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.

Search for Sustainability

Search for Sustainability

What is sustainability? While people think of environmental dilemmas when they think of sustainability, most people do not enter sustainability through the environment. They consider how they can sustain a business, the economy of a community, a 20130217_inq_cu1zencey17-aschool system. Sustainability involves many issues. Sustainability is about how everything in the world meshes together so that the people, places and things can be sustained for generations to come.

Today, I share with you an editorial from The Philadelphia Inquirer that can help you think of sustainability from far above the earth. Thank you Matt Zencey for sharing your thoughts.

Save The Camden Children’s Garden

Camden’s reputation for being among the most violent city’s in the nation overshadows the many good organizations and people who work tirelessly to improve the poor and often overlooked city.

ChildGarden LogoIn the gray of winter, leaders of the Camden Children’s Garden have been notified that they will have to vacate the site adjacent to the Adventure Aquarium by March 31st. The Garden’s web site indicates ChildGarden4the site was to reopen full-time March 30th. The fight is underway to save The Children’s Garden and the program that has helped provide more than 2-million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for a city that has just one supermarket located a long bus-ride away for many residents.

Please read a message from a friend of mine – Mark Doorley – president of Camden’s Center for Environmental Transformation and give thought to the plight of The Camden Children’s Garden.

ChildGarden5This is an emergency call for action to support a sister non-profit in the city of Camden that is dedicated to environmental justice and food justice. Two weeks ago the Camden Children’s Garden (CCG) received a letter from the State of New Jersey asking that most of their six acre site be vacated by March 31st. Without even talking to the CCG’s staff, the State wants the organization to continue its work of supporting the many community gardens throughout the City. This will not be possible with what the State has in mind for the CCG. It will be reduced to a rather small greenhouse and some office space, losing its much larger greenhouse facility as well as the meeting spaces where workshops are conducted for Camden gardeners year round. Why does the State want to shut down this gem on the waterfront? To make way for a more “glitzy” destination spot, to join the Susquehanna Center and the Aquarium, making this a “destination” spot. This is an outgrowth of a tired economic development plan which claims that if you make “glitzy” destination places, you will attract more people to Camden and those people will spend money in Camden. The glaring flaw with this analysis is that the people come into Camden, closing their eyes til they get to their “glitzy” destination, and they spend their money at these destinations, and that money ends up, in the case of the Aquarium and the new development under discussion, in the pockets of an Alabama-based entertainment company.

The Camden Children’s Garden serves almost every school in Camden, through summer programs and support for school garden programs. Children from throughout the area visit the Camden Children’s Garden for their many activities. The 50,000 seedlings grown by the CCG have brought to harvest 2.1 million pounds of produce for the people of Camden. It is a place where the children of Camden, particularly, can learn about science and nutrition, in a safe and inviting place. In my opinion, this is the kind of “glitz” we want on our waterfront.

There is reason to believe that the State’s move will not stand up under judicial review. There are now over 6,000 people who have joined the Save the Camden Children’s Garden Facebook page, and legislators are working behind the scenes to resolve this problem.

How can we help?

1. Donate to a legal defense fund; information to make tax-deductible donations can be found at the following link: http://camdenchildrensgarden.wordpress.com/legal-fund/

2. Sign the petition to save the Children’s Garden, which can be found at the following link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/558/352/791/save-the-camden-childrens-garden/

3. Come out on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 to support CCG. Attend a press conference at the Garden on Tuesday at 4 PM. It is very important that children who have visited and benefited from the CCG be present at this event. Following the press conference, we will be marching to City Hall to make a presentation and plea to save the Garden to City Council. At the press conference, there will be hot chocolate for children to enjoy! More information on this effort can be found at the following link: http://camdenchildrensgarden.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/press-release-state-eviction-statement-for-email-rev2-6-131.pdf.

4. Join the Facebook page of Save the Camden Children’s Garden and invite your friends to do the same.

Thank you.

Mark Doorley

President, Board of Trustees

The Center for Environmental Transformation

1729 Ferry Avenue, Camden, NJ 08104

(p) 609.605.3530

(e) president@cfet.org

 

 

It Takes a Sustainable Village

Brainstorming about sustainability is challenging, invigorating, exciting and yes, exhausting. It’s a complicated topic. Tonight, the South Jersey Green Network led by Sustainable Cherry Hill, brought people from Camden, Stratford, Haddonfield and other communities in and around Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties to hear about best practices and yes, share some of the walls that pop up when trying to establish a Green Team. Sustainable Cherry Hill (SCH) sparked the network a few SJGreenNet_0724 (20)years ago and convening this third tri-county effort brought familiar and new faces to the tables for listening, learning and discussion. Donna Drewes from SJGreenNet_0724 (3)Sustainable Jersey updated the group on the new website and ways to connect with other Green Teams statewide as well as find out about grants and projects; Camden County Freeholder Jeff Nash introduced Chris Waldron, Camden County’s sustainability coordinator who brought a very strong message: make sure when you are explaining what SJGreenNet_0724 (16)sustainability is all about to people who are not on board yet – be sure you tailor that message to them. Sustainability is all-encompassing; it involves how our society will continue for generations to come; sustainability is about education, the economy, transportation, environment, housing, faiths – it’s how everything is connected and how each piece of the puzzle fits.

According to Lori Braunstein, the evening wrapped up with a brief break-out session. Facilitators from SCH and SJ Network  focused the discussions on collaboration.  Each group then reported on the major topics of discussion. People really found that section valuable and seemed to want more of that.

After hearing about successes of Stratford’s Green Team and the collaboration between the school district, business community and other regional groups, there may be more questions than answers for some communities still trying to kick-start their sustainability efforts. Sustainability does take a village; in that room tonight connections were made and the journey continues.

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.