Coming Soon: The Go-Green Series


For the past few weeks, I’ve been conducting research on recycling, zero waste and food waste/composting. I’ve been debating on how to best present it, is it an article, op-ed or videos? Then I realized that it’s a series… The Go-Green Series.

The Go-Green Series will feature 3-4 pieces on:

  1. Medical Recycling/Safe Deposal
  2. The Great Compost Adventure (DSNY East River Park Compost Site)
  3. Zero Waste Tips for People with Disabilities
  4. The Plastic-Free Paradox

It will run during the summer. So stay tuned, until then reduce, reuse and recycle…



The 3 R’s of BOBA




This slideshow requires JavaScript.

-April 30, 2018- Sara Barton

Anytime is a good time for bubble tea, also affectionately known as, boba. It’s delicious whether it’s hot or cold. There’s now, light bulb tea, popping bubbles, boba tea ice cream, and floats(sold by Bar Pa Tea): cheese tea is now sold in Greenwich Village, thanks to Debutea.  As the weather is getting warmer; the refreshing drink paired with tapioca bubbles has become a city staple, especially in hot weather.

Amidst society’s growing eco-consciousness; it’s common to see reusable coffee cups, water bottles, grocery bags, and straws. Recently, I saw boba tea patrons toss their plastic cups in the trash, questions arose. Are boba tea cups recyclable? Can they be reused? Does a reusable boba-tea cup/jar exist?

I’ve divided the answers to these questions into the classic 3 R’s: Recycle, Reuse and Reduce.


Yes, boba-tea cups are recyclable! Disposable plastic cups that are marked with the resin identification codes(RIC) # 1 (PETE/PET-polyethylene terephthalate) and # 5 (PP-polypropylene); mean that they’re both are recyclable.(1) RIC’s are typically located at the bottom of the cup. If the lid is made from a different material, it will have it’s own RIC.


Recycling varies from state to state, so please check for the appropriate bins or drop-off centers. Also, researching your cities, towns or states recycling programs can unveil a great resource. Some cities, do give away free reusable items, such as water-bottles and bags.


If you live in NYC, toss your empty boba-cups/straws into the blue bin, and you’re good to go.


Also, Preserve’s, Gimme 5 Program (nation-wide) accepts #5(PP-polypropylene) plastic. You can either drop it off at a location or send them by mail. Preserve recycles them to make toothbrushes, flatware, cups, bowls, and plates.

When it comes to recycling straws; it’s complicated. They’re made of recyclable plastic, usually #5 (PP-polypropylene). However, it’s difficult to recycle them due to their small size. Very few facilities have the necessary equipment. (2)  Similar to how plastics bags are recyclable, but they’re cumbersome since they clog the machines.


Surprisingly, in a piece by PureWow, apparently, NYC recycles straws.


There are tons and tons of ideas on how to reuse, repurpose or upcycle your boba-cups. If you love crafting or DIY projects; then these cups aren’t trash, they’re art supplies. I repurposed my boba-tea cups into pencils/pen holders. Also, I’ve re-used my boba-straws in my NFL & Fine Arts Project.

Here’s a nifty DIY video with some unique ideas on how to reuse plastic cups.

Unless you’re supercyclers, such as, designers, Liane Rossler and Sarah K who’ve taken it to the next level.


These cups are constructed from reused plastic. It’s all about letting those creative sparks fly. Think of your next cosplay or Halloween costume? Boba cups and straws are excellent materials.

[Please wash and clean plastic cups/straws before reusing.]


While reusable coffee cups are widely available; the boba industry faces a unique set of challenges for its reusable options. You can buy mason jars with straw attachments. However, they’re not big enough for boba straws. The same issue goes for reusable straws. Biodegradable plastic straws aren’t available in boba-size; paper straws quickly become saturated with moisture, and boba-size reusable straws are very expensive.

According to Grub Street, Taiwan, (the birthplace of boba), has set out an aggressive plan to eliminate disposable plastic. In 2019, plastic straws are the 1st on the chopping block. Economically biodegradable alternatives aren’t widely available. How the boba industry will adapt remains to be seen.

