The Winners of the 2019 Environmental Leadership Awards

As part of its mission to implement the Rye Sustainability Plan, the Rye Sustainability Committee created a Rye Sustainability Committee Leadership Award. This award was first given out in 2017 so this year marks the third annual “bestowing”. The 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.

For this year’s award, the committee expanded the award criteria to include five different categories. This was, in part, driven by the fact that there were too many well-deserving people and organizations to choose from. Rye Sustainability went ahead to create distinct award categories to make the selection process easier! These five categories are 1) business 2) individual 3) municipal 4) non-profit and 5) youth.

A big congratulations to all 2019 award recipients who are as follows:

Business Category

Rosemary & Vine

Winners of the Business Category Award - Rosemary and Vine

Winners of the Business Category Award - 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 in 2015 to bring a comfortable, casual place to enjoy savory vegetarian fare with a nice glass of wine or beer to the downtown area. The restaurant was a model of sustainable operating during the years of its operation. A standard-bearer for food scrap recycling in the Rye business community, the Rosemary and Vine kitchen composted all of its food scraps. As a vegetarian establishment using many locally sourced and organic ingredients, the menu offerings constituted a lower carbon footprint than typical restaurant fare. 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 supported Rye Sustainability through their generous donations of delicious food and beverages to numerous Rye Sustainability events. Rosemary and Vine will be sorely missed!

Individual Category

Carolyn Cunningham

Winner of the Individual Category Award - Carolyn Cunningham

Winner of the Individual Category Award - Carolyn Cunningham

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 continues to volunteer 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 recently stepped down as Chair of the CC/AC and is a staunch advocate of Rye Sustainability and its efforts.

Municipal Category

Ryan Coyne, PE, City of Rye Engineer

As City Engineer, Ryan Coyne directs the City of Rye Department of Public Works which is responsible for maintaining the city's physical infrastructure, refuse collection, recycling, and vehicle maintenance. Under his leadership, the DPW has deployed a number of environmental initiatives that have helped boost and promote sustainability efforts city-wide as well as those led by the Rye Sustainability Committee. In 2018, Coyne oversaw the acquisition of a new fleet of Electric Vehicles (four Chevy Bolts) to be used by City staff, as well as the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at the DPW. He also facilitated Energy Code Enforcement Training to train compliance officers in energy code best practices (three employees from Rye attended in April 2018). These actions to promote the use of clean energy by the city led to the designation of the City of Rye as a Clean Energy Community by NYSERDA which rewarded the city with a $5,000 grant. Coyne has also been instrumental in advancing the purchasing and planting of a greater number of native perennials, shrubs and trees throughout city-owned property. Furthermore, Coyne was a key stakeholder in bringing a municipal food scrap recycling pilot program to Rye that included a curbside pickup component. He and his staff have worked ceaselessly to successfully implement the six-month long City of Rye Food Scrap Recycling Pilot Program that is currently underway.

Winners of the Municipal Category Award - Ryan Coyne, PE, City of Rye Engineer and City of Rye Department of Public Works

Winners of the Municipal Category Award - Ryan Coyne, PE, City of Rye Engineer and City of Rye Department of Public Works

City of Rye Department of Public Works

Staff members of the City of Rye Department of Public Works have worked tirelessly to help execute numerous City of Rye environmental initiatives. Staff have planned for, purchased, planted and pruned (all the Tree P’s!) a number of native street trees whose acquisition was made possible by the Rye Sustainability Committee ‘Branching out for Rye’ Tree Fund. These native street trees not only beautify the community, but also provide critical shelter, habitat and food sources for the city’s native wildlife and insect populations. Furthermore, without the hard work and unflagging support of the DPW staff, the City of Rye Food Scrap Recycling Pilot Program would not be possible. Members of the Rye Sustainability Committee have greatly enjoyed their volunteer time at the DPW main office while helping roll out the pilot.

