Gallery: Occupy Wall Street Establishes a Sustainability Working Group ...

Image © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat
Above, Ted Moallem, who helped build bikes with Occupy Boston, makes slight adjustments to the OWS bikes.

The Sustainability group now has a table and sign officially signalling their approval by the General Assembly to operate as part of the Occupy Wall Street ecosystem. Established about three weeks ago, the team is in charge of operations such as recycling, composting, and generating energy to power the base. With many people staying for days and others just passing through, they have a lot to manage and have to adapt to different needs each day. On average, the group processes about 200 pounds of compost per day which is biked out to community gardens across Manhattan, Staten Island, and Brooklyn. They are also working on designing a rainwater collection system, creating a community garden, establishing a bike share program, and building hoop houses.

Their newest venture in collaboration with Occupy Boston involves bicycle-powered generators. When we visited on Monday, there were three bicycles hooked to batteries gathering charge and more in the construction phase. News of four bike donations arrived and two seats were also given to the team to make for more comfortable pedaling. An organized system of half-hour shifts attracts enthusiastic volunteer pedalers who keep the wheels spinning around the clock.

While it is tempting to throw numbers around, the bike to battery charge conversion is not so straightforward. The charge strength and duration depends on several factors, among them, how fast people pedal and what the battery will be used for in the end. Sustainability does not intend the bicycle-generated energy to be used to heat the base. Rather it serves to power simple LED bulbs at night, kitchen operations, live streams from Media and to charge the mobile phones of those staying at Zuccotti Park. Currently the bikes are able to fulfill about a quarter of the camp’s energy needs.

To address the cold that already made its brisk appearance this past weekend, Sustainability is looking to other solutions. They have had several requests to develop exercise options for those staying on site and see it as a possible way to stay warm. However, a more promising option involves their development of eco-friendly homemade heat packs. Made from non-toxic sodium acetate, the packs can be placed under clothing to serve as self-heating units. The reusable PCM packs have a small metal chip in them, that when bent, activates its transformation from a liquid to a solid slowly releasing heat in the process. Because of the nature of PCMs, they tend to store five to fourteen times more heat per unit volume than conventional materials such as water, masonry or rock. While still in the development phase, the team hopes to start passing them out within the next week.

With many challenges ahead, Sustainability has come to fruition at an important time. The Occupy movement continues to grow as inspiration spreads from one site to the next. Ted Moallem, who brought the bicycles with the help of Rob, has already received requests from Occupy Philadelphia and others to build contraptions for their sites. With colder months ahead in many parts of the U.S., Sustainability will undoubtedly continue to invent solutions that contribute to the ecosystem comprising OWS and the larger movement.

+ Occupy Wall Street + Occupy Boston

Images © Amanda Silvana Coen for Inhabitat

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3 Comments

  1. Joe_Leadfoot November 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm
  2. mrDanimal November 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

    For an elaborate article about the various sustainable principles being implemented at OWS visit http://www.occupy-wallstreet.com/permaculture/

  3. lazyreader November 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Now the protesters are wearing V for Vendetta masks.

    While Fawkes’ image has been romanticized over the past 400 years, he was a criminal who tried to blow up a government building. It would be hard to imagine Americans one day wearing Timothy McVeigh masks to protest the government or corporate greed. Masked being sold by local vendors, made in China. Oops. Some guy bought the masks online, and is selling them for 5 bucks each. What a capitalist, you know that thing these people are protesting. While Warner Brothers holds the licensing rights to the Guy Fawkes mask, several protesters said they were using foreign-made copies to circumvent the corporation”. I see, they don’t support US corporations but they support a foreign corp that uses under paid workers. So, you won’t buy from a U.S. corporation, but you buy from what is almost certainly a Chinese corporation. You can protest being poor and a wage slave by starting your own business. If only these sitters spent the last 40 days looking for a job instead of demanding one from someone else.