NEWS OF THE MONTH FROM THE TARRYTOWN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL

SEPTEMBER 2021
WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT
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This month: Appreciate the health of the Lakeslearn more about hydrogen, explore heat pump technology, take a hike, come to a Swap, propagate your seeds, and join our LIVE meeting at Pierson park Thursday evening, September 2 at 7:00!

LOVE YOUR VILLAGE
PARTICIPATING IN TEAC IS EASY… JUST COME TO A MEETING!
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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 celebrate the end of summer, we are meeting IN PERSON at 7pm Thursday, September 2, at Pierson Park, during the last outdoor concert of the season. We will meet next to the Picnic Pavilion (behind the senior center). Please bring a chair and feel free to come early with sandwich or your own picnic dinner!

This month, we’ll hear from some of our committees: Lakes, Landscaping, Energy and Conservation, and Zero Waste.

If any of these committee topics interest you, please feel free to join us!

IT’S NOT A POOL:
BIO-BLAST TREATMENT AT THE LAKES
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By Catherine Ruhland, Lakes CommitteeDid you spy three of these at the Lakes last week and wonder what the heck was going on? You were witnessing a Lake Savers “Bio Blast” treatment.

 

The “pools” were full of trillions of microscopic, organic, non-genetically modified biological organisms which are pumped into our upper lake to “eat” the increasingly larger amounts of algae that float in the water as well as some of the organic material that lies on the bottom of the lake.

A company called Lake Savers has been consulting with the Village of Tarrytown for over ten years working on different natural methods for reducing the algae growing in the lakes. The last few years they have done what they call a “Bio-Blast” in the early summer and then again in the later summer (this past week).

This effort, together with the aeration (bubblers that pump oxygen into the water) which helps break down plant material in the water (both floating and on the bottom) and the addition of dark dye earlier in the year which reduces the sun’s ability to promote algae growth, are all natural ways to try and reduce the growth of algae and slowly reduce accumulated phosphorus.

Two years ago, the village also harvested large amounts of algae growing in the upper lake with a specially equipped boat. Lake Savers has also placed charcoal filtration at one of the main inlets to the upper Tarrytown Lake.

While chemical herbicides and algaecides can be used, their side-effects include the accumulation of poisonous ingredients in the sediment on the bottom of the lakes and increasing resistance of the algae to those chemicals.

Watch this quick video to learn more.

https://everbluelakes.com/bioblast-bacteria-treatment/

WE DID IT:
PLANNING A ZERO-WASTE EVENT
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By Annie Kravet, TEAC

When we started planning our wedding, my husband and I knew we wanted to try our best to make it as low-waste as possible. We learned a lot along the way and while not perfect, we were happy that we were able to host a big celebration while being as gentle on the planet as we could manage. Even large gatherings can be carried out more sustainably with just a little preparation and planning!

Reusables & Compostables: We decided to do a mix of renting party decor and purchasing compostable items. We rented our cloth napkins and tablecloths, and purcached compostable plates, cups, and flatware. Purchasing compostables was a less expensive option than renting all of the dishes, glasses, etc, but renting is a good option as well. One unexpected downside of buying the compostables was that the sleeves of cups and stacks of plates came wrapped in plastic.

Food Waste: We already compost our food scraps at home, so we wanted to be able to compost the food waste from the wedding. I googled around and found a few companies that pick up compost from events, but unfortunately we were out of the geographical range of all of them except one, which it turned out couldn’t accept the compostable plates we had purchased. We decided to purchase large compostable garbage bags, and hall the compost away ourselves to a composting facility. In the end, the park in North Salem where we held the wedding told us they would have it picked up with their compost. It was a nice surprise not to have to fill our car with bags of compost!

A few things to consider: Make sure to label compost bins, garbage, and recycling clearly, and put out a few signs educating guests on what is compostable. Many people have never composted before, and oftentimes compostable cups look just like plastic cups, and well-meaning people end up throwing them into the recycling bin. Even with our labels we ended up doing a small amount of sorting after the reception. You learn who your good friends are when they help you sort compostables out of the recycling at the end of the night!


Decor: We kept our decorations simple and created our own bouquets of flowers to reduce the waste that often comes with floral arrangements done by a florist. We borrowed mason jars from a family friend for the bouquets, and washed and returned them to her after the event. We tried to find some fairy lights second hand, but ended up buying a few packs. I’m happy to say these have already been used for another event since, and we hope to lend them out to whoever wants to use them in the future.

Have you ever attempted to plan a zero-waste or low-waste event? Feel free to share more tips!

