START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Oct 18, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States

Clothes Make the (Green) Man (or Woman)

Look at what you're wearing... go ahead, look. What you see, whether made from cotton, wool, silk, rayon or leather, likely has a pretty hefty environmental impact. A recent report (in PDF) from the UK's Cambridge University notes that the clothes we wear represent large expenditures of energy, toxic chemicals (esp. fertilizers), and water (both in production and cleaning), and also create huge amounts of waste because of changing fashion trends. On average, every American throws away 68 pounds of fabric per year - that's over 10 million tons of waste annually.

Fortunately, greening your wardrobe doesn't have to mean buying all-new clothes (clearly, that's part of the problem). Rather, it involves choosing carefully when you do buy, and then lowering the use of energy and toxic chemicals when caring for them.

Your Action for Today:
Take a Look at Your Wardrobe

Take a look at the clothes you own, and think about your normal buying patterns. Answer the following questions in your Green Journal.

  1. Are you a "dedicated follower of fashion?"
    We all like to dress well, but constantly buying "the latest thing" contributes to an awful lot of waste. More timeless styles don't have to cleaned out every season.
  2. Do you buy all of your clothes new?
    Used and vintage clothes can be inexpensive, and carry a much lighter footprint - think of them as "offsetting" the purchase of a new item. Clothing swaps are becoming popular social gatherings, and allow you to change up your wardrobe frequently without as heavy an environmental footprint. On the flip side, when you're done with an item of clothing that's still wearable, donate it - don't throw it away.
  3. Do many of your clothes need dry cleaning?
    Traditional dry cleaning uses perchloroethylene (or "perc"), a highly toxic chemical. While some efforts are underway to change this, and some cleaners are adopting more eco-friendly practices, avoiding dry-clean only clothes prevents this dilemma altogether.
  4. Do you ever use a clothesline?
    Drying is the most energy-intensive part of laundering clothes. Cut your electric or gas bill (as well as your carbon emissions) by using a clothesline. If you use a liquid fabric softener, dry the clothes for five minutes to activate the softener, and then remove them and put 'em on the line.
  5. Are most of your clothes made from cotton?
    Traditionally-grown cotton needs lots of water and fertilizer; add the drying time and ironing needed to keep it looking good, and you've got a fabric with a massive environmental footprint. Organically-grown cotton is better, and much more available than in the past - Wal-Mart, in fact, is the biggest seller of the fabric. Synthetics that require little drying time and ironing are even greener. Fabrics like hemp and bamboo, while not yet as widely available as cotton, are catching on with designers... and they're much more eco-friendly.

Want a look at some of the most affordable green apparel designers? Check out the Green Life Guide, and our weekly series "Green Style Spotlight."

Tomorrow: Green Food by Subscription


Green Options

The GO Team

Visibility: Everyone
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted: Oct 18, 2007 8:53am
Sep 14, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Various
Location: United States
AUGUST 17, 2007



The No Spray Coalition is appalled by Mayor
Bloomberg's decision to renew mass-spraying of
dangerous pesticides in the Bronx and Queens.
Furthermore, we condemn the New York City
government's advice to residents and visitors
that they personally use insect repellants
containing DEET on themselves and their children.
DEET is especially dangerous for children and
should NEVER be used; it is associated with numerous infant deaths.

The No Spray Coalition is also deeply troubled by
NYC's reckless spraying of Anvil 10 + 10 to kill mosquitoes.

"After years of litigation to stop this reckless
spraying of pesticides which has contributed to
skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and
now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York
area, I am outraged that the Bloomberg
Administration is renewing its mindless criminal
poisoning of the people and environment of our
City," said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of
SOS-FOOD and a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit
brought seven years ago by the No Spray Coalition
and other organizations against Rudolph Giuliani
and the New York City government.

That lawsuit ended in April 2007, when NYC signed
a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other
stipulations, that pesticides:

- may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose
- cause adverse health effects
- kill mosquitoes' natural predators (such as dragonflies)
- increase mosquitoes' resistance to the sprays, and
- are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

The Department of Health contravenes that
settlement by now stating that "there are no
significant risks of adverse impact to human
health associated with the proper use of this
product," said No Spray Coalition coordinator
Mitchel Cohen. "This is simply not true," Cohen
said, claiming that the spraying puts many New
York City residents and visitors at grave risk.

