Rye Boy Scouts Project Aims to Reduce Plastic Straw Consumption

plastic-straws.jpg

As summer swings into full gear, most of us are planning to kick back and relax. But the boys of Rye’s Boy Scout Pack 2 Den 1 have far more ambitious plans. Their newly launched project selling metal drinking straws is designed to raise awareness about the detrimental environmental effects of unnecessary single-use plastic waste.

Den Leader Emily Dorin explains that the scouts were inspired to take action after watching the recent Green Screen screening of Straws"The movie Straws truly peaked their awareness about the issue and encouraged them to be part of the legislative process for making change.  They held a great self-initiated brainstorming session about how they could use the intercom during morning announcements to spread the word, present to various grades, go to City Council and encourage our leaders."

Recent news, including coverage about a dead whale found with 17 pounds of plastic waste in its stomach, has only served to heighten their awareness of the need to reduce disposable plastic. 

  Members of Boy Scout Pack 2 Den selling metal straws at Midland Elementary School.

Members of Boy Scout Pack 2 Den selling metal straws at Midland Elementary School.

The boys have dived into their project with energy and enthusiasm selling straws at local elementary schools and working with the Little Garden Club of Rye. Sales to date have been very successful, with a sellout at Milton Elementary School and more sales to come at Midland and Osborn Schools. During the summer, look out for the scouts at the Rye Sidewalk Sale on July 26, 27 and 28. They also plan to organize an effort to educate their peers and business owners about the long-term effect that straws have on our planet’s ecosystem.

All proceeds from their straws sales will be donated to Soul Ryeders

StrawsTentCardFront.jpeg

How can you help reduce your consumption of plastic straws? It's simple:

  • Purchase a metal straw (or more!) from Boy Scout Pack 2 Den. For questions or details, contact Emily Dorin at emily.dorin@accenture.com. 
  • If you're an owner of a food establishment, consider participating in Rye Sustainability's Sound Shore Last Straw initiative by making the SSLS Pledge to only offer straws upon request, or consider eliminating plastic straws completely.

The Winners of the Rye Sustainability Leadership Award!

  RCDS Headmaster Scott Nelson receives his award from RSC Chair Melissa Grieco.

RCDS Headmaster Scott Nelson receives his award from RSC Chair Melissa Grieco.

The winners of the second Rye Sustainability Leadership Award were announced by Councilwoman Sara Goddard at the April 25 City Council Meeting. The recipients of the award are Rye Country Day School Headmaster Scott Nelson, RCDS Director of Sustainability Kerry Linderoth and the RCDS Parents Association Environmental/Wellness Committee.

The text of the announcement is produced below. For video coverage of the announcement, visit RyeNY.gov.


Announcement of 2018 Rye Sustainability Leadership Award

  Dorian Feckl (  RCDS Environmental/Wellness Committee Chair), Kerry Linderoth and Scott Nelson with RSC Chair Melissa Grieco.

Dorian Feckl (RCDS Environmental/Wellness Committee Chair), Kerry Linderoth and Scott Nelson with RSC Chair Melissa Grieco.

It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners of the second Rye Sustainability Leadership Award.

This award honors individuals, organizations or members of the business community that have made significant environmental achievements and demonstrated excellence in leadership for the health of our community and planet.

Most importantly, the winners reflect the spirit of the Rye Sustainability Committee, which embodies collaboration, hard work, and a deep love of our beautiful community.

The recipients of the 2018 Rye Sustainability Leadership Award are Rye Country Day School Headmaster Scott Nelson, RCDS Director of Sustainability Kerry Linderoth and the RCDS Parents Association Environmental/Wellness Committee for consistent and generous support over seven years of the RSC/RCDS Green Screen film series.

  Award plaques are created by  Rivanna Designs  from    FSC®-certified  cherry.

Award plaques are created by Rivanna Designs from FSC®-certified cherry.

At Nelson’s direction, RCDS has partnered with Rye Sustainability Committee, promoted and underwritten the entire cost of the Green Screen program (which encompasses six film screenings to date) so that the general public can attend, learn about important sustainability topics, and enjoy delicious refreshments, all free of charge.

In addition, Kerry Linderoth, Director of Sustainability and Science Teacher, Upper School & Middle School and the Parents Association Environmental and Wellness Committee have helped coordinate logistics and collaborate with Rye Sustainability Committee to make Green Screen a long-running successful enterprise. Nelson and RCDS' support of Green Screen allows the message of sustainability to reach so many more members of the public who would otherwise not be able to learn about it.

Congratulations to Scott Nelson and Rye Country Day School for their much deserved awards!

You can read more about the award and all nominees here.

  Dorian Feckl receives the RSC award on behalf of the RCDS .

Eight Easy Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

EdithReadMessageBoard.JPG
  • Ditch the Device and get outside. Explore one of the many area parks or organizations (such as Rye Nature Center and Jay Heritage) with beautiful outdoor spaces. For more ideas, check out these local Earth Week events.
  • Volunteer for a cleanup! There are a number of cleanups planned for Earth Day. To help keep Rye clean and beautiful, sign up for the RSC newsletter to be notified of upcoming events.
  • Say No to single-use plastic today and every day. Bring your own Bag and consider eliminating plastic straws from your life. Read more about Rye Sustainability's Sound Shore Last Straw initiative here.
  • Plant a tree! You can do it in your own yard or donate to RSC's Tree Fund to help defray costs associated with street tree plantings.
IMG_7378.jpg

Community Choice Aggregation Presentation

Community Choice Aggregation Presentation

  Rye Sustainability Chair Melissa Grieco

Rye Sustainability Chair Melissa Grieco

A large group turned up at the Rye Free Reading Room on Monday evening when representatives from Sustainable Westchester - a non-profit consortium of municipalities that addresses critical sustainability concerns within Westchester County - presented their overview of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) and what it means for Westchester County.

