Why Composting in NYC can work.

Hey have you taken my survey on recycling yet… https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3GTHQJY

In my last post (Composting 101) I wrote a general overview of composting. I figured it would be helpful to read my [ before this post, so if you haven’t already read it why not give it a read before you come back to read this post? Today, I am going to be talking about the implementation of composting throughout NYC by the Department of Sanitation’s composting department.

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Do these brown and orange trash cans look familiar? If they do, that’s probably because your neighborhood was selected for a ‘trial run’ of the NYC Composting Project; for the time being the collection is only offered in particular neighborhoods.

 

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A map designating areas that collection is available.

I am also providing a link to a PDF where you can find out if your neighborhood is eligible : http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/docs/nyc-organics-collection-areas.pdf 

According to the Department of Sanitation they are offering this service because,”Organic waste accounts for about 31% of all waste generated by residents in New York City. Organic waste includes yard waste, food scraps, compostable paper (napkins, paper plates, etc.), and other materials suitable for industrial-scale composting.

Operating a curbside program helps NYC reduce waste sent to costly landfills, deters pests by storing food waste in special rodent-resistant bins, and creates compost (a natural soil amendment) or renewable energy.”

So the Department of Sanitation is being proactive, but they are really starting to get things done. New NYC composting rules are forcing hotels, restaurants, sports arenas and food wholesalers to recycle their food waste. If any of the businesses mentioned above meet this criteria they are required to recycle or else they will be fined anywhere from $250 upward to $1,000. The requirements are as follows: hotels will at least 150 rooms, stadiums with 15,000 or more seats and large food-processing plants.

According to an article published in the Daily News, “The rules will require businesses to separate their food waste from other trash and recycling and hire a carting company to compost or reuse it. They will also have the option to compost themselves on site.”

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You can receive compost produced by the DSNY.

If your happy that composting is getting a push in the right direction and being supported by new laws, don’t forget that we need your help too. I am taking the zero waste pledge, by taking the pledge you will receive a FREE reusable bag or cutting board form the Department of Sanitation.
I hope this blog post provided an insight into why composting in NYC can work, this is just the beginning.
Ashley

 

Composting 101

Hey have you taken my survey on recycling yet… https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3GTHQJY

What is composting?

Composting is the process of recycling organic material into a rich soil known as compost.

What organic material can be used to compost? These are just a few items you can compost that you may have never thought of.

  • Dog waste
  • Pet hair
  • Wine gone bad
  • Leather watch bands
  • Wool socks
  • Pencil shavings
  • Toenail clippings, don’t lie I Know you all cut your toenails…
  • Liquid from canned foods
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Melted ice cream
  • Unpaid bill

A list of organic materials that are more common.

  • Egg shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Potato peelings
  • Banana peelings
  • Tea bags
  • Paper towels
  • Grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds
  • Dryer lint
  • Dead flowers

Types of Composting: Proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency

  1. On-site Composting is ideal to compost small amounts of organic materials. Yard trimmings and food scraps are most appropriate. This means that the compost produced on site is directly used onsite. This type of composting can be in a vessel or in a pile. 3839b9f7ce987033891b33a830f2be9a
  2. Vermicomposting is basically a worm farm. Red worms in a bin feed on organic material. One pound of mature worms can eat up to half a pound of organic material a day. The size is relatively small and is ideal for apartment dwellers, small offices, or schools. Worms 1
  3. Aerated Windrow Composting is used to process very large masses of organic material, this is suitable for a situation like community collection. This requires the organic material to be put into long rows (windrows) which have to be manually turned to aerate the piles. 20a
  4. Aerated Static Pile Composting is the simplest and most cost-effective to compost large volumes of organic material. It is a giant pile of organic waste to which items such as woodchips and shredded newspapers are added to aerate the pile. It is ideal for farms or landscapers who produce large amounts of yard/grass clippings and other materials such as food scraps and paper products. th6V5V9DNL
  5. In-Vessel Composting is designed to process food waste, manure and bio-solids (several forms of treated sewer sludge). In-Vessel composting uses a method that confines the composting material in a closed vessel. These are large and take up a lot of space and are ideal for large food processing plants. In-vessel-ComposterI hope you learned something new by reading this post, my next post will be about composting in NYC.