"These kind of ignorant and lying politicians and
bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying
our health in order to 'save' us from the
so-called West Nile virus," Howard Brandstein
added. "Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a
thousand times more people than the disease."

The pesticide the City is spraying -- "Anvil 10 +
10" -- belongs to a class of adulticides known as
pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They
mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause
breast cancer in women and drastically lower
sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been
associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and
preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital
organs including the nervous system, liver,
kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin
rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical
piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental
Protection Agency lists as a suspected
carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin -- a
synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory -- as
well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls "inert ingredients.")

Thousands of New Yorkers were severely sickened
by the spraying in 1999 and 2000. A number of
members of the No Spray Coalition, including
several of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, died
from pesticide-related illnesses.

Many suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
(MC or Asthma caused or exacerbated by the
spraying. "The City administration must be made
to understand that pesticides are extremely
dangerous to human health as well as to the
natural environment, and have long-term consequences," Cohen said.

The No Spray Coalition strongly urges the City to
stop pesticide spraying immediately, reconsider
its entire approach, and seek alternative, safe
means to control mosquitoes. There are natural,
safe ways for each person to ward off mosquitoes.
The City should not be poisoning the entire population.

You can get more information at

No Spray Coalition
P.O. Box 739
Peck Slip Station
New York, NY 10272

hotline: #718-670-7110
website: <>

2. FROM JENNIFER JAGER,* Treasuer, No Spray Coalition

Mitchel Cohen, who coordinates the No Spray
Coalition, was asked how he survives financially.
"Well, I'm independently poor," he joked. In
reality, Mitchel is going through some very rough
times financially and needs our help.

Unlike most not-for-profit organizations, none of
us involved in the No Spray Coalition receives a
salary for our environmental and activist work.
We set it up that way intentionally. That way,
all funds donated to the No Spray Coalition go
directly into getting the issue of pesticides into the public consciousness.

So when Mitchel sent out a private appeal
recently for funds to enable him to reprint his
two poetry books -- "The Permanent Carnival" and
"One-Eyed Cat Takes Flight" (both with beautiful
cover paintings by artist/activist Haideen
Anderson) -- I thought that members and
supporters of our activist work might be
interested in helping him out. In exchange, he'll
send you one (or both) of his poetry books, which
he sells on the streets and subways of New York City for $14 apiece.

Brooklyn NoSprayer Meg Feeley read the manuscript
of "The Permanent Carnival" before it was
published. "I fell in love with some of these,
especially the lead poem, The Permanent Carnival.
Gorgeous, want to almost only have that one," she
wrote. "Really strong, free and lovely.
Important, too, the chronicle of a time when it
was (properly) dangerous and yet possible to
invent one's life in the context of a political
understanding. I will take another look when I
can, but I really wanted to let you know that in
a world with an awful lot of books, I think this
one's important to get out there ... "

Brown University Professor and historian Paul
Buhle, writing from Providence, Rhode Island, had this to say:

"I had 4 hours to read it on the train home and I
read every poem twice...some of them three
times....I am eager to review it for someplace.
The poems are splendid and a true representation of your menschlikhe self."

Mitchel's hard work and creativity have enabled
us to challenge and reshape the dominant paradigm
when it comes to pesticides. He was instrumental
in shepherding the No Spray Coalition's lawsuit
through the labyrinth of lies and denial, on a
shoestring. (By the way, under federal rules the
No Spray Coalition doesn't get a cent of the
settlement; the $80,000 the City agreed to pay
goes to five other grassroots environmental
groups that we selected for the great work they are doing.)

So, I am urging you to send directly to Mitchel a
sizable "thank you," in the form of much-needed
funds. If you can afford $100 or more, that's
great and very welcome. But even if you can only
afford $25, or $10, those add up and will go a
long way. For those who have more funds
available, please chip in for those who don't, in
appreciation of Mitchel's dedication and hard
work -- and receive one (or both) of Mitchel's
poetry books in exchange. (Mitchel says he'll
gladly send you a copy of either of the books
regardless of the amount you send him --
something about "from each according to their
ability to each according to their needs.") This
will allow him to continue to survive in New
York, publish his poems, and move forward with
the environmental and activist work that is so important to all of us!