Twenty* Westchester County municipalities - nearly half of Westchester's towns, villages and cities - are currently participating in Sustainable Westchester's CCA program, Westchester Power.

For those who were unable to attend, Rye TV filmed the presentation and Sustainable Westchester provided digital copies of their presentation and handouts, which can be found below.

To learn more about CCA, please contact Sustainable Westchester's CCA administrator, Westchester Power: 914-242-4725.

*Participating Municipalities (as of March, 2018):

  • City of New Rochelle
  • City of White Plains
  • Town of Bedford
  • Town of Greenburgh
  • Town of Lewisboro
  • Town of Mamaroneck
  • Town of New Castle
  • Town of North Salem
  • Town of Ossining
  • Town of Somers
  • Village of Hastings-on-Hudson
  • Village of Irvington
  • Village of Larchmont
  • Village of Mamaroneck
  • Village of Mount Kisco
  • Village of Ossining
  • Village of Pelham
  • Village of Pleasantville
  • Village of Rye Brook
  • Village of Tarrytown
 
  Jenna Amundsen, Westchester Power

Jenna Amundsen, Westchester Power


Second Annual Rye Sustainability Leadership Award: The 2018 Nominees

The nominations are in for the Second Annual Rye Sustainability Leadership award! Rye City Councilwoman Sara Goddard announced the nominees at the March 14 Rye City Council meeting. The winner(s) will be announced at the April 25 City Council meeting.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

RSC Award and Announcement of Nominees - 2018

“Recognize significant environmental achievements made by citizens, organizations or the business community through an annual sustainability award.”
— Rye Sustainability Plan: Community Awareness/Outreach, Item 9

As part of its mission to implement the Rye Sustainability Plan, the Rye Sustainability Committee has created a Rye Sustainability Committee Leadership Award.  This award honors individuals, organizations or the members of the business community that have made significant environmental achievements and demonstrated excellence in leadership for the health of our community and planet.

The 2018 RSC Leadership Award Nominees are as follows:

Nominees

Rosemary and Vine Berj Yeretzian and Tania Rahal relocated to Rye after living in the Mediterranean for a number of years. The husband and wife team co-founded Rosemary and Vine to bring a comfortable, casual place to enjoy savory vegetarian fare with a nice glass of wine or beer to the downtown area. Rosemary and Vine has been a model of sustainable restauranteering ever since it opened its doors in 2015. The restaurant composts all of its food scraps via Fairfield-based Curbside Compost and many of its ingredients are organic and locally sourced. Rosemary and Vine was one of the first establishments to sign Rye Sustainability Committee's 'Sound Shore Last Shore' pledge to only provide straws upon specific customer request in order to reduce the amount of single-use, disposable plastic entering the waste stream. Over the years, Tania and Berj have supported Rye Sustainability through their generous donations of delicious food and beverages to numerous Rye Sustainability events.

Denise Woodin and Rye YMCA Derby Goes Green In celebration of the 30 year anniversary of the Rye Derby in 2018, Denise Woodin, Rye YMCA Director of Community Impact and Social Responsibility, created an initiative to reduce the carbon footprint and local environmental impact of the event. Woodin recruited other Y staffers and community volunteers - including representatives from Rye Sustainability, Rye Country Day School and Rye City Schools to help her find sponsors to underwrite the effort and to brainstorm specific ways to make the race greener. As a result, this year's event has eliminated plastic water bottles and balloons, incorporated recycling and composting stations, and switched from disposable plastic tablecloths to reusable tablecloths.

Scott Nelson and Rye Country Day School for consistent and generous support of the RSC/RCDS Green Screen film series. At Nelson’s direction, RCDS has partnered with Rye Sustainability Committee, promoted and underwritten the entire cost of the Green Screen program so that the general public can attend, learn about important sustainability topics, and enjoy delicious refreshments, all free of charge. In addition, Kerry Linderoth, Director of Sustainability and Science Teacher, Upper School & Middle School, and the Parents Association Environmental and Wellness Committee have helped coordinate logistics and collaborate with Rye Sustainability Committee to make Green Screen a long-running successful enterprise. Nelson and RCDS' support of Green Screen allows the message of sustainability to reach so many more members of the public who would otherwise not be able to learn about it.

Carolyn Cunningham, Chair, City of Rye Conservation Committee/Advisory Council Carolyn Cunningham has been a lifelong advocate and crusader for environmental causes. After graduating with a law degree from Pace University in 1988, she practiced environmental law for the National Resources Defense Council, a national environmental group headquartered in New York City. She has been an environmental consultant and was Executive Director of Federated Conservationists of Westchester County for five years where she now volunteers as a board member. Cunningham has served on the City of Rye Planning Commission, the Conservation Committee/Advisory Council and served two terms after being elected to the Rye City Council. She currently serves as Chair of the CC/AC and is a staunch advocate of Rye Sustainability and its efforts.

