July 2021 TEAC News – The Hudson Indy Westchester’s Rivertowns News –

JULY 2021

This month, say goodbye to single-use plastics. Plant up Tarrytown with sunflowers and other pollinators — they’re great for the bees. Add some birds to your life-list, swap something you don’t need for something you do, and finish your day with a meatless salad that’s anything but bland. Then come to our meeting. It’s Thursday evening, July 8, at Patriots Park!


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.


By Annie Kravet

July is here, so please join us in taking the Plastic Free July Challenge! Why bother reducing the amount of plastic that makes its way into your recycling bin each week? Although preferable to sending your plastics to the landfill or incinerator, it turns out that plastic isn’t the easiest material to recycle. It takes a lot of energy and water to recycle plastics. Additionally, many single-use plastics many of us use daily (snack wrappers, plastic straws, plastic lined paper coffee cups, etc.) are not able to be recycled at most facilities. Reducing and even eliminating these single use items from your life is a powerful way to say NO to the wasteful and toxic stream of plastic waste that is polluting our earth and oceans. It may not always be convenient or possible to avoid single use plastics, but it can be fun and empowering to try!

Here are five easy ways to get started:

  1. Make a “zero waste kit” to take with you before heading out for the day. This can include things you have around the house: A fork and spoon wrapped in a cloth napkin, a reusable to-go cup for coffee or tea (a mason jar works great for iced or hot drinks), a water bottle, and a tote bag. Leave your kit in the car or by the front door so you remember to grab it on your way out.

  2. Switch to bar soap – for hands, body, hair, and dishes!  That’s four items you no longer need to buy in a plastic container.

  3. Store your food without plastic wrap. There are many ways to get creative for this one: store leftovers in glass containers (save your pasta sauce jars!), simply place a plate over a bowl of food you wish to cover, or you can purchase beeswax coated cloth or reusable bowl covers.

  4. Try loose leaf tea. Tea bags often come wrapped in plastic, and most tea bags are made with plastic, which unfortunately breaks down when placed in boiling water. Try making your tea with a tea strainer and loose leaf tea. It’s better for you, and the planet!

  5. Shop the TaSH! This year our market vendors have gone single-use-plastics free. If you get a bite to eat at the market, it will come in a compostable container. Compost it at the market, or add it to your bag/ container of food scraps at home and bring it down to the food-scraps drop off site by the train station. When possible, bring your own refillable container instead! A cup that can be used and washed over and over again is still gentler on the planet than getting a new compostable cup each time you buy a coffee or get a bite to eat. http://tashfarmersmarket.org

And one final tip: sign up for Plastic Free July! Head over to plasticfreejuly.org to find out more. It’s a great way to get inspiration and support on your plastic free journey. Follow TEAC_10591 on instagram for more tips for reducing plastic waste, find out what local business are doing, and share what changes your making by tagging #plasticfreejulytarrytown



By Mai Mai Margules

Summer has officially arrived, heralded not only by soaring temperatures, but by the arrival of sunflowers in bloom!

And sunflowers never arrive alone, but are accompanied by an array of garden guests. The sunflowers outside my window are visited daily by pairs of goldfinches that magically appear once the flowers are in bloom. Small native bees hover over the flower centers, feasting on nectar and pollen throughout the day. Seeds that fall to the ground are treats for the cardinals, chickadees and mourning doves.

Sunflowers, boisterous, beautiful and exuberant, are bee magnets and incredibly easy to grow. A sunflower’s head is actually composed of hundreds of tiny flowers. Bees move from flower to flower within the disc and become covered in pollen, moving on to pollinate other sunflowers as they travel from plant to plant.

Sunflowers are a smorgasbord for most bees and many other beneficial insects. Butterflies, wasps, flies, and pollen-eating beetles flock to sunflowers for a meal of high quality nectar and pollen.

In addition to being a great food source, studies have shown that sunflowers are therapeutic for bees. Both wild bees and honeybees will self-medicate on sunflower pollen when ill or infected with pathogens. A study done by N.Carolina University. and the University of Massachusetts showed that sunflower pollen reduced infection by the pathogen(Crithidia bombi) in bumble bees. Bumblebees on a sunflower diet had better overall colony health, though the results were mixed for honey bees

It’s not only bees that reap health benefits from sunflowers. Sunflowers are known as “phytoremediators”, or natural healers of the soil. Planted en masse, sunflowers help to decontaminate soil of heavy metals such as arsenic, lead ,cadmium etc. and are being planted in urban areas for this purpose.

