Community Composting in Rye?

  Supporters attend and speak out in support of community composting at 10/17/18 City Council meeting.

Supporters attend and speak out in support of community composting at 10/17/18 City Council meeting.

Should there be community composting in Rye? City Council heard the answer from numerous residents at last week’s City Council meeting. With letters of support to council members, or in person, residents asked for the opportunity to discuss and implement a Rye community composting program.

What is community composting? And why does Rye need a composting (or food scrap recycling) program? Read on to learn more.

Promote community composting through education and awareness programs. Emphasize the benefits of composting as a method for decreasing waste while reducing waste collection costs.
— Rye Sustainability Plan: Waste Reduction & Recycling, Section 2.6

Background

A residential composting program is a suggested initiative in the Rye Sustainability Plan for cost savings and waste reduction reasons.

Food waste is not trash: It’s a potentially valuable resource that can be turned into compost. We lose this resource when we send it to the incinerator. The act of composting can also help change habits. As residents begin to separate their food waste from the rest of their garbage, they become more aware of how much food they toss, prompting them to buy less. Ultimately, this can lead to less garbage collected and potentially less waste management expenses.  

In addition to these reasons, RSC members have focused their interest on composting in response to increased community interest and requests for a municipal composting program. To date, a number of residents, businesses and many of our local schools (all Rye elementary, Rye middle and Rye Country Day schools) have instituted various programs.

  Town of Mamaroneck’s Food Scrap site

Town of Mamaroneck’s Food Scrap site

There are challenges, however, to individual residential composting setups. Backyard composting is impractical and a perceived nuisance to neighbors. Most importantly, FSR programs sponsored by municipalities have the ability to accept far more food waste (meat, fish, bones) than a backyard composting setup.

For these reasons, a number of local municipalities recently instituted their own residential food scrap programs, with Scarsdale setting up the first voluntary drop-off program in 2017. This program was so successful that the town has now added curbside pickup. To date there are eight residential Westchester composting programs and the recent approval by Cortlandt’s Planning Board of a new composting facility indicates that more will follow.

Rye Sustainability Explores a Potential Rye FSR Program:

  A Rye resident speaks at City Council in support of community composting.

A Rye resident speaks at City Council in support of community composting.

For over a year, the Rye Sustainability Committee, under the leadership of RSC members Patti Capparelli and Linda Mackay, has been studying the feasibility of a Rye food scrap recycling program. During this time they’ve met with members of the Scarsdale Food Scrap Recycling group and representatives of other municipalities that have adopted composting programs. They have also met with public works’ department heads, toured composting drop-off sites and attended conferences on food scrap recycling. They’ve learned a lot about composting!

In addition to meetings with other municipalities, RSC members have met with Rye City staff to determine costs and feasibility of a Rye program. The suggestion of a curbside program was raised by staff, which prompted RSC members to review and interview representatives from municipalities nationwide that offer curbside composting.

Working with Rye City staff, the details for a potential Rye curbside pilot program were then sketched out. RSC has canvassed residents for interest in participating in a pilot capped at 150 households. The response has been enthusiastic and we are currently oversubscribed by 60%.

Details of Proposed Rye FSR Pilot (as of 10/22/18)

  • Source of Funds: $5,000 NYSERDA CEC Grant for community composting and pilot participants’ subscription fee ($26/household).

  • Estimated Start Date: February 1, 2019

  • Number of Households:  A maximum of 150 households (no apartment complexes) will receive curbside FSR collection. Unlimited households, including apartments, can participate through the drop off location at Disbrow Department of Public Works.

  • Duration: 6 months

  • Subscription Fee/home: $26/household

  • Frequency: Once per week curbside collection by DPW.  The curbside collection will be on a day determined by DPW. Drop off participants may drop off during DPW open hours.

  • Drop off Location: at DPW will be open to all residents who sign up and purchase mandatory starter composting kits.

What’s Next?