Yet, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, Loliware, a U.S.-based start-up that introduced compostable seaweed-based cups in 2015, has launched a successful Indiegogo campaign for “the world’s first edible, hyper compostable straw aimed at replacing plastic straws.” Guess what? They plan on making boba straws and cups.

In the meantime, here are some options:


Boba Guys, located in San Francisco and NYC, sells their version of a reusable boba-mason jar.

Kung Fu Tea sells reusable boba-tea tumblers.

All US Boba chains are unique, Vivi Bubble Tea and YaYa Tea also sell their own reusable cups/tumblers.

Rather DIY a reusable boba-tumbler?

Check out this tutorial from Angel Wong’s Kitchen

Last but not least, Homemade Boba Tea and it’s easy to prepare. It merely requires purchasing tapioca bubbles at your local Asian grocery store or order them online; and a boba recipe. Think of it as a fantastic opportunity to express your mixology skills. Create a boba flavor that’s “off menu” perhaps blueberry lavender, sweet & spicy or if you’re 21, add alcohol.

Plus, it has the added benefits of being healthier. Recent reports summarized by The List stated that certain types of boba tea are equivalent to high-calorie desserts due to their excess sugar and carbs. Homemade, gives you the option of controlling the ingredients, and it’s especially helpful if you have food allergies or dairy issues. While milk tea boba is delicious, not all boba chains have the option of dairy-free, lactose-free or nut-free milk alternatives.

Here’s a recipe from The Omnivore’s Cookbook.

How about this easy recipe from the birthplace of boba, Taichung, Taiwan?

Overwhelmed? Try a Boba Tea Kit. They include both tapioca bubbles and tea leaves/mixes.

uncommon goods boba

Check out this Boba Tea Kit from Uncommon Goods.

Looking for a reusable boba straw?


These plastic/silicone reusable straws are made from Grid Gear and can be purchased on Amazon. (They’re decently priced too).  Etsy has a variety of stainless steel boba straws.  Not ready to purchase a reusable straw? Then a spoon works too or reusing your regular boba straw (plastic straws can be safely reused 1-3 times.(3) As long as you clean them).

What is puzzling is why US boba-chains haven’t gone the route of coffee-chains? Starbucks and Donkin Donuts both sell coffee and beans. Personally, I’d love to see Kung Fu Tea sell loose leaf Oolong tea. It has a rich and bold flavor. So far, I’ve haven’t found a brand on the market that compares.

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. Boba cups are recyclable; you can reuse them, and you can reduce by either making a reusable cup or homemade boba tea.

Don’t forget: April 30th is National Bubble Tea Day.  Enjoy and Recycle!

Le Grand Mechant Renard at NYICFF

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

March 11, 2018

It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon as the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) held a special screening of Le Grand Mechant Renard(The Big Bad Fox), along with a Q & A/Interview with its director, Benjamin Renner.

I saw the original French trailer over the summer. When I heard that NYICFF was showing the film this weekend; I was ecstatic. So, this journalist hung up her press pass and purchased a ticket.

Click here for Trailer with English Subtitles

Of course, old habits die-hard; as I ended up taking photos and giving my business card to Mr. Renner. For those unfamiliar with his work, Benjamin Renner is also the director of the Oscar-nominated film, Ernest & Celestine(2012). My colleague, Anita C.Wang and I covered the film for Samurai Beat Radio at NYICFF 2014.

Ernest and Celestine- English v French?

The Origins of Ernest and Celestine

The Q & A/Interview deeply resonated with me. Mr. Renner shared that the film is based on drawings that he did as a teenager and gave to his family as gifts. As a film/animation student, I see similarities with my work. My superhero short film,  The Return of The Royals(ROTR), is based off a superheroine character I created when I was a kid.

A childhood visit to a farm inspired the plot of Le Grand Mechant Renard(The Big Bad Fox). Mr. Renner wanted to see the chicks hatch. However, his Dad wasn’t sure when they’d hatch. (It could be a few hours, days or weeks) His Dad, cleverly told him that once they hatch, that if they saw him, the chicks would think he’s their mother. (This is known as imprinting.) He’d have to get a job, feed them and take care of them. Mr. Renner then joked that at 6 years old, he wasn’t ready to be a single parent. Years later this would lead to an idea, ‘What would be unlikely “mom”?’ Hence, a fox taking care of 3 young chickens.

