Plastic Water Bottle Conundrum

Plastic Water Bottle Conundrum

My mom always says, “If everyone gives one dollar to a cause, the world will be a better place.” My twist on that is: if every person stops using one plastic water bottle a day, there will be much less waste in the world.

As our team completes planning for the Cherry Hill Earth Festival April 26 at Croft Farm in Cherry Hill, NJ, one of our biggest challenges  and details to express to people is: please use a reusable drink bottle and please do not use or sell plastic water bottles at the festival.

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Cherry Hill Earth Festival 2013

My hope is that more and more people will start thinking about buying and using those cases upon cases of plastic water bottles. For now, it seems many people take the path of least resistance. They tell themselves what many of the bottling companies hope you’ll believe: that the plastic in the cases of plastic water bottles sold in stores every day are made from recycled plastic that can be recycled and reused. The problem is, that a used plastic bottle that goes back into the recycling stream then uses more energy to be recycled again. Eventually, plastics of different grades (#1, #2, etc.) eventually phase-separate, much like oil and water – and are rendered almost useless when it comes to re-use. The science of all this is more than I want to get into here; you can do the research and take a look at the many facts that are out there.

Using a stainless steel water bottle is the easiest answer. You can fill the bottle with your beverage of choice; it can go in the dishwasher or be hand-washed time and time again; and you have ZERO waste in the recycling stream from drinking your beverage on-the-go. Plastic water bottles to me are like plastic shopping bags: why create waste – recyclable or not- when you can simply use a product made to be reused over and over again?

At our Earth Festival, we have requested that every one of the organizations displaying at the festival and our volunteers and partners, not use plastic water bottles and certainly not sell them. We’ll have to do the rounds throughout festival day and carefully and gently make the few who have those bottles in hand, aware that nixing those plastic bottles is yet another way to conserve resources and energy in our world.

The perplexing question is, why don’t MORE people get it? Why do we have to explain the ‘plastic water ban’ for the EARTH Festival? It’s an easy thing to adopt in your life every day. Simply stop using those plastic bottles. Mother Earth will thank you.

For the Birds-No Such Thing as Away

Sustainability advocates and others tout the phrase “There is no such thing as ‘away'” when talking about trash or making something go, well, somewhere else. People and things don’t go away, they end up somewhere else. CBS Sunday Morning’s design episode today (May 19, 2013) included a segment on the ‘designer of fine bird houses,’ Tom Burke (Home Tweet Home),

Beyond the elaborate bird house designs, many of which replicate the homes of well-known actual home owners including Martha Stewart and artist Jaime Wyeth, a short portion of the segment attracted my attention. Tom Burke’s ‘design’ studio is in the basement of his Wilmington, Delaware condo. According to the CBS segment, Burke uses the space rent-free in exchange for what the segment writer called “recycling.” Burke uses items his condo neighbors throw ‘away’ in constructing the bird houses. Some commissions are more than $20,000, so you know these bird houses are really the ‘Four Seasons’ of aviary space.

Consider this: if we spent a little time really thinking about whether we need this item or that item, perhaps we wouldn’t have so much “stuff” that we want to go “away.” Circling back to the original thought: there is no such thing as away, how many times do you run out to the store to pick something up, then find a few days, weeks or months later that you had exactly what you needed at the house, apartment, garage or office and really didn’t need to buy something else. You are left with all this stuff that needs to go ‘away’ at some point.

Jane Pauley’s “Life Re-imagined” segment on The Today Show May 17, 2013, featured Barbara Chandler Allen’s non-profit program “Fresh Artists” that uses proceeds from art pieces created by students and purchased by donors and corporate sponsors to fund school art programs that have dwindled in the past 10 to 20 years. A project such as this prevents us from throwing away talent and creativity that is squandered under the guise of funding cuts.

Collaboration, brainstorming and solid team work are ways to prevent things from going away. The old saying, “God closes a door and opens a window.” is a good one; we put willing, able-bodied, creative minds in a room and come up with solutions to problems. We find ways to make programs and ideas sustainable. We connect people so they can listen, talk and share ideas in order to continue and expand programs. We enable others to join the fray and find productive, creative ways to engage others . Whether it’s an elaborate bird house, children’s talent for art or a valuable program teetering on the edge of extinction, when we step up in any capacity we can, the results are indeed sustainable.