City Council would need to pass a resolution approving implementation of the pilot. Discussion and potential vote is scheduled for the November 7 City Council meeting.

See RSC and Scarsdale FSR Group’s presentation to City Council on 10/3/18 here (Item 5). See residents’ calls for discussion of community composting here (Item 5).

Interested in learning more or expressing your support for a Rye program? Contact Patti Capparelli at patticapparelli@gmail.com

  Members of Rye Girls Scouts Troop 2196 speak at City Council in support of community composting.

Members of Rye Girls Scouts Troop 2196 speak at City Council in support of community composting.

Rye Earns Clean Energy Community Designation

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Rye Sustainability member Linda Mackay, the City of Rye earned Clean Energy Community designation on September 26, 2018 for its commitment to cut costs and reduce energy consumption.

A program of the NY State Energy Research and Development Authority, acceptance in the CEC Program provides municipalities greater access to "implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment. In addition to providing tools, resources, and technical assistance, the program recognizes and rewards leadership for the completion of clean energy projects."

The first CEC benefit was realized just this month with the award of a $5,000 NYSERDA CEC grant for a Rye Sustainability community composting initiative.

Read more about Rye’s designation in the press release, below.


Press Release

The City of Rye Earns Clean Energy Community Designation for its Commitment to Cut Costs and Reduce Energy Consumption

The City of Rye (Rye) today announced it has been designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy locally.

Announced by Governor Cuomo in August 2016, the $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative supports local government leaders across the state by providing grants to eligible municipalities to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development projects in their communities. Clean Energy Communities advances the Governor’s Reforming the Energy (REV) strategy by demonstrating the importance of communities in helping New York reach its Clean Energy Standard mandate of having half of the state’s electricity coming from renewable energy resources by 2030.

Rye received the designation for completing four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions identified by NYSERDA as part of the Clean Energy Communities initiative. In addition, the designation gives Rye an opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 toward additional clean energy projects, with no local cost share.

“The City of Rye is grateful to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for this recognition and the related grant opportunity. The City thanks the Rye Sustainability Committee (and especially Linda Mackay) and City staff for doing the hard work that has brought us the many benefits of being a Clean Energy Community,” said Josh Cohn, Mayor, City of Rye.

“Congratulations to the City of Rye for its Clean Energy Community designation and for helping to build a cleaner and more sustainable New York,” said Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Communities are at the heart of the state’s efforts, under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, to achieving our ambitious energy efficiency goals and combating climate change.”

To earn the Clean Energy Community designation, Rye completed the following high-impact clean energy actions:

  1. LED Street Lights - Converted street lights to energy efficient LED technology (1038 bulbs replaced with LED).

  2. Clean Fleets - Installed electric vehicle (EV)charging stations or deploy alternative fuel vehicles (Rye purchased four EV’s: Chevy Bolts; April 2018).

  3. Energy Code Enforcement Training - Trained compliance officers in energy code best practices (three employees from Rye attended in April 2018).

  4. Energize New York Finance - Offered energy upgrade financing to businesses and non-profits (Rye became a member of the Energy Improvement Corporation in 2015).

Cities, counties, towns and villages that complete at least four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions are designated Clean Energy Communities and are eligible to apply for funding of up to $250,000 with no local cost share and the option of receiving up to 25 percent paid in advance to support additional clean energy projects. At least two of the four actions must have been completed after August 1, 2016. NYSERDA is accepting applications for funding on a rolling basis through September 30, 2019 or until funds are exhausted, whichever comes first. Funds are being provided through the Clean Energy Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Additional clean energy action items communities can take to achieve designation include:

  • Performing energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to municipal buildings.

  • Implementing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) so residents can gain greater choice and control over energy use a group.

  • Earning Climate Smart Communities Certification through the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for developing a comprehensive program to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment.

  • Streamlining the local approval processes for solar projects through adoption of the New York State Unified Solar Permit.