GREENWASHING:
WHAT ABOUT HYDROGEN?

By Dean Gallea, TEAC Co-chair
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You may have seen them: Articles in popular media extolling transportation’s “Hydrogen Future”, a nod towards the “greenness” everyone associates with a fuel that, when combined with oxygen to release the energy stored in its atomic bonds, leaves only water behind. 

Some may remember the experiment in high-school chemistry class: Two test tubes inverted in a beaker of salty water, current from a battery electrolytically dissociating it into its components – two parts hydrogen to one of oxygen. Wait for the bubbling gases to fill the test tubes – and light a match under the hydrogen one to elicit a “pop”, a flash, and a mist of water coating the tube. A fun demonstration of the simplest principle of electrolysis, converting one form of energy to another.

Commercial hydrogen production isn’t like that. Precious little is made electrolytically: Bulk hydrogen is usually produced by “steam reforming” methane or natural gas, currently the cheapest way. One downside to this process is that its byproducts are CO2, CO and other greenhouse gases (GHG), gaining its product the moniker “gray hydrogen”. And, even if some of these are captured and sequestered (thus producing “blue hydrogen”), there is still the use of natural gas in an energy-intensive process to make it.

Discounting for now a few other hydrogen production methods that may release less GHG but still use carbon-based fuels (or nuclear radiation, god forbid!), we are left with good old water electrolysis. With new methods like Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) cells, electrolysis has the potential for 86+% thermal efficiency in converting electricity to hydrogen, at a production cost competitive with carbon-fueled methods. This is “green hydrogen”.

So, 86% thermal conversion efficiency – the ratio of energy needed to produce the hydrogen to the energy it produces when burned – sounds pretty good, right? Even charging your EV’s lithium battery from ConEd electricity loses more than 14% in the process before the power reaches the car’s wheels. So, using a hydrogen-to-electricity fuel cell should be good, right?

Here’s the rub: There are many more impediments to efficient hydrogen production using the currently-scarce renewable resources needed. Let’s look at two scenarios.

  1. Green hydrogen that’s produced near where it’s used: The potential for renewable power to supplant carbon-based generation is greatest in populated areas, exactly where the industry is aiming the push to hydrogen as a green fuel. It makes no sense, then, to “downcycle” precious kilowatt-hours of renewable power through the complex, loss-prone process of creating and storing hydrogen, then generating electricity from it later. Instead, the green electrical energy is better used to directly reduce the need for carbon-fueled “brown” energy. Even if, down the road, there is more renewable power in a region than needed for immediate use, smart-grid technologies can kick in to charge electric vehicles or storage batteries. It’s really hard to envision a circumstance in which there is green electricity with no place to go, at least until we’ve reached the elusive zero-carbon future.

  2. Green hydrogen that’s produced far from where it will be used: This is the “off-grid” case, where – say, in an equatorial desert for solar, a distant mountain ridge or offshore for wind, or at a geothermal hot spring – there is lots of potential for green generation but little potential for nearby use. There, electrolytically-produced hydrogen could be produced and stored, and then transported hundreds of miles to where it could be used. But, the need for transportation is a major issue, and the costs and inefficiencies in concentrating the hydrogen and moving it in specialized tankers on highways or waterways to a site where the fuel can be used decreases the value of it significantly, to the point where it is not economically feasible.

So, on balance, hydrogen doesn’t appear to be a practical solution for carbon-free terrestrial energy in the near future. There is an area of transportation, though, where using hydrogen could be advantageous: The replacement of carbon fuels in ships (dirty bunker oil) and planes (jet fuel). In these cases, the weight of the alternative fuel is important, and hydrogen has a higher energy storage-to-weight ratio than does present battery technology. There are developments in these areas that bear watching, though with an eye towards detecting greenwashing – touting sustainability where it is not – in the technologies. 

https://www.reuters.com/article/shipping-energy-hydrogen-focus-int/first-wave-of-ships-explore-green-hydrogen-as-route-to-net-zero-idUSKBN27F18U 

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210401-the-worlds-first-commercial-hydrogen-plane 


GREENING THE VILLAGE:
ENERGY SMART HOMES EVENT AT THE LIBRARY
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By Lauren Brois, Program Director, EnergySmart Homes, Sustainable Westcehster 

Discover customized clean heating and cooling solutions for your home, understand how energy efficiency can save you money and energy, plus, learn about financial incentives and rebates offered by NYSERDA and Con Ed. Join us in-person at the Warner Library or on zoom on Wednesday, September 22 to meet the contractors and hear from your neighbors!
The Villages of Irvington, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, alongside the Irvington Green Policy Task Force, Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council and Sleepy Hollow Environmental Advisory Committee have partnered with Sustainable Westchester to bring EnergySmart Homes Rivertowns to our community.
 Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/1fLn9KI6G

MELANCHOLIA:
THE SEPTEMBER GARDEN
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By Mai Mai Margules

 

In September, many of our perennial “stars” begin to fade and a new cycle in the garden begins to emerge. Now color comes from native goldenrods, asters, sunflowers, blue mist flowers, Joe Pye weed and native grasses that will nurture pollinators and birds as Fall approaches.