Ashley

GMOs: A Call to Faith and Ethics

Hey have you taken my survey about recycling yet…. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3GTHQJY

Why do some religious groups have a problem with biotechnology and GMOs?

What are GMO’s?

  • Genetically modified organisms are plants or animals whose DNA has been genetically engineered in such a way that it improves the organism’s overall health, strength, etc.
  • This procedure is done in a laboratory.
  • These organisms can not be found in nature.
  • There are food products available for consumption that contain GMOs, yes the Government allows this.

What’s all the controversy surrounding GMOs about?

  • GMOs have never been studied long term so technically we don’t know the affects of GMOs on humans after a long period of being exposed to and ingesting these products.
  • GMOs have been tested on animals but some claim that the research was not extensive enough.
  • Farmers are at risk because biotechnology companies have the ability to sue any farm who has become contaminated with GMOs, for example this could happen if the wind from a neighboring GMO-using farm carries the pollen from genetically modified corn to the next farm over, who is organic. The biotechnology company owns the rights to the GMOs, in turn they have the right to sue anyone who uses their technology even if by mistake…
  • There is evidence that GMOs are directly responsible for the production of “super weeds” and “super drugs.”
  • The effects of GMOs on the environment have not been fully studied.
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Foods you may consume on an everyday basis, that you might not have known contain GMOs.

 

 



Religion calls for faith, fundamental values, and often times for stewardship.

There are ethical issue surrounding the use of GMOs, there are people who resist consuming GMOs because of their religious beliefs. People of faith see GMOs has giving people the chance to “play God.” Others think that tampering with nature is instinctually wrong or that inserting animal genes in plants is immoral.

Some Christian groups say that their approach to GMOs is based on care for God’s creation as shown in Genesis 2.15 – respect for God’s creations. God entrusted the earth to man’s use. For a Christian who interpreted the passage in Genesis this way, he might say “Yes” to GMOs. It is man’s responsibly to care for the earth, what is wrong with bettering it?

Judaism and GMOs: although Jewish law does not prohibit GMO food, that does not mean that it is ethically okay. In the Jewish religion, humans must work to bring the world closer to perfection and not further away from it. Although GMOs may increase the quality of food, there is also a risk that it may be harmful to human health and the environment . Which may be the reason that a Rabbi would urge people of the Jewish community to scrutinize GMOs  closely.

There are no laws within Islam that prevent the genetic modification of food and crops, the same as in all religions simply because religious practices came about in a time where the thought of science modifying organisms wasn’t even a thought, let alone an idea. Some followers of Islam say that there is no need for genetically modified food because God created everything perfectly and man does not have the right to tamper with God’s creations.

Through these three examples of  different religions, it is clear that religion has the ability to encourage and inspires one’s actions. If religion can influence your view on the debate over GMO use and consumption, couldn’t it influence stewardship for the environment and serve as a vehicle to influence change in the environmental movement?

Ashley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Chimpanzees

This post will shed light onto the fact as to why saving Chimpanzees can contribute to a solution to our environmental crisis.

Chimpanzees are in danger of extinction

Chimps are losing their home

  • Image result for deforestationDeforestation – permanent destruction of forests for uses such as agriculture, farming, settlements.
  • Image result for chimps hunted for bushmeatHunted for bush meat – While bushmeat has always been a popular source of dietary protein for local communities, the scale of hunting has increased dramatically, and the activity has become heavily commercialized with much of the meat now going to urban residents.

The human-caused factors that have led to our environmental crisis

  • The ever growing rate of extinction of chimpanzees in the wild is a cause of modernity.
  • What does it mean to live in a modern world? Modernity can be described as the rate at which a rapid change in science and technology is evolving. To live in a modern society is to assume that science has the answer to everything.
  • Industrialization occurred primarily in the West before moving to the East. Could it be that the West is responsible for rapid industrialization which has resulted in a depletion of natural habitats, led to the extinction of species, caused the globe to warm or should both the West and the East share the burden of a modern life which has lead to the pressing issue of an environmental crisis?
  • We live in a data driven, scientifically focused society – A society where there is a relentless economic exploitation of nature and the consumption of its resources.

Why Should we Care About Saving Chimpanzees?

