Image source: hermmermferm on Flickr

Queens has a lot going on in terms of sustainable construction, alternative energy, wildlife conservation, and other environmental initiatives. In fact, many of the finest tourist attractions – and special spots for locals – in the borough have a green streak. Here are our picks for the most environmentally sustainable attractions in Queens.

1. In the upper reaches of Astoria, the Steinway & Sons piano factory (which gives awesome tours) has been using solar energy since 2009. In fact, the factory is home to the world’s largest parabolic solar installation – a setup that involves solar troughs that focus the sun’s energy to heat fluid, which in turn helps provide the cool, dehumidified air that is necessary for the manufacture of pianos. Other sustainable features of the factory include replanting trees to replenish its wood supply; and efficient closed-loop systems to collect dust and scraps for use in other parts of the manufacturing process. And above all, what makes Steinway instruments so sustainable is that they are built to last at least 80 to 100 years.


It’s easier than ever for Queens residents to green their routines, thanks to the increasing number of compost initiatives around the borough. Several libraries, Greenmarkets, community gardens, and other organizations have become drop-off sites for your kitchen scraps, so that your food waste doesn’t have to go into the landfill.

If you’re ready to go green in 2013, here are the many locations you can bring food/plant scraps to be composted. Most of these drop-off sites are open year round, and more locations will be added soon.

Long Island City

LIC Community Garden – 49th Avenue, between Vernon Blvd and 5th Street (GMAP)
Sundays, 10:00am-1:00pm

Long Island City CSA, Hour Children – 36-49 11th Street (GMAP)
January 19 and February 2, 10:00am-2:00pm


This week we checked out the opening reception of Carried Away, an art exhibit at Materials for the Arts in Long Island City (GMAP). On view are several colorful works that resemble Buddha heads and headless ancient Greek sculptures. The modern, down-to-earth twist is that they’re all made of plastic bags and other found and recycled materials such as bottles, spools of thread, and PVC pipes.


Image source: Sunset Parkerpix on Flickr – food donations to Rockaways residents after Hurricane Sandy

With Thanksgiving and the end of the year coming up, most of us have a lot to be thankful for. Although Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on neighborhoods and transportation systems, it also made us more grateful for what we do have. During the past two weeks, many Queens residents donated supplies, money, and time to help out those devastated by the superstorm. Emergency workers, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, and other groups have been working hard to get people back on their feet.

Now, as “giving season” approaches, let’s not forget the great organizations that work hard year-round to promote equal rights, environmental sustainability, arts education, economic development, and more in Queens. If you’re looking for a local nonprofit organization to donate to in the next couple of months, consider this your guide.


Image source: A. Drauglis Furnituremaker on Flickr

Jamaica Bay is a 39-square-mile area in Queens that’s home to one of the most significant bird sanctuaries in the Northeast (the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge), but most New Yorkers have barely heard of it, let alone been there (besides flying into JFK Airport or passing by on the way to Rockaway Beach). Dan Hendrick wants to change that with his film Jamaica Bay Lives, which will detail the rich history of the bay, the current issues surrounding it, and the potential it holds.


Through crowdfunding and partnerships with city parks, the Western Queens Compost Initiative (WQCI) opened in 2009, giving us another way to participate in the local green community, like joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. WQCI manages the salvaged food scraps, helping the organic matter decompose into nutrient-rich compost. After this process, the “black gold” is used to enrich soils around street trees and in community gardens throughout western Queens, and at Brooklyn Grange, a one-acre rooftop farm in Long Island City. In other words, your peach pits and tangerine peels can promote positive growth of all kinds—plant growth and economic growth, for starters—in western Queens.



The Citi Bike sharing program will be delayed until August. StreetsBlog confirmed the delay today, citing tweets from the bike manufacturer and the Citi Bike events calendar, which shows bike demos into August.


Original post on July 13, 2012:

The Citi Bike sharing program will launch on July 31 with 11 stations available in LIC. When the program expands into Phase 2, we may see more stations in other Queens neighborhoods, including Sunnyside. The program will have 600 bike stations throughout the city and will be managed by the NYC Department of Transportation. With a $95 annual membership trips, under 45 minutes are free:

An Annual Membership is purchased online using a credit card, and an account is created with Citi Bike. Every Annual Member will be provided with a unique key that is used to unlock bicycles from the Citi Bike system. A trip begins when a bike is unlocked and ends when the bike is securely returned to any Citi Bike station.

NY Mag also has some good coverage of how the program will work.


The local food movement is happening in Queens too. Brooklyn Grange, which happens to be in LIC, is a one acre rooftop farm that sells to CSAs, restaurants, and the public. Butcher Bar in Astoria brings local, sustainably farmed meat to the borough (here’s a review by Serious Eats). And we have the oldest continually operating farm in the state, Queens County Farm. On Huff Post, you can read a profile on one of the farmers.

Besides farmers markets, Queens also has 15 neighborhood CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs you can be a part of.

Not sure what a CSA is? Members get a portion of a farm’s weekly harvest by making a seasonal investment. Rather than choosing the week’s groceries at the supermarket, whatever’s harvested on the farm that week is what you get — the mystery is part of the fun.


Mayor Bloomberg released the long-awaited Willets Point redevelopment plan this afternoon. Developers Related Cos. and Sterling Equities Inc. will spend the next 15 years working on the new site of a massive shopping center, complete with a mall, movie theater and a hotel next to Citi Field. More housing is in the plan but details weren’t available.

The Mayor quoted the Great Gatsby: “Today the Valley of Ashes is well on its way to becoming the site of historic private investment, major job creation and unprecedented environmental remediation.”

What the mayor is referring to with “historic private investment” is $3 billion in private investment for the development and $100 million from the city for cleaning up 23 contaminated acres. We’ll for sure be keeping an eye on this one.

Image source: NYC EDC


The NY Daily News reported yesterday on a proposed pipeline project running through Queens and Brooklyn. There’s a major pipeline already running out in the ocean that isn’t bothering anybody at the moment, but the proposed pipeline would run straight through the Rockaways and into Brooklyn. It’s called the Rockaway Delivery Lateral Project and would go under Jacob Riis Park in the Gateway National Recreation Area, home to marine life that could be affected by the project.

National Grid, on the hunt for energy solutions, is part of the project. Taking a stance against this project is a local environmental activist group called Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers.

There’s an informational meeting  about the project tonight at 7:00 at the Knights of Columbus Rockaway Council 2672. See our event listing for details.

If approved, construction would begin next year with gas flowing by 2014.  If you want to know more, read up on the the Williams Companies. They’re based in Oklahoma.

Image source: Williams Companies