Goldfinch on anise hyssop, late summer

Seed Collection

This is a perfect time to collect seed and prepare for new plantings. Natives such as milkweed, echinacea, bee balm, rudbeckia and bee balm are all going to seed now.

A general rule is to wait until the seed heads and adjoining stem are brown and dry and seeds come off easily when gently pulled. Once you have removed seed heads, dry them for several days, separate the seeds from the chaff, and store them in paper bags (not plastic, as plastic can allow moisture and mildew to collect).


“Ripe” echinacea seed head, with seeds

There are lots of great videos on youtube demonstrating the step by step process for identifying and collecting seeds for specific plants.

Propagating milkweed is a priority for many of us as we expand our efforts to save endangered monarchs. Collecting milkweed seeds and separating the seeds from the fluff requires a couple of extra steps and good timing. Mature milkweed seeds in the pod are dark brown; if harvested too early they will be immature and not viable. If you wait until the pod opens the seeds are ripe but you will need to separate the floss from the seed for long term storage, a painstaking activity.

If you have a milkweed pod that shows signs of being mature (dry stem, changing color), gently pull along the pod seam, if ripe it will easily open. Then hold the white fluff in one hand and pull the seeds off with the other. Again, there are many online videos demonstrating the process in detail. Don’t collect seeds from pods that have lots of the red milkweed beetles on them. Once you collect the seeds, dry and store them until you are ready to plant.   

Milkweed seeds can be directly sown outdoors in the fall. Just cover the seeds with ¼ “ of soil and water.  Milkweed, as well as many other natives, requires a period of cold stratification before being planted in the spring. This is a great winter project which we will discuss in detail in our December newsletter. So if you aren’t ready to plant now, keep your seeds in a cool, dry place until it is time to winter stratify in January.

Fall Planting

Fall is a wonderful and vastly underrated time for planting native perennials. All of our garden enthusiasm bursts out in spring as we emerge from the cold days of winter. For many, it seems counterintuitive to plant in the fall when the garden shows signs of going into dormancy.  In fact, many of our native perennials are best planted in the fall when the soil is warm and roots have time to become well established before winter. Just be sure to plant at least 6 weeks before the ground freezes solid. Early fall planting provides plants a head start to develop strong root systems before the following spring.

Also, there is a good selection of mature native perennials and plant plugs available now that are often scarce in the spring. Check your local nurseries for native plants, many may even be on sale as their foliage begins to go dormant.

A great affordable source for native plant plugs is Zoe’s Plants in Ardsley. For local plant plug pick-up, email mickey@zoesplants.com with your name and contact information. A bi-monthly update on current surplus inventory and info on how to make plant requests/orders will be provided.

Additionally WCC’s Native Plant Center will be holding its annual fall plant sale at Rosedale Nurseries in Hawthorne, 51 Saw Mill River Rd. on 9/11 and 9/12 from 9am to 5:30pm. A large selection of native trees, shrubs, perennials and native grasses are available. Volunteers from the Native Plant Center will be there to advise and answer questions.

So, as you see, September is a busy month for native plant gardeners. Whether you collect seed, plant or just sit back and enjoy watching the birds and pollinators forage, enjoy your fall garden!


Fall garden, with milkweed (foreground), orange cosmos and echinacea (coneflower).

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.

LOCAL HIKES:
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ANDRE BROOK TRAIL
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By Catherine Ruhland, Lakes Committee

An orange blaze marks the way along the Andre Brook Trail, part of the Tarrytown Lakes Trail system.

The Andre Brook flows down the hill from the Rockefeller Estate just north of Tower Hill/County House Rd. It daylights just east of Rt. 448 and lends its name to the “Orange Trail”, part of the Tarrytown Lakes Trail system.

In the late 1990’s, property owned by the Rockefeller family, including what is now known as Wilson Park, was sold to a developer who proceeded to design a traditional housing development of 24 houses.