Winners of the Municipal Category Award - Michelle Sterling and Ronald Schulhof, Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council

Winners of the Municipal Category Award - Michelle Sterling and Ronald Schulhof, Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council

Michelle Sterling & Ron Schulhof, Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council

Over the last five years Michelle and Ron have been instrumental in launching sustainability initiatives throughout Scarsdale and Westchester County. Together they have helped all seven Scarsdale Schools, a number of Scarsdale Houses of Worship and Scarsdale Village launch food scrap recycling and zero waste programs. Their efforts have made a tremendous impact within the Scarsdale community as well as throughout Westchester as other municipalities, schools and organizations have come to Scarsdale to learn and launch their own zero waste programs. In addition to zero waste programs, Michelle and Ron have worked on a number of other successful sustainability initiatives in Scarsdale such as the LED Streetlight conversion project, furniture donation, take it or leave it shed, textile recycling, recycling education and expansion, and updating Scarsdale’s tree code.

Michelle serves as co-chair of the Scarsdale Forum Sustainability Committee, a member of the Conservation Advisory Council, member of the Food Scrap Recycling Committee, member of the LED Streetlight Committee, and chair of the Scarsdale Middle School PTA Sustainability Committee. Michelle has also previously served as PT Council Sustainability Chair and as chair of the Greenacres PTA Sustainability Committee.

Ron serves as Chair of the Conservation Advisory Council, a member of the Food Scrap Recycling Committee, a member of the LED Streetlight Committee, a member of the Forum Sustainability Committee, chair of PT Council Sustainability, Quaker Ridge PTA Sustainability Committee and a member of the School District Sustainability Committee.

Non-Profit Category

Suzanne Clary, President, Board of Trustees, Jay Heritage Center

Winner of the Non-Profit Category Award - Suzanne Clary, President, Board of Trustees, Jay Heritage Center

Winner of the Non-Profit Category Award - Suzanne Clary, President, Board of Trustees, Jay Heritage Center

As President of the Jay Heritage Center (JHC), Suzanne spearheaded a landmark public-private partnership agreement with New York State Parks and Westchester County to ensure continued preservation of, and public access to, the historic buildings and landscape of the 23-acre Jay Estate. She expanded the breadth of community programming, particularly in the areas of sustainability, native habitat management and environmental stewardship. She oversaw the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system in the 1838 Jay Mansion and is currently leading the rehabilitation of over four acres of sunken gardens and open meadows for use as outdoor classrooms.

Youth Category

Rye Girl Scout Troop 2196

Winners of the Youth Category Award - Rye Girl Scout Troop 2196

Winners of the Youth Category Award - Rye Girl Scout Troop 2196

Rye Girl Scout Troop 2196 has been indispensable in helping get the City of Rye Food Scrap Recycling Pilot Program up and running. The troop’s journey towards getting involved started when Troop Leader, Marilyn Jackson, saw a social media post about bringing municipal composting to Rye. The troop seized upon the opportunity to pursue their Girl Scout Silver Award through helping to make the Food Scrap Recycling pilot a reality.

The troop’s contributions to date have included attending city council meetings to show support of the proposed pilot and speaking out in support of it at these meetings; spreading awareness about the initiative through the Rye Girl Scout’s Instagram page; helping with Food Scrap Recycling kit assembly after school; and attending the pilot launch ribbon cutting ceremony.

The troop is committed to helping grow and market the program and to encourage the city to adopt Food Scrap Recycling as a permanent program after the six-month pilot ends. After all, the one of the goals of the Girl Scouts is to leave the world a place better than you found it, and there is no time to waste in helping our environment.

Easy Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

Join your neighbors and participate in Rye’s Food Scrap Recycling program!

Join your neighbors and participate in Rye’s Food Scrap Recycling program!

Get Outside

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.

Watch a Movie

The next Green Screen will be this Thursday, April 25, 6pm at Rye Country Day School.

This year’s screening will be The Clean Bin Project, a film about whether it’s possible to live completely waste free. Special guest speaker: Chef, writer, and media host extraordinaire, Erica Wides.

