NEWS OF THE MONTH FROM THE TARRYTOWN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL

AUGUST 2021
WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT
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This month, check in on the health of our Tarrytown Lakes. Then rifle through your closet to find some things you don’t need anymore, and swap them out! Play a round of pollinator bingo in your garden, and create a delicious cashew pesto to spice up your meatless meals. Then join our meeting. It’s Thursday evening, August 5 at 7:00 on Zoom.

LOVE YOUR VILLAGE
JOINING TEAC IS EASY. JUST COME TO A MEETING________________________The Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council (TEAC) relies on volunteers to keep things moving. We’re a fun and engaging group of like-minded citizens working to make Tarrytown’s air, land, lakes and river healthier and cleaner.To exercise COVID-related precautions, our meetings are being held virtually on Zoom. Our next meeting is Thursday, August 5 at 7pm.Click HERE link to join the meeting.This month, we’ll hear from our committees: Lakes, Landscaping, Energy and Conservation, Trees, Placemaking and Zero Waste.If any of these committee topics interest you, please feel free to join us!

UN-GREENING OUR LAKES:
EXPERIMENTS TOWARD REDUCING ALGAE GROWTH IN THE TARRYTOWN LAKES
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BY Maxwel Lee, TEAC Student Volunteer
An aerial view of the Tarrytown Lakes in fall, showing algae growth north of the causeway.For more than a decade, there has been a severe algae problem within the Tarrytown Reservoirs, which has resulted in an imbalanced ecosystem and an unpleasant aesthetic.Having lived in Tarrytown for all of my life, I have seen this problem worsen each passing year. My family and I often use the trails that run along the reservoirs and they were a large part of my childhood.The town reached out to a private contractor, called EverBlue lakes, to find a solution to the algae problem. Though they have started to see some results with the use of a bioblast and dye, it is not a perfect solution.Invasive algae is a problem in bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and reservoirs all over the world and there is currently no known natural solution for it. This is why, with the help of a faculty advisor at my school, I decided to start an independent research project on finding a natural solution to eutrophication.

I learned that cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, was the predominant algal species in the reservoirs. Cyanobacteria is a harmful toxin that is associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is also responsible for harming the ecosystem within the reservoirs as shown by the fish kill in 2018.

After more research, I decided to run an experiment testing barley straw extract as a possible solution, as well as analyzing the effect of phragmites on algal growth (phragmites are an invasive plant that is found in abundance around the reservoirs).

My study yielded positive results: barley straw extract appeared to be a viable solution, and phragmites were found to encourage algal growth (a solution to eutrophication being to trim the phragmites at the beginning of the summer).

I created the extracts by boiling barley straw and phragmites in a pot of water separately. These extracts were then added to beakers containing waters from the reservoirs themselves.

To test the effectiveness of different concentrations of the extracts, different amounts of extracts were added to each beaker. All of the beakers were placed under grow lights to simulate exposure to sunlight and to encourage algal growth.

I decided to use chlorophyll α to measure algal growth. Algae gain their green color from a chlorophyll pigment located in the chloroplasts of their cells. Therefore, a higher amount of chlorophyll would indicate more algae and vice versa.

I measured the chlorophyll α concentration in each beaker weekly using a fluorometer (this device performed photoelectron spectroscopy upon each of the inputted samples to determine the concentration of chlorophyll). The experiment was run for 42 days.

Based on the collected data, I concluded from my experiment that barley straw extract, at certain concentrations, has strong antialgal activities. I also concluded that phragmites concentrations, at all concentrations, strongly encourage algae growth.

Though the chemical mechanisms that both extracts use are yet to be fully discovered, it is clear that both strongly influence algal growth: barley straw extract inhibits while phragmites extract encourages it.

This initial experiment yielded promising results and barley straw extract and phragmites removal could potentially be used in bodies of water around the globe. It could also serve as a potential solution to the algae problem in the Tarrytown Reservoirs.

Both of these solutions are cost-effective and, if implemented properly, could yield positive results.

WE DID IT:
PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF TAKING THE “PLASTIC FREE JULY” CHALLENGE
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BY Rachel Tieger, TEAC Co-Chair

Say “no” to broccoli wrapped in plastic at our local supermarket. 

This was my first Plastic Free July and it was extremely eye-opening. I was astounded by how many of my regular purchases come in plastic. My goal was to bring zero new plastic into my house, and absolutely no single-use plastic.

Happy Discoveries and Workable Solutions:

  • Bulk bins at Whole Foods and Mom’s Organic using cloth reusable bags

  • Dr. Bronner’s Bars for dishes, general cleaning and personal use

  • Whole loaves of unwrapped bread at the farmers market which I sliced and stored in the freezer

  • Refilled empty shampoo and other bottles at Mom’s Organic or the Refill Room in Hastings

  • Was gifted compostable doggie bags

  • Blueland.com for plastic free laundry soap and other cleaning products

  • Supported only establishments with sustainable take-out packaging

  • Found bulk tofu at Apple Farm in Cortland and brought my own container

  • Traveled with a bamboo utensil kit made by fromthefuturevintage.com/ for meals on the run and picnics

 

Landmines and Biggest Challenges:

  • Most bread is packaged in plastic, even at farm markets
  • Bottles of rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are all typically sold in plastic. You really have to hunt for vinegar in glass bottles these days.

