July 28, 2014
GreenHomeNYC’s Summer Sustainable Businesses Tour included a visit of three environmentally-responsible venues in Brooklyn:
Our first stop was Build It Green!NYC (BIG) – New York City’s non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials and other household items, including refrigerators, doors, appliances, and even books! The tour of BIG NYC was lead by Harvey Jaswal, who provided a thorough outlook on the history of the venue, an overview of the store’s storage spaces and items available for purchase. Harvey also discussed the process by which businesses, home owners and developers can donate materials and appliances to BIG during building renovations. These materials can then be purchased by people looking for rare and vintage materials for thier own renovations. Architects and designers are oftentimes able to find unique items for a great price here!
From Build It Green, we headed over to our next stop – Lower East Side Ecology Center E-Waste Recycling Center to explore a warehouse that allows residents to dispose of old or broken electronics in an environmentally-responsible way.
Our tour guide at this facility was Andi Villanueva – E – Waste Program Associate – who gave an eye-opening look at what happens to consumer electronics (computers, monitors and peripherals (printers, keyboards and mice) as well as TV’s and cell phones) dropped off at this site or collected via events all around the city. The drop-off center can accommodate nearly 260,000 pounds of e-waste and even has its own shop as well as vintage electric devices rental service.
Our final stop was Habana Outpost – the sustainable cafe in the heart of Brooklyn. A very upbeat and wonderfully informative tour of the venue was given by Zizi Morgan, the Café Manager. Among the features we observed were the solar panels the cafe uses to generate a portion of its electricity, the solar chandelier with solar-focusing panel which draws in light from the outdoors through fiber optic cables, recycling and compost stations, rainwater collection system, and the gray-water supplied bathroom.
Later on Mike, one of Green Building Tour volunteers, hopped on a bike that powered the cafe’s blender to prepare a delicious smoothie for the group. We then enjoyed our lunch served on biodegradable plates, working those compostable utensils, while sitting at picnic tables made from recycled plastic!