anne (www.sustainableflat's Profile

Display Name: anne (www.sustainableflat
Member Since: 6/18/07

Latest Comments...

I was rather amazed that the price here in Brooklyn was lower than in Seattle or Minneapolis...

Apartment Therapy Re-Nest | More Grocery Gloom and Doom: Organic Sticker Shock in the New York Times
5/1/08 05:33 PM

Apparently Bus Rapid Transit was proposed in Berkeley (on Telegraph Ave leading up to the campus) and resoundingly killed off. Even in this town that is so self-congratulatory about its record on progressive issues, no one wants to take any driving or parking space away from cars ("but it's a PRIUS!"). I feel comfortable making fun of Berkeley because it's my hometown.

Having grown up there I must say I'm shocked at how much everyone drives, and how the public transit system has in some ways actually declined... my parents live on the North side in the hills and buses stop running there after 8pm; when I was a kid they ran until midnight, and we used them.

Apartment Therapy Re-Nest | Re-Nest Book Club: Deep Economy Chapter 4
4/21/08 06:25 PM

i think there is a semantics issue here: when you describe the green benefits of "rental housing" what you are actually describing is the density (apartments/townhouses vs. single-family homes on large lots) of the housing than whether the occupant is an owner or renter. here in new york city most homeowners are also apartment dwellers. conversely, throughout the country many single-family homes are occupied by renters.

Apartment Therapy Re-Nest | Home vs. House
2/19/08 05:47 PM

i found one on the street last year, in front of the shop!

Apartment Therapy - Sale Alert: Ceramic Lamps at Marston Langinger
11/26/07 07:34 PM

we actually do have some public recycling bins in NYC, they are part of a pilot project by the Department of Sanitation. there are bins for both paper and metal/glass/plastic at Union Square, Brooklyn Borough Hall, the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and some others. here are some of DOS's conclusions from their experiment:

"The sites with the lowest contamination rates and the largest amounts collected were the ferry terminals, Union Square, and Columbus Park. These sites are characterized by heavy commuter use and are located in dense, downtown neighborhoods with large numbers of office workers who use the public space for lunch. In contrast, public space recycling was highly contaminated and yielded little material in residential parks frequented primarily by families and children. Such users are less likely to generate newspapers, bottles, and cans than are commuters and lunching office workers."


"For this pilot, the DNSY Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling researched public space recycling in London, England; Toronto, Canada; Seattle, and Portland. All cities face challenges keeping their public space recycling free from contamination, and all site bins in high traffic areas where efforts are most likely to succeed."

and, surprisingly:

"Contrary to popular opinion, waste generated in public spaces is only a tiny fraction of residential, public maintenance, and commercial wastes overall. While public space recycling won't raise the city's diversion rate by more than fraction of a percentage point, it is an important way to reinforce the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle message."

Apartment Therapy - Feed the Cows: Recycling Bins
11/8/07 09:03 PM


Apartment Therapy - Tadé Recycled Tire Tubs Pots
11/8/07 08:51 PM

Ditmas Park in the house!

Apartment Therapy - #24 - Kemi's Contemporary Classic Harmony
10/21/07 03:44 PM

i imagine the bleach would rule out the possibility of using that water for anything around the garden, though...

Apartment Therapy - Disconnect Your Downspouts
10/20/07 08:44 AM

Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) is a huge problem in New York City, where we do have combined sewers/storm drains. Riverkeeper has an excellent summary on this topic:

The city's sewage treatment plants frequently get overwhelmed when it rains. A big part of the problem is that we lack sufficient permeable surfaces to absorb the rainwater, so it simply gets mixed with all the dirt and pollutants on the street surface and goes straight into the sewer system, and in heavy rains from there to our rivers and beaches. PlaNYC, introduced by the mayor's office this year, includes several provisions to address CSO's, including the goal of establishing more parks, trees and greenery, all of which can help retain stormwater.

The CSO problem is one of the best arguments for green (vegetated) roofs, as the engineered soil they use is designed to absorb stormwater (but is light enough not to destroy the roof even when wet). Sustainable South Bronx and Earthpledge are two groups working to establish more green roofs in NYC.

But a solution that many homeowners and apartment buildings could implement cheaply and more quickly would be to set up rainwater collection systems (one or several rainbarrel/cisterns), and use the water for gardening or household tasks. Water Resources Group has a great explanation of the whys and hows, and a map of demonstration sites. Municipal water rates are going up every year, so capturing this resource instead of letting it pollute our waterways makes financial sense too.