Thank you,
Jennifer Jager

* I want to make clear that, for legal reasons, I
am writing in my capacity as an environmental and
social justice activist, not formally as
treasurer of the No Spray Coalition. The funds
you send to Mitchel as a result of this appeal
will not go to the No Spray Coalition, but to him privately.

Please send your check to:

Mitchel Cohen
2652 Cropsey Avenue, #7H
Brooklyn, New York 11214
(718) 449-0037

PAYPAL to Mitchel at


I have had the most beautiful hour just now,
reading your poems, communing with you, old
friend. You are still, always, a triumph of joy
and compassion and clarity. The title poem, The
Permanent Carnival, especially, evokes the
delight and pain of our lives, revives my memory.
I'm going to use your work as a model for mine. I
got back from the east coast and read your book
of poetry ... I loved it! Absolutely inspiring.
... I keep it by my desk now, enjoying the humor
and language. ...Thanks for all your great writing.
- Mark Rudd, Albuquerque, New Mexico

* * *

I like the poem that you sent -- especially the
images of broken cells and our silent partners.
Sometime we should exchange our writings, my short stories and your poems.
- Deeadra Brown, Jackson Heights, Queens

* * *
I Bought a copy of "The Permanent Carnival" from
you when you were selling them in front of the
Barnes & Noble on 7th Ave in Brooklyn, and I
wanted to let you know that enjoyed the book.
"Plowing the Snow" was my favorite poem.
- Michael Y, of Brooklyn

* * *
I heard you [read your poems] on Bob Fass' show
on WBAI last Thurs., and thought the program was terrific.
- Gloria Bletter, New York

* * *
We were listening when you were on WUSB radio
(Mort Mecklosky's show) about a week ago. Mitch,
it's so good to hear from you!!!!!! The poetry
and songs on the radio were really fantastic.
Sound a lot like my own thoughts in many ways. I
was looking for a Newsday photo of you, me and
Ron Kovic that I have somewhere. I'll send it
when I find it. It's here SOMEWHERE!!!!! Carry on the good work.
- Feliz, Port Jefferson, Long Island, NY

* * *
I really enjoyed the poems in The Permanent
Carnival. Warm, intelligent, lively, colorful,
passionate.. Good reading! Bravo. And the cover is gorgeous.
- Hazel Rowley, Cambridge MA

* * *
I have been meaning to e-mail you since "The
Permanent Carnival Poems" arrived in my mailbox.
It was the day of the huge storm that left us
without electrical power for 6 days. I couldn't
wait to read the poems the evening that they
arrived. In the midst of transformers blowing up,
and trees falling, I was tucked away with a
candle in my office reading "The Permanent
Carnival", "Nuclear Family", "Waitress From
Another Country", and others. I have yet to read
all of them. They are like a bag of "carnival
cookies" (my favorite as a kid) that I would
savor and only eat a few at a time.
- Debi, Olympia WA

* * *
Now I see why Saint Nicholas wears red...I
greatly appreciated the book you sent me,
especially the poem about your father (a perfect
little gem that deserves inclusion in an
important anthology). I also really liked your
spoof on Howl, although in the next edition I
suggest you change "gonadal streets" to something
else (but two syllables only in the adjective).
How about "broker's streets" (when I was working
third shift at law firms in the financial
district I truly did drag myself through the broker's streets at dawn).
- Dennis King, NYC

* * *
Thank you Mitch for putting history and emotions
together; thank you for telling about yourself
and about your feelings, those feelings that make
us be ourselves and, once exposed, permit others
to reveal their own, and share.
- Maurice Bazin, Florianopolis, Brazil

* * *
I am reading some of the poems in your Permanent
Carnival as I feel like it, the latest one
revolved around that waitress from another
country.... I was pleasantly surprised to find
that there are still activists who REALLY care for the body.
- Donia Mili, NY State


You can also hear Mitchel Cohen's environmental
activist reports every week over the internet on
"Steal This Radio", via Click on
At your convenience select one of the Steal This
Radio shows archived there, and click on the
arrow in the upper righthand corner. Lots of
great commentary, interviews, music and poetry in every show!

3. From Democracy Now – FM RADIO LICENSES

A once in a generation opportunity, hundreds of
Full Power FM radio licenses are available to
community groups across the country.
You only have two months to prepare your
application, you and your community group can do this - if you act now!