 

When the Goin’ Gets Tough

When the Goin’ Gets Tough

ImageThe heart of any business or personal success is the team you have working on each and every detail.

Look at the Louisville Cardinals team and how those young men banded together to bring home the Midwest Regional trophy while teammate Kevin Ware was carried off the court after suffering a horrendous broken leg. While teammates convulsed in shock and tears streamed down the faces of thousands who watched Ware’s leg snap, the team pulled it together and rallied to put the lid on the regional championship.

I am working with a team of volunteers from Sustainable Cherry Hill and staff members from Cherry Hill Township to put on for the South Jersey region, the 4th Art Blooms Earth Festival. Everyone has a part to play. Volunteers worked with the township police department on safety and route planning for the family-fun bike ride that opens the festival at 9 a.m. Today, I met with John Martorano of Magnum Computer Recycling to find the easiest site location so visitors to the festival April EF2012_20120428_0327th can bring e-waste for safe recycling and disposal. I worked with the Cherry Hill Food Outreach Council which will have a donation station at the festival for non-perishable foods. One of our volunteers has coordinated the entertainment schedule to include several chorus and dance groups and musicians to perform throughout the event. It’s an amazing experience to work with people and maintain a ‘can-do’ attitude so everyone achieves most of what they hope for.

Attitude is everything when it comes to a project involving many people. To have even one team member who seems to work against the grain, can ruin the experience, if not the event, for everyone. The Louisville Cardinals could have folded after they saw what happened to Kevin Ware. The injured Ware yelled to the team to win the game as he was carried out of the stadium. Some hiccups can threaten any event and lead you down the path of ‘CAN’T-do.’ With the team I am fortunate to be associated with – township and Sustainable Cherry Hill – plus our amazing sponsors and supporters – the Cherry Hill Earth Festival and the family-fun bike ride Saturday, April 27th – will be another step toward helping the community and region focus efforts on sustainability in home, work and play.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside- Think Warm-Think Earth Festival

It hasn’t been this cold in the Philadelphia region for about four years – and I don’t like it. Thinking about baseball might be where I normally wander off to – but this time, I’m thinking about April 27, 2013. The Cherry Hill Art Blooms Earth Festival Art Blooms Earth Day - Color - TEXT - Copytakes place at historic Croft Farm ( 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – rain or shine). This is the fourth year Sustainable Cherry Hill is collaborating with Cherry Hill Township to put on this free event. We are also collaborating with the Cherry Hill School District to encourage as many of the district’s 17 schools – and any other schools throughout the South Jersey area – to participate. We’re welcoming creative art, science, math or any school project related to the earth and sustainability to be on display at the festival. The event is taking place rain or shine. We have an extremely creative media specialist – Ramona Bregatta – helping coordinate activities from within the schools. We’re talking about a fashion show with students wearing gently used clothing purchased on a budget at Goodwill or a store such as Plato’s EF2012_20120428_23 - CopyCloset (Maple Shade). Or perhaps a fashion show with clothing made from found items  – ‘Trashin’ Fashin’ was the title tossed around at our planning meeting.

We are welcoming ‘green crafters’ – artists who are making items that are from materials sourced locally – or at least in the USA; we welcome businesses that focus on sustainable or resource-saving practices. We’ll have a recycling area – still under discussion; our Gardening Task Force is working on its second EF2012_20120428_03 - Copyplant exchange that will be bigger this year; the township will bring in compost so people can pick up plants along with a few shovels of compost for the  garden. Springdale Farms is a return participant; Chimp Ade (benefits the Jane Goodall Foundation) and J-Dogs are scheduled to provide delicious – and healthy – food selections. It looks as though we will have a great moon bounce for the kids – always popular along with other activities that are family friendly which will go along with Mayor Chuck Cahn’s focus on the township’s wellness program.

EF2012_20120428_59 - CopyWe’ll have two entertainment stages with student groups performing throughout the day. Also, the local DG Band (easy listening) is scheduled to sing original tunes. All this happens as the township’s week-long Art Blooms event gets underway in the Croft Farm Art Center. Local and regional artists will have beautiful workEF2012_20120428_19 - Copys on display in competition and art-for-purchase.

