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Posts By: Les Judd

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Hurricane Harvey: What Does it Mean for New York City?

September 5, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Hurricane Harvey: What does it Mean for New York City?

As I write this article, Tropical Storm Harvey, downgraded from a category 4 hurricane just a couple of days ago is pummeling south Texas with torrential rain. The residents of Houston and the surrounding area are suffering from catastrophic flooding. Other than watching the drama unfold on TV, giving money to rescue efforts, and praying for the lives and the well being of everyone affected, what can we do here in New York City? What conclusions or lessons should we draw from this tragedy?

First of all, it is important to note that the City of Houston has grown tremendously over the last 25 years or so. In a very short period of time, the city has been paved and built up in a manner that is unsustainable. Houston is surrounded by many rivers and bayous. When it rains, the water should drain into the rivers and bayous and go into the Gulf of Mexico. However, because of all the building in recent years, excess water has no place to drain and it just sits in the streets, causing flooding. Scientists predict that storms like Harvey will occur more frequently and be more devastating than ever in the coming decades.

Is New York City vulnerable to a storm like Harvey? What is NYC doing to reduce the chances that we would suffer the same kind of flooding and devastation that Houston is suffering? Fortunately, New York City is doing a lot of good things to make it less vulnerable to storms in the future. There is a massive green infrastructure program going on throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Things like green streets, bioswales, green roofs, expanded tree pits, and similar structures are being built in areas that tend to flood easily.

For more information on the NYC Green Infrastructure Program, visit www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/stormwater/using_green_infra_to_manage_stormwater.shtml

The NYC Green Infrastructure Program is not only helping to make NYC more green in a literal sense, but it is also helping to make NYC more resilient and resistant to flooding.

GCC News:

You are invited to the Green City Challenge Back to School Party on Monday, September 25 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Raymour & Flanigan, 1961 Broadway at West 66th Street in Manhattan. We are excited to introduce a revised version of the What’s the Watts Challenge and to tell people about our new initiative to bring Green City Challenge into Middle Schools in the Bronx and Manhattan.

Please make your reservation now at www.greencitychallenge.org/rsvp or send a message to les@greencitychallenge.org or call 718-530-5074.

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GreenCityChallenge Back to School Party

June 14, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized | By


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How to Safeguard Your Family Against Home Health Risks

January 16, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

How to Safeguard Your Family Against Home Health Risks

The last thing we want to think about is the danger our homes could pose to our health. Yet, studies find that hazards, pollutants, and dangers exist within our homes that can aggravate allergies, sinuses, skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, and more. Worse still is the fact that so many people do not realize the ways in which our homes make us sick. To help you protect your family, we share some tips for safeguarding your family against home health risks here.

Take a Good Look at Your Household Cleaners

We think that our household cleaners are safe because they are marketed for home use. Unfortunately, studies show that 21 common household cleaners contain air contaminants, including 24 that are associated with serious health concerns and cancer. Even the fragrances in household cleaners are known to cause respiratory problems for people. If you have not looked at the ingredients and warning labels on your cleaners, do so immediately. At the very least, you should follow the directions for use to the letter and ensure that you run a fan and open a window when you clean.

Better yet, replace your household cleaners with organic or homemade, non-toxic products. For example, you can mix water with vinegar or lemon juice to clean glass. Use baking soda as a scouring agent and borax mixed with water as a multipurpose cleaner.

Get a Home Inspection

You may be familiar with home inspections as a task to complete when buying or selling a home, but you should consider getting a home inspection for peace of mind. Certified home inspectors carefully examine the interior and exterior of your home and can point out potential problems, safety hazards, defects, and other concerns to homeowners.

Be Aware of Carbon Monoxide Danger

Carbon monoxide poisonings can happen at any time, but the number of occurrences rises when the power goes out and people use generators, when people use gas ranges or fireplaces, or when people leave their cars running inside the garage. Other sources of carbon monoxide dangers in the home include unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, leaking chimneys and furnaces, furnace back-drafting, gas water heaters and woodstoves and fireplaces, and tobacco smoke.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, which makes it very dangerous. Initial symptoms include headache, weakness, dizziness, and nausea, but symptoms can worsen to include vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness when the poisoning increases. If the carbon monoxide issues develop slowly, victims may mistakenly believe they have the flu.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install carbon monoxide alarms in hallways near areas used for sleeping. Make sure that your appliances are in good working order and have them repaired if they are not. Have your heating system professionally inspected and serviced once a year and make sure that professionals check and clean your chimneys and flues. Do not operate any gasoline-powered tools or generators in the house or any enclosed space. Should your carbon monoxide alarm sound, immediately go outside and call 911.