Other cities addressing their sewer overlow issues with rainwater collection plans and incentives include Portland, Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, Austin, and Vancouver.

(And on the mosquito issue, any rainwater collection system should include screens to prevent mosquito breeding.)

Apartment Therapy - Disconnect Your Downspouts
10/20/07 06:56 AM

for straight-up reheating, 90 seconds in the microwave beats 15 minutes in the oven any day. especially when the electricity comes from the local utility's "green power" option.

but for other kinds of cooking the microwave often just doesn't cut it.

Apartment Therapy - Microwave vs. Oven: Which is Greener for Reheating?
10/17/07 08:46 AM

one of the best water- and energy-saving devices i've seen for handwashing is a faucet aerator with an on-off switch:

six bucks. eliminates that problem of not wanting to turn off the water because you've found the perfect temperature; also just easier to do while wearing rubber gloves and holding soapy sponge.

Apartment Therapy - AT on... The Dishwasher Debate
10/3/07 10:44 AM

the toxins in the electronics products themselves are what they should focus on. when manufacturers agree to accept their own products for safe recycling after the user is done with them, then we can call the company truly "green". until then, this looks like mostly greenwashing p.r.

Apartment Therapy - Memorex ReNew - Green Electronics Line?
9/26/07 06:01 AM

my canvas shower curtain (touted as not needing a liner) has mold stains that i can't get out. bummer. glad to hear about nylon as an alternative.

Apartment Therapy - Nylon Shower Curtains
9/14/07 09:42 AM

NYC has the same "bottle and jug" rule described above. other #1 and #2 plastic are NOT recyclable here. unfortunately most people don't know this... i was quite surprised to learn it myself when i took a course with the department of sanitation last year.

there is a lot of recycling literature that gets distributed everywhere, but the information presented is rather overwhelming and sometimes misleading. even the most diligent recyclers i know are usually misinformed about some fine point of the rules.

Getting to Know Your Recyclable Plastics
8/5/07 07:17 PM

i recently bought a microwave for heating stuff up as it seemed more environmentally friendly to use 90 seconds of wind-generated electricity than 20 minutes in the gas oven!

Blogging a Green Lifestyle Experiment
7/27/07 02:59 PM

there are faucet aerators with an on/off lever available for under ten dollars... i ordered mine from but they must be available elsewhere too. this is a really fantastic, easy, and cheap way to save water when washing the dishes - just flip the switch up when the water doesn't need to be running, and it maintains the temperature when you switch it back on. kinda life-altering, actually...

Top 10: Ways to Start Saving Water in your Kitchen
7/19/07 08:14 AM

i met someone who owns one and says it is already falling apart after a few weeks. oh well...

Blogging The New York Times: I Am Not a Plastic Bag
7/18/07 01:40 PM

overheated buildings in the winter are a BIG waste of energy and money. often people open their windows as a means to regulate the temperature... the boiler computers and thermostatic valves mentioned in the article are relatively inexpensive fixes for this. but many apartment dwellers, even co-op and condo owners, don't understand the real impact on their wallets of indoor temperatures above 72 degrees, in the way that private homeowners do (or should); and many landlords and co-op/condo boards don't understand the potential savings. there are even NY state loan paydown programs to fund these improvements, which are equivalent to low- or no-interest loans. the city should promote all of this much more aggressively.

there is also a tax break available for heating buildings with biodiesel; i'd be interested to know how many owners take advantage of it.

NYT: Greener Buildings?
7/16/07 05:12 PM

re-using plastic shopping bags for trash seems like a good thing to me (must be why i do it!), though i have a small step-can for this purpose. hanging it on the doorknob is not the most attractive thing, but hardly cause for a meltdown. :)

just one point though: in nyc junk mail is recyclable - even the envelopes with the little plastic window. according to the dept. of sanitation, we could be recycling MUCH more paper here, and apparently the city actually makes money off it (incentive for more and better recycling programs).

AT on: Plastic Garbage Bags on Door Knobs
6/27/07 01:24 PM

two of my favorites are:

"hope's edge" by francis moore lappe and anna lappe.
chronicles many examples of locally-based sustainable microenterprises throughout the world and their positive ripple effects. very inspiring!

"ishmael" by daniel quinn.
an allegory on the folly of modern life.

Roundup: Green Guides
6/27/07 12:40 PM