Mr. Renner later commented that ‘it felt weird to win an award for childhood drawing that I only shared with my family’. He was humbly referring to the 2018 César (France’s Prestigious Academy Awards)

Renner signs my sketchbook

la pièce de résistance

After the Q & A/Interview, Benjamin Renner drew in my sketchbook. Hearing him discuss animatics; I excitedly told him about my animatic assignment. It turns out were both animating humans for the 1st time.

I’m very thankful that NYICFF continues to show French animated films. It’s inspired me to create more bilingual work, whether it’s a film or comic strip.

Chibi Super Toy Joue Au SuperBowl

C’est ne pas mal du tout…LOL

The Phoenix Rises, Anime NYC Debuts!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

-Nov. 21, 2017- Sara Barton

This weekend, Anime NYC made its debut. It’s been seven years since an anime convention has graced the Jacob Javits Center. In 2007, Reed Exhibitions created New York Anime Festival(NYAF). However, in 2010, it merged with New York Comic Con (NYCC). The concept of combining the two pop-cultures frustrated fans. The end came in 2012 when NYAF was integrated into NYCC. Anime NYC reignited the aspirations of fans; like a phoenix, it’s risen and better than ever!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Crunchyroll and  LeftField Media wove together a beautiful mosaic of Japanese pop-culture, tradition, and creative innovation. Along with the Full Alchemist (US Premiere), NYC Ramen Summit and Sailor Moon Day; in the midst of cosplayers, there were patrons dressed in traditional Yukatas and Kimonos. Across from the Tokyo Attack Arcade, booths sold yakisoba, snacks, Japanese household items, tea cups, and dishware.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The anime scene has changed since 2007. Anime NYC is a reflection of that; especially in artist alley, amidst the fan-based pop-culture items; one could also find Japanese prints, charms, and keychains. Sellers often commented that it was their charms that sold the most. Manga artist/illustrator, Hiroki Otsuka, said, “It’s a cross between Flame Con and Anime Fest.”

What makes Anime NYC different is its brilliant utilization of the Jacob Javits Convention Center space. Unlike NYCC, there were Security/Prop Check tables at each entrance, the Expo Hall, and panels to avoid massive entry lines. There were open spaces for photographers and to prevent over-crowding. An attendee in a giant Pikachu costume took advantage to entertain patrons.

This reporter appreciated that the Press Room was in private room on the second floor. It was a tranquil oasis from the hustle and bustle.


Also, Anime NYC strategically placed the gender-neutral bathrooms in the Expo Hall, where there was a high volume of attendees, cutting down on long lines. (Remember fellas, please the put the seat down. It’s courteous and it speeds up traffic.)


Deadpool crashes Anime NYC

NYCC has a reputation for being very crowded which can be overwhelming for patrons. Although Anime NYC had 20,000 attendees in comparison to the 180,000 at NYCC; it gave the feeling of a smaller and friendlier convention. This lead to an opportunity to socialize and meet new people, which attendees greatly appreciated.

It’s only the beginning; Anime NYC will become an annual affair (as of Nov. 16-18, 2018).

Visit for updates.


Twitter: @AnimeNYC.

Instagram: @AnimeNYC


Why Press Should Cover Flame Con


Whether it’s your first time covering the comic convention circuit or you’re a veteran; as soon as you hit the Press Room, it’s common to exchange ‘war stories’ among colleagues. Which con had the longest Press check-in line? or the eternal question, Why don’t Press Room’s have food or drinks? However, after covering Flame Con, the game had changed. Flame Con is journalist’s dream!

Here are The Reasons Why:


photo: Flame Con

The Super Staff & Volunteers

As soon as you walk into Flame Con, you’re warmly greeted by staff and volunteers who are eager to help make your convention experience a blast. It’s one of the important aspects that give Flame Con it’s friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The Press check-in is speedy and efficient. (This also includes applying for a badge.) This year we received a super helpful “night before” email from the new PR Director, Michelle Rose Micor, which also included a map.


