and throwing it into inhospitable or hard to reach places. Artist Liz Christy was the first to use the term in 1973 when she fought urban decay by tossing seed grenades full of sunflower seeds into abandoned New York City lots. Here’s a scan of her original instruction sheet. Christy also co-founded the first community garden in New York City.

Moss Graffiti Moss graffiti is also good for damp, urban corners. Anna Garforth has done some beautiful work here. Here’s how to make your own.

And onto Gardening 2.0: Landshare is a UK website matching people who want to grown their own food with homeowners with underused space. The site also hosts an active forum for sharing tips and answering questions.

And with your veggies in hand, VeggieTrader is a website for trade, buy or sell homegrown produce.

I’m sure there are many more sites and projects, too. Between the recession and growing concern about industrial food systems, there seems to be something of a renaissance going on here.

>  15 June 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , , , ,
Down the Toilet. Toilet Paper“More than 98% of the toilet roll sold in America comes from virgin forests.… Extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply toilet roll made from virgin forest causes more damage than gas-guzzlers, fast food or McMansions.… In Europe and Latin America, up to 40% of toilet paper comes from recycled products. Greenpeace this week launched a cut-out-and-keep ecological ranking of toilet paper products.”
>  3 March 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,
Green Guru Gone Wrong: William McDonough. Cradle-to-Cradle“‘I want to be the Bill Gates of sustainability,’ [I want] to make a royalty off of every green standard and every green product out there.” Proprietary, litigious, self-promoting... in a biting profile Fast Company punctures the mythology around William McDonough and his various projects. While the arrogance of architects comes as no surprise, there’s a lot to unpack here about where for-profit “social ventures” can set back the very causes they ostensibly support.
>  25 November 2008 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Bigger Better Bottle Bill

Water BottleYesterday the New York State Assembly passed legislation to update the State’s “Bottle Bill”... with the “Bigger Better Bottle Bill.”

The bill (A-8044-A/Sweeney) expands the five-cent bottle deposit and refund to include non-carbonated beverages such as bottled water, iced teas and sports drinks. Unredeemed deposits will help fund New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. The old bottle bill did not require deposits on non-carbonated beverage containers, nor did it mandate that revenues from unclaimed deposits be paid to the State. Bottled water, teas, juices and sports drinks didn’t much exist when the initial law was passed in 1982, but have since grown to 25% of the market.

From the bill’s accompanying memo:

“New York’s ‘bottle bill’ is one of the State’s most successful recycling and anti-litter initiatives. There is less litter and broken glass in our streets, farm fields, playgrounds, parks and beaches as a result of the bottle bill. It has also reduced the burden of solid waste disposal that is shouldered by local governments and taxpayers.

Since the enactment of the original bottle bill in 1982, non-carbonated beverages such as bottled water, juices, teas and sports drinks have become extremely popular. Millions of bottles and cans from such beverages end up in the trash or littering the environment because consumers lack an incentive to recycle such containers.

Updating the bottle bill to include non-carbonated beverages will provide an incentive to make our environment cleaner and safer by increasing recycling. By requiring beverage companies to provide unclaimed deposits to the State for deposit into the EPF, the bill will also generate new funding for State and local environmental programs. It is estimated that expansion of the bottle bill will result in at least $100 million for deposit into the EPF.”

Watch a two minute video overview on YouTube from the Surfrider Foundation.

The bill was passed unanimously in the Assembly, but faces opposition in the State Senate. The law is opposed by big beverage corporations, grocers and liquor store owners who anticipate higher operating costs. On the other hand, the bill has an impressive list of supporters. NYPIRG has a campaign page up at tracks container deposit laws around the world that require a minimum refundable deposits on beverage containers.

>  12 June 2008 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
Electronics Recycling by Mail. Earth StampOn March 18, the U.S. Postal Service announced that the Clover Technologies Group would provide postage paid envelopes to mail them expired inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods or MP3 players to be reused, refurbished or recycled. Envelops will be available at U.S. Post Offices at no cost to the public. Only a pilot project for now, but could expand nationally. (via)
>  10 May 2008 | LINK | Filed in ,

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