If awareness of the preservation and ecological concern for chimpanzees is not raised, the human-caused factors such as deforestation that are leading to their decrease in population size will keep increasing and the burden of humanity killing its environment will become that much heavier.

Image result for chimpanzees

How does saving chimpanzees  contribute to the idea of a religious ecology? Different groups within different religions have differing ideologies of how they view their relationship between man and nature. Just like Pope Francis we can imagine a world in which all people, of varying religious groups shared the same ideology, one in which man didn’t exert dominance over nature but instead showed stewardship towards it. Small everyday actions such as recycling (P.S. take my survey about why people recycle here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3GTHQJY ) can prove to have a domino affect of greener actions on everyone around you.

Ashley

 

Does a World Leader Have Impact on Society?

What happens when people in positions of power make bold statements?

Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ was the first encyclical written entirely about the environment and it is also the first to identify global climate change in such a high manner from the church’s highest leader.

  • Laudato Si’ is shaping the current and future conversation about ecology nationally all around the world, but most importantly it is bringing forth action.   It is calling for a shift in mindsets, morals, attitudes, and values.
  • Catholic organizations such as St. Michael’s Parish in Poway, California  is starting to notice change in the conversations of their parish attendees.  ““People are buying into this,” Father Dolan said, explaining how topics on the environment and sustainability come up in parish conversations, even during coffee-and-doughnut gatherings after Sunday Mass. “We have to think on a global level. This is no longer just a regional thing. We have to reach into this call to stewardship.”
  • All parishes in San Diego installed solar power due to a “push” by Pope Francis. According to CatholicPhilly, the diocese reported that out of 98 parishes and 89 schools, more than 50% of them had agreed to install solar panel systems.
  • The Archdiocese of Atlanta has adopted a wide-ranging action plan that included stopping the use of plastic foam cups and bowls, teaching their attendants about the encyclical, organizing retreats based on ideas of sustainability, providing workshops for the development of a parish garden and helping people become aware that their buying habits matter.
  • Catholic organizations all around the world are making Pope Francis’s vision a reality.

“A Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate poll conducted in May 16-26 found that Catholic adults are more likely to be concerned about climate change than other Christians. The poll discovered that 68 percent of Catholics felt they have a moral responsibility to act to mitigate climate change. In contrast, 65 percent of other Christians and 59 percent of evangelicals held a similar view.” Perhaps Laudato Si’ has provided people with the willingness to interact with a solution to global climate change.

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Pope Francis is calling for an interreligious dialogue to share stewardship for our common home.

The church’s highest leader places a emphasis on stewardship for the environment and Catholics listen more carefully. Pope Francis’s encyclical alone might not have a huge impact, but if it is followed up by people of all faiths then the world will experience a global response and coming to action.

Pope Francis’s calling of the earth “Our Common Home” was not accepted with open arms from all religious communities. How much does his encyclical push the opposition? This is what I will be exploring in my next post.

Ashley

P.S. I am interested in the reason as to why people recycle, if they do why? And if they don’t recycle, why don’t they? I have created a quick survey that will only take a few minutes of your time to answer this very question.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3GTHQJY

 
 

We Must Heal the Commons

The Tragedy of the commons, by Garrett Hardin, makes clear that environmental issues like that of the nuclear arms race are national and global security issues. Hardin places a strong emphasis on the fact that the nuclear arms race “has no technical solution.” Could this also be true about the environmental crisis as well?

 
The commons is a public plot of land that no one person has ownership or dominion over, but rather it is shared by every person in a community and owned by the government. This common place was not good enough for farming but was good enough for pasteurizing animals. There are many problems that arise when multiple individuals share a common space.

 
The main ideas of this article:
• Overpopulation: the individual impacts are small but the impacts of a group are huge and no one person is responsible.
• Over consumption: a technical solution would be to stop consumption of a certain substance. The problem is that people will find a way around it and consume that substance anyway. This leaves seeds of problems unseen.
• Economics and human behavior: The tragedy of the commons is presented as a mathematical equation. On an economic level, each individual will act to maximize his utility. For example, each individual increases his herd without limit.
• Pollution must be prevented by coercive laws or taxing devices. Pollution is a consequence of overpopulation.
• Temperance is self control or limit. This would involve an individual and collective movement that has to do with some type of morality to prohibit a certain behavior.