Concerned Tarrytown citizens became involved and through cooperation with the Planning Board came up with a cluster plan of 14 houses surrounded by open space and a public park.

During that process local hikers and bikers saw an opportunity to incorporate several trail easements into the plans so that a trail could be built that would ultimately connect the North and South County Trailway with the Old Croton Aqueduct (“OCA”), two major, heavily used North-South trails.

While the property was sold and resold several times over the period 2005-2010, through all these iterations, the hikers and bikers made sure the trail easements remained on the plans.

In the meantime, the Tarrytown Lakes Committee applied for and received two grants (a Greenway Grant of $10,000 and a New York Department of State Grant of $100,000) to refurbish and expand the trail that had been created on top of the old railroad bed running next to the upper Tarrytown Lake. The Village of Tarrytown contributed another $100,000 to the project.

The village hired a local designer and went out to bid in spring 2012.

Hurricane Sandy (10/2012) put a kink in the trail plans. So did an encroachment just west of Wilson Park Drive and the Village itself when it required an engineer’s report for the deteriorated railroad bridge.

Work started in spring 2013 and was largely completed by winter 2013, though the railroad bridge took another year and a half to complete, and the Andre Brook Trail encroachment wasn’t eliminated until the summer of 2017 when that portion of the trail could finally be  completed—a proud moment for all involved in this tremendous effort.

The Tarrytown Union Free School District worked with the designer to outline the optimal location for the portion of the Andre Brook Trail running across the school property. It was decided the trail would skirt the upper practice field and continue down on the field’s access road to the northeast corner of the high school parking lot. As the parking lot is the only accessible path along the Old Croton Aqueduct (OCA), this was the end of the Andre Brook Trail.

Sadly, the school district has recently locked the gate and hiker’s doorway, blocking access between the end of the trail and the parking lot/OCA. Oddly, the district seems to want bikers and hikers to go down a long cement staircase (located in the middle of the western edge of the upper field) and cross over just south of the turf football field to get to the OCA.

For bicyclists this is really tough, as the stairs lack a parallel side path to roll a bike down. A better option for bicyclists is to go down the access road to a spot where one can walk the bike along the football field’s chain link fence over to the opening in the center of the sports field leading down to the parking lot.

Signage will have to be created to make hikers and bikers aware of these unfortunate changes.

DIG IN:
Vegan Recipe of the Month: Caprese Skewers 
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By Cari Newton

We are still learning more about the dangers of animal agribusiness to our planet. 

The world’s resources are being exploited for the meat and dairy industry at the detriment of our health and environment. A 2019 analysis by researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Minnesota has identified a range of “win-win” foods that both improve human health and have a low impact on the environment.

Lead author Dr Michael Clark, of the Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) project at the Oxford Martin School, and the Nuffield Department of Population Health, says “Diets are a leading source of poor health and environmental harm. Continuing to eat the way we do threatens societies, through chronic ill health and degradation of Earth’s climate, ecosystems, and water resources.”

Choosing better, more sustainable diets is one of the main ways people can improve their health and help protect the environment. How and where  a food is produced also affects its environmental impact, but to a much smaller extent than food choice,” said Dr Clark.

“The study adds to the growing body of evidence that stresses that replacing meat and dairy with a variety of plant-based foods can improve both your health and the health of the planet,” said co-author Dr Marco Springmann, of the LEAP project and Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health.

The full paper, ‘Multiple health and environmental impacts of foods,’ is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

You can do your part to help conserve resources associated with animal agriculture by participating in Meatless Mondays, try eating only vegan on weekdays or go full speed ahead and 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.

To get you started, here is a quick, easy, and delicious vegan recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli. It’s especially great in summer when the tomatoes and basil are plentiful!  I make this recipe a lot. I usually double it and sometimes instead of using skewers, I make it a meal and toss all the ingredients in a salad with some balsamic vinaigrette.  A balsamic reduction is particularly amazing on this dish as well!

 

Caprese Skewers

Ingredients:

7 oz extra firm tofu, drained, patted dry with a towel, and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 tablespoon of olive oil

½ teaspoon of sea salt

¼ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

½ cup of fresh cherry tomatoes, halved

½ cup of fresh basil, loosely packed

Balsamic vinegar for drizzling

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, toss the tofu, oil, salt, and pepper.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add tofu mixture. Sauté tofu cubes until all sides have been cooked and lightly browned.

Skewer 1 cube of tofu, one half cherry tomato, and 1 basil leaf on each toothpick or skewer. Drizzle with vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

“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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