  • Adopting a benchmarking policy to track and report the energy use of the municipal buildings.

Once all funding is exhausted in a region, local governments designated a Clean Energy Community are eligible to apply for a $5,000 grant, on a first-come, first-serve basis until such funds are exhausted.

Clean Energy Community Coordinators are also available at no charge to help communities to develop and prioritize clean energy goals, access easy-to-use resources such as guidance documents and case studies, and take advantage of available funding and technical assistance opportunities.

Rye Sustainability Committee member commented that “Carla Castillo, from the Hudson Valley Regional Council, was extremely helpful and advised the Rye Sustainability Committee members during the entire process of becoming a Clean Energy Community. We are very grateful for her expertise, responsiveness and enthusiasm!”

For more information on Clean Energy Communities, visit NYSERDA CEC. Local government officials or employees can find contact information for their respective coordinator here for assistance navigating the program.

Arbor Day Returns to Rye!

October 12 - Rye City’s official Arbor Day! Rye Sustainability worked to reinstate Rye City as a Tree City USA. The official celebration of this important designation occurred next to the new native tree plantings on Purchase Street. Mayor Cohn read a proclamation announcing October 12 as Arbor Day, followed by a ribbon cutting. Thanks to donors to the Rye Tree Fund who made the new plantings possible. For more information on the benefits of trees visit the RSC Tree Fund Page.

Watch Rye TV’s coverage of the event here.


RSC Chair Melissa Grieco's Arbor Day Remarks

Happy Rye Arbor Day everyone and welcome to this Arbor Day observance and ribbon cutting ceremony. 

As you may already know, the City of Rye was reinstated as a Tree City USA in 2017 after a long lapse of 11 years. Before 2017, Rye was last designated as a Tree City back in 2006, so it's wonderful that we are now back in business as a tree city once again!

This ceremony today is first and foremost a celebration of the importance of trees to our municipality. Trees confer innumerable benefits on our community including:

  • reducing heating and cooling costs

  • enhancing property values

  • cleaning the air

  • providing habitat for wildlife 

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And, this is a big benefit for flood-prone Rye, trees are being increasingly recognized for their importance in managing stormwater runoff. In urban and suburban settings a single deciduous tree can intercept from 500 to 760 gallons per year; and a mature evergreen can intercept more than 4,000 gallons per year! Trees also filter out pollutants that would otherwise wind up in Blind Brook and the Long Island Sound in a rainfall event, which we seem to be getting a lot of lately.

Unfortunately, we are losing trees in Rye at an alarming rate due to old age, disease, extreme weather events (which are also happening more frequently) and of course we are losing trees to construction and development.

That is why it's great to see that the Rye Department of Public Works has done a beautiful job with this little plot of land here in our downtown and has planted some native grasses and shrubs as well as these two native trees, a redbud and red maple. 

The funding for the planting of these two trees came from the City of Rye Sustainability Committee Tree Fund. The Rye Tree Fund collects donations of any amount from Rye residents to defray the costs associated with the purchasing, planning, planting and pruning of native municipal street trees. All the Tree P's, as we like to call them.

I'd like to thank several people today.

Arbor Day Proclamation

Firstly I want to thank our Mayor Josh Cohn for all he has done to help Rye become reinstated as a Tree City USA. As I just mentioned, there was a long lapse of 11 years when we did not receive the recognition and it is only with our Mayors endorsement and backing that we were able to reach Tree City USA status once again. This is a big accomplishment for this current administration and one that we should all be proud of.

And a huge thank you to City Engineer Ryan Coyne and his staff for their work in transforming this little patch of land into a native plant oasis. And for all their work in getting Tree Fund subsidized native street trees planted throughout Rye which encompass a bunch right here along Purchase Street including Thornless Honey Locusts, Red Maples, American Lindens and more.

Thank you to all the City Staff including Marcus Serrano, Christian Miller, Joe Fazzino, Melissa Johanessen, Kristin Wilson, Carolyn D'Andrea and others who have helped along the way with the implementation and success of the tree fund. 

