Environmental News
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December News – Tarrytown Environmental Council

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December 5, 2020




This month, shop locally for your Christmas presents. Dean lets you in on a secret way to earn cash, and James roasts some winter vegetables. Watch out for those water-born plastics, but bring a plastic bag with you when you take a walk.  And come to our (Zoom) meeting. It’s tonight! (See the end for the link.)

Recycling copper wire

Get paid for that old wire.

By Dean Gallea

Q: Isn’t all that ugly black spaghetti wiring hanging on our utility poles made of copper that could be recycled? It seems like there’s more than there should be, so why do they just leave it there?

A: Yes! Most of the wires you see hanging on utility poles have copper conductors, which, like aluminum, is infinitely recyclable, and requires less energy to do so than mining and refining new copper.

It even has some value: The Brookfield Scrap yard in Elmsford (Google it for location) will pay 35 cents to $1.43 per pound for insulated copper wire, depending on how thick the insulation is.

I’ve brought lots of old cable there over the years to keep it out of the waste stream, and made a few bucks in the process.

It’s easy to do, and you get paid in cash. You can bring copper and brass pipes and fittings, too.

There are a bunch of services on the utility poles: going from top to bottom, you have the high-voltage distribution lines, then the lower-voltage ones that go to our homes and businesses, then the Altice TV/Internet cables, then the Verizon lines that used to be all copper phone lines, but now include the FiOS fiber lines.

All of this wiring is probably in use EXCEPT most of the ancient Verizon copper phone lines, which comprise the majority of the ugly, tangled messes we see.

Over a decade ago, when Verizon strung its FiOS fiber-optic lines through our neighborhoods, they left their copper wiring in place, since switching to FiOS was only an option, not a requirement for phone subscribers. Since then, almost all “landline” phone connections have switched over to one of the major cable communications carriers in our villages, leaving the old copper wiring “abandoned in place”.

There are no local laws requiring the utilities to remove their old infrastructure, and even the value of the cabling as scrap is apparently not enough of an economic incentive, given the labor costs, to go through the process or separating and removing the unused wires.

Maybe public pressure to improve our visual environment could produce legislation to force recycling this old copper.

As an aside, the Metro North Railroad also has a lot of old, abandoned signal and power wiring along their right-of-way. They’ve begun to remove some of it, but not before thieves started climbing poles and removing it for their own enrichment. There were notable instances of thieves being electrocuted when they didn’t realize sections of the old cables were still “live”!


Cleaning Up Our Collective Mess, Whenever. 

By Dean Gallea

Cleaning Up Our Collective Mess, Whenever
– Dean Gallea, Nov 2020

Environmentally-conscious organizations – such as TEAC, Friends of the RiverWalk, Riverkeeper and others – like to host “clean-up days”.

It’s a great way to connect with other like-minded people while doing some good for our communities. But these events are few in number, and seldom get scheduled outside of the warm season and on weekends.

We had a successful clean-up day near the Hudson River in mid-October with participation by all three of the groups mentioned above, and there was one a week earlier on the Tarrytown Lakes.

But if you go walking today along the new section of the RiverWalk at Losee Park, or the adjacent parking area, there is trash scattered everywhere: Bottles, wrappers, plastic bags, and those “new” trash items spawned by the pandemic: masks and gloves.

While we hope our cleaned-up areas will stay that way, the reality is that there are still litterers out there who don’t (yet) get it. As well, the trash and recycling containers maintained by the Village sometimes get overfilled, or their contents pulled out by critters or blown away by wind gusts.

Every time I see a loose plastic bottle, I envision it being washed into a waterway to create another hundred thousand microplastic particles to be eaten by fish and birds, eventually working its way into our own food chain.

So, here’s an easy action I’ve adopted, and you can do, anytime, anywhere you walk outdoors: Along with your (refillable) water bottle and PPE, grab a small trash bag or two (easy to stuff in a pocket or backpack), and pick up the litter you see along your way. To protect your hands, you can wear washable work gloves, or latex (more eco-friendly than nitrile or vinyl), or bring reusable tongs or a reacher/grabber tool.