As always, the film, speaker and refreshments are free thanks to the generosity of Rye Sustainability’s Green Screen partner, Rye Country Day School. Register at Eventbrite.

Volunteer for a cleanup

See here and here for a variety of cleanup activities planned in the area for Earth Day and Week.

And to help keep Rye clean and beautiful, sign up for the RSC newsletter to be notified of upcoming events.

Sign up for Food Scrap Recycling

Sign up for Rye’s Food Scrap Recycling pilot program. Hundreds of residents are taking part and you can too. Register online here (click on the yellow banana).

Information and FAQs about the program can be found on the FSR Program Page.

Say No to single-use plastic

Say “No” 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!

One of Rye’s street trees funded by the Rye Tree Fund.

One of Rye’s street trees funded by the Rye Tree Fund.

You can do it in your own yard or donate to RSC's Tree Fund to help defray costs associated with street tree plantings.

Say No to harmful pesticides

Read how to do it here, then complete the Rye Healthy Yard Pledge and receive your free lawn sign!

Say Yes to pollinators!

It's easy to plant a pollinator garden and the colorful plants that attract pollinators are beautiful. Visit Rye Garden Club's pollinator garden at Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary and then use the pollinator pamphlet to plant your own.

Recycle …

those wine corks at one of RSC's participating Put a Cork in it food establishments.

Be inspired by leaders in sustainability

Read about last year’s winners of the Rye Sustainability Leadership Award and what they've accomplished. This year's winner(s) will be announced on April 24 at Rye City Council’s general meeting.

Need more ideas?

Take a look at RSC's Tips for Homeowners on how to live a sustainable life.


Balloon Busters: What Goes Up Must Come Down!

They’re Just Balloons! What’s All the Fuss?

By Melissa Grieco, Chair, Rye Sustainability Committee

Balloons are generally associated with fun and festivity. However, balloons have a dark side, as they can cause power outages and pose a serious threat to wildlife and the environment. They’re also an eyesore, marring the landscape of our beautiful community. Released balloons ultimately return to the earth as litter, with many ending up permanently clogging and polluting our waterways and oceans. As a coastal community, Rye's ecosystem is particularly sensitive to the effects of released balloons.

What’s in a Balloon?

Balloons are available in two varieties - latex and Mylar.

Latex: While natural latex qualifies as a biodegradable substance, balloon latex is treated with preservatives and plasticizers to guard against bacterial decomposition. It can take anywhere from six months to four years for a latex balloon to biodegrade.

Due to their bright colors, latex balloons in the ocean are often mistaken for food by marine life such as whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles, with deadly results. Once ingested, balloons can release toxic chemicals into the blood stream and cause physical damage to wildlife by blocking the digestive tract. In addition, ribbons, tassels and strings attached to released balloons can entangle and ensnare marine animals and terrestrial wildlife.

Mylar balloons are made from mylar nylon, a material developed for use in the U.S. space program. They are not biodegradable and are often coated with a metallic finish. Their durability means that Mylar balloons that land in the ocean remain forever. As they drift, they become part of the ever-accumulating hordes of permanent trash that we find in and around Long Island Sound - and beyond. Their shiny quality also makes them particularly susceptible to being mistaken for food by marine animals.


Balloons and You

In addition to being a choking hazard in small children, balloons caught in power lines can be a real nuisance and hazard, causing power outages, fires, and possible injuries.

Furthermore, the widespread use of helium to inflate balloons is contributing to the depletion of accessible helium for use in MRI scanners, fiber optics and LCD screens.

Some communities, including East Hampton, NY, have taken action to prevent the proliferation of balloon litter in the environment by banning the intentional release of balloons.

I Just Want to Have Fun! Are there Alternatives to Baloons?

The good news is that the party (or real estate open house!) can still go on without the balloons! There are a wide variety of fun, colorful and eco-friendly alternatives to balloons including reusable paper streamers, flags, banners and even bubbles.