Please go to and fill out the form.

(make sure you fill out the questionnaire, and
put "democracy now!" in the How did you find out about question.)

Get more information at

4. LETTERS against the Spraying

Even tiny amounts of pesticides kill fish,
horseshoe crabs (which, in addition to being the
oldest creatures on the planet, are indispensable
for scientific research), butterflies, bees,
birds, dragonflies, frogs, and lobsters, as well
as mosquitoes and unwanted critters. The labels
on Malathion, Pyrethroids, and piperonyl butoxide
(a so-called synergist and a carcinogen) all warn
against spraying over or near bodies of water.

Pesticides are especially dangerous for brain and
nerve development in young children, and for
elderly people. Bicycles and Wheelchairs pick up
pesticides on their wheels and bring them into
the apartment or house. Children touch the sprays
and put their fingers into their mouths.

In April 2007, the City agreed to settle a
7-year-old lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani's
massive and indiscriminate spraying of toxic
pesticides brought under the Clean Water Act by
the No Spray Coalition, Beyond Pesticides,
Disabled in Action, and Save Organic Standards -
New York, and a handful of individual plaintiffs.
In addition to winning $80,000 for a number of
local grassroots environmental and wildlife
protection groups, as part of the settlement
agreement the City admitted that: "Pesticides may
remain in the environment beyond their intended
purpose, ... cause adverse health effects, ...
kill mos quitoes' natural predators, ... increase
mosquito resistance to the sprays, ... and are
not presently approved for direct application to waterways."

The following seven categories of published
studies speak directly to this grave issue, which
is one of extraordinary environmental INjustice.

i. Centers for Disease Control study that found
that all residents of the United States,
including residents of New York City and State,
now carry dangerously high levels of pesticides
and their residues in our bodies, which may have
onerous effects on our health. (Third National
Report on Human Exposure to Environmental
Chemicals, Centers for Disease Control, 2005);

ii. U.S. Geological Study, which shows that a
large percentage of waterways and streams
throughout the United States, including those in
New York City and State, has been found to
contain environmentally destructive pesticides
that may severely impact on animal and aquatic
life. (U.S. Geological Survey: The Quality of Our
Nation's Waters, Pesticides in the Nation's
Streams and Ground Water, 1992-2001,;

iii. Studies confirming that pesticides are both
a trigger for asthma attacks and a root cause of
asthma (Salam, et al: Early-life environmental
risk factors for asthma findings from the
children's health study. Environmental Health
Perspectives 112(6):760-765.), and that asthma is
epidemic throughout New York City;

iv. Cicero Swamp Study, showing that pesticides
killed off the natural predators of mosquitoes
and that mosquitoes came back much stronger after
the spraying, because all of their natural
predators (which have a longer reproductive
cycle) were dead. These studies were done in New
York state for mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine
Encephalitis, and found a 15-fold increase in
mosquitoes after repeated spraying, and that
virtually all of the new generations of
mosquitoes were pesticide-resistant. (Journal of
the Am Mosquito Control Assoc, Dec; 13(4):315-25,
1997 Howard JJ, Oliver New York State Department
of Health, SUNY-College ESF, Syracuse 13210, USA);

v. Studies that show that pesticides have
cumulative, multigenerational, degenerative
impacts on human health, especially on the
development of children which may not be evident
immediately and may only appear years or even
decades later (The Multigenerational, Cumulative
and Destructive Impacts of Pesticides on Human
Health, Especially on the Physical, Emotional and
Mental Development of Children and Future
Generations. A Submission to The House of Commons
Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable
Development by Physicians and Scientists for a
Healthy World, February 2000; Guillette,
Elizabeth, et al: Anthropological Approach to the
Evaluation of Pre-school Children Exposed to
Pesticides in Mexico. Environmental Health
Perspective, Vol. 106, No.6, June 1998; Kaplan,
Jonathan et al. Failing Health. Pesticides Use in
California Schools. Report by Californians for
Pesticide Reform, 2002, American Academy of
Pediatrics, Committee on Environmental Health;
Ambient Air Pollution: Respiratory Hazards to Children, Pediatrics 91, 1993);