Thank you to Rye Sustainability Committee City Council liaison, Sara Goddard, for her unwavering support and advocacy.

And a big thank you to all Tree Fund donors past and present, several of whom are here today.
With that, I'd like to turn things over to Mayor Cohn to read out the official Arbor Day Proclamation after which he'll sign it with this homemade quill (decorated with native grasses of course). And then we'll have a ribbon cutting to mark this wonderful tree planting and occasion.

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Leaves: It’s Time to Break Up and Leave 'Em

By Amy Kesavan, Rye Sustainability Committee

Dropping temperatures have finally arrived. Warm apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, and Halloween candy will soon allow us to indulge in this delightful time of year when the heat has finally abated and the trees give us a brilliant display of autumn beauty. Lucky for us we get well fed and have big sweaters to hide under until spring.

What you may not realize is that fall is one of the best times to prep for that beautiful healthy green lawn you’ll enjoy next summer. Why? Leaves falling off trees return important nutrients back to the soil. This no-maintenance natural system keeps soil covered and naturally fertilized. With the introduction of modern lawn care last century we interrupted this cycle, leaving soil exposed with those nutrients literally removed and hauled away. Your soil is begging you to reconsider those leaves and finally leave them! It’s time to break them up and mulch them over your lawn.

When leaves are mulched over your lawn they provide a vital - and natural - service. First, they keep small gaps covered. Your lawn lacks a sweater to hide under and it hates to be bare. Mulching leaves provides a fine layer of protection that keeps heat and moisture in your soil over the winter months.

Keeping your soil covered also contributes to weed suppression. If your soil has a fine layer of mulched leaves, those spring weed seeds have a more difficult time making contact with the soil and are unable to germinate. Your grass is dormant, but weed seeds are actively seeking a new home. As leaves break down over winter, earthworms feed on them, weaving their way up and around the soil, naturally aerating it.

  Leaf Mulching Demo at Rye Nature Center

Leaf Mulching Demo at Rye Nature Center

Finally, mulched leaves return important minerals and nutrients taken by the tree from the ground, back to the ground leaving a naturally fertilized soil for your lawn to grow. Mulching your leaves over your lawn will not kill your grass; it will make it stronger. How is this achieved? There are a number of ways to work with your landscaper or mulch leaves in place yourself. The resources below will help you get started.

It’s finally time to break them up and leave them …and focus on enjoying a pumpkin latte.


Mulching With a Landscaper

Fall is the time to talk to your landscaper!

Many landscapers have leaf mulching attachments available upon request. If your landscaper does not have one, they can mow a fine layering of leaves without it. Please request they consider purchasing one. If you manage your own lawn, there are an abundance of YouTube videos available to do it yourself.

If you’re considering a new landscaper, consult Rye Sustainability’s landscaper directory for a list of suggestions. Working with a lawn care professional committed to natural landscaping practices is an important component to achieving a truly healthy yard.

Mulching Yourself

After watching Rye Sustainability’s 2017 leaf mulching demo at Rye Nature Center, Rye resident and RSC member Linda Mackay was inspired to buy a leaf mulching blower and mulch her own leaves.

Linda reports that turning the leaves into mulch was very satisfying and only took an hour. It was very easy to manage and she had lots of mulch to spread around her beds.


Resources

Healthy Yards, Healthy Pets

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Healthy Yards, Healthy Pets

  Rye Nature Center Director of Strategic Initiatives AJ Johnson.

Rye Nature Center Director of Strategic Initiatives AJ Johnson.

Humans and their furry friends flocked to Pet Pantry Warehouse this evening to hear about how to keep their lawns healthy and safe for their pets.

Rye Sustainability Chair Melissa Grieco kicked off the event by thanking Pet Pantry for generously hosting and providing treats for the four-legged attendees at their “Bark Bar.” Baked goods for humans were prepared by Rye Sustainability member and healthy cook extraordinaire, Jenny Hirsch.