  • Beware of everything in the frozen section

  • Beware of everything in the chips and snack aisle

  • My favorite boxed black bean pasta has an inner plastic pouch

  • Doggie bags in parks

  • Amazon orders

This experience will stay with me for a long time and will affect my buying decisions going forward. Luckily, “Plastic Free July” takes place in the heart of summer when many local fruits and vegetables are in season, so I was able to buy most of my food from the farmers market and prepare meals at home. The winter months will be much more challenging.

SOME MATH:
CHECK YOURSELF OUT FOR GEOTHERMAL!
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By Dean Gallea, TEAC Co-Chair

As mentioned in the last Newsletter, Tarrytown is embarking on a program called EnergySmart Homes, to encourage and incentivize the build-out of heat-pump technology for home heating (as well as home insulation and sealing). We will be covering this in upcoming outreach events and materials for Tarrytown and neighboring Villages.

I recently attended a webinar held by our Sustainable Westchester organization aimed at helping businesses determine the viability of adopting geothermal heating in their new or retrofitted buildings. An online tool developed by NYSERDA uses a custom GIS (Geographic Information System) map and information about the specific property to estimate the practical and economic tradeoffs of using ground-source heat-pump (GSHP) technology for heating and cooling.

Surprise, it also works for homes! When I typed in my address at geopossibilities.ny.gov, I got this response:

And, clicking the Explore Savings button produced a bunch of data, including this summary:

So, replacing my existing heating and cooling (HVAC) system with an electric GSHP system would cost me an estimated $13,135 more than would a conventional gas-fired HVAC system. Because ConEd electricity is pretty expensive, it would take 16 years for the overall savings to make up for the difference in costs. But, since electricity in Tarrytown comes from renewable sources, I would be reducing my carbon footprint by more than 7,000 kg per year, which is significant.

Since my gas furnace is pretty new and highly efficient, I’m not a candidate for fully replacing it with a GSHP. But I am planning to replace my outdoor A/C condensing unit with a AIR-source heat pump, which should supply most of the heat needed this winter, relying on gas for only the coldest days.

The tool is only an automated estimator, so if you are considering replacing your HVAC, it’s best to work with a contractor specializing in heat-pump systems to more-accurately determine your options and estimate costs. And to do an all-important energy audit to better understand the heat losses that might exist and how to improve your home’s overall energy efficiency.

POLLINATORS: BINGO!

By Cynthia Stegman

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It’s not just the bees that visit flowers and help pollinate everything from residential creeping ivy to commercial corn.

Ants, moths, flies, wasps, and even beetles also feed on nectar and spread pollen from plant to plant.

A whole variety of insects rely on plants as a food source and habitat throughout their life cycle, and by using native plant species in our home gardens, we can provide a naturally available food source to insects that might otherwise crawl into the house in search or food, or start to disappear from the area entirely.

We already know the benefits of planting native, helpful plant species (and if you haven’t seen the great information on Pollinator Pathways on the website [incl. link to that portion of website : https://tarrytownenvironmental.org/category/pollinator-pathways/ ], it is a fun and quick read!)

What is that?! The hummingbird clearwing, Hemaris thysbe, is a vital pollinator native to North America, and prefers to feed from pink and purple flowers. The clearwing is actually a type of moth.

Every plant attracts a variety of visitors. You can also encourage variety in your home garden by carefully selecting plants with different bloom times: aim for your garden to have at least one species in flower at a time throughout the growing season.

Even having just one plant in bloom provides a source of much-need nutrition for hundreds of pollinators and other beneficial insects a day.

One of the most common native pollinator plants is Milkweed, which attracts a whole variety of important insects and can be seen at many of our Pollinator Pathway locations.

This one plant attracts not only bumblebees but also leafcutter and carpenter bees; tons of butterflies including Swallowtails, American Copper and the Great spangled fritillary; long-horned beetles; hover flies; Delaware skippers; even some predatory bugs like Zelus luridus, the Pale Green Assassin Bug!

Can you spot AND name all of the pollinators enjoying this Milkweed ? Hint: there are six in all!

Are you tempted to cut those garden flowers and display them in a vase? Instead, play a game of Pollinator Bingo: leave the blooms intact, and try to catch all that plant’s pollinators in action!

Some ideas for Pollinator Bingo include: a classic bingo board to mark up when spotting each species of pollinator; trying to take a clear photo of each pollinator on each plant (they’re fast!); planning a garden that attracts and provides food for at least one species of pollinator all year long.

