Green House Girl 3: Giving the Brooklyn Navy Yard a Try

| 10/14/2008 4:30:43 PM

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This time: I tour the IceStone factory and learn that “three-mix” doesn’t mean what you think it does. (Get your minds out of the gutter, people!) 

 The IceStone cameth for me last week—or at least the factory tour did. IceStone (makers of a recycled-glass building/home décor material) is providing products that will be used in the Show House, and when I found out the factory is located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, I was stoked to visit. I’ve lived in Brooklyn a long time, and from afar, the Yard has always seemed a magical, mysterious place that I, a non-naval female, would probably never enter. Thanks to Ilya, IceStone’s PR guy, I had my golden ticket (or, more accurately, a white slip of paper to show the security guard).

In my mind, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was a grassy, sunlit knoll peopled by sailors sporting white bellbottoms (yes, I have Gene Kelly syndrome). What’s it really like? Well, it’s a creepy maze of deserted factories, warehouses with broken windows and weird little blacktop “streets” that are mostly just potholes. Not many women venture here.

Ilya gave me a hard hat (my second during this blog-writing experience!) and led me to the factory floor. Everyone at IceStone seemed preternaturally cheerful. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the factory workers had suddenly broken into a rendition of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah"—the work environment is just that nice. For one thing, the factory floor is daylit, and sunlight streams through the big, airy space. (There's a lighting system in place for dark days, but only a few bulbs were on the day I was there, even though it was gray and rainy.) Talk about great feng shui!

IceStone—which is made from recycled glass and concrete—is twice as strong as marble, scratch- and stain-resistant, comes in every color imaginable, can be used anywhere you can use stone, and is really pretty. It’s also “cradle-to-cradle” certified (which is a fancy way of saying that it’s made from 100 percent recycled material and is itself 100 percent recyclable).

Important note: The recycled cement’s local, but the recycled glass has to come from outside New York State because the government chuckleheads here apparently think New Yorkers are incapable of separating glass by color. New York recycling produces something called “three-mix”—a big jumble of clear, brown and green glass that has to be sent elsewhere for sorting.