The true heroes of Flame Con and they even wore capes



The Press Room

The Press Room gets better and better every year. Last year it was luxurious. This year, it’s not only gorgeous, it 2.5 times larger in order to accommodate for interviews. One of the challenges of conducting interviews at a comic convention is either reserving or finding a quiet space. If you’re small or medium Press Corp, you won’t always get a chance to reserve a space. You’ll most likely have to conduct interviews on the floor, where it’s very noisy. In this case, Flame Con staff went out of their way to make sure all Press got the opportunity to use the space.


Food, Snacks, Drinks, WiFi …Oh, My!

It just keeps getting better, there were water bottles and snacks in the Press Room! Most comic conventions do offer free WiFi, yet, the free lifesavers on the table were a delightful touch. (You might say it’s a clever pun). While the snacks went by fast, don’t worry, the Press Room wasn’t the only place that had food. Several booths gave out free candy and one vendor offered bagels and danishes! A happy journalist is a well-fed one.



Have you developed an interest in politics? Then, Flame Con is a great springboard. It’s a wonderful place to meet people who’ve taken a creative approach to our current political climate and a great way to get involved in the LGBT community. Flame Con hosted a twist on last year’s Geek Activism panel, called “Queering Activism” along with other panels and workshops on diversity & representation in media. I even received a free button saying “Bisexuals Against White Supremacy”.


The Press Room Sign

Flame Con is well-known for its pop-culture style signs. Whether it’s the Flame Con logo, Cosplay Repair Station or the Gender Neutral Bathrooms; each booth or room has its own unique sign based in the spirit of comic book tradition. The Press Room Sign is reminiscent of Clark Kent’s Press hat from The Fleischer Superman Cartoons (1941).  Alongside Ironheart(Cosplay Repair Station Sign) and Snorlax(AFK Lounge Sign); this journalist felt like a Superhero.

Last, but not least…

Flame Con is Fulfilling!

Covering Flame Con is one of the best assignments I’ve ever had. It’s more than just a job; it’s rewarding. I feel that I’m part of a growing community and that I’m making a difference- That’s priceless!

Still not convinced? Then check out my Top 5 & Top 10  lists on Flame Con and Flame Con 2: 2 Fierce 2 Fabulous.


What is International Women’s Day? It’s a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.[1] Since 1975, the UN began celebrating International Women’s Day, along with a theme and events to empower women around the world. Yet, its history is unique. International Women’s Day has it origins as a socialist/Soviet holiday dating back to the Russian Revolution; it was originally a day to celebrate women’s rights and women’s liberation from being second class citizens. It was customary for women to receive flowers or gifts or get the day off from work. Russia and several former satellite states still carry out this tradition. Ironically, the first Women’s Day Observance was held in 1909, in NYC by the Socialist Party of America.[2]

On March 8, the organizers of the Women’s March harnessed the symbolism of International Women’s Day to create “A Day Without A Woman.” A protest that symbolizes unity and to “highlight economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies.” The march was inclusive calling attention to the injustices cis women, trans women and gender non-conforming people continue to face. Marches were organized on a global scale.


Since the early 20th century, Washington Square Park has been synonymous with activism. In 1912, 20,0000 workers rallied in response to the disastrous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire to protest for better working conditions. In 1915, Women marched through Washington Square Park for their Suffrage. In 1917, the Arch Conspirators declared Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village a Free and Independent Republic. This vibrant history of free speech continued on into the 60s and 70s, the anti-Iraq protests of the early 2000s; and today it was the perfect location for “A Day Without A Woman.”

Here are the voices of Washington Square Park told through photographs.


Pop-culture as a reflection of current events


Great sign (and great advice!)


Black Lives ALWAYS matter!


  The question we should ask—regardless!

It was good timing, as representatives from What’s In Your Box (an organization on promoting sexual health and empowerment) came to show their support. A woman carrying a sign saying “Queer Power” stood in the middle. Perfection!

Last, but not least your moment of zen as the NY State Nurses Association shows their support!


All photographs and video: Sara Barton

originally published via GeeksOUT!


On January 21, millions gathered around the US to advocate for equality, health care, love, and solidarity for the Women’s March. What originally started as a march on Washington, DC spanned nationwide from New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Austin, Chicago, and Minneapolis, to name a few (there were at least 673 “sister marches” across the county), making it one of the biggest one-day protests in US history.