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The main event of the evening was the presentation given by Rye Nature Center Director of Strategic Initiatives AJ Johnson. AJ holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology and has several years of experience in environmental education and outreach. He spoke about the health and environmental hazards of toxic chemical lawn applications and offered practical solutions.

For more tips on how to keep your outdoor spaces pet- and human-safe, take a look at Rye Sustainability’s Takeaway Tips: Healthy Yards, Healthy Pets.


How Do I Know My Cleaning Products are Safe?

Is That Cleaning Product Truly “Green” or Am I Being Greenwashed?

You’ve resolved to keep your family and pets safe by purchasing “green” cleaning products. But you get to the store only to be baffled by the dizzying array of products listing unrecognizable ingredients and displaying ominous warning labels. How do you choose which product to purchase?

Unfortunately our legal system is currently ill-equipped to provide sufficient clarity on potentially harmful chemicals contained in cleaning products. According to The Environmental Working Group, “U.S. law allows manufacturers of cleaning products to use almost any ingredient they wish, including known carcinogens and substances that can harm fetal and infant development. And the government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold.”

So how do we make informed choices about the products we purchase to ensure that they’re truly healthy and safe?

One simple way is to check the labels for ingredients and certification by reputable watchdog organizations. Or you can refer to resources from accredited organizations to assist you in making that final choice.

Some resources to assist you in figuring it all out:

For more household tips and resources, visit Rye Sustainability’s Tips Page

Rye Receives Tree City USA Designation

It’s official! Rye has received Tree City USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation! Rye Sustainability worked with Rye City staff to reinstate this important designation after its lapse for many years.

Rye Sustainability would like to thank City staff Christian Miller, Ryan Coyne, Melissa Johanessen, and Joe Fazzino for all their help, and a special thank you to Mayor Cohn for making the official proclamation.

Stay tuned for details about an upcoming Rye City Arbor Day, but information about Tree City USA and the importance of trees can be found on RSC's Tree Fund Page.

Want to help keep Rye a beautiful, tree-lined community? Consider a donation to the Rye Tree Fund, which helps finance the planning, purchasing and planting of street trees in Rye.

A Plastic Free July? Try It Out!

  Bring your own Bag!

Bring your own Bag!

Plastic Free July, a global initiative of the Plastic Free July organization, is just a few days away. Rye Sustainability is encouraging residents to join us in making a commitment to ditch those pesky and unnecessary single-use disposable plastic items that never degrade and can easily be replaced by durable, reusable products.

Studies show it takes only three weeks to form a new habit, so start with July and go from there!

What Can You Do?

Here are some easy tips to get started:

  Participate in a beach cleanup. Most beach waste is plastic.

Participate in a beach cleanup. Most beach waste is plastic.

  • BYOB: Bring your reusable bag when shopping.
  • Water Bottles: Instead of reaching for that plastic bottle of water, fill up a reusable bottle.
  • Drinking Straws: Take the Sound Shore Last Straw Pledge and say "no thanks" to plastic straws that are never recycled and last virtually forever in our waste stream.
  • Utensils: Avoid disposable plastic utensils in favor of metal or, if you're taking your meal outside the home, bring more sustainable bamboo.
  • Produce Bags: Avoid pre-packaged produce and bring along a cloth produce bag.
  • Containers: Check out the bulk food sections at the grocery store and stock up with your reusable container. Some stores will even allow you to bring your own containers from home to fill prepared foods.
  • Wrap: Instead of plastic wrap, try beeswax that can be washed and reused multiple times.
  • Clean it up! Sign up for a beach clean-up to help reduce plastic waste that never degrades.

Resources

Rye Boy Scouts Project Aims to Reduce Plastic Straw Consumption

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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

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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

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  • 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.
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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

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Other Great Ideas ...

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  • 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...

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  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.
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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