The QSWAB held its first ZOOM meeting on 3/25/20 in response to the shelter-in-place directive related to COVID-19. To vote on what topics we should focus on in future meetings, take our first – and fast poll.

It was a great meeting featuring Mary Parisen and Mary Arnold from Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), who spoke about CURES determined advocacy efforts to ensure the complete containerization of waste-by-rail export from Long Island as it passes through Queens communities and across New York State, as well as ensuring that the trains performing this work reflect the most advanced and cleanest technologies available.

The evening also featured M/WBE business owner Dianna Rose. Dianna is a social entrepreneur and the owner of Jars of Delight, a zero-waste catering and meal-prep company. Founded in the fall of 2017, Dianna took a simple idea — meals served in classic mason jars — and turned it into a successful company that now serves the entire NYC metro. Dianna discussed the challenges to her business in light of COVID-19 and her search for places to donate her food waste to ensure it is composted, even in this challenging environment.

QSWAB members from GrowNYC and Big Reuse talked about the change to food scrap and clothing drop-off collections due to COVID-19. While some suggested that neighbors who have DSNY brown bins offer to share their bins with others during this time, it was agreed that to limit the spread of the virus, we can’t recommend that practice at this time. We instead encourage people to try to reduce their own food waste where possible (i.e., use scraps to make soup stock) and to freeze waste until the policy changes.

Local nonprofits like Rescuing Leftover Cuisine are feeling the impact of COVID-19 too with fewer donations and volunteers. To support them during this period, people are encouraged, if they’re able, to make a donation this week to the organization when RLC’s partners at Global Giving are offering to match all donations of up to $50 at 50%.   This means you can donate $50 today, and your impact will be that of a $75 donation which is over 750 lbs of food rescued and over 600 meals provided for the hungry.   This match is part of Global Giving’s Little by Little campaign, which is meant to encourage unique donors and also makes available additional bonus grants to RLC if we are a leader in number of unique donations or funds raised.

Matt Civello from the Manhattan SWAB spoke about the recent push back to plastic bag ban bills in New York and across the country with various media outlets reporting misleading and unproven reports about reusable bags and their purported risk of spreading the virus. Given the lack of social distancing just outside major grocery stores right now, we question whether plastic bags are really the biggest problem, especially when the trucks and warehouse and related resources used to ship and store these bags could be more productively used for medical and other supplies of greater need. We were also grateful to have Shari Rueckl from the Brooklyn SWAB in attendance to share her insights on how the SWABs can work together in these challenging times.

The QSWAB is determined to help promote and support green and zero-waste small businesses in Queens at all times, but especially now during the pandemic. We have started a page on our website to highlight these businesses and encourage local electeds to support these companies in any future loan or grant offerings because they encourage green jobs and support a green economy. Please send business names our way to help build out that page!

In light of many Earth Day events being cancelled, the QSWAB is looking for YOUR IDEAS for how we can use social media instead (e.g., creating videos, webinars, etc.) to send out positive messages about how people can improve the environment through zero waste practices, even from their own home.

Want to stay in the loop about our upcoming Zoom meetings, follow us on social media or subscribe to the QSWAB Google Group.

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