Community Choice Aggregation in Rye

The City of Rye has signed on to a program called Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) that takes effect in March 2019. As of December 2018, 25 Westchester municipalities have signed up for this program, representing over 100,000 Westchester electric customers and over 40% of the County’s population.

Westchester Power’s CCA program was approved by the NY State Public Service Commission in 2015 and is administered by Sustainable Westchester, a non-profit consortium of municipalities that addresses critical sustainability concerns within Westchester County. The City of Rye, along with virtually every municipality in Westchester, is a member of Sustainable Westchester.

What Is Westchester Power/CCA?

Westchester Power’s CCA allows member municipalities to pool their communities’ electricity demand, which builds the clout necessary to negotiate fixed, low rates with private suppliers andallows us to choose cleaner energy.

In late 2018, Westchester Power solicited bids from energy providers to supply electricity to over 100,000 residents and small businesses within the County. Starting in March 2019, Rye residents and small businesses will be automatically enrolled in the program and will receive a two-year fixed price for electricity supply that is lower than the 12-month trailing average price offered by Con Edison.

Even after City residents and small businesses begin receiving their electricity supply through Westchester Power, Con Ed will continue to deliver that electricity, and you will continue to receive a single bill from Con Ed.

In addition, Rye has selected the “Green” 100% renewable energy option, which means that 100% of the electric power purchased is from clean, renewable sources: sun, wind or water. No coal. No gas. No oil. No nuclear.

What if I Don’t want to Participate?

If you don’t want to participate in the CCA program, you and any other Rye resident can opt out, or even downgrade from “Green” to “Brown” power, at any time, for any reason, and with no charge or penalty. Similarly, if you’d like to opt back in, you can do so, at any time, with no penalty.

Most importantly, because the Westchester Power’s CCA program is run by Sustainable Westchester, this is not similar to a profit-making ESCO that can attach penalty fees for exiting, and/or ratchet up the price of your electricity after some period of time. Those types of tactics have absolutely no place in this program and will not happen here.

Westchester Power representatives explain CCA at a recent Rye forum.

Westchester Power representatives explain CCA at a recent Rye forum.


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


Rye Sustainability’s New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again when we face a new year with hope and determination to do better. This year, consider adding a few environmentally friendly resolutions to your New Year’s resolutions list. For some inspiration, Rye Sustainability members share below some of their own ideas and suggestions.

For more ideas and tips, see Local (Green) Leaders’ 2019 resolutions and RSC’s Tips for Homeowners.

Waste Not Want Not

A metal straw is reusable and looks pretty good too!

A metal straw is reusable and looks pretty good too!

  • Ditch the disposables. Go plastic free for the month of January. Continue your newly acquired, eco-friendly habit by cutting out one single-use, throwaway plastic from your daily life for the duration of 2019 and beyond. Whether it’s avoiding plastic straws, coffee cups, coffee pods, water bottles, plastic snack bags and/or grocery checkout bags, you can make a world of difference for this planet. For more ideas, see the Resources section of RSC’s Reusable Bag page.

  • Make your own fizz. Pass on store (plastic bottle) flavored waters and make them at home, just the way you like them.

  • Party less…

    • Consider “no gift” birthday parties and instead have guests bring books for donation to a local charity.

    • For kids parties, use recyclable goody bags with durable, lasting treats. Some ideas can be found here and here

  • Eat your leftovers! A lot of resources were used to get that food to your plate. Check the shelf-life and how best to store foods at Still Tasty. And almost any food item can be frozen. Visit the USDA page for freezing and food safety guidelines.

  • Paperless holiday cards. Next year, consider a digital holiday card. It dramatically reduces paper use (and it’s a lot less work)!

  • Remember those Three Rs ... Wash and reuse jars from food products and use them as storage containers. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is so satisfying once you get the hang of it.

  • Second time is a charm. Instead of buying new products every time you need something, consider acquiring gently used, pre-owned items instead. From consignments shops, hand-me-downs, pre-owned vehicles, and an array of products made from recycled and post-consumer material, there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint when you’re out and about shopping.