Bill Lawyer, Assistant Director, Rye Town Park Development; Freelance Writer, Rye Record Bill Lawyer developed an interest in sustainability as a young child while spending summers on his grandparents' farms in Iowa and Pennsylvania learning about the importance of sustainable agriculture. From there on out, he got involved with clean water issues in high school, sustainable forestry and forest management in college and as a member of the Peace Corps, and researched land use management and politics in graduate school. As a teacher at Rye Country Day School, he established an ecology club on the first ever Earth Day and organized school recycling efforts. He was Executive Director of the Greenburgh Nature Center for thirty years and spent ten years as a board member of the Federated Conservationists of Westchester County.

Sustainability is A.L.I.V.E. at Rye Middle School

By Lila Capparelli, Rye Middle School

   Emma Kelly-Walsh, eighth grader, sorting through collected plastic bottles.

Emma Kelly-Walsh, eighth grader, sorting through collected plastic bottles.

Sustainability is alive at Rye Middle School (RMS).  Students take RMS A.L.I.V.E. (Always Looking Into Vital Ecology) as an elective course in seventh and eighth grade.  This course was created by RMS teacher, John Borchert, and is currently taught by himself and John Griffin. Mr. Borchert explained that "RMS A.L.I.V.E. was started to give Middle School students the opportunity to make their school a greener place.  Students maintain an organic garden to supply the cafeteria.  Students also assist the school’s recycling programs and are always looking to make the school more environmentally friendly."

Students in the class learn about the environment and protecting their planet.  They chose to work on projects that make the school more sustainable or increase their schoolmates awareness about their environment.

Projects include:

  • Creating and displaying environmental posters educating students about food waste
  • Petitioning for a greenhouse in the Middle School
  • Building bird, owl, and bat houses
  • Creating art out of recycled materials
  • Making automatic planters out of recycled water bottles
  • Managing indoor and outdoor gardens
   RMS ALIVE seventh grader, Harry Swanson, building a bat house for our school grounds.

RMS ALIVE seventh grader, Harry Swanson, building a bat house for our school grounds.

Additionally, students oversee the school’s outdoor vegetable garden where vegetables are harvested and used in school lunches or brought home to students’ families.  They collect recyclable water bottles from the cafeteria and hallways.  Students also collect 2 5 gallon orange buckets full of compostable food from the high school cafeteria and add it to the outdoor compost bins.  Every fall and spring, RMS A.L.I.V.E. encourages all students to participate in Walk or Bike to School Week through a raffle drawing.

Due to the fact that students get to do whatever project they please and are able to recycle and compost, it is easy to believe that this class is so popular.  Also, With all the environmental pollutants being added to the Earth every day, even the smallest actions make a difference.  RMS A.L.I.V.E. is helping make this difference.

I think it’s one of the best classes we run. I love it that kids get a choice in what they do. And this is the generation that will helps save the planet from the environmental poisons.
— Dr. Ann Edwards, Principal, Rye Middle School

Rye Sustainability's New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year when we scratch our heads for meaningful yet attainable New Year's resolutions. As you try to sort it all out, Rye Sustainability members offer some suggestions to help your 2018 be a "green" one. We've also compiled a list of suggestions from other organizations.

Happy New Year!

Rye Sustainability's New Year's Resolutions

IMG_6265.jpg
Walker Healthy Yard Signs.jpg

 

Other Great Ideas ...

FullSizeRender.jpg
  • Although designed for school children, One World's Eco Passport contains a list of "eco actions" that everyone can print out and complete.
  • Varsity's list includes simple action items, such as turning off the dryer and recycling paper.
  • Huffington Post interviewed eco-friendly experts and celebrities for their suggestions, which include switching to a green energy supplier and avoiding disposable containers when purchasing fresh produce.
  • EcoWatch lists 10 ways to be an environmental steward. Some ideas: Buy local and change your mode of transportation.

Why Should We Go "Straw-less"?

Straws.... We don't think too much about them as we sip our frosty beverages before tossing them into the garbage. Unfortunately, these seemingly innocuous items are damaging to humans, animals and our planet.

Here are some reasons why...

Bondi-Beach-straws-1024x764.jpg
  1. Americans use 500 million disposable plastic straws every single day but they do not biodegrade.
  2. In the U.S. alone, there's enough straw litter waste to wrap the circumference of the earth 2.5 times a day, or fill Yankee Stadium over 9 times a year!
  3. Straws are one of the most common litter items found on beaches.
  4. Marine animals mistake straws for food. They can choke on them or straws can get stuck in animals' nasal passages.
  5. Plastic straws are made from polypropylene, a petroleum-based plastic. In effect, a non-renewable resource is used to create a single-use, disposable item.
  6. Health issues: According to BreastCancer.org and a recent study by Environmental Health Perspectives, research suggests that all plastics - including those advertised as BPA free -  may leach chemicals if they're scratched or heated.
  7. They cause wrinkles! Straw use causes people to purse their mouths and can create wrinkles from the repetitive muscle motion.
  8. Chewing on straws is bad for your teeth.
  9. It's a convenience; not a necessity. For most of us the use of plastic straws is just a habit of convenience, and habits can be changed with the desire to change.
turtlewithstraw.jpg

 

What Can You Do?

Fortunately, there are solutions to this problem. Choosing not to use or purchase disposable straws is the most simple solution. In fact, The Plastic Pollution Coalition estimates that 1,800 “restaurants, organizations, institutions and schools worldwide have gotten rid of plastic straws or implemented a serve-straws-upon-request policy.”