Drop your collected trash bag at a managed, non-overfilled trash bin, or take it back to your own at home. (Bonus points if you can separate the recyclables into their own bin, and tweet or post your activity to encourage others.)

You’ll enjoy your walk even more, knowing you’ve helped clean up planet Earth!


NY DEC started enforcing New York’s plastic bag ban on October 19, 2020. 

The plastic bag ban, which went into effect on March 1, was not enforced per an agreement between the parties in a lawsuit brought by Poly-Pak Industries, Inc., et al, in New York State Supreme Court. 

For more information about the plastic bag ban, reusable bags, or to file a complaint about entities using plastic carryout bags, visit DEC’s website, email plasticbags@dec.ny.gov, or call (518) 402-8706.

Kudos to some of the nearby stores and businesses who offered alternatives to plastic bags although the bag ban was not being enforced: CVS, Walgreens, C- Town, River View Wines. This is not a comprehensive list.

Collection sites for plastic bags and film:

  • Stop and Shop on 119 have a collection bin next to the garbage can in front of the store. 

  • C-Town has a bin for plastic bags inside the store on the exit aisle past the cashiers. 

  • Home Depot has a recycling center for plastic bags/films, CFl bulbs, lead acid battery cores, rechargeable batteries, and cardboard.. The plastic bags/films are sold to Trex to be made into wood-alternative products.




It is inevitable. The Holiday season derails a diet and destroys any commitments to healthy eating. This is especially true for those that follow a plant-based diet. Whether you are a disciplined vegan or an occasional practitioner, beef, poultry, fish, cheese, and other delicacies deck our tables during the holidays and make veganism or vegetarianism more challenging to practice. 


The lack of plant-based food choices at holiday social functions can be daunting. Not to mention the social pressures that vegans feel from others at the dining table. The stress can cause some plant-based diet practitioners to lean towards being a gracious guest and eat food with animal products in the ingredients. 


Like anything in life, formulating a good backup plan can get you through the holiday season and keep you on your plant-based diet despite the social challenges you may experience. If you plan to attend any small gatherings or events, try some of these suggestions to stay meatless and reduce holiday anxiety at the dinner (picnic?) table.



This holiday get-together is on your terms. You decide the menu and serve whatever plant-based dishes you would like. Thematic foods or events are always fun. Try serving plant-based Asian, Indian, or Mexican food dishes and wow your guests with international cuisines. If that is too ambitious for your culinary skill level, try throwing a plant-based potluck this holiday season. Instruct your guests to bring whatever they want as long as it is vegan. Remember to set the ground rules and remind everyone what kind of potluck it is. It is always fun to sample the variety of dishes and talk about recipes with friends and family. 



It is not uncommon for vegetarians and vegans to feel a little awkward at the dinner table. The last thing they want to do is cause a fuss or burden the host with their meatless diet. Don’t fret, chances are you can find a vegetable platter at any party you go to this holiday season. If you graze on anything plant-based you will get through the event feeling satisfied and stress free. Stealing the grapes and crackers from the cheese board is another good survival tactic. Chips and salsa, breads, and other vegan friendly food you can load up on before the big meal. When dinner arrives fill your plate with salad greens.



A skill set many vegans and vegetarians learn to master early on and use at restaurants and dinner parties. When you realize the menu is not so vegan friendly, simply combine a few side dishes to make for an entree size plate of food. Roasted vegetables, olives, French fries, grain and legume salads, greens, and bread makes a well rounded plate and will hold you over for a while. You can use this tactic at restaurants and holiday get-togethers. 



Sometimes all it takes is a simple discussion with your host about your plant-based diet. Most likely, they will understand your dietary restrictions and rise to the occasion by cooking you the finest plant-based lasagna you’ll ever have. If that doesn’t happen just politely ask if they would mind if you brought your own food. You may be surprised how accommodating a host can be. 