To attract the most pollinators, plant your sunflowers in groups of three or more, or create a border of mixed variety sunflowers. Be sure to plant open-pollinated sunflower varieties rather than hybrid types bred to be pollenless. Also avoid cultivars with showy double flowers which are hard for pollinators to access. Stick with single flower varieties to nurture wildlife.

Some of the best sunflowers for wildlife are the perennial sunflowers such as Helianthus “Lemon Queen” which grows 4’ to 6’ ft tall. This is a variety that flowers from mid summer through fall, a time when queen bees really need to bulk up to make it through the coming winter. Helianthus angustifolius is similar in size but has purple -brown centers

For real drama go with Helianthus maximiliani, a perennial sunflower topping 10’ tall. Just be prepared to stake for those high wind days!

If you have a small space there are dwarf varieties that happily grow in containers.

No matter what variety you choose, sunflowers offer a large reward for minimal effort. Most germinate within a week and are one of the easiest plants to grow. Just give them a little water and lots of sun, the perfect summer flower!


By Dean Gallea

  • Tarrytown and Neighboring Villages Selected for EnergySmart Homes Program

    • Sustainable Westchester has selected Tarrytown, Irvington and Sleepy Hollow for the next round in the Westchester County EnergySmart Homes program. Over the next several months, our communities will be holding public information sessions and online promotions for the program, which is aimed at helping homeowners to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of their homes. The primary focus will be to convert carbon-fueled (gas and oil) heating systems to renewably-sourced electricity, using either air-source or ground-source heat-pump technology. The program will also enable homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes by reducing energy leaks through insulation and sealing. Local contractors will be selected to evaluate each applicant’s needs, estimate costs and perform agreed work. Watch the TEAC website and Newsletter for more information as it develops.

  • SmartCharge Rewards Program for Electric Vehicle Owners

    • Have your own EV or plug-in hybrid? Want to get paid for charging it? A Con Ed program lets you connect a small device in your car that tells the utility when you  charge your plug-in’s battery. If you charge in the off-peak periods (usually at night), you’ll get a monthly rebate of energy cost that can actually be significant, like $25 or more. The details are HERE, or at https://www.fleetcarma.com/smartchargenewyork.

  • What it was like to drive my Tesla to Florida and back


By Amy Hill, Mothers Out Front

Thanks to TEAC and other local groups, my family and I have learned so much about nature and the local ecosystem after moving here from Brooklyn. One of our favorite pandemic activities has been raising caterpillars and watching their amazing transformation into butterflies.

It started last year when my 3 year old discovered eastern swallowtail caterpillars on our parsley in the backyard. We read about them, then gathered a few and placed them in a breathable container with clippings of fresh parsley every couple days.

It was incredible to watch them grow. They start as a tiny yellow egg, then turn into a small black caterpillar. As they eat and grow over about 10 days, they form beautiful green, yellow, white and black stripes. If disturbed, two little horns pop out of their head. They then pick a spot on sticks to form their chrysalis (similar to a cocoon).  A few weeks later, beautiful swallowtail butterflies emerge!

Later in the summer, my five year old found monarch caterpillars crawling on our milkweed. What a thrill watching them grow and transform!

Monarchs have a more predictable amount of time spent in their chrysalis (10-14 days) before they emerge as butterflies. The swallowtails are less predictable, most took a few weeks, but three overwintered and we had a lovely surprise this June when three swallowtail beauties emerged!

It was a magical experience releasing the butterflies back out into nature! My kids were so proud to help protect the butterflies and learned about the importance of pollinators. I hope the experience helps to foster a lifelong fascination with nature and helping to protect our planet.

Interested in trying this? You can learn more here Raise Black Swallowtail Butterflies Indoors and feel free to reach out with any questions. [email protected]


By Suzy Allman

Indigo Bunting

If you’ve ever heard a bird singing and wondered who it is, the latest feature in a popular birding app for your smartphone will help you make an identification.

This month, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology rolled out a brilliant new technology to their bird identifying app, Merlin Bird ID.

Like “Shazam” for birds, when you hear a bird song, just pull out your smartphone, press record, and watch as Merlin shows matches in real time. Merlin can identify (with remarkable accuracy, I’ve found) more than 400 bird species in the United States and Canada, with more on the way.

On a recent trip to Albany, I stopped at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, a sort of pine barren environment of gently rolling sand dunes that supports a wide variety of rare and interesting birds.

In less than a half hour, I listened to and identified 29 types of birds, from the incandescent indigo bunting to several warblers (the chestnut-sided warbler, prairie warbler and blackburnian warbler) to a rose-breasted grosbeak, a bird I haven’t seen since my childhood in upstate New York.

Closer to home, the Tarrytown Lakes area is a great place to listen to and identify he diversity of bird life. Try an early morning walk along the trail south of the lakes and hike all the way to the old train bridge over the valley. Then turn on the Merlin Bird ID app and see what you get!