To really warm everyone up and promote healthy and safe biking, the second Family Fun Bike Ride pedals off from Challenge Grove just across from Croft Farm at about 9 a.m. that morning. Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Way to Go Task Force is working with the township and police department on finalizing the route. It will be an easy ride to encourage all ages to participate.

If you are in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area and want to keep up with the plans for the Art Blooms Earth Festival, April 27th, go to www.sustainablecherryhill.org and click on ‘Earth Festival.’ You can also send in the information form below and I will send you information if you are interested in being a vendor, green crafter, food vendor, student entertainment group or you have a display appropriate for the family-friendly earth festival.

EF2012_20120428_99 - CopyAnd…since Sustainable Cherry Hill is a 501C3 non-profit organization and any funds we raise goes back into education and outreach, we are welcoming sponsors for our event. I can also send you the information about that when you fill out the contact form.

As I write this, I can feel the warm, power of the sun that (hopefully) will be shining on that Saturday. We have a lot of planning to do – and it’s so exciting to be part of this engaging – and free event that brings several thousand people out to historic Croft Farm.

Sustainable Cherry Hill – EPA Quality Award winner

April 23, 2010

In President Barack Obama’s statement marking the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day in the United States he said, “As we continue to tackle our environmental challenges, it’s clear change won’t come from Washington alone. It will come from Americans across the country, who takes steps in their own homes and their own communities to make that change happen. “

Sustainable Cherry Hill’s founder and executive director, Lori Braunstein and six executive committee members were invited to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 2 offices in New York Friday, April 23, to be among several dozen organizations and individual advocates for our environment to accept the EPA’s highest honor, the Quality Award. Sustainable Cherry Hill (SCH) was nominated by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez to receive this prestigious honor.

The ceremony atop the Weiss Federal Building in Lower Manhattan made each representative of SCH proud to represent the growing movement in Cherry Hill and surrounding communities aimed at raising community and region wide awareness to  make our environment cleaner and more sustainable for generations to come. 

EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck took a moment to quote naturalist John Muir, whose words were taken to heart as we marked Earth Day: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.”

The guest speaker, Chief Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation, at the age of 79, spoke of his decades-long journey to understand the earth and the need to nurture nature every day.  He encouraged the gathering of environmental advocates to continue the collaboration and cooperation to protect and save our resources.  He said he fears the way things have been going, nature is at severe risk. “We’re in the spring of global warming,” Chief Lyons said. “We’re not prepared for what is coming.”

Chief Lyons said politics must be set aside and we must pick up the responsibility to preserve and protect our land, water and air. “We now place in your hands, the protection of all life,” the chief stated. “That’s our mandate.”

Chief Lyons words were inspiring. Also inspiring the accomplishments honored by the EPA of the many groups and individuals – from the 10-year old Northport, New York girl who raises money from a lemonade stand to plant trees in her community to the posthumous award to a citizen who spent decades protecting and preserving the coastal wetlands of Cape May.

Sustainable Cherry Hill is on a journey. We are collaborating and working more every day to raise awareness of how each one of us can make a difference in how we leave this planet for our children and our children’s children. We will do this one energy seminar at a time; one township green plan meeting at a time; one recycling event at a time; it is our mandate to work together to reduce our impact on our global resources through engaging and enlightening our family, friends and the community at large.

The EPA Quality award received April 23 makes note of our progress to date. We hope many more people will join us in the efforts ahead.


Such a year

I have never been a fan of “odd” years. Maybe it’s superstition, but I always have this nagging feeling that things will be better when it’s an even year, even age, even month. You get the picture.

As the answer blows in the wind on this blustery, December day, the great news is I’m on the right side of things. My successful career in broadcast journalism has now transitioned into my public relations consulting start-up. My bottom line looks respectable for a one-person operation and I am learning more and more every day through wonderful people I’ve known through the years as well as family and friends.

Driving in the car with my son the other night, I asked him what he thought about the changes our family has been through this year. First thing he said was,” You are doing an amazing, amazing job with your business.” He went on to say flattering, positive things about my transition into this business and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Our son has really blossomed in the past few months. He is now working at his first job as a bus boy at Mirabella Cafe near our home. I met the owner/chef, Joe Palombo, through Sustainable Cherry Hill. I am now the communications director, on the executive board and general board. You see, these are things I could never do for years and years because of my crazy schedule. Now, community involvement is a critical part of what is making me happy now.