This one of the easier suggestions because it is fuss free for the host. It benefits you because you will be able to eat whatever you want. Simply show up with whatever dish you are in the mood for. Just remember to make some extra portions because you always want to wow the crowd with one of your specialty vegan dishes. If it’s good enough you will make new friends and become a plant-based diet ambassador. Who knows? You may even win over some meat eaters along the way. 



Chances are you can find a restaurant or cafe with plant-based options near the holiday get-together. You can pick up your food before attending the party or plan for a delivery. Door dash and Uber Eats can help you with all the culinary logistics and cater to your dietary needs. Remember, always order more food so others can try. Food is one of the best social lubricants. The idea is to make friends and not alienate others at the table. 



This is another tactic you can use when you know you’re going to a meat lovers destination. Sometimes you’re doomed from the very beginning. Many families are proud carnivores and aren’t afraid to flaunt their love of animal proteins at the dinner table. That’s okay, to each is to own. If you know it’s a holiday BBQ, roasted pig, or feast of the 7 fishes you may have to accept the fact that there won’t be anything on the menu for you. It’s no big deal. Have a delicious plant-based meal at home and fill yourself up so you don’t have to eat any meat or animal products at the get-together. 



Many of us choose a plant-based diet for environmental reasons. Understanding the dire importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions that come from animal products is key to a healthier planet. Other motivations include health, wellness, animal ethics, and animal welfare. The good news is that the amount of people that are self identifying as vegan is increasing and so is consumer demand. Many food companies and restaurants are meeting the demand by launching new plant-based products as well as offering a variety of plant-based options in restaurants and cafes. It looks as if living a vegan lifestyle or doing your very best to be a plant-based eater will be all the more easier in the immediate future. 

 Remember to wear a mask when not eating, and keep socially distanced from those not in your household.

 Happy Holidays – Stay Green! 



Vegan Butternut Squash Soup 

 A hearty soup that is great for the colder months. It packs up well and it’s easy to carry along to any dinner party. 


2 tablespoons of vegan butter (or olive oil if you don’t have vegan butter) 

1 small onion chopped 

2 cloves of garlic 

1 stalk of celery 

1 medium carrot 

3 small red potatoes cubed 

1 medium butternut squash — peeled, remove seeds, and cube 

1 32-ounce container of vegetable stock or 32-ounces of homemade vegetable stock 

Salt and pepper to taste. 


Add vegan butter (or olive oil) to a large pot on medium high heat. When the vegan butter sizzles add the butternut squash, red potatoes, onion, carrot, potatoes, celery, and garlic. Mix vegetables with a wooden spoon and add salt and pepper. Cook to lightly brown (about 6 minutes). 


Add the vegetable stock to the vegetable mix and bring to a boil. Once you have achieved a rolling boil reduce the heat to low and let the pot simmer for about 35-40 minutes. Turn off the heat and mix with a hand held immersion blender. If you do not have an immersion blender you can use a regular upright blender just be careful because the liquid is hot. Consistency is key. If you like it thicker you can blend in more cooked vegetables. Add more vegetable stock if you prefer your soup with more liquid. 

Pasta with Marinara Sauce 


Most pasta is 100 percent vegan. Just give the product box a good read to make sure there are no animal-derived ingredients. Cook according to the instructions on the package and set aside. You can add any kind of cooked vegetables to the pasta and sauce for extra yum factor. This dish is easy to package and carry along to any holiday party. The best part is that it’s meat free. 


