Category Archives: Green Tips

Sign the Petition to Ban Styrofoam in Monroe County, New York

The local chapter of the Sierra Club has started a petition on change.org to ban styrofoam in Monroe County. Despite the little 6 found on the bottom of most Styrofoam products, Styrofoam is virtually impossible to recycle. In Monroe County, Styrofoam is not accepted at curbside pick-up. Persistent individuals aiming to recycle packing Styrofoam can deliver it to the Monroe County EcoPark near the airport, but single-use food containers remain unrecyclable. According to the EcoPark’s website: “Styrofoam meat trays, egg cartons, coffee cups, takeout containers or other small post-consumer items have no local recycling option and should be placed in your trash.” This is partially because Styrofoam breaks down so easily that, if someone tried to clean it, all they would get is a mess of tiny beads.

Styrofoam is made of fossil fuels and other chemicals. Buying it supports an industry that contributes to climate change.

This is an opportunity to make a significant difference at the local level. In 2014, Albany County enacted a Styrofoam ban. It is long overdue for Monroe County. If you are a registered voter in Monroe County, please consider signing the petition and please make sure to include your address; if local lawmakers do not think that their constituents care about this, then neither will they. Lastly, please consider personally contacting your representative in the Monroe County Legislature.
To read the specific text of Albany County’s ban, please use this link.

Composting

The original, do-it-yourself green activity. Recycle your yard and kitchen wastes and create great organic material for your garden and lawn.

You’ll keep 500-600 pounds of waste from going to the landfill each year! Organic matter does not decay in a landfill, where it produces methane, which is 20 times more warming than CO2.

Just save out fruit and vegetable waste, egg shells, coffee grounds—including the paper filters, and moldy bread and make a pit or pile in a corner of your yard. Alternate with layers of dry leaves, saw dust, and any green yard waste. It will go dormant in the winter, but actively decay again when the temperature goes above 50 degrees. You can also buy composting bins that minimize odor and critter intruders, making composting easier than ever and possible in even small yards.

Sound like too much work? There is an easy way to make it happen! You can contract with Community Composting to collect your compostable waste on a regular basis with containers provided by the company. In return you can opt to receive already composted soil. The service is available in many parts of the Rochester area. If your area isn’t served yet, sign up to tell them you are interested. When enough people sign up, your neighborhood will be added to the service area!

Resources to get you started:

Consider These Facts Before Buying or Using A Leaf Blower

Leaf blower use on lawns, gardens, driveways is a source of pollution and noise that can significantly impact our environment and health. In addition, the use of hot, dry winds directed at plants desiccates roots and leaves, while drying and stripping away top soil.
Noise pollution may be the first problem for those anywhere near these machines. Blowers create 90-100 decibels at close range and measure 70-75 decibels at 50 feet away. The EPA advises that levels over 75 decibels cause hearing loss and are detrimental to human health. Children are especially vulnerable. The World Health Organization recommends noise levels not exceed 55 decibels for human health.

Air pollution, both emissions and particulate matter that becomes airborne, including dust, pollen, salt, lead, pesticides, fungi, mold, spores, and fecal matter, is a lingering effect long after the blower has been turned off or moved down the street. Particulate matter takes hours to settle and exacerbates allergies, pulmonary diseases and cardiac conditions. Children and elderly are most threatened.

A 2011 study by Edmunds compared emissions from a 6200 pound 2011 Ford F-150 Raptor to emissions for the most commonly used 2-stroke engine leaf blower and a 4-stroke engine blower. The dirty 2-stroke engine came in at 299 times more polluting than the truck.

Emissions Test Results (in grams per minute)

  Non-Methane Hydrocarbons (NMHC) Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) Carbon Monoxide (CO)
2011 Ford Raptor 0.005 0.005 0.276
Ryobi 4-stroke leaf blower 0.182 0.031 3.714
Echo 2-stroke leaf blower 1.495 0.010 6.445

Communities that had banned or restricted the use of leaf blowers include hundreds of municipalities and counties in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, as of 2010 as per Consumer Reports . If we are truly serious about reducing the use of fossil fuels, reducing pollution and improving the health of our environment and citizens, one significant action would be to discontinue the use of leaf blowers, use rakes and brooms when necessary and understand and accept that a lawn is a living, growing thing, not a manufactured carpet to be kept pristine.

Thanks to Paul Tankel for this information!

Why Native Plants?

This Genesee Land Trust (GLT) lecture, sponsored by the Penfield Library, will include a PowerPoint presentation and will feature Margaret Potter of the GLT along with Lois Danneberg and Rachel Edwards of Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care and Broccolo Garden Center, Penfield. Learn why the planting of native plants makes your life easier as a gardener and is great for wildlife! The experts will teach you. This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is appreciated.

When: Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 7 to 8:30 PM
Where: Penfield Library, 1985 Baird Road, Penfield, NY. Penfield library appreciates your advance registration using the link below
More info: Penfield Library

New York State Residential Home Energy Improvement Programs

PathStone serves as the Community Based Organization for NYSERDA’s Green Jobs Green  NY Program in the Finger Lakes area.  They offer free assistance in applying for these programs, advice on how to make your home more energy efficient, and technical knowledge to help individuals communicate with local contractors participating in these programs.  PathStone is your “Energy Coach!”  Here is a summary of the programs:

  • Home Performance with Energy Star:  Helps homeowners start saving energy with a free or reduced cost energy audit, low interest loans (3.49-3.99%), and a 10% rebate on eligible measures.
  • Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star:  Provides income eligible families with matching grants of up to $5,000, as well as a free energy audit and low interest loans.
  • EmPower New York: Offers income-eligible families and individuals Free cost-effective electric reduction measures.  Some homes may also be eligible for free heating reduction measures as well.  EmPower NY assists families and individuals who fall below 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI).
  • NY-Sun (Solar Electric): Multifaceted approach aims to lower energy costs for all New Yorkers by increasing solar power capacity and the efficiency and reliability of the electric grid.  Public-private partnerships help make installing solar technology more affordable for all New Yorkers while scaling up New York’s solar industry.

PathStone can also offer small business owners and local governments assistance in finding the right energy efficient program to suit their needs.

More info:  To participate in these programs or for more information, contact: Scott Oliver, 400 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607.  (585) 442-2030, ext. 204.  Contact by email saveenergy@pathstone.org.  Also see the Pathstone Website.

Extend Your Vegetable Garden Growing Season With A Cold Frame

Growing your own organic produce at home reduces carbon in multiple ways–plants sequester carbon, and having produce in your own yard eliminates the need for food to travel, so no greenhouse gases from transportation!  To extend the growing season into the colder months, you can build a cold frame, which is basically a DIY mini greenhouse using a salvaged window, some scrap lumber, and some extra pavers or bricks. There are many free DIY plans for how to design and build cold frames online. If you use a search engine to search for “how to build a cold frame” you will find several options.

Power Strips That Auto-Turn Off And On

Technology is a cool thing. These power strips will automatically turn off whenever a 10%+ drop in current to the main outlet is detected, and automatically turn on when an increase of 7 watts or more in power to the main outlet is sensed. In other words, plug your computer into the main outlet, and its peripherals into any of the other six. When you shut down your computer, all of the peripherals will also turn off. When you turn on your computer, the peripherals will all turn on. You can buy it from the Energy Federation Inc. web site and other places.