Shop Smart

  • Reusable is best. When you bring your reusable bag into the grocery store, make sure you include reusable containers for bulk products and protein.

    • Instead of paper or plastic, use glass dishes/containers for fish, meat, cold cuts and cheeses, instead of paper or plastic. It’s an easy way to season or marinate food and then store. When it’s ready, just pop it into the oven.

    • Commit to not using the plastic produce bags at the grocery store.  Use washable mesh bags, paper bags or no bags.  

  • Buy local. Consider joining a CSA or supporting your local farmers’ market.

  • At the dry cleaners … use a green garment bag (one suggestion, here) and schedule a pickup to recycle your hangers curbside.

On the Go

  • Buy a new electric vehicle and save! New York State offers a number of rebates for EV purchases and incentives for EV owners.

  • Take the bus or the train. Next time you’re heading into Manhattan, take Metro North or whatever form of public transportation is available instead of battling those traffic jams and shelling out money for exorbitant parking fees.

  • Take the right turn. When doing your errands take a series of right hand turns to create the most efficient route.

  • Reusable is best (again). Keep reusable straws and utensils in the car for meals on the go. 

  • Borrow local. Rye Free Reading Room is a wonderful haven to sit and take a break to read a book or magazine.

  • Bike, when you can.

At Home

  • Save money by saving energy. Try these simple DIY energy saving projects and save some money in the process.

  • Try air-dry. Try to air dry more clothes this year, especially this winter to capture humidity. 

  • Cool water uses. Use a jug to capture cool water while you’re waiting for your tap to heat up. You can then use that water for house plants, cooking ... anything.

  • Reusable is best (again). Save and reuse your gift wrap paper and bows; open carefully (dramatic anticipation) and fold or roll to store it.

    • Store and reuse same boxes for gifts (some of the tops have wrapping paper on them or have holiday designs on them to look like wrapping paper).

  • Eat/Drink in. Reduce ordering delivery or take out to once a week (including coffee).

  • Cut the meat consumption. Eat less meat and substitute with nutritious, local, organically grown plants including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes.

In the Yard

  • Leaf blowers blow. Retire that smog producing, asthma causing leaf blower and instead mulch, rake or compost your leaves and grass clippings.

  • Rye Healthy Yards are best for all! Learn the why and how of a healthy yard here.

Consider taking the    Rye Healthy Yard Pledge    this year!

Consider taking the Rye Healthy Yard Pledge this year!

New Year's Resolutions from Local (Green) Leaders

With the New Year upon us and the possibility of a fresh start, consider a Green New Year’s resolution or two for 2019. To help you get started, here are a few ideas from some of the area’s local environmental and sustainability leaders.

And if you’re still looking for inspiration, check out Rye Sustainability Committee members’ own New Year’s Resolutions!

Andrea Alban-Davies

Conservation Chair, Rye Garden Club

A typical lunch for Andrea’s children

A typical lunch for Andrea’s children

  • Reuse it. Pack a waste-free lunch for yourself and/or your kids. To include in your (reusable!) lunch bag: reusable water bottle, reusable metal food containers, reusable cloth (or other) sandwich bags, silverware, and a cloth napkin.

Chris Burdick

Town Supervisor, Bedford & Founding Chair, Sustainable Westchester

Chris with his Electric Vehicle, the Chevy Bolt

Chris with his Electric Vehicle, the Chevy Bolt

  • Keep that car. Consider whether you can hang onto your car a bit longer. Maintaining your car as long as you can is the most cost efficient use of your automobile dollars and the fewer cars you buy, the less goes into the waste stream. 

  • Staying cool. Consider turning down your air conditioning next summer. Try fans.  

