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Posts By: Les Judd

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The Green City Challenge Meet & Greet Party

June 14, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Save the date!

On Monday, September 25 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm the Green City Challenge Meet & Greet Party will take place at Raymour & Flanigan, 1961 Broadway at West 66th Street in Manhattan. You don’t want to miss this event! This is your chance to meet the members of the Green City Challenge Board of Directors, to learn about volunteer opportunities with Green City Challenge, and to find out about all the exciting things we are doing.

The suggested donation is $20 per person. You can make a reservation by sending a message to Les@greencitychallenge.org or by making a donation on-line at www.greencitychallenge.org or by sending a check to Green City Challenge, 474 West 238th Street, #6i, Bronx, NY 10463.

We hope to see you on September 25. Until then, have a great summer!

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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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Before the Flood – A Movie Review by Devon Braunstein

November 1, 2016 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Most of us know Leonardo DiCaprio as the lovable Jack Dawson, reckless Jordan Belfort, or legendary explorer Hugh Glass.  But over his career, Leo has made another, albeit lesser known, name for himself: a champion for environmental change.

In 2014, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon appointed DiCaprio as a UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change.  Ban cited DiCaprio’s credibility in the environmental movement and highlighted his “considerable platform to amplify its message.”  Through this platform, Leo uses his celebrity to share an urgent message with the world about the state of our planet in the new movie Before the Flood.

Before the Flood follows Leo as he explores the impact of climate change on communities and ecosystems around the world.  Through the lens of Leo’s own journey to understand the science, politics, and social movements surrounding global warming, the film provides a climate change crash course to its viewers. During his travels, DiCaprio sits down with influential players such as President Obama, Pope Francis, and Elon Musk.  He witnesses Greenland’s melting ice caps and Indonesia’s dwindling forests, and learns about the carbon tax, Paris accords, and energy storage technology.

While meeting with DiCaprio in India, Dr. Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment, shares an alarming statistic: approximately 300 million people in India live without power — and electricity consumed by one American at home is equivalent to that consumed by 34 citizens of India. Narain and DiCaprio’s conversation highlighted that the politics and corporate influence on climate change is just one layer of the problem, and a culture of mass consumption may be at the core of it. Narain looks to the United States to invest in solutions that can be leveraged by developing nations who may not have the luxury in choosing how they produce energy.
Overall, Before the Flood provides an informative overview of the challenges nations and communities face as a result of climate change — shrinking shorelines, conflict over water access, flooding in coastal cities…the list doesn’t stop there. DiCaprio’s message is effective as he approaches the issues from a very human angle. Despite his own doubts about his ability to make a difference, he charges forward in his mission, providing viewers with the opportunity to make themselves aware of key climate issues and stand on the right side of change.

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