Marinara Sauce 

2 large can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes

2 medium yellow onions (halved) 

2 large cloves garlic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch of red pepper flakes (Optional) 

Salt, to taste 


In a saucepan, combine the tomatoes, halved onion, garlic cloves, olive oil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Simmer the ingredients over medium-high heat. Then lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for about 45 minutes. Make sure you stir the sauce every so often. Crushing the larger tomatoes with a wooden spoon as you stir. Remove the pot from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend the tender onions, garlic and tomato pieces. Do not over blend. You’re just blending until the big chunks of tomato is gone and the sauce is semi smooth. Salt to taste. You can directly pour on to the cooked pasta or keep separate until you arrive at the party and 

Seasonal Roasted Vegetables 

Ahhh roasted seasonal vegetables. Where would we be without you? Take your pick! Cauliflower, brussel sprouts, potatoes, onions, butternut squash, green beans, kale, carrots, parsnips, beets, and more!


Note: Some roasted vegetables can get soggy if there is too much time between cooking and serving so won’t transport well. If you are traveling, choose heartier veggies like brussels, carrots, onions, beets, parsnips. Or you can prep them at home or cook until they are al dente and finish them when you arrive. There are so many ways to roast vegetables. Try roasting them with a harissa sauce. If you are looking for something simple but just as tasty then coat the vegetables with some good imported olive oil and slightly salt them. Lay out on a sheet pan and roast at 350 degrees. Try to cut the vegetables roughly the same size for the most even roasting. If you like them tender, keep them in longer. If crisper is your thing, take them out sooner. 



Less sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.

Keep the car at home, and support our local businesses and artisans this holiday season.

Supporting local businesses keeps the workforce local and reduces their need to drive further afield for employment. It means less sprawl, less congestion, less habitat loss and less pollution.

Patronize the area shops, galleries, restaurants and other businesses as much as possible. It has been a tough year for everyone and they need our support more than ever (and we need them)!! Consider gift certificates for local friends and family.


Shop in Patriot’s Park this season!

The TaSH Holiday market – NEW DATE Saturday Dec 12th Patriots Park 2:30-6pm. 

Makers Market Holiday Market December 19-20th https://fb.me/e/Eu0VVu0k

While you are there, check out the Peep Space gallery next door featuring dozens of local artists



Help improve police operations in Tarrytown.

In accordance with Governor Cuomo’s executive order 203 – NYS Police Reform & Reinvention Collaborative, Tarrytown has launched its first ever Police “Community Survey”. This will help guide decision making and identifying necessary improvements to our Police Operations/Programming and only take about five to ten minutes to complete.  All survey responses are due by Friday, December 11, 2020 at 4pm. The survey will be provided both in English and in Spanish. Thanks for participating!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WGK8PZW (English)

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/S2Z5GGN?lang=es (Spanish)



Beautiful gardens do more than look great.

  Kim Waddell’s native garden; goldenrod, aster, inkberry & coneflowers, a beautiful habitat for wildlife

By Mai Mai Margules

As November slips into December and the blare of leaf blowers subsides, we are showcasing gardens and yards that offer an alternative to the sterile leaf- blown lawn concept that still predominates in our communities. Here we offer a competing vision of what a beautiful yard /garden space looks like in fall. Some of the gardens are native plant gardens, some are mixed plantings, but all are beautiful and alive year round. By leaving leaves as mulch and vegetation standing, these gardens provide winter sanctuaries for beneficial insects and foraging grounds for birds. For us they provide a visual feast of texture and color. Enjoy!

Liatris, sedum and ground covers provide cover for overwintering insects. The birdbath provides much-needed water for the bird and is a great focal point fo the garden. Hanford Place, Tarrytown.

C:\Users\maimai\Pictures\2018-08-14\42-44 N Washington (3).jpg

Milkweed pods in November, North Washington Street. Milkweed seeds need to cold-stratify to germinate; here is the natural way.



Did you know? Pollen, nectar and scent can be lost in the cultivation process of modern hybrids. Choose heirloom varieties instead! Your pollinators will thank you.

Native shrubs such as this red twig dogwood provide four season visual interest and support wildlife year round. In the spring butterflies come for its fragrant spring white flowers.  Its clusters of white fruit support birds in winter.