If you're a ...

Food Establishment: Either opt out of serving beverages with straws or only serve straws on request.

Resident: Choose not to purchase disposable plastic straws for home consumption and say "no thanks!" to straws at restaurants, unless they're reusable.

 

Can't Live Without Straws? Some Alternatives ...

Although straws can be essential for some with disabilities (and a necessity for parents of young children!) there are natural and environmentally safe alternatives.

Here are some alternatives to disposable straws recommended by online e-magazine GOOP:

Paper: Aardvark Straws are customizable and durable (they can last for hours in water without disintegrating). There are more biodegradeable options on Amazon, too.

Steel: Crate & Barrel sells a set of four; these Mulled Mind straws are handmade and come in different sizes and widths.

Glass: Hummingbird Glass Straws are shatter-resistant and dishwasher safe.

Bamboo: Brush with Bamboo‘s are grown organically, plus you can wash and reuse them.

Grain: Harvest Straws are made from non-GMO grain and grown without chemicals.

Brass: Modern furniture designer Chris Earl makes these reusable brass drinking straws at his home workshop in LA.

On a Safari Trip for Trees

A Tree Planting Bonanza

Rye City staff went on a street tree shopping spree this fall, thanks to generous donations by Rye residents to the Branching out for Rye Tree Fund.

Rye Sustainability member and Tree Fund chair, Melissa Grieco, joined Rye City Planner Christian Miller and Rye City Engineer Ryan Coyne on a trip to Hardscrabble Nursery in October to select native trees for planting in various locations around Rye.  A total of seven trees were purchased and planted throughout the City.

Many thanks to our Rye City staff for their efforts in keeping Rye beautiful and green!

And a thank you to those who have generously donated to the Branching out for Rye Tree Fund.

For further information please visit Rye Sustainability's Tree Fund page and consider making a donation to the Tree Fund.

trees and their locations

  • "Central Park" (grassy area on Boston Post Rd across from Jerry's Market) - Three River Birches
  • Disbrow Park area - Tulip Tree
  • City Hall parking lot - Two Thornless Honey Locusts
  • Village Green - Sugar Maple

Put a Cork in it!

  Rosemary & Vine is a "Put a Cork In It" participant.

Rosemary & Vine is a "Put a Cork In It" participant.

Spearheaded by RSC member Gretchen Crowley, one of Rye Sustainability's latest initiatives is a cork recycling campaign entitled Put a Cork In It. The initiative is designed to start a broader discussion about the importance of recycling and waste reduction.

Area restaurants, bars and clubs have signed on to participate in this simple exercise: Instead of tossing corks in the trash, participants recycle the cork in a receptacle provided by ReCORK, North America's largest natural cork recycling program.

The receptacle with the used corks is then mailed (at no cost) to ReCORK where the corks are re-purposed into new products. RSC will supplement this activity through an education campaign designed to educate the community about recycling and waste reduction.

A list of participating food establishments can be found here. To find out more about how you can recycle other products, visit RSC's Where Do I Donate/Recycle? page.

For further information, read the recent article below about Put a Cork In It in Apawamis Now.

When Walking To School is A Perilous Pursuit

A major attraction of suburban living is the ability of children to walk and bike to school. Rye resident Kelsey Johnson lives with her husband and young children near Forest Avenue, but quickly discovered that the short walk along Forest Avenue to Midland Elementary School is a dangerous exercise. Johnson decided to take matters into her own hands and mobilized a group of concerned residents to study the feasibility of sidewalks on Forest Avenue. Now, three years later, Johnson provides an overview of the issue.


When Walking To School is A Perilous Pursuit

  A car swerves to avoid pedestrians

A car swerves to avoid pedestrians

By Kelsey Johnson

The Rye Sustainability Plan has many goals, one of which is to “pursue and adopt measures that will encourage more pedestrian activity [and] less dependence on vehicle transportation”. The Rye City Schools District supports this mission with an annual Walk to School week to raise awareness and support for the health, community and environmental benefits of regularly walking or biking to school.

Walk to Schools Week at Midland Elementary School took place the first week of October and students were encouraged to walk to school and participate in this important initiative.  However, Midland, and hundreds of other Rye middle and high school students are prevented from safely participating in any walk to school effort. The problem: Along the portion of Forest Avenue between Manursing and Apawamis Avenues there is no sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into the street where they perilously navigate their way as cars speed by them. The situation has been made worse in recent years as access paths from side streets to Midland have closed. Children who live on the fifteen streets that feed into Forest Avenue (approximately 170 homes) now have no route to school except via Forest Avenue.

This stretch of Forest Avenue has been the subject of study and highlighted for safety improvements by the City, most recently through a comprehensive study drafting specific off-road alternatives to improve pedestrian and bike safety. It also evaluates the impact to mature trees and landscaping, among other metrics. For the second year in a row, this project has been identified as a "high priority" capital improvement project in the City's Capital Improvement Plan and awaits funding of an engineering and design study, which was deferred last year as the city awaited the outcome of two major grant applications. 

  Children walking to school on Forest Avenue

Children walking to school on Forest Avenue

Unfortunately, the City was not awarded the grant money, so residents must rely on the City to keep momentum on this project and fund the next step to ensure the safety of our school children, dog walkers and runners.  The Rye Sustainability Plan highlights infrastructure improvements targeted at enhancing pedestrian activity that include repairing sidewalks and increasing the miles of sidewalks, which this project directly accomplishes.