Liz Garrett

Organic landscape designer & former Chair, RSC Rye Healthy Yard Program

  • Leaves. Think of three ways you can use leaves in your own yard to feed the earth; be it the brown in your home composting recipe, shredding them and blowing them into a shrub (or arborvitae) border to blanket the shrubs and beds, or making sure your landscape company mulches the leaves in place on your lawn next fall. January is the time to discuss this with your landscape contractor or find a new one who can. [Need a new landscaper? Visit RSC’s Landscape Directory for suggestions.]

  • Pesticides. Remove at least one pesticide from your arsenal. Are you using chemicals to get rid of weeds in the patio or driveway? Hand pull them instead. Does your lawn care service apply some blanket herbicide as weed control? Try mulch-mowing or over-seeding in the fall to combat weeds that thrive in poor soils. Are you quick to grab a fungicide or pesticide if you see disease or an infestation on your prized ornamentals? Try an organic systemic soil additive or biologic control instead. The recent NY Times article on “The Insect Apocalypse” is a sobering read.

  • Go native. In that vein, if you are adding to your yard, add natives or other beneficial plants and shrubs that will provide pollen and sustenance for native caterpillars and insects. The birds and larger bugs will appreciate it.

Anne Jaffe-Holmes

Executive Director, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County

Anne’s 2019 Resolutions:

  • Get OUT OF MY CAR!!! I'm good about walking when I can, but I am pushing myself - already in December! - to ride my bike to the store, take the bus to work, and get on the train to meet people in another village or town! It requires being more organized so that I give myself enough time to bike, or to be at the bus stop or train station on time. The extra exercise is a major benefit, and being able to read on the bus or train feels like almost like a chocolate reward! The challenge is the discipline of getting out early on my bike, or being on-time for the bus or train I need to take!

  • Do I really NEED to buy this? In the interest of reducing the waste, the clutter, the maintenance that come with owning "things", in 2019 I am excited about slowing down my purchasing. I want to consider more carefully whether I really need to buy something, or whether if I dig through my closet I will find the item I need, or whether I can borrow it from a friend - or maybe even do without it!!! And if I DO decide I need to buy, I am excited about exploring whether I can buy it second-hand!

Kerry Linderoth

Director of Sustainability & AP Environmental Science Teacher, Rye Country Day School

RYE_Family Wellness Day_118.jpg

I will continue striving towards a zero waste lifestyle - both at school and at home! I don't have a trash can in my office, which serves as a conversation starter and educational opportunity about the growing problem with waste in our society. The average American generates 4.4lbs of trash per day, but that number can be greatly reduced by recycling, composting, and reducing unnecessary packaging.

Kerry reports that she also asks her AP Environmental Science students to write out their own green New Year’s resolutions. A good idea to get young minds thinking green!

Peter McCartt

Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability, Office of the Westchester County Executive

I, Peter McCartt, resolve to:

Peter has made the    Green Westchester Pledge   . Have you?

Peter has made the Green Westchester Pledge. Have you?

  • Complete the update of the Climate Action Plan through the newly established Climate Crisis Task Force;

  • Complete the Demand Response Program that eliminates the chance of brown-outs and black-outs and the subsequent need for more expensive infrastructure repairs and upgrades;

  • Complete the 2 MW Solar System on the Yonkers Bus Depot and start the solar projects on County properties and facilities totaling 4 MW;

  • Further electrify County and municipal fleets and expand EV charging infrastructure, creating a network of stations across the county;

  • Plan the construction of our County-wide food scrap recycling program;

  • Complete the installation of 30,000 LED bulbs across multiple County properties.

Nina Orville

Founder, Abundant Energy

Nina’s resolutions for 2019:

  • Raise awareness. Talk more directly about the implications of climate change for our future well-being. Our reluctance to discuss it makes it easier for us to carry on as if this unprecedented challenge was not disrupting the miraculous natural processes and systems that sustain us. When we connect what science tells us about future conditions with the implications of those conditions for our children and all that we love, it spurs action and resolve.

  • Reduce, reduce, reduce. Reduce use of plastics in all forms and to recycle all plastics that are recyclable (including bringing recyclable bags and plastics film to the grocery store for recycling).

