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.

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.

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.

There is No Such Thing as Away – Finale

Sustainability goes on. There will be mid-course corrections in the process of getting communities, governments and individuals to understand that all our systems are connected. Sustainability is not just about the environment. As I’ve learned in the NJ Learns program, most people do not enter the sustainability topic from the environment. The topic is complex and can be messy; change happens slowly – almost excruciatingly slowly. Many baby steps lead to real change and understanding that steps taken now will preserve and conserve our society, resources, economy and all of the systems within for generations to come.

After about six months of off and on work to complete my practicum, I have ‘graduated’ from

NJ Learns certificate & reclaimed wood frame by Matt Ryan -One Man Gathers Studio.

NJ Learns certificate & reclaimed wood frame by Matt Ryan -One Man Gathers Studio.

the NJ Learns program. Today our cohort heard the final projects from the educators and community participants in our cohort. The enthusiasm, creativity and persistence among all of the participants is admirable. There is a second grade teacher who has the freedom in her classroom and school to teach sustainability across the curriculum. Students are planting gardens; inner city children are learning that their world has much more than the black top that surrounds their school; Boy Scouts are learning how they can cut energy by simply changing out light bulbs; a science teacher who embraced Green Apple Day and got his school on board is also now reclaiming wood and making frames, trays and other objects as a side business. Sustainability never ends. My project is continuing – working with Sustainable Cherry Hill, the Cherry Hill Schools and PTAs and people in the region who are learning that everything we do now affects our children’s future and their children’s future and so on. One big take-away for me is that “There is no such thing as away.” Think of that when you toss something ‘away’ in the trash. Over time, thinking changes – we all change – and for the better.

There’s No Such Thing as Away

What is sustainability? For months, that burning question has whirled in my mind. Now, as part of the NJ Learns program, not only can I begin to better answer that question, but start to affect the people in my sphere of influence.

“There is no such thing as away.”. You throw away a yogurt cartoon; the coffee grounds are thrown in the garbage; You throw away the wrapping from your sandwich at lunch. Where is AWAY? Away is where we can’t see the stuff anymore, but the impact on the world is far reaching. Thee fuel used by the garbage trucks to haul the trash impacts our carbon footprint;

Days at the Lakes

We said “hello” to the lake once again. Back in New Hampshire, I’m home again. This year’s visit to the White Mountains and the Lakes Region has its differences. We traveled nine hours today pulling MidLife Cri-seas. Getting up at 4:40 a.m. was no problem considering I spent the evening before watching the Phillies beat the snot out of those NY Mets. The best part was spending time with my brother. It was a great start to this fabulous time with family and friends that is ahead.

Back to this outstanding sunset I’m watching from the screened porch at our vacation house on Danforth Bay, a stretch of Lake Ossipee. We put the boat in the lake from the ramp at Camp Robin Hood, which was practically effortless (or at least Doug made it look that way).

After our first NH meal, getting the

Launching the boat at Camp Robin Hood - Doug & Adam

Sunset on Danforth Bay - Day 1

boat in the water up here is icing on the cake that Doug started last October when he bought the boat. To be up here with our own boat to spend hours exploring on the water and just hanging out has been the goal. We plan to take Adam and his fellow Saxons out for rides over the next couple of days.

For now, unpacking is nearly finished. I just watched a speedboat and water skier fly by on the water as the last of today’s sun dips behind Mount Mary across Danforth Bay. Time to watch more Phillies-Mets (Oh – I DID get an MLB-TV subscription so I don’t miss too much Phillies action.)