Together, we can work to redefine idling for our school-aged children.

Rain Barrels in Rye: A Free and Convenient Way to Irrigate Your Lawn

Rain barrels are an excellent and economical way to capture rainwater from roofs for use on lawns and plants. The biggest hurdle is making the decision to set aside an hour or so to set up the system. Rye resident Colleen Margiloff recounts below how simple it is to install. Even a kid can do it!

For more resources, please see the Gardening Tips page and links at the end of Colleeen's article.


By Rye Sustainability member Colleen Margiloff

The process of going green has been slow and steady for our family. It started with recycling and then over the years its started to grow:  eliminating pesticides from our yard, purchasing an electric car and now, a rain barrel.

 

Why a Rain Barrel?

One day while it was raining, I began to think of the missed opportunity to capture that water for our plants, which I've kept alive in spite of my notorious brown thumb. I think this may have been one of the scariest changes for me since it required a power tool - not exactly my strong suit. However, with the help of my dad and kids, it took less than an hour to install and has allowed us to use less water.

 

Where to Purchase

Like most things in life these days, I ordered mine online. With Amazon, Frontgate and Hayneedle, you have great choices. However, there are also local options from which to choose.  You can order one online at Home Depot and then pick up at the store, or every spring the Greenburgh Nature Center sells them. They start at $75 and go up from there and max out at $200.

Something to keep in mind is the location of the spigot. If you get a barrel with only one spigot close to the ground, consider getting a stand as well for easier access.

 

Start to Finish: 30-45 minutes

The first step is to walk around your house and locate the best fit for the rain gutter to lead into the barrel. Next you'll need  a hacksaw, a drill and teflon tape, which can be found in the plumbing aisle of a hardware store. (This is used to ensure a tight fight around the spigot.)

Remove the down-spout running down the side of your home so that you can shorten it to fit into the rain barrel.  Measure how long the down-spout needs to be to continue down the side of the house and into the rain barrel. We fit the existing curved piece back into the pipe and led it directly into the barrel. When sawing, keep in mind that it's easiest if you place a piece of 2 x 4 wood inside the pipe to prevent the aluminum from collapsing while it is being cut.  Saw a bit on each of the four sides before sawing all the way through.

Once the down-spout is securely in place, secure it back to the house and, if using a bent portion to lead it into the barrel, use a screw to hold the two pieces of down-spout together.

The final step: attaching the spigots. To ensure a tight fit, wrap teflon tape around the threaded (male) portion of the spigot. You'll only need to wrap it a few times, making sure you pull it taut. Screw the spigot into the appropriate hole(s) by twisting it into place. It's helpful to have two spigots, with one lower to the ground, so that if there's a small quantity of water in the barrel,  you can access water with the bottom spigot.

You're ready for rain!

Resources AND TIPS

  • Empty frequently after rain events so the barrel is ready for the next storm!
  • Empty completely in winter and store in a shed or garage. A full barrel will freeze and break.
  • Reconnect the downspout in winter or use a diverter.
  • EPA Sheet on Rain Barrels
  • Benefits of Rain Barrels

A Beautiful and Natural Rye Streetscape

The City of Rye has completed its downtown street improvements project on Purchase Street and a number of beautiful street trees, many of them natives, have been added to the landscape.

For Earth Week, Rye Sustainability helped commemorate the planting of the first native tree   purchased and planted with funds donated from the Branching Out for Rye Tree Fund - a Thornless Honeylocust. Now five more trees have been added to Purchase Street.

Thank you to City of Rye staff for their efforts in planting these trees and for recognizing the importance of introducing native trees into our community!

For further information about the benefits of trees, please visit our Tree Fund page and consider making a donation to the Tree Fund. Any amount is welcome!

For further information about the Purchase Street trees, please see below.


Thornless Honeylocust

Information about the thornless honeylocust from the Arbor Day Foundation:

  A   thornless honeylocust   in front of TD Bank.

A thornless honeylocust in front of TD Bank.

"The thornless honeylocust has captured the hearts of arborists, community foresters and homeowners throughout America. And no wonder. This tree is easy to plant, grows fast, has reasonably strong branches, is aesthetically pleasing and is tough enough to withstand just about any urban setting."

"In nature it grows in both a thorned and thornless form, with thorns growing up to 12" long. Many regions in the South once referred to honeylocusts as Confederate pin trees because those thorns were used to pin uniforms together during the Civil War."

  A thornless honeylocust near the intersection of Locust Avenue

A thornless honeylocust near the intersection of Locust Avenue


Lindens

  Two lindens flank Rye Country Store

Two lindens flank Rye Country Store

Information about lindens from the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture:

"This American native was used for centuries for its fibrous inner bark and fragrant flowers. It bears unique flowers and large, heart-shaped leaves. The tree is stately as a single specimen or when it is allowed to form a clump."

"This tree will develop to its full potential if given full sun and rich, moist, well-drained soil. American linden will tolerate clay, a wide pH range and partial shade. It is noted for its adaptability. "


Red Maple

  A red maple tree near the intersection of Purchase Street and Locust Avenue

A red maple tree near the intersection of Purchase Street and Locust Avenue

Information about the red maple from the National Wildlife Foundation:

"Red maple is named for its red flowers, red fruit, red twigs, and of course, the brilliant red fall foliage! Autumn sightseers of the eastern deciduous forest praise the red maple for its striking scarlet leaves. Few people know that red maple foliage can turn yellow or orange in the fall too!"