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The commons serves as a metaphor for the planet. The commons problems of depleted natural resources, over fishing, over hunting, et cetera have resulted because no one has an economic incentive to limit their fair share. The problems that the commons caused mentioned in the main ideas above, such as over population, do not have a technical solution. Looking for the answers through science and technology will only make the situation worse. Rather the solution but be a nontechnical one and I feel the same way about our current environmental crisis. In order to improve the crisis one must look to nontechnical solutions whether that be in religion, education, government or any other area of life.

To heal the commons, we must first heal ourselves.
Ashley

Encouraging a New Social Norm

Governor Andrew Cuomo declined the passing of the a bill that would have imposed a 5- cent fee on plastic bags because it would allow the profits from the plastic bag fee to be kept by the owner of the store. He also claimed that the plastic bag fee would end up as burden on poor consumers, for whom the convenience of plastic bags was an everyday practicality.

In my opinion these are the reasons why New York should charge for plastic bags:

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The awareness of a problem does not lead to a change in behavior. People who learn about the importance of clean energy do not necessarily start using clean energy.The sudden change in action for a person to opt for a reusable bag rather than a plastic bag with a fee attached to it is most likely not coming from a sudden concern for the environment or the planet; but rather the option to choose a reusable bag rather than a plastic bag results from behavior. What we need to be doing is to encourage a new social norm.Everyone starts doing it because everyone else was doing it.

What better way to encourage a new social norm than for the government to set the precedent. A social norm that encourages the endless use of plastic bags. Attaching a 5-cent fee to plastic bags would be a step in the direction of a greener planet and a greener America.

Ashley

 

 

Creating Ecological Cultures

We need a reconstruction of science and culture; the marriage between technology and science has shown ruthlessness towards nature. Most people today have a modern or capitalistic mindset; it is taught in classrooms, depicted through news stories and of course occurs in politics. This mindset teaches us the idea that we can think our way out of a problem, even on a global scale and implement a solution. But what happens when science alone can no longer fix our problems?

In the Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis by Lynn White, White speaks about what he has come to believe is the main root or cause of our environmental crisis. Much like the authors John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker of the book Ecology and Religion, White speaks about the idea of modernity being the cause of the environmental crisis. “Formerly man has been part of nature; now he was the exploiter of nature,” this sets the tone for the rest of the paper where White defines the relationship between humans and the natural world. He depicts this relationship in a negative way, a relationship in which “Man and nature are two things, and man is master.” White thinks that science and technology which originated in the West grew out of a Christian outlook in which man has dominance over nature.

White claims that “Hence, we shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.” Since our problems are so deeply rooted in the ideas of westward expansion, science and technology can not alone solve the problem of our ecological crisis; White believes “…The remedy must also be essentially religious.” I agree with White, when he says the crisis has only gotten worse as science and technology has continued to advance. If science and technology cannot in fact provide us with a solution, we must look to a different source. One source is religion; religious groups can serve as a vehicle for environmental change.

 

Similarly to White, Grim and Tucker, I believe that our environmental crisis will continue to worsen unless the necessary first step of changing the mindset of people all over the world is taken. A problem caused by the very thing, science and technology, that is trying to fix it, will inevitably result in a never ending cycle of one crisis after the other. The solution to our environmental crisis must be one in which science and religion work together to create an ecological culture.

 

 

 

Ashley

A War of Ideologies

 

Modern life has led to our current environmental crisis. This crisis includes issues such as: global climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, etc. In an effort to combat these environmental issues the global population must come together to create an ecological culture that shares the ideology that man is a part of nature rather than man has dominion over nature. One’s ideology of modernity and religion will shape how one views the environment and the crisis of our present day.  

What does it mean to live in a modern world? The rapid rate at which change, advancements in technology and science is occurring has led to more development in technology now than ever before. To live in a modern society is to assume that science has the answer to everything.

“Western industrialization was driven by the dream of improving human well-being and yet has resulted in unintended environmental consequences” (Ecology and Religion). 

Industrialization occurred primarily in the West before moving to the East. Could it be that the West is responsible for rapid industrialization which has resulted in a depletion of natural habitats, led to the extinction of species, caused the globe to warm or should both the West and the East share the burden of a modern life which has lead to the pressing issue of an environmental crisis?

