Archive for January 2012

Thursday, Feb 2 is Film Night in Woodstock & Ulster Countywide

January 30, 2012

Join friends and neighbors this Thursday night at the Colony Arts Cafe, 22 Rock City Road, Woodstock, for a film event that will simultaneously link environmental advocates throughout Ulster County.

Doors open at 6:30 PM, the movie “Fixing the Future” starts at 7:00PM. An engaging community discussion will follow the film.

E-mail to receive the following:

  • Woodstock Transition Film Showing Press Release
  • Woodstock Transition Film Flyer
  • Ulster countywide Press Release

The Transition environmental movement has gained so much traction in Ulster County over the past year that five Ulster County Transition Initiating Teams will simultaneously show thought-provoking films followed by discussions on Groundhog Day, February 2 in their respective towns.

The synchronized countywide film showing reflects the momentum building in Ulster County environmental collaboration among Kingston, New Paltz, Marbletown, Woodstock and Saugerties. Neighbors have been coming together in response to the Transition Movement’s invitation to build connected, just and sustainable communities.

The Transition Movement is a global, grassroots environmental initiative which provides communities with tools to mobilize their unique local resources and “transition” from fossil fuel dependency to sustainable lifestyles.

Woodstock Transition looks forward to welcoming you at the Colony Arts Cafe this Thursday, February 2 at 6:30PM


Meeting Summary: Managing Woodstock Waste: When We Throw Something Away, WHERE IS AWAY??

January 16, 2012

Overview of the Transition Movement – Pamela Boyce Simms

The Transition Initiative is a global, grassroots, leaderless, environmental sustainability movement that began in the United Kingdom.

There are currently 382 official initiatives and 458 “muller” (early-stage) initiatives in 34 countries.

Ulster County initiating groups exist in Woodstock, Kingston, Saugerties, New Paltz and Marbletown.

Transition is a local level response to the twin phenomena of climate change and peak oil (Peak Oil – the point at which crude oil extraction can no longer increase and global petroleum production goes into irreversible decline; which occurred in 2006)

There is a recognition that given:

  1. the reality of accelerated climate change, dwindling fossil fuel reserves, and,
  2. how dependent our lifestyles are on easy oil and stable climate…

we’re in for a radical shift in the way we’ve become accustomed to living.

Transition facilitates the shift to simpler, high quality lifestyles with an emphasis on joyful community building and deepening relationships with our neighbors.

The Woodstock Transition Initiating Team is a group of environmental advocates who have come together for a time to offer public awareness sessions on various topics that will need to be addressed locally in order to create a sustainable future.

A large-scale festival will follow the public awareness series, from which will proceed a number of topic-specific working groups. The working groups will take on projects designed to wean Woodstock from fossil fuel dependency and move the town as a whole toward sustainable living.

Opening Exercise – Questions answered in pairs – Polly Howells

  • Can you imagine what the world would be like if we no longer depended on fossil fuels?
  • What are some of the obstacles to creating a world that is free of fossil- fuel dependence?Introduction of Speakers – Kevin Kraft

Panel Presentations
Jonathan Kaplan, Waste Management Services

Opening Question Posed: Are you a stakeholder in solid waste?

Answer: We are all stakeholders in waste management.

Waste Management, a company that employs 55,000 people and has a presence in almost every state as well as internationally, is a landfill revenue generated company.
Company revenue has decreased because there is less waste going into landfills due to the downturn in the economy; especially since 2008.
Waste Management’s CEO speaks of the “Transition” in process which is deeply affecting solid waste companies.

There is a correlated ratio of a society’s prosperity to its waste generation and accumulation.

Waste Management created Strategic Leadership Teams in response to the reduced amount of material being sent to landfills. Company adaptations to recent harsh economic realities have resulted in:

  • the development of innovative ways to find value in discarded material,
  • Waste Management becoming a leader in landfill technology,  creation of the “Eco-plex”: a transfer station hub that acts as an

umbrella for a composting operation, recycling, e-scrap, medical and hazardous waste collection.

Jonathan encouraged the group not to use the word “garbage” which devalues the intrinsic usefulness of discarded material in landfills. An example of the value in discarded material is Waste Management’s collection of landfill gas from decomposing material for conversion it into liquefied, compressed natural gas to fuel company collection vehicles.

Compacting of discarded material is key; in the home, in the collection vehicle, and in the land fill. Landfills are a better bet than burn plants. New York has two modern, responsibly managed “single stream” (mixed recyclables) transfer stations:

  1. High Acres in Rochester and,
  2. Seneca Meadows in Syracuse which is the fourth largest transfer station in the US.

Michelle Bergkamp, Recyling Coordinator, Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency: oversees 15 town transfer stations and a countywide composting pilot program.
The goals of her agency are:

  1. wastereductionand,
  2. the promotion of recycling.

County Waste transfer stations are dual stream facilities. Separation of the recyclables is done at the transfer station. The material is then forwarded for remanufacture into new materials.
Dual stream facilities are more labor intensive operations than single stream plants but produce a higher quality recyclables output. They are receiving less discarded material now because much more is being sent to single stream facilities.

Ulster County transfer stations are hubs of activity where neighbors encounter and spend time with each other.