"Red maples are perhaps the most abundant tree in the eastern deciduous forest. This status can be attributed to the tree’s generalist tendencies. A generalist species is one that can tolerate a wide range of habitat conditions and uses many different types of resources."

"Red maples do well in sunny or shady spots, dry or wet soil, high or low elevation, etc. It’s unlikely that any other tree in North America can match the red maple’s wide range of growing conditions! Adaptable roots help the red maple to cope with differing soil types. If the tree is placed in wet soil, it grows a short taproot and extensive lateral roots to soak up water at the surface. When red maples grow in dry sites, a long taproot and short lateral roots develop. Despite their remarkable roots, red maples grow better in some conditions than others. Deep, moist, acidic soil results in the healthiest red maples."

  A   red maple tree midway down Purchase near Jos A. Bank store

A red maple tree midway down Purchase near Jos A. Bank store

Dogs and Healthy Yards: A Paws-itive Combination

By Rye Sustainability member Jenny Hirsch

Here in Rye, we all know the importance of walking your dog. The health benefits of dog walking for the dog owner are obvious.  It is also safe to say that dogs who are walked stay healthier.  And it is equally satisfying to note that dogs and their owners have a greater emotional bond when they walk together.  I have become a busy local dog walker and see this all first hand. I also see landscapers spraying lawns with pesticides and have learned of the dangerous health effects on our precious doggies that walk and even eat this toxic grass. On behalf of the Rye Sustainability Committee I am writing this article to educate and remind residents how a healthy lawn can have a positive effect on the health of your pet. (I know their are some cats on harnesses as well because I am one of those cat walkers.)

 

Health Dangers of Lawn Pesticides to your Pet

The dangers to pets of chemical use on lawns are very real. According to PET MD "many pets are susceptible to falling ill as a result of exposure to lawn chemicals."  And the lingering effects of these dangers are profound: Pesticides that are applied outdoors "often make their way indoors and onto surfaces."

According to the medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, "Lawn chemicals can vary widely in their safe use around pets. Some items such as fertilizers may only cause stomach upset, while others such as insecticides can be deadly."

Lawn pesticides have been linked to cancer in pets, nervous system disruption, respiratory failure, and serious digestive problems.  Even if you don’t use these chemicals on your lawn, a neighbor's lawn can also pose a threat.

 

Things You Can Do to Protect Your Pets

  • Use natural lawn care techniques. Check the Rye Healthy Yard Section for details.
  • If you must use pesticides:
    • Never apply pesticides when pets are on the lawn.
    • Remove all feeding bowls, water dishes, and pet toys from any area before applying a pesticide.
    • Avoid using pesticide in pellet form because it can look like food.
    • Watch for signs indicating when areas have been treated. Avoid walking in these areas with your pet for at least 72 hours.
  • Use alternative techniques for controlling fleas and ticks
  • Get to know how your neighbors treat their lawns and how it can affect your pet.

Let's all plan to make some healthy lawn changes today. Your furry babies will thank you!

Additional information about pets and pesticides can be found here.  The ASPCA Guide to Pet Safe Gardening can be found here.

Visit our Rye Healthy Yard Section to learn more. And ...

Take the RHYP Pledge!

Does Organic Lawn Care Cost More Than Conventional?

Does Organic Lawn Care Cost More Than Conventional?

Beyond Pesticides is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., which works with allies in protecting public health and the environment to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides. In their Winter 2016 edition of "Pesticides and You" the editors responded to a reader's question that many of us have: "Is organic lawn care more expensive than conventional?" BP's response is reproduced in its entirety below and makes a compelling case for why residents and municipalities that decide to make the switch won't be breaking the bank.

Do you think the City of Rye should adopt healthy landscaping practices for its open spaces? Let us know what you think by taking the very short survey on our Home Page.


Question: I’m trying to work towards safer lawn care practices in my Homeowners Association, but I’ve run into problems with the board and administration that say that it’s too expensive to transition to organic. Do you have any information that could help me make the case that the “cost” of organic lawn care won’t break their bank?

Answer: This is an argument used frequently to dismiss a commonsense change to organic and sustainable lawn care practices. While there is certainly a good amount of information that finds that a transition to safer methods is much cheaper in the long-term, start the conversation by reminding people why eliminating toxic pesticide use is essential in the first place. It is important to remember that the focus of pesticide reform is on public health. While the economic benefits of cosmetic pesticide use are concentrated within the chemical industry, the costs are often borne by individuals, particularly children, pregnant mothers, the chemically sensitive and others with compromised immune and nervous systems. Preventing or reducing the health costs associated with a child-hood disease should be considered a benefit to the community. Given that there have been numerous localities that have successfully implemented organic land care practices, the community should strive to do the same, and act as a leader in the protection of public health, particularly children’s health.

