The Empire State Building is my favorite building in the world, and now I have even more reason to love it. During a recent visit, I learned that over the last few years, the owners partnered with the Clinton Climate Initiative, NYSERDA, Johnson Controls and The Rocky Mountain Institute to do some major green renovations. They made numerous improvements to the building’s outer shell and interior lighting and equipment to become more energy efficient. They also updated the chiller plants, and installed new air handlers (fans) that only run when needed. This alone will reduce CO2 emissions by 50,000 metrics tons over the next 15 years. This matched with tenant education and energy management systems is saving the building $6,000 per day. To learn more, visit the educational display gallery on the bottom floor of the Empire State Building next time you’re in NYC, or see http://www.esbnyc.com/sustainability_energy_efficiency.asp
11/7/13- Ampleen, a New York green marketing firm, coordinated an educational event on the fashion and consumer power, inviting the public to come hear from experts on the topic of clothing and sustainability. Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness for the brand Eileen Fisher was the keynote speaker, and other experts included professors from Fashion Institute of Technology speaking about how numerous companies are now trying to lessen their environmental impacts and ensure humane conditions for workers. It is always a happy occasion to see a room full of people interested in knowing more about conscious consumption, and I saw many eager faces in the crowd of 100 looking to be part of the movement. A fun new business I learned about was EcoPlum, an online, NYC based green products store that sells ecofashion, cosmetics and accessories. Congratulations to my friend Sasha Cohen for hosting the panel : ).
Not only is there fast food, but fast fashion. This refers to the production of clothing that is purposefully meant to have a short lifespan so that it will be quickly replaced. Many stores carry lower quality clothing that is restocked every season, so that consumers keep buying. However, this has an impact on the planet (during both production and disposal) and on other humans who are producing the clothing, often in inhumane conditions. Check out this terrific 3 min video which is an informative introduction into some reasons why I am writing my book on ecofashion… Thanks to Zoe Gray for sharing.
If you value Dead Sea salts, water, or are Christian, Jewish or Muslim, you will appreciate this post. New York had the honor of having the 3 co-directors of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME) offer a presentation at a local place of worship, invited by a network of faith organizations. I learned that the Jordan River, which runs between Palestine, Israel and Jordan, and which was where Jesus was baptized, is now suffering from heavy water pollution from sewage and has lost over 90% of its original water flow due to dams and diversions. It is the Dead Sea’s primary fresh water source, so as a result, the Dead Sea has lost 1/3 of its surface area. FOEME works towards clean water solutions and education, and is unique in being the only organization known to enjoy cooperation among these 3 countries, so is a beacon of hope. They bring youth together on this shared water issue who are otherwise separated by the difficulties of the political situations going on in the region. FOEME doesn’t take funding from their governments so donations are welcome. See http://www.foeme.org/.
Incredible- got to visit the Solar Impulse at Kennedy Airport – the fuel-free, solar powered plane that just finished crossing the U.S. Breaking new barriers, it is the first solar plane to be able to fly both day and night (due to battery storage), only stopping so the pilots could rest. The innovative and pioneering effort was undertaken by 2 Swiss innovators, who took turns piloting the plane through its various stops across the U.S., from San Francisco to New York. Made of a light carbon fiber, its average speed was 45 mph, wing span was that of a jumbo jet (208 feet), and it was powered by 2000 solar cells. The Wright brothers’ first flight was in 1903, so here 110 years later, we reach another milestone. The next plan for the team is to fly around the globe. Just the beginning for this exciting technological possibility!
Thanks to the Columbia Business School Sustainability Club, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit one of the first and largest urban farms in NYC– the Brooklyn Grange, actually located in Long Island City, Queens. With a view of the Manhattan skyline, this 40,000+ sq ft (1 acre) farm exists as proof of the power of determination, as the farm required hoisting over 1 million lbs of soil to the roof of a huge warehouse. The 3 main partners are young inspiring entrepeneurs dedicated to healthy local food. Now in its 4th year, many types of greens, vegetables and seeds are raised and sold to chefs at area restaurants, so this is a successful for-profit enterprise. The soil is made up of compost for organic nutrients mixed with lightweight, porous stones, with an elaborate subsystem for drainage. The food is grown organically and air quality is monitored and found to be of better quality than at street level. The farm also boasts several chickens and two small bee hives. More on this incredible farm and its events and CSA are at: http://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/.
The 2nd national Green Festival (green festival) at the Javits Center in New York City took place last weekend, and did not disappoint. The event included hundreds of exhibitors of green products and advocacy organizations, as well as multiple educational workshops on everything from healthy food to eco-friendly vehicles. Several workshops focused on sustainable and fair trade fashion, one of my favorite subjects, bringing together some of this area’s top experts. (Stay tuned for a blogpost on one of the weekend’s highlights: an Eileen Fisher eco-fashion show!) Since last year I wrote about my favorite exhibitors, I thought I‘d continue the tradition.
1) My favorite product was ipad/Nook/Kindle covers made from recycled fleece jackets. Available from Refleece in numerous happy colors, these fun covers help keep old jackets from ending up in landfills.
2) Second favorite exhibitor was SpinGreen who are also making sure old clothing gets a second life. Spingreen expands recycling at schools by placing clothing collection bins at schools. Usable clothing is given to several charities, and stained or ripped clothing is repurposed for home insulation or car seat stuffing, again diverting waste away from landfills.
3) Call me morbid, but third, believe it or not, was the Green Burial Council, since many burial practices involve the use of toxic chemicals, and it’s not something we often think about. The council educates about environmentally sustainable funeral/cemetery/cremation options, and have set forth the World’s first standards and eco-certification program for burial grounds and burial products.
These are just a sampling of the numerous forward-thinking organizations featured at Green Festival. My main takeaway is how inspiring it is to witness the creative innovation, dedication to craft, and caring for the planet that all the participants exhibited. It gives me hope seeing so many people who care enough to make the planet’s sustainability part of their business. I hope these qualities become mainstream sooner than later.
Eileen Fisher clothing is known for its simple, comfortable design. It is casual but stylish and high end, and can be found at well over 50 Eileen Fisher stores around the country. What makes it special is that the company is committed to using sustainable fabrics such as linen, hemp, and organic cotton. The company makes an effort to work with fair trade producers, and to use low impact dyes on many of its products.
At the Green Festival in NYC (April 2013), I had the pleasure of witnessing a fashion show of the Spring Collection. The best part was that the classic, chic designs were worn by real live eco fashionistas, such as Greta Eagen, Sass Brown, and Emma Grady, all who write about eco fashion. Each model explained why she chose her piece. Eileen Fisher also used the event to highlight its new clothing recycling campaign “We’d Like Our Clothes Back Now, Thanks Very Much.” For more, see eileenfisher.com.
Reverend Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith, addresses the crowd
GreenFaith, a NJ based nonprofit, came to Temple Beth David in Commack, Long Island on 3/10/13 to enliven the community of faith’s efforts on stewardship of the earth.
Through their Ground for Hope event, over 100 people from different religious backgrounds came together to learn:
How their institution can grow gardens that provide food for the needy,
Opportunities to save energy & money in their buildings, and
Ways to inform their communities about sustainability issues.
Inspiring and educational, it was a great opportunity for people of different faiths to meet local sustainability leaders and recognize that stewardship of our environment is a goal shared commonly by all. See Greenfaith.org.
Proud to have been a part of organizing this great event!