  • Convert to LED. I've already done this one but it's timely for many people: Converting your interior and exterior lights to LED. Look for "warm white" designation to replace any incandescent bulbs. LEDs save about 75% in energy usage and will last for many years.

Ron Schulhoff & Michelle Sterling

Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council


The FSR Dynamic Duo’s resolutions:

  • Number 1, by far: Purchase a food scrap recycling kit and start using it!

  • Grasscycle. It’s so easy for your landscaper to do, requires no extra equipment, and has a significant environmental impact!

  • Mulch mow your leaves

  • Switch to an organic landscaping program. Get those little yellow poison signs off your law for good!

  • Use a Green Garmento bag for dry cleaning, and always save and return your hangers to the dry cleaner! 

Christine Siller

Executive Director, Rye Nature Center

  • Don’t let the winter cold make you idle! Turn off that engine.

  • Once a week, buy nothing.

  • Christine suggests taking a look at Rye Nature Center’s Green Tips as well.

Annie Teillon

Chair, Apawamis Club Green Team

My dream for 2019 is to help foster an understanding that going green is not just for the younger set. Our efforts to protect Mama Earth affect today's environment, economy and our overall health. I am working with members of The Apawamis Club Green Team to pinpoint areas that can easily go green without making a huge lifestyle impact to members. Our initial goals are to reduce the single use plastics such as straws and cups club wide and find alternatives to the coolers full of single use water bottles on the golf course. Waste reduction must span generations so that we can learn from and teach one another. Recycling is integral to regaining a balance of the environmental intricacies of our planet, but not using plastics in the first place beats all!


Tips for a Green Holiday!

The holiday season is here! As you gather with friends and family to celebrate, take some time to plan ahead and make it a Green Holiday. For further tips, see Rye Sustainability’s Thanksgiving Tips post.


Trees. Natural or Artificial? For an excellent analysis of your Christmas tree’s carbon footprint, watch the BBC’s video. The takeaway: The best option is a potted, native tree, but if that’s not possible, consider a locally grown tree. Be mindful, however, of disposal. Ideally, your tree should be composted or incinerated.

For an artificial tree, the biggest impact on the environment comes from production, so the key is to reuse the tree. The BBC analysis estimates, roughly, ten years. But don’t fret: Overall your choice of a tree has a relatively small impact on your carbon footprint.

Lighting. LED lights are the most energy efficient and consume 70% less energy than conventional incandescent lights. Some are even solar powered!

LEDs are also more cost effective: According to the Department of Energy, “it only costs $0.27 to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs compared to $10 for incandescent lights. On top of that, they are significantly less likely to burn out or break compared to their incandescent forerunners.”

Remember to unplug those lights when not in use. Even better, use a timer to regulate lighting use.


Food. Remember, when you can, shop local for locally sourced food. Consider buying extra for those in need. A list of area organizations that accept food donations can be found here. Compost unwanted food.

Don’t toss leftovers! Send some home with guests or check the shelf-life and how best to store foods at Still Tasty.

Traveling. If you’re driving, plan ahead and try to carpool. Maybe this is the year to buy an electric vehicle. NY State has announced a series of broad-scale initiatives to benefit electric vehicles, including the expansion of public fast charger networks across the state, lower residential charging rates, and customer rebates for EV purchases.

Worried about all that holiday air travel pumping tons of C02 into the atmosphere? Ideally, you’d keep your air travel to a minimum or travel direct, but one bit of good news is that according to Wired Magazine, by 2021, “airlines that fly internationally will have to offset any extra emissions under a UN agreement (called the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, agreed on in 2018 in Montreal, Canada).”

Cards. Consider e-cards this year or cards made with recycled content.


What's the environmental impact of online shopping?

Plan Ahead - Ordering Gifts the “Eco” Way. According to the Rainforest Alliance, the emissions from one- or two-day shipping options “tend to be extreme in comparison to slower methods.” By contrast, if you opt out for a slower shipping time the shipper can wait to load up and schedule deliveries in a more efficient way.