But if an appeal to the greater good doesn’t make an impression, there are some well-respected sources to help you make your case. To start, look at the understanding the state of Connecticut has about organic lawn care. Its Department of Energy and Environmental Protection notes on its website, “If your lawn is currently chemically dependent, initially it may be more expensive to restore it. But in the long term, an organic lawn will actually cost you less money. Once established, an organic lawn uses less water and fertilizers, and requires less labor for mowing and maintenance.” Other respected institutions back up this experience. Harvard University has a long-running lawn care program that was transitioned off of chemicals nearly a decade ago, and the school wisely documented the economics of its transition. Harvard indicates that it was able to reduce irrigation needs by 30%, saving two million gallons of water a year as a result of reduced demand. The school was also spending $35,000 year trucking yard waste off site. Harvard can now use those materials for composting and save an additional $10,000/year due to the decreased cost and need to purchase fertilizer from off-campus sources.

Beyond Pesticides’ Board Member and nationally renowned turfgrass expert Chip Osborne conducted a study several years ago that compares the costs of conventional and organic turf management on school athletic fields. The report concludes that, once established, a natural turf management program can result in savings of greater than 25% compared to a conventional turf program. This report was conducted in 2010, and since then there have been significant improvements in organic-compatible products that help speed organic transitions.

Seeing how cost issues play out at the community level can also be helpful. As part of Reno, Nevada’s pilot pesticide-free parks program, the city estimated that there would be no additional expenses to transition off of pesticide use. City staff stated in a report, “There are no cost implications as staff will implement changes within its adopted budget.” The city estimated it spends approximately 1.4% of total maintenance time applying herbicides, and 4.1% of time using manual or mechanical weed control alternatives. To implement the program, the Park’s Department discontinued herbicide use and began to implement alternative strategies that include the use of organic products, burning, or additional manual or mechanical weed control. The City did not expect the total time spent on weed control to differ as a result of the change in practices.

Saving Money While Going Green: Home Energy Efficiency Workshop

Rye residents and people from neighboring communities showed up at the Rye Free Reading Room on April 1 for Rye Sustainability's first home energy efficiency workshop. The free event was geared to the homeowner who wants to learn how to make his or her home energy efficient while saving money.

IMG_5577.jpg

A panel of industry experts presented and answered a wide variety of questions, ranging from free home energy assessments to New York State programs that help homeowners finance energy efficiency projects. Attendees also learned about residential renewable energy options, including solar, geothermal and pellet stove heating.

Participants and the topics they covered included:

Delicious refreshments were provided by Le Pain Quotidien in Rye.

Thanks to Rye TV, the event can be viewed here.

We Have Two Winners! Rye Sustainability Leadership Award Announcement

  2017 Rye Sustainability Leadership Award winners Christine Siller and Taro Ietaka

2017 Rye Sustainability Leadership Award winners Christine Siller and Taro Ietaka

We have TWO winners for the first Rye Sustainability Leadership Award: Taro Ietaka and Christine Siller of Rye Nature Center. The awards were presented to Taro and Christine at the May 3rd 2017 Rye City Council Meeting by Rye City Council members Julie Killian and Danielle Tagger-Epstein.

RSC Chair Sara Goddard made the announcement of this year's award, the text of which is reproduced below.


Announcement of 2017 Rye Sustainability Leadership Award

It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners of the first Rye Sustainability Leadership Award.

This award honors individuals, organizations or members of the business community that have made significant environmental achievements and demonstrated excellence in leadership for the health of our community and planet.

Most importantly, the winners reflect the spirit of the Rye Sustainability Committee, which embodies collaboration, hard work, and a deep love of our beautiful community.

There are two winners this year: Christine Siller and Taro Ietaka.

  Taro and Christine at City Council

Taro and Christine at City Council

From the moment our committee was formed, Christine, as Rye Nature Center’s Executive Director, has been a staunch and loyal supporter of all Rye Sustainability programs, from the reusable bag initiative to partnering with us on the Rye Healthy Yard Program. Christine has willingly opened Rye Nature Center's doors for our many workshops and events and underwrote the production costs of our healthy yard signs. She has provided guidance and advice over the years and advocated for us at public hearings. She was even a judge for our sign design contest and spent several hours pouring over hundreds of submissions. For all these reasons, we’re honored to present her with this year’s Rye Sustainability Leadership Award.

Rye Nature Center Director of Conservation & Land Stewardship, Taro Ietaka is RSC’s soil, composting, lawn, and gardening expert. Whether it’s speaking at numerous healthy yard coffees, helping lead our composting workshop, talking dirt to a packed audience for the What’s Under Your Soil event, Taro approaches his many commitments with a positive, cheerful enthusiasm and he seems to have limitless amounts of energy. And despite his packed and busy schedule, he always has time to listen patiently to us gardening neophytes and provide a word or two of help. It is such a pleasure to present him with this award.

Congratulations to Taro and Christine for their much deserved awards!

You can read more about the award and all nominees here.

Killian Announces Nominees for Rye Sustainability's First Leadership Award

One of the suggested items in the Rye Sustainability Plan is the creation of an annual sustainability award. Accordingly, Rye Sustainability is pleased to announce its first Rye Sustainability Leadership Award. Councilwoman Julie Killian announced the award and the nominees at the April 19 City Council meeting.

“Recognize significant environmental achievements made by citizens, organizations or the business community through an annual sustainability award.”
— Rye Sustainability Plan: Community Awareness/Outreach, Item 1.9

 

RSC Award and Announcement of Nominees - 2017

In recognition of Earth Week and as part of its mission to implement the Rye Sustainability Plan, The Rye Sustainability Committee has created a Rye Sustainability Committee Leadership Award.  This award honors individuals, organizations or the members of the business community that have made significant environmental achievements and demonstrated excellence in leadership for the health of our community and planet.