County Waste accepts hazardous, pharmaceutical, and electronics waste at quarterly events. The next event will take place on April 28.

As of January 1, 2012, electronics are banned from landfills. The Kingston transfer station now therefore accepts electronic material from households and businesses with 50 employees or less Monday through Friday.
The transfer station has an expanded list of acceptable plastic recyclables that includes every type of plastic other than PBC, Styrofoam and black microwavable plastics.

They promote and sell backyard composters.

Mila Funk – a Certified Permaculture Designer from Nurture Nature Designs spoke about what we can do before we get to the point of discarding something.

The average American produces 1,200 lbs of organic material that ends up in the garbage.

This material, including kitchen scraps and yard waste can be used to create rich soil.

People are hesitant to compost because they think the smell will attract animals, namely bears. There isn’t any appreciable smell if composters use the correct ratio of brown matter (such as wood chips, leaves, saw dust), to kitchen waste. The ratio is 30:1, carbon: nitrogen. Carbon produces the energy and nitrogen produces protein.

Worm bins are a composting option. Red worm wigglers, given some moisture and food can produce rich compost in 6-8 weeks.

Sheet mulching creates rich garden soil by layering decomposing matter. the layers consist of : manure, cardboard, [ carbon layer – leaves, hay, wood chips. straw and sawdust], compost/manure and seed-free mulch.

Steve Noble is an Environmental Educator for the city of Kingston who also works with the Kingston Land Trust.

Steve raises awareness among Kingston residents and youth about sustainable lifestyle choices.
In addition to the three “R”s…. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, Kingston residents are asked to “Rethink” how the choices they make impact the amount of waste they generate.

Awareness is raised through educational initiatives and activities such as:

  • Measuring Carbon Footprints
  • Climate Action Plans
  • Greenhouse Gas Inventories

Emphasis is placed on habits that citizens can most easily manage, e.g.:

  • creating “litterless lunches”
  • buying products such as laundry detergent in bulk
  • bringing your own shopping containers to stores

Question & Answer Period – Kevin Kraft, Moderator
Comment: Education about how people can change their habits is key. European recycling (detailed separation of brown, green, clear bottles) was offered as an example of how sustainable habits can become ingrained.
Comment: Public water fountains are disappearing Comment: Public water is often undrinkable
Comment: Ulster County schools educate students about the virtue of not using water bottles. They promote student use of “go green bottles”
Comment: Investigate a public awareness campaign about buying bottled water called, “Think Outside of the Bottle.”

Terms clarification:

  • “Mining” a transfer station – pulling valuable materials out of discarded material such as reclaimable metals; which is a labor intensive process
  • MRF – Materials Recycling FacilitDual Stream MFR – facility where fiber is separated from glass and cans
  • Single Stream MRF – facility where recyclables are mixed which does not require consumer separation, does not require consumers to devote so much space to recycling (bins) and therefore increases consumer compliance

Question: Do Waste Management and County Waste make money on recycling?
Answer: Yes

Qualification: County Waste has been at a decided economic
disadvantage to Waste Management since the latter converted to single stream MFRs. County Waste now receives much less discarded material.
Comment: County Waste is a public benefit corporation set up by the NY State legislature with a contract through 2025. The Executive Director of County Waste reports to a Board of five members appointed by the NY state legislature.
Comment: One of County Waste’s roles is to enforce recycling.
Comment: In some NY areas, e.g. Westchester County, recycling reinforcement is so tight that ticketing for violation is a major revenue earner.
Question: Are there enough companies to remanufacture recyclables? Answer: Not in the United States. The material for remanufacture, e.g., cardboard is shipped abroad for remanufacture. The Chinese set the global market price for cardboard.

Session Closing Question – Polly Howells

What in the evening’s discussion inspired group members and/or prompted them to take action?
Some Answers:
…..the fact that discussions like this are happening….. … collaboration and learning about what others are doing …..Waste Management’s proactive environmental approach to reinventing itself. …..Catskill Mountainkeeper encourages Woodstock to do community

Announcements – Susan Moran

The next Woodstock Transition Public Awareness Event


What:   Showing of the movie “Fixing the Future” Discussion Session: Woodstock’s Sustainable Future
When:  February 2, Groundhog Day 6:30 PM – Doors Open 7:00 PM – Film Showing
Where:   Colony Arts Café 22 Rock City Road Woodstock
More information:

Managing Woodstock Waste: When We Throw it Away, WHERE IS AWAY???

January 12, 2012

 When:   Friday, January 13, 2012   7:30-9:30 PM

Where:  Woodstock Reformed Church, 16 Tinker St, Woodstock, NY


  • Discuss where our garbage and waste goes.
  • Learn how composting and sheet mulching can turn yard waste and kitchen scraps into rich garden soil.
  • Explore how to reduce or eliminate waste and Transition to sustainability.

Who:       A Distinguished Panel:

  • Jonathan Kaplan: Waste Management Services
  • Michelle Bergkamp: Recycling Coordinator, Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency
  • Steve Noble: Environmental Educator for the City of Kingston
    Mila Funk: Permaculture Landscape Designer, Nurture Nature Designs