vi. Studies that show that pesticides make it
easier for mosquitoes and other organisms to get
and transmit West Nile Virus due to damage to
their stomach lining caused by pesticides. (Haas,
George. West Nile virus, spraying pesticides the
wrong response. American Bird Conservancy, October 23, 2000); and,

vii. Studies that show that pyrethroid spraying
is ineffective in reducing the number of the next
generation of mosquitoes. (Efficacy of Resmethrin
Aerosols Applied from the Road for Suppressing
Culex Vectors of West Nile Virus, Michael R.
Reddy, Department of Immunology and Infectious
Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health,
Boston, Massachusetts, et. al., Vector-Borne and
Zoonotic Diseases, Volume 6, Number 2, June 2006)

The use of toxic pesticides to control mosquitoes
is a significant Environmental Justice issue;
there have been no realistic environmental impact
studies in the last few years on spraying in NYC;
no studies in NYC of the pesticide-spraying's
effects on human health and the natural
environment; and no studies of cumulative impacts
of different pesticides on the population.

If you live in NYC, were planning to visit but
are now having second thoughts, or if you just
want to express your opinion, please write to NYC
Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his website: .

Mr. Mayor,

I was considering visiting your great city this
coming September, but now have to reconsider my
plans due to your spraying of toxic pesticides in Queens.

I am a cancer survivor and do my very best to
limit my exposure to toxic chemicals. It is a
shame I can't visit and spend my money in your city.

Thanks for your time.

David Nickarz

Winnipeg, Canada


This is an issue that resonates highly with me
and my neighbors in north Flushing. I was
diagnosed with a blood cancer and suspect that
the malathion spraying in 1999 may have contributed to the illness.

The spraying was done without setting up a
control group to monitor the effects and other
environmental impacts of the spraying program.
While West Nile virus is a health issue of
concern, is the cure worse than the disease?
There are many people in this area of Queens who
may also have been negatively impacted.

The NYC Health Department has issued a PDF file
about the toxic material (Anvil 10+10 Sumithrin) being used:

This material is not as safe as the Health
Department would have you believe. Note the
caveat at the end of the PDF in section 15 "Other Information."

Another thing to consider is the fact that while
the material is sprayed at night, when the sun
comes up and starts to heat things up, the dew
and freshly sprayed chemicals will evaporate into
the air that is then breathed in by the people in
the area sprayed. This population includes
children, those with compromised immune systems, and just about everyone else.

And now here is something THEY really don't want you to know:

Where are the outcries from public officials on
this matter? Why is no one speaking out? Why is
Mayor Bloomberg so callous about the health of
the people in my North Queens neighborhood?

I hope this missive opens the eyes of the
citizens of this borough and city to the imminent
threat being imposed upon us by an unthinking and
uncaring New York City administration!!!

Alan Gross
College Point, Queens, NYC

I tried to get photos the night they sprayed
Flushing, but the night shots came out very
blurry. Although bilingual flyers had been given
out hours earlier about the spraying, they were
vague and noted zipcodes sprayed between 8pm and
6am but not specific streets and times. So at
8:10 when I went to take the photos, Main Street
was full of the usual heavy pedestrian traffic as
always. Fruit stands still had uncovered fruits
and vegetables; street peddlars were still on the
streets selling the usual toys and trinkets.
Macy's was full of shoppers and workers who would
have to leave through streets that could possibly
be sprayed. Crowds of people periodically emerged from the subways.

Luckily the spraying -- at that time -- was not
along Main Street. We were on Roosevelt and
Union, not as crowded as Main Street but still
with many people walking around, when we heard a
police car making a mumbled and unclear
announcement, I thought they were pulling someone
over for traffic. Then I saw the truck following
them, shooting big clouds of Anvil into the air.
I'd thought they would be spraying low but the
cloud was shooting high up into the air.

We ran in the opposite direction to get away from
the direct cloud then went back to get a photo of
the truck as it was leaving. The photo is blurry
but you can distinguish the cloud and that there are people on the street.

DayStar Chou
Flushing, Queens NY

No Spray Coalition
PO Box 739
Peck Slip Station
New York City, NY 10272

hotline: #718-670-7110
please hit "make a donation" button there
for credit cards and PayPal contributions
Visibility: Everyone
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted: Sep 14, 2007 10:26am


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