Shop Responsibly. Plug-ins such as DoneGood, offer a simple way to discover hundreds of socially and environmentally responsible brands.

Shop Local. Support your local businesses by shopping for gifts in your hometown. And don’t forget that restaurants and food purveyors often offer gift certificates.

Gift wrap. Re-purpose wrapping paper or get creative and use what you have around the house: newspaper, magazines, pillow cases, containers… This site has some great ideas.

Green gifts. Consider purchasing environmentally friendly items that are recycled, reusable and durable. Some ideas:

Community Composting Comes to Rye!

Thanks to the hundreds of voices that spoke out in support of Rye Sustainability's proposed food scrap recycling program, the City Council voted last night - unanimously - on a resolution to implement a pilot program in 2019!

Now the real work begins: Over the next three months Rye Sustainability members will order supplies, educate participants and set up tracking metrics with City staff members.

You can read the details of the pilot program and the text of the resolution below. Watch coverage of the Council discussion here (Item #8).

We'll be setting up a dedicated program page on the RSC website and updating interested participants of next steps. Stay tuned!

Resolution Text

Resolved, that the City Manager and Head of the Department of Public Works shall organize and execute a six-month test pilot food scrap recycling program to be supported by a $5,000 NYSERDA grant and consisting of the following:

(a)   Once-a-week food scrap curbside pickup from not more than 150 subscribers who have purchased and use appropriate kits and who have paid a subscription fee of $26/household;

(b)  A food scrap recycling drop-off location at the Disbrow recycling center available during hours set by the Head of the Department of Public Works and open to residents who have signed up and purchased and use an appropriate kit;

(c)   Data collection by the Head of the Department of Public works, to include among other things, tonnage recycled, participation rates and cost, and a written report at the end of the six-month program summarizing the quantitative data collected and reporting non-quantitative experiential information - all that would be relevant  to and as may be requested by, the  City Council to assist in consideration of any further food scrap recycling program;

(d)  Publication on the City website of the availability of the drop-off location during the pendency of the six-month program; and

(e)   The City Manager and Head of the Department of Public Works may seek advice on the design and running of the program from members of the Rye Sustainability Committee, other municipalities engaged in similar efforts and such other sources as may be appropriate.

Overview of Rye Pilot

  • 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 $20 or $25 starter composting kits.

Gobble it Up! Thanksgiving Tips To Whittle That Waste

Giving Thanks to Family, Friends and Mother Nature


In this season where we cherish all that we have, consider taking a few extra minutes to plan your holiday celebrations to avoid unnecessary waste.

One of the largest sources of waste during the holidays is food waste. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “in 2016, six million turkeys—a value of roughly $293 million—ended up in the trash … And when it comes to climate pollution, it wastes emissions equivalent to driving a car across the country 800,000 times.” In fact, a staggering 40% of our food ends up wasted and is the single largest contributor to landfills in the US.

There are a variety of simple ways to keep Mother Nature in mind as we celebrate. We may not be able to help you with your waist-reduction goals, but Rye Sustainability lists here some easy tips to reduce unnecessary waste.

Reducing Food Waste

  • Plan ahead to limit the amount of food waste. Try out the National Resources Defense Council’s handy “Guest-imator” to help estimate the appropriate amount of food you need for your guests.

Reducing Single-Use/Disposable Items

  • Remember your reusable bags when you shop and select items with little or no packaging.

  • Consider using cloth napkins and reusable dishware.

  • Decorate with nature. Fall is a perfect time to venture outdoors for some beautiful natural decorations.

  • For more tips on how to reduce waste, check out RSC’s Tips For Homeowners page.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

  • Carpool to your destination.

  • Be mindful of your energy usage. Plan ahead to cook items together and unplug appliances when not in use.

  • Consider reducing the amount of red meat and dairy products on your Thanksgiving menu. New research shows that one of the biggest