Prevent Leaks and Check for Mold

Mold often is the culprit behind homes that make people sick. The problem with mold is that it can grow any place where small amounts of water collect. This means mold may form in air ducts, overhead vents, windows that collect condensation, bathroom floors, bathtubs, kitchen sinks, and any other area where water collects. If your home is too humid, mold can begin to grow behind walls and above ceilings, so you may not even be aware of its presence.

If you do see mold growing, use bleach to kill it and prevent more growth. If you suspect that mold is growing in hidden places, contact a professional to come in and do an assessment of your home. Sometimes, people must hire professional cleaning services to remove mold from their homes. The best way to prevent mold is to reduce the amount of humidity in your home, run bathroom fans during and after a shower, and use dehumidifiers when and where necessary.

Of course, you want to do all you can to keep your family safe and healthy. That’s why you should be aware of the hidden dangers in your home and know how to safeguard your family against them.

Image via Flickr

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What Does the Election Mean for the Environmental Movement?

December 27, 2016 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

President – Elect Donald Trump has nominated some of the worst cabinet appointees in history!  His nominee for Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, the former Governor of Texas and two time Presidential candidate, promised to eliminate the Department of Energy during the 2012 Presidential Primary campaign and is a climate change skeptic.  His nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency has sued the EPA for doing its job and wants to eliminate it or make it a powerless shell.  His nominee for Secretary of State is the CEO of Exxon Mobil and was a climate change skeptic until very recently.

What does this mean for the environmental movement going forward?  First of all, as far a Green City Challenge is concerned, we will continue doing what we are doing.  Our mission is to educate New Yorkers about ways to live, work and eat green.  It doesn’t matter who the President is.  Our work continues regardless.

As far as the environmental movement in general is concerned, that is a different story entirely!

Environmentalists are in panic mode.  Based on what Mr. Trump said during the election season and his cabinet nominees, the environmental picture looks very bleak indeed!  However, we have to keep fighting for what we believe.  We know there will be many legal and legislative battles ahead so we have to get ready.  If you are not personally involved with any environmental organizations, this would be a good time to join one.  It doesn’t matter what organization you join, but find at least one to join and volunteer, donate, and do something!

There are many national organizations to choose from including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon, etc.  If you want to find a local organization to get involved with, you might consider Clearwater, the New York Restoration Project (founded by Bette Midler), Solar One, The Lower East Side Ecology Center, Green Home NYC and of course, Green City Challenge.

It goes without saying that if you would like to get involved with Green City Challenge, your assistance would be very welcome!  We are looking for new board members with fundraising, marketing or governance experience.  In addition, we are looking for volunteers to help us raise funds, create new games and challenges, conduct outreach, write articles for our blog, etc.  To inquire about volunteer opportunities, please call Les Judd at 718-530-5074 or send an e-mail to les@greencitychallenge.org

Whatever you do in 2017, hang onto your hat because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

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Catskill Animal Sanctuary by Devon Braunstein

November 28, 2016 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

It was one week before Labor Day weekend 2015 and my family and I had a last minute idea to take an end-of-summer trip. Not looking to take a flight nor leave behind our beloved Newfoundland mix, Oliver, we decided upon a quaint looking homestead in the Hudson Valley. Entranced by the rolling green farmlands and animal-friendly hosts, we booked it on the spot. To our pleasant surprise, we realized that the homestead was located at the top of a 110-acre sanctuary for rescued farm animals, called Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS).

Staying at CAS was particularly fitting, as my parents and I have been vegetarians since I was a young child. The combination of my love for animals and my mom’s realizations about climate change motivated us as a family to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle just as tofu began to hit the shelves of mainstream grocery stores. As proud animal lovers, veganism crossed our minds, but it always seemed too far-fetched to remove eggs, yogurt, and cheese from our diets.

Fast forward back to Labor Day weekend where CAS changed our way of life for good.

The homestead, supporting the mission of the sanctuary, is kept fully vegan. This means that no animal food products are allowed on the property. CAS encourages a plant-based diet by providing guests with a (delicious) vegan breakfast each morning.

Inspired by CAS’s values, my family decided to use our three days away as an opportunity to experiment. Why not take the no animal products rule one step further and follow a vegan diet the whole trip?

In addition to hiking the Hudson Valley with Oliver and challenging ourselves to stay away from eggs and dairy, we toured the sanctuary, met the resident animals of the farm, and learned about the realities of factory farming in an informative, yet non-intrusive manner. Spending the weekend with the animals as we listened to their rescue stories was enough for my family and I to commit to at least trying to bring our new vegan habits home.

And try we did. One week, then one month, then one year passed. Being vegan is now built into my lifestyle and identity, and I’m proud to reflect my values through my every day actions.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary rescues farmed animals and champions veganism. CAS is located two hours north of New York City in Saugerties, New York. To learn more, visit https://casanctuary.org
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