You’ll need the same amount of patience called upon for birdwatching to actually see the birds, but this app puts you one step closer to them while improving your ability to identify birds by ear.

Download the app directly to your smartphone; it’s available for iPhones and Android phones. Note: If you already have the Merlin Bird ID app on your smartphone, you’ll need to download the update to get this feature.

Chestnut-sided Warbler


Invasives along the Old Croton Aqueduct trailway in Hastings.

To encourage the creation and maintenance of pollinator gardens along the OCA corridor, the Rivertowns Pollinator Project and Old Croton Aqueduct staff are encouraging the creation of pollinator gardens along the 26‐miles of the Park. Property owners whose land abuts that of the Aqueduct are encouraged to develop appropriate gardens of native pollinating plants both on their land and on that of the state park.

A landowner whose property is adjacent to the Old Croton Aqueduct may create and maintain an Aqueduct Pollinator Garden that abuts the Landowner’s property under the terms of a Guidance Document (linked HERE.)

The Landowner may create the Aqueduct Pollinator Garden as an extension of a new or existing garden on the Landowner’s property that is contiguous with the Old Croton Aqueduct. Any such Aqueduct Pollinator Garden may not extend more than five feet from the landowners’ property line into Park land and may not cover an area of ground within the Park that is greater than 50 sq. ft.

(Tips: The OCA property line is usually 15 feet from the center of the aqueduct. But check your property survey to be sure. And a 50-sq.-ft. area extending 5 feet into the OCA would be 10 feet long.)

As described in the Guidelines, a list of approved native plants and shrubs that can be planted in the Aqueduct Pollinator Garden can be found HERE.

A homeowner may also remove from the garden any invasive plants that are listed in the State Park’s Directive “Native Plants in State Parks and Historic Sites”. The homeowner creating the Aqueduct Pollinator Garden is responsible for planting, watering and maintaining the garden and any plants within it.

Please see the Guidelines for more details about this exciting new initiative and to find the Permit Form that is required to create a new garden under this program.

Zinnias in a backyard garden along a Tarrytown section of the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail.

Give them a brake: Our nesting Canada Geese can’t fly!

Drive carefully around the Lakes area, because many geese are flightless through the end of July. After nesting, Canada Geese shed and re-grow their outer wing feathers for a 4-5 week flightless period. The birds resume flight by August.


By Cari NewtonPlease be sure that your swap items are in good shape! We are looking for CLEAN items in good condition. Please only bring items that someone else would really love! For Clothing, nothing too faded, no rips, tears, holes, or stains. No underwear or lingerie please. We are doing a textile recycling collection so feel free to bring those “unswappable” clothing, shoes, and linen items in a SEPARATE bag for quick sorting at the event. For housewares, bring only working items in good condition. Nothing in need of repair please.See the FAQ and reserve your “Ticket” to SWAP here:

Vegan Recipe of the Month

By Cari NewtonSummer is starting out quite HOT already and folks are putting in extra effort to conserve water in these warmer months.According to worldwildlife.org, clean freshwater is an essential ingredient for a healthy human life, but 1.1 billion people lack access to water and 2.7 billion experience water scarcity at least one month a year. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may be facing water shortages.By making the switch to a plant-based diet, you are saving the excessive water resources that go in to raising an animal for food.This infographic by One Green Planet shows the massive amount of water that is used to produce meat:Help conserve water associated with animal agriculture by participating in Meatless Mondays, try eating only vegan on weekdays or fully commit to a complete switch to only plant-based food.Every little bit helps! If you are just starting out and you feel like you can use a little extra help figuring it all out, find yourself an experienced vegan that is willing to be your “mentor” to help answer any questions you may have. They will have the scoop on the best product, recipe, and restaurant recommendations.Also, there are many online and social media resources for information, recipes, support groups, and even fun social groups where you can learn about the best restaurants and vegan products that are available in your area.As always, your local library is a great place to try out new vegan cookbooks. The Warner Library in Tarrytown has a nice selection to choose from.With the summer festivities coming up and folks are getting out and about, here is a lovely dish to bring to a picnic or a party. This Guacamole Mango Black Bean Salad is perfectly refreshing on a hot day! Another bonus is that it is fast & easy to make. No dressing to mix. Just fresh lime juice and lime zest!
Photo by BBC GoodFood Middle East

Mothers Out Front – a great organization devoted to local environmental causes – will be demonstrating how to use a low-cost, portable induction cooktop to cook delicious meals without using your gas stove and heating up your kitchen. Click the image below to learn more and sign up for the live webcast.