City hopes to use ST composting program as model for other multi-family buildings

Stuyvesant Town Director of Environmental Services Rei Moya, Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk, Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, David Hurd of GrowNYC and Stuy Town resident Deborah Brozina (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town management and the Department of Sanitation are trying to raise awareness about the property’s efforts to compost food waste, and hopes to use the property as an example of how larger multifamily buildings can do this successfully.

DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia visited Stuy Town last Wednesday with representatives from greenmarket organizer GrowNYC and NYC Organics, the branch of DSNY that runs the compost collection program, to check on its progress.

The program officially started in Stuy Town and Peter Cooper on December 2 and director of environmental services for STPCV Rei Moya said that it took about a month to hit its stride. Moya recommended that residents who want to start composting can collect their food waste in the freezer and empty it directly into the brown bins in building recycling areas. The program will accept food scraps, food-soiled paper and plant clippings. He added that he has started composting in his own apartment and invested in a countertop container, lined with biobags that can be purchased at places like Walgreens or local supermarkets.

“Because the moisture just seeps out and dries up, there’s no smell,” Moya said.

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ST composting effort keeps 10,000 lbs. of garbage out of landfill each week

Rei Moya, the director of environmental services at Stuyvesant Town with Rick Hayduk, general manager (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Rei Moya, the director of environmental services at Stuyvesant Town with Rick Hayduk, general manager (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, Rick Hayduk, the general manager of Stuyvesant Town, announced that the new owner was looking for ways to reduce the 80-acre property’s carbon footprint. This was mentioned after a decision was made not to bring back the heated sports tent that had been in the complex for two seasons. At the time, Hayduk said it wouldn’t be returning due to all the energy it took to keep the nearly three-story tent a comfortable temperature during the winter months, as well as noise complaints from neighbors.

Since then, Blackstone and StuyTown Property Services have made good on their commitment to undertake some environmentally-friendly initiatives. One in October was the installation of a weather monitor to be used by the property’s landscapers to prevent the grounds from getting over-watered. In June, the owner planted 30 new trees around the complex to replace those that had died over time due to disease or pollution.

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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 1

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why I’m grateful this holiday season

I thought it would be appropriate, given the time of year, to express some gratitude and optimism during these discordant times. The Stuy Town/Peter Cooper community has been through a lot and now our country, too, is facing some tough times.

As I take inventory of areas for thanks, I choose to look locally and at our great and diverse community.  We have to be ever mindful that our ST/PCV community is actually a small and complex city, with unforeseen challenges.

I am grateful that we have finally achieved some real stability in Blackstone as our still-newish owner and for their important choice to have key staff living among us, sharing our quality of life.  I am grateful for management’s clear voice and steady hand thus far. Grateful for their choice to keep long-serving staff like Bill M. and Fred K., who keep us safe and to Kathleen K. and Tom F. who keep us warm and our homes and buildings functional. For Rick H. and the new members of his team who are making real efforts to care for our community.

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14th Street Y composting program is offer members can’t ‘refuse’

Camille Diamond, who runs the new composting program, in front of the Y’s bin and scale Photo by Sabina Mollot

Camille Diamond, who runs the new composting program, in front of the Y’s bin and scale
Photo by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot
At the 14th Street Y, administrators have been hoping to get members to learn the joy of composting, a form of recycling of food scraps that reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
And so far, the new compost drop-off program — essentially a bin at the East 14th Street center’s lobby alongside a scale — has actually been a surprise success with its members, residents of Stuyvesant Town and the East Village, who’ve been showing more than just a fleeting interest in the waste-reducing activity.
This may be because, according to Camille Diamond, the Y’s communications director, who runs the program, the goal of the project was actually to demonstrate that composting is actually pretty simple. However, New Yorkers generally only get the opportunity to do it at greenmarkets, and even then, the food that can be composted is usually limited to produce and other items available at the markets. At the Y, other food waste can also be composted and then it’s all taken to a plant in Delaware that processes and then sells the compost to farmers.
“Composting is not something residents can do on their own,” said Diamond, adding that Y is “going to keep doing it until Manhattan decides to starts its own residential composting program. What we wanted to do is show people it’s pretty easy once they get into the habit of it.”
The program has also been used as an educational tool at the Y, which has a summer camp, and said Diamond, the kids have shown a genuine interest in the process.  “Kids understand what a landfill is,” she said. “My kids are saying, ‘Does this go into the landfill or compost?’”
Adults have too, considering that a composting workshop held at the end of June was a big hit and a couple of local restaurants, Northern Spy Food Co. and Hotel Tortuga, have offered gift certificates for participants who are automatically entered into monthly giveaways.
The composting program, which was the idea of Y member Laura Rosenshine, has been in place since March. Diamond said the Y had been looking at ways to make the building more green.
When food waste is emptied into the bin in the lobby, it goes into bio-bags, which are bags made of corn. Initially, the bags were picked up and taken away twice a week, but the pickups have become a little more frequent recently as more members have begun to participate. On average, around 300 pounds of composted materials have been coming into and leaving the Y each week and 180 member families have signed up for the program. To learn more, email camille_diamond@14streety.org.