The members of the RSC, including their two City Council liaisons, have nominated the following individuals or organizations. The winner or winners will be announced at the May 3rd City Council meeting.

Nominees

Scott Nelson and Rye Country Day School for consistent and generous support of the RSC/RCDS Green Screen film series. At Nelson’s direction, RCDS has partnered, promoted and underwritten the entire cost of the Green Screen program so that the general public can attend, learn about important sustainability topics, and enjoy delicious refreshments, all free of charge. In addition, the RCDS faculty has supported the Green Screen by offering course credit to students who attend. Nelson and RCDS' support of the Green Screen allows the message of sustainability to reach so many more members of the public who would otherwise not be able to learn about it.

Christine Siller and Taro Ietaka of Rye Nature Center for their deep commitment to environmental and conservation education and their continued and generous support of RSC educational and conservation-related programs. Taro Ietaka has attended and participated in numerous events related to RSC’s healthy yard program, while Christine has supported RSC initiatives, including underwriting the production of the healthy yard signs.

Jim Boylan, Midland principal for his leadership and perseverance spearheading the Midland cafeteria composting program and inspiring other schools to follow. This waste free lunch program has reduced the Midland’s contribution to landfills by an estimated 25,000 lbs since the program started, and about 150 lbs per day is now being re-purposed or primarily composted. The program has made a substantial impact on waste reduction with the added benefit of educating students about the impact of their waste. 

Mark Dellicolli, Rye resident and assistant to the Chief Information Officer, Westchester County Department of Information Technology, for his efforts to drastically decrease the energy costs of the County Data Center, which had traditionally been a huge energy drain. Dellicolli’s plan to rearrange the room where all the servers were kept decreased energy use by 10%. This was especially impressive given that the data center is 15 years old, data needs have increased drastically and most importantly it was done in lieu of expensive capital projects previously proposed.  The County now has room to possibly offer local municipalities space for off premises storage for emergency purposes.

Congratulations to all the nominees and we look forward to hearing from the Sustainability Committee on May 3.

"Branching Out For Rye's" First Tree Planting

Plaque CU.jpg

All branches of the community were represented at the April 19 tree planting ceremony commemorating the first tree purchased and planted with funds donated from the Branching Out for Rye Tree Fund.

Rye Sustainability Chair Sara Goddard thanked the many members of the City of Rye staff for their support with facilitating the fund and with the selection of an appropriate and sustainable tree - in this case, a beautiful Thornless Honeylocust. RSC is honored to assist the City with its beautification efforts and Goddard pointed out that that this first tree planting symbolizes a partnership in sustainability among all branches of the community – civic, municipal, residential and business.

IMG_5674.jpg

RSC member and Tree Fund Chair Melissa Grieco thanked the donors for their generous contributions, noting that donations to date total $4,250. A ribbon cutting ceremony followed, as Deputy Mayor Julie Killian performed the honors with "official" garden shears. City Council member Danielle Tagger-Epstein affixed the Branching Out for Rye tree plaque and then everyone had a turn at shoveling the final clumps of dirt.

The highlight of the day, however, was the arrival of members of Brownie Troop 1915 who, in addition to displaying their expert shoveling skills, plan to embark on a tree fund fundraising campaign as one of their troop activities.

For further information please visit RSC's Tree Fund page and consider making a donation to the Tree Fund. Any amount is welcome!

Bronxville: Healthy Fields, Healthy Kids

For those who attended Rye Sustainability's 1/27/17 healthy yard workshop, you would've heard landscaper Lenny Merone speak about the benefits of natural landscaping. In addition to providing landscaping services for Westchester residents, Merone created a natural landscaping program and oversees grounds maintenance for Bronxville school fields. The Bronxville school district maintains the field for school use, but it's considered a recreation field, and is open to the public.

The naturally landscaped fields are “as good, if not better than the original.”
— Karen Peterson, Bronxville Athletic Director

In a recent interview with Karen Petersen, Bronxville Athletic Director, Peterson explained the logic behind making the switch to naturally landscaped fields.

How long have the fields been free of synthetic chemicals? We first switched over to "green products" -  corn gluten and organic fertilizer - about six years ago, and then about three years ago, Merone put together a comprehensive natural landscaping program for us.

Why did you decide to switch to synthetic-free landscaping?

Three reasons:

  • Mainly, the kids: The chemicals, including high phosphorus fertilizers and weed killers, have a detrimental effect on the environment. Bronxville has had a green policy in the schools and it seemed hypocritical to be teaching about a healthy and natural lifestyle while treating the fields with chemicals.
  • Our ecosystem: Bronxville is near the Bronx River and we don't want chemicals leaching into the water supply.
  • The protection of our wildlife, particularly, a threatened pollinator population.

What are the secrets to success of a well-maintained field?

  • Regular aeration.
  • Fencing to keep traffic off the fields when they're not in use.
  • Overseeding at the right time to control weeds.
  • Leaving the fields untouched during the winter months.

Is natural landscaping more expensive than the traditional method? We made the switch a number of years ago and the products are more expensive, but not outrageously so. The fields require some additional care and maintenance, which is provided by our contract with Merone. The main cost increase is due to the overseeding required to control weeds.

Do you have any future plans? Looking ahead, we have plans to put in an organic infill turf field.

Should the City of Rye adopt a similar policy for its public spaces? Let us know what you think by responding to our survey on the RSC Home Page.