For example, the milkweed tussock moth, Euchaetias egle, relies on milkweed flower nectar as a main food source, and as larva their young rely on milkweed as a host plant, living on it and eating the leaves before creating their cocoon.

Monarch butterfly larva prefer to live and feed on young milkweed shoots, while the milkweed tiger moth prefers to live and feed on older milkweed shoots; the two are rarely found to be on the same stalk. A home garden that has plants in various ages and stages reflects a diverse and healthy ecosystem!

 


USE THIS IMPACT CALENDAR AND
GO MEAT-FREE!
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By Cari Newton

 

Are you curious how not eating meat helps the environment?

Meatfreemondays.com has a handy little impact calculator that will show the difference that you can make by participating in meat free Mondays.

To use the impact calculator, click here: https://meatfreemondays.com/calculator/ 

You enter how many people are participating, how many meat-free days a week, and for how long in years. For a cute little surprise, try to enter 8 in the days a week field!

Help conserve resources associated with animal agriculture by participating in Meatless Mondays, try eating only vegan on weekdays or for the biggest impact — as you now know after visiting the impact calculator — make a complete switch to only plant-based food.

Every little bit helps!

If you are just starting out and you feel like you can use a little extra help figuring it all out, find yourself an experienced vegan that is willing to be your “mentor” to help answer any questions you may have.

Their experience can provide the best product, recipe, and restaurant recommendations.

Also, there are many online and social media resources for information, recipes, support groups, and even fun social groups where you can learn about the best restaurants and vegan products that are available in your area.  As always, your local library is a great place to try out new vegan cookbooks. The Warner Library in Tarrytown has a nice selection to choose from.

DON’T THROW IT OUT:
GIVE/TAKE AT THE SWAP
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Bring your clean, good-condition, quality items to swap for something new!
Sunday, September 12 – 10am-4pm
Located outdoors at The Hastings Flea!
131 Southside Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

Please be sure that your swap items are in good shape! We are looking for CLEAN items in good condition.

Please only bring items that someone else would really love! For clothing, nothing too faded, no rips, tears, holes, or stains. No underwear or lingerie please. For housewares, bring only CLEAN working items in good condition. Nothing in need of repair please.

We are doing a textile recycling collection so feel free to bring those “unswappable” clothing, shoes, and linen items in a SEPARATE bag for quick sorting at the event.

Donation drop off 9am-2pm
“Shopping” 10am – 4pm

For more info and FAQ visit fromthefuturevintage.com
Reserve your “Ticket” to SWAP here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/166001678489
Sign up to volunteer at the event here:
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040C45A9AC2FABFF2-volunteer2
**Lunch and snacks will be provided for volunteers!
If you plan on participating in the SWAP and volunteering, please sign up for both.

Check out this little video about Zero Waste Wedding (in California) assisted by superstar TEAC volunteer Cari Newton. 

https://youtu.be/kigSD3GPMjQ

Stay tuned next month for a recap of planning and implementing a local zero waste wedding by another one of our dedicated TEAC volunteers!

DIG IN:
Vegan Recipe of the Month: Cashew Pesto
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By Cari NewtonSummer is in full swing, and the tomatoes and fresh basil are plentiful! This recipe is my dairy-free vegan version of Pesto. It’s a family favorite! I use cashews since I usually have some on hand, but sometimes I use pine nuts or walnuts.  If you need it to be nut-free, just omit the nuts and slowly add the olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency.This freezes well, so I usually make multiple batches and freeze in small jars to have on hand year-round.Vegan Cashew Pesto
1 ½ cups fresh basil
1 cup olive oil
1 cup cashews (roasted or raw)
5 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepperCombine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until nuts are ground. Should have a little texture and not be completely smooth.Serving suggestions:  spread on some nice bread, over pasta with cherry tomatoes and avocado, add a spoonful as a garnish to tomato soup, tossed on sautéed asparagus or broccoli. Possibilities are endless.

This freezes well, so I usually make several batches and freeze in small jars to have on hand year-round.

YOUR CHOICE?
D.I.Y… OR Local Curbside Composting Service
________________________Many of you are participants in our Food Scrap Collection program, keeping heavy, wet material out of our trash stream and turning it back into plant nutrients. You can get collection kits at the Warner Library for $20, including compostable bags. Find out more about it here: https://tarrytownenvironmental.org/local-initiatives/food-scrap-collection-program-compostingBut some people are turned off by the idea of schlepping their green bins down to the Riverside, where out drop-off toters are located. They say, “When we get curbside pick-up, I’ll do it!”Still waiting for curbside pickup to recycle your food scraps? Hudson Compost Services, an independent local company founded by now-graduated Hastings high school students is now available in Tarrytown!For $5/week with an annual agreement, or $6/week with a monthly agreement, they will pick up your food scraps in the bins they provide.Check out their website to learn more at hudsoncompost.com or send questions to support@hudsoncompost.com .

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

– Thomas Edison, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvy Firestone, 1931

Copyright © 2021 Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council, All rights reserved.

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