In chapter 11 of Explorations in Global Ethics, Kusumita Pederson included a quote from Lester Brown that reads, “In a sustainable economy, human births and deaths are in balance, soil erosion does not exceed the natural rate of new soil formation, tree cutting does not exceed tree planting, the fish caught do not exceed the sustainable yield of fisheries, the cattle on a range do not exceed its carrying capacity, and water pumping does not exceed aquifer recharge. It is an economy where carbon emissions and carbon fixation are also again in balance. The number of plants and animal species lost does not exceed the rate at which new species evolve.”

Brown describes what an environmentally sustainable economy would look like. It reads much like that of a Utopian society, one that is far out of reach due to the modern lifestyle of both the West and the East where there has been relentless economic exploitation of nature and the consumption of its resources. All throughout history the world’s religions have been able to create change; the hope is that religion could act as a vehicle of change for environmentalism. Through religious practices, rituals, and traditions it could be possible to educate people of faith to be more in tune to the rhythms of nature and the environment; this is the goal of religious ecology. 

If sustainability goals are not met, the human-caused factors of this crisis will keep increasing and the burden of humanity killing its environment will become heavier. Different groups within different religions have differing ideologies of how they view the relationship between man and nature. Imagine a world in which all people, of varying religious groups shared the same ideology, one in which man didn’t exert dominance over nature but instead showed stewardship towards it.        

Ashley

Religion is playing catch up to Science

There is a crisis and it is serious. At this point in history there is enough scientific evidence to explain and prove that global climate change is indeed happening, despite what our president has to say about it. I would consider myself an environmentalist, a tree hugger if you will. I feel spiritually connected to nature.  This idea of environmentalism has been described by some as a spiritual or religious movement.

If indeed environmentalism could be described as a religious or spiritual movement then maybe science and religion are more connected than we think. Environmentalism, religion, and spirituality are three words I would have never connected to one another until I started reading the book Ecology and Religion by John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker.Their book is “based on an exploration of religions as vehicles encouraging change of attitudes and value regarding the environment.” Over the next couples of posts I hope to explore this idea of religious ecology with my readers.

By examining sacred text quotes we can develop an understanding of the relationship between religion and the environment.

Genesis Chapter 1

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

The word”dominion” in the first line dictates the relationship between humankind and the rest of the creatures on earth. The word dominion has a negative connotation and takes on the meaning of control, dominance or power. There is not an equal relationship between humankind and other creatures; in fact humankind controls the other creatures that inhabit the earth. Dominion also brings about the question of responsibility, just because one has control over someone or something else does that also mean one would have the responsibility of watching or caring for someone or something else? To me dominion means you do what you want, just as a King who rules with absolute power can choose to rule with an iron fist. The relationship between humankind and animals can be explained using one word, control, but the relationship between the creator and humankind is much different. According to this religious tradition God created humans in his own image, he had a specific purpose to making humans and in doing so they share a special relationship with God. This relationship to the creator makes humankind the closest connection to the creator himself and allows humans to assert this dominion over other creatures.

The Bhagavad Gita

“I am the Self seated in the heart of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle, and the very end of all beings.” All beings have, therefore to be treated alike.  Sloka 20, Chapter 10.

The religious tradition of Hinduism the Bhagavad Gita is much different than that of Genesis.  The creator says that the creatures and humankind  shall be treated equally. Not only shall they be treated equally but the creator is a part of the creatures and humankind unlike Genesis where the creator creates humankind in his likeness, to mirror his image but he himself is not a part of humankind. The word Self refers to many gods of one divine being – Brahman. In the Bhagavad Gita the creator or Brahman is present in both the spiritual and material world, he is within every part of the universe. One world cannot exist without the other because the creator is the beginning, the middle, and the end. If you omit the middle, the story ceases to be a story. The very last sentence reiterates that this religious tradition believes that the relationship between humankind and the rest of the creatures that roam the earth are equal, unlike Genesis where the religious tradition is that humankind and the creatures of the earth do not share an equal relationship, but humankind has dominion over the creatures of the earth.

The idea of religious ecology, that which incorporates religion and the environment together will explain what might be the contributions of religions towards environmentalism and this is what we will uncover in my next post.

Ashley