I was watching a show last night and there was a line that really rang true to me: “When you figure out what kind of person you really want to be, then you’ll really be happy.” How true. How often do we glaze over each day, muddle through lists of tasks, grumble at our family, friends and associates and wonder, “Is that all there is?” That feeling gnawed at me for the longest time. Fear and comfort and a respectable paycheck kept me from making any moves. After management decided I didn’t fit in to their picture any longer, I was almost relieved. Beyond the lack of respect or appreciation by the top brass when I was let go, I knew the journey to find a better life, more happiness and fulfillment would get underway.

Here are some of the positive changes (in no particular order):

  • no more sleep deprivation
  • regular and constant visits to the gym
  • intense involvement in volunteer community groups that mean a lot to me
  • more quality family time without being sleep deprived
  • being “the boss of me.”
  • flexibility in how my day operates
  • meeting new and interesting people
  • more socialization

OK, the list is getting long. It’s a beautiful thing after living by a very tight schedule with absolutely no wiggle room for years, to be able to structure my days and nights so that they work for me. Of course, I still have to be certain places at certain times, but I don’t have deadlines every ten minutes. I am appreciated for the work I do (most of the time) and I have a sense of accomplishment almost every single day.

Advice from people in-the-know has been critical. There’s been fantastic advice and advice I knew instinctively was crap. The latest great piece of advice I received was from a firm I was talking with about their expansion. The CEO suggested that I narrow my focus in what I want to accomplish. Done…next!

One thing I will always be is a news junkie. I have instincts about people that are spot-on. I know crap when I hear it and I know a true-blue, honest to goodness, truthful person immediately. That has always been a key to success in my figuring out the news. Now, it translates into good instincts about how to help elevate a client’s profile in the audience they are appealing to or figuring out a great pitch to the media to bring a client greater exposure.

That even-numbered year is upon us: 2010. I’ll be turning an even-numbered age as well. It’ll be my second year in business with What’s Next Productions, LLC. It’s all good.

Happy holidays and a safe, prosperous New Year.

Deja vu all over again

When you become a grown up you always say, ” I’ll never be like my mom.” Guess what, we’re all just like our parents, but perhaps a little improved. My son got his first job today. It seems as though no time has passed since my dad came home one day telling me I could go down to Burger Chef; he’d paved the way for my first job after talking with the owner he knew at the time.

The other night, I attended Sustainable Cherry Hill’s (SCH)”Green Drinks” night at P.J. Whelihan’s. SCH (www.sustainablecherryhill.org) is a wonderful group of people working on many different fronts to make our community less dependent and abusive to the land, air and water. Among the board members is Chef Joe Palumbo, who owns Mirabella Cafe and also founded SJ Green Restaurants. In conversation with Joe, I mentioned my son looking for work, and Joe told me to have my son call. Two days later, Adam was hired by Joe to be a bus boy. So, just as my father did, I recycled the same support for my child. Adam now has to do the work and try not to spill water on anyone. Joe’s a great guy, and I have confidence he’ll train my son well and Adam will grow into himself through this first work experience.

Despite the Phillies coming in second to the Yankees this week, it’s been a good start to November. Business is good; the clients are happy (so far) and paying (very nice) and I feel very healthy having kicked my own butt at the gym this week and gotten my H1N1 shot at Rutgers. Now if only the Septa strike would settle. I keep thinking about all the moms, dads, students, and other Philadelphia-area citizens who are having to extend their already exhausting days to walk, bike, carpool (which they should anyway) and spend lots more money packing themselves into Septa trains. Has anyone heard anyone support the union right now? I’ve heard many people say, “They’re lucky they HAVE a job.” So true.

For now, the remaining leaves will pile up in the yard, Thanksgiving will be knocking and the cold will settle in. Since we bought the power boat, Doug is really looking toward the first warm weather we get in 2010 to launch “Mid Life Cri-seas” (still an unofficial name). We’ll see how Adam’s first job goes as he learns to juggle school, work and activities. Wasn’t he just spitting up on my shoulder a few days ago??