The background emerald green lawn is actually comprised of mostly clover. Low growing white clover is a healthy lawn alternative that provides needed nectar and pollen for native bees, doesn’t need watering in summer, replaces nitrogen in the soil and stays green well into winter! C:\Users\maimai\Pictures\2020-11\20201123_154717.jpg

This November garden on Hanford Place is a living impressionist artwork. Fall leaves, perhaps sheltering the chrysalis of overwintering butterflies, dot the groundcover of standing perennials. Bits of vibrant orange are the last of the late blooming cosmos, still providing nectar for the occasional bee.  Seed pods provide food for birds!

 C:\Users\maimai\Pictures\2018-08-14\114 N Washington (2).jpg

This terraced  garden on N Washington St. is a haven for pollinators year round. The mix of trees,shrubs, grasses and perennials left standing ensure that overwintering insects have shelter and food sources. The stone path allows access and draws the eye to every level of the garden!

The addition of native shrubs, trees and vines, greatly enhances the value of our pollinator gardens. These hardy plants give year round color and provide the pollinators with flowers, berries and bark in every season.

C:\Users\maimai\Pictures\2020-11\20201123_152414 (2).jpg

Native grasses once covered prairies, savannahs and meadows across the U.S. In our gardens they mix beautifully with wildflowers and create privacy for us and the pollinators. They are visually vibrant in all seasons, serve as host plants for moths and butterflies, and provide nesting and habitat for birds.

Flowing grasses boarder a perennial garden on Sunset Way, Tarrytown.

Here we see the beauty of nature by simply looking down on a fall walk along Neperan Avenue. The beauty of benign neglect. By not “tidying up” every inch of our property we create healthy environments for pollinator, help other native species, and nourish ourselves with all season natural beauty. It’s a win- win!C:\Users\maimai\Pictures\2020-11\IMG_20201119_143227_580 (2).jpg

Do you have a garden that’s designed to help our pollinators? Let us know, and we’ll feature it in our newsletter! tarrytownenviro@gmail.com

Plastics in the Water
On October 17th, TEAC led a local, socially-distanced project in cooperation with the Riverkeeper Sweep, cleaning up areas along the Riverfront.One of those areas is the kayak launch ramp in Losee Park. The ramp leads down to the Hudson River, and its surface is river pebble with a graded concrete slope.

The kayak launch is the recipient, twice a day, of everything the tide can throw up on the Losee Park shore.

While cleaning the area of larger junk, we were surprised when we took a closer look at the pebbles on the kayak launch. These pebbles provide a great look into the plastics (and other materials) problem the old river faces.

The photo here shows a close-up view of plastic trash — some no bigger than a fingernail — littering the pebbles. Which, to the naked eye, just look like pretty pebbles!

So those floss picks, the bottle caps, even the tips of mini cigars can all end up drifting endlessly in our river, to the detriment of aquatic life there.

(Sharp eyes will also pick out a water chestnut pod, one of the invasive banes of the Hudson River.)

This plastic is getting eaten and working its way into the food chain. Plastics will act as a vehicle to move synthetic chemicals from the environment — the Hudson River — into the food chain.

Please: research ways to reduce your plastic use, and be mindful of where you dispose of plastics. 

Take One, Leave One.

Visit the Little Free Library on Broadway in front of the Reformed Church of the Tarrytown sponsored by the local branch of www.littlefreelibrary.org.

There are two more nearby locations: at Morse School and in Philipse Manor.

Check out all their locations https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/

TEAC relies on volunteers to keep things moving, and we usually meet on the 1st Thursday in Village Hall, One Depot Plaza, at 7:00 PM.Since the Covid, we’ve moved our monthly meetings online — Zoom-style for now — so you can still pitch in. The next regular TEAC meeting will be on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2020. The meetings are open to all.To join the meeting, launch your Zoom app, then use the following login credentials:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 883 5014 8950
Passcode: 527878


“Every emergency reveals that “impossible” things are actually doable. In this case, our society just demonstrated that it can choose to change more and faster than we ever imagined.”
— MIT President Rafael Reif, reflecting on lessons of the pandemic for climate change action.

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