Getting Off Fossil Fuels
OnForce Solar (select states in the Northeast region)
This solar energy company installs, maintains, and finances solar energy solutions for commercial and residential customers. About their work practices, OnForce Solar says on their website, “We positively impact our community through our utilization of the local Bronx labor pool where unemployment is the highest in the state.”
Green Mountain Energy (select states)
Green Mountain Energy allows residents in several states (Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas) to switch from powering their homes with non-renewable energy sources to powering their homes with 100% renewable energy, while still maintaining one’s same energy provider.
Food & Water Watch
Food & Water Watch rallies and lobbies to end the use of fossil fuels, fracking, and other issues associated with climate change. They welcome volunteers and supporters for their regional and national campaigns.
A leader in the fight against fossil fuels, 350.org aims for a “Fossil Free world,” and has been putting pressure on governments and institutions to divest from fossil fuels.
Bulk Finder App
Shopping bulk is a sustainable alternative to buying packaged foods. When I say “bulk,” we’re not talking about Sam’s Club and Costco here. By “bulk” I mean those large bins of grains, nuts, fruits, and spices you see at the health food store. Bea Johnson (of Zero Waste Home) has created an app that can show you where you can find the nearest store that offers a bulk section. So log on and find a store, then bring a reusable bag or jar to the store and stock up.
Buying secondhand is more sustainable than buying new, and getting free is better than buying. Find free items or give away your own items to locals on this online classifieds site, while keeping things out of the landfill and cutting out the middle man of (sometimes shady) thrift stores.
You’ve heard the expression “make do and mend,” but what do you do when you don’t know how to mend? Many communities have something called a repair café, where residents can take their broken junk to fix it. Visit the Repair Café website to find a repair café near you.
The zero waste mantra is Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot, and the most valuable ways to reduce waste are to refuse and reduce the amount of products you consume and, therefore, the amount of waste you generate. But if after refusing, reducing, and reusing, you have waste items in your home that can’t be recycled with your municipality, you may call upon TerraCycle. TerraCycle offers options for individuals as well as businesses.
Greenmarket (New York)
One of the best things we can do for our environment is to shorten our food supply chain and buy locally grown food. Although New Yorkers are walled in by buildings, it’s surprisingly easy for us to eat locally, thanks to a thriving year-round Greenmarket program, operating in several neighborhoods all over the city. Check out the map and schedule of all the Greenmarkets to find one near you, then bring your reusable bag and produce bags to shop for vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, mushrooms, meats, eggs, milk, sweeteners, yarn, soaps, baked goods, flowers, and more.
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (New York)
Help keep good food out of the landfill and get it on people’s plates by volunteering or donating to Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, a New-York-based organization that specializes in addressing hunger and food waste. It’s shockingly easy to volunteer with this organization (drop in at restaurant, pick up bags of food, drop off at food pantry) and most projects can be completed in about 30 minutes.
City Harvest (New York)
A long-time champion of addressing hunger and food waste, City Harvest rescues unsold food from farms, Greenmarkets, grocery stores, and restaurants, and gets it to people who need it. Volunteers can choose from a number of ways to get involved—from food rescue, to distribution, to education.
BYO Pledge – Free reusable mug and bag (New York)
New York City wants every citizen to reduce waste, which is why they’re offering free reusable bags and Contigo travel mugs to New Yorkers who pledge to bring their own mugs and bags when they dine out and shop. Take advantage of the offer, then actually use that stuff!
Composting in New York City
GrowNYC Compost Drop-Off Points
There are so many ways to compost in New York. One approach is to bring your compost to designated drop-off points around the city. Drop-off points are located at Greenmarkets (check website for drop-off hours, as these can vary). Commuter compost drop-off points operate on designated days at select train stops around the city. You can find details online or contact GrowNYC for more information.
New York wants to bring curbside composting to every neighborhood in the city. You can now request that your building—whether high-rise apartment or single-family home—receive curbside compost service. Compost bins will be delivered to your building by the owner’s request, so contact your landlord or get in touch with the city directly. Encourage your place of business or favorite local hangouts to adopt curbside compost pick-up.
Lower East Side Ecology Center
Lower East Side Ecology Center offers educational programs and volunteer opportunities for any New Yorker who wants to spread the good word about composting.
Earth Matter on Governors Island
See how compost gets made and volunteer with a New York farm at Earth Matter on Governors Island. This little farm processes much of the compost from all across the city, and uses a flock of chickens to help break down food waste.
Local Community or Volunteer-Run Garden
There are many community and volunteer-run gardens all across the city. Many are listed at the link above, but some are not (you might encounter one of these secret gardens on a walk throughout the city). Drop by or contact your local garden to see if they compost, then commit to dropping your food scraps in the compost bin, or becoming a member of the garden and learning how to process the compost.
Urban gardening/farming in New York
GreenThumb (New York)
GreenThumb offers events, training, and resources for community gardens and gardeners, as well as residents seeking to establish new community gardens. With GreenThumb’s support, disparate volunteer-run gardens can become incorporated by Parks Department, thereby strengthening their standing in the city. They currently support more than 550 gardens across the five boroughs, many of which grow food. You can locate the garden nearest you by using their map.
Farm School NYC (New York)
Farm School NYC offers certificate programs in urban agriculture to raise up local residents who can champion food sovereignty and justice in the city. Courses focus on agriculture, practice, public space, economic and social justice and the intersection and spaces between these and other forces.
Just Food (New York)
Just Food is dedicated to finding local solutions to inequities in the food system. Together with their local partners, operating within 250 miles of New York City, they develop approaches toward food justice, sustainable agriculture, and community building.
Books and Websites
Zero Waste Home
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson is a story of her family’s journey towards a zero-waste lifestyle. The book contains recipes, tips, and resources for anyone who’s curious about changing their consumption habits.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate
Naomi Klein has written an essential read about the connection between consumer capitalism and climate change. It explores the underlying assumptions that folks from a free market perspective bring to the world and to the issue of climate change and how (or if) to combat it.
Michael Pollan has made a name for himself by writing about food and the food industry in America, and Omnivore’s Dilemma is classic Pollan. This book explores the environmental impact of industrial farming and the food choices we make everyday.
Baha’i Quotes on Sustainability and the Environment
Other things I’ve written