Did you participate in the #WomensMarch this weekend?

A post shared by Time Out New York (@timeoutnewyork) on

While this journalist has been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, lately it’s been quite a struggle. This brings up an interesting question, how do you fight injustice when your chronic illness or invisible disability (1) becomes cumbersome?

NY Mag wrote a comprehensive guide for prospective marchers that included information on the Women’s March-DC- Disabilities Caucus and how to receive accommodations. An estimated 45,000 people with disabilities showed up, which the largest assembly of people with disabilities in US history (4). What about those who are unable to attend the Women’s March?
Suffering the Silence developed an ingenious solution, called #MarchingWithMe. In collaboration with the Women’s March, people who were unable to attend sent a photo of themselves and were paired with a marcher. The marcher would wear or carry their picture as a sign of solidarity and to raise awareness for chronic illness and disability rights.

“Suffering the Silence (STS) is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to leveraging the power of art, media, and storytelling to raise awareness around the life experience of people living with chronic illnesses.” What started as a book by Allie Cashel, describing her experience with chronic Lyme disease, has blossomed into a mission to empower others with chronic illnesses, build a community, and transform medical and social perceptions of them.


I was excited to participate, but I’m very camera shy (the irony!). So, I asked Suffering the Silence if there was an alternative and they were kind enough to accommodate. After much debate, I sent in my favorite photo; which was taken by Village Voice photographer, C.S. Muncy when I covered NYCC this year (3). I was cosplaying as Radio Times reporter, Jilian Holtzman, from Ghostbusters (2016). I couldn’t have asked for a better photo and the queer feminist pop culture reference was the icing on the cake.

This isn’t the first time I’ve volunteered for Suffering the Silence. Over the summer, fellow spoonies (2) and I participated in photo-shot for their campaign to help them become an official 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Mission accomplished!


IMAGE: Amanda Crommett

 In addition to taking our photos, we’re asked to pick a quote or mantra that inspired us. I chose, “Suit Up, Again!” from the Toonami promo for the anime series, Gundam Wing. (They loved the reference!) It was a pleasure to work with them, and I was ecstatic to help out again.


IMAGE: Susan1087

I received an email from Marching with Me coordinator, Jacqueline Rasposo. I was paired with my marcher, Susan, who attended the Women’s March in New York. We exchanged social media handles in order to hashtag and share photos to spread awareness. I loved how she ended each email with, “In Solidarity with the Resistance!”

Joining Marching with Me gave me an option to feel included and empowered. Yes, I would have loved to have marched or to have covered the protest in person. Nevertheless, Suffering the Silence gave me a unique opportunity to be a part of a dedicated community striving to make a difference. In journalism, we strive to be objective, yet this was my time to strive to be personal and share my story.

The Gundam Wing quote has deeply resonated with me throughout the various phases of my life. When I developed my invisible illness, it became the mantra I think of every-time, I have to head to the ER. Every time, I have to suit up, again and again, to fight another medical battle. Now, after the Women’s March, I see it with another layer of context. It’s a sign of the times, that in order to protect our rights, we’re all going to have to “Suit Up, Again!”

Dedicated those who “Suit Up, Again” to fight injustice


(1) Chronic illness/invisible illnesses/invisible disabilities: are interchangeable terms to describe illnesses that are often invisible (to most people). The daily feeling of being invisible can be one of the most challenging parts, especially since one can appear healthy and able-bodied. Invisible illnesses can range from asthma, food allergies, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Lyme disease, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, or brain injuries, and also includes mental illness such as G.A.D, PTSD, bipolar, and depression.

(2) Spoonies: A person living with chronic illness who identifies with Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory. The Spoon Theory measures a person’s daily abilities much as one would measure the proper amount of spoons needed for an event or occasion, sometimes having an abundance, other times coming up short.


(3) SBR journalists make The Village Voice NYCC 2016 Cosplay List!

(4) Women’s March expected to be the largest gathering of people with disabilities in US history


Suffering the Silence-STS
STS Facebook
STS Twitter
STS Instagram
Women’s March

The resistance continues: 10 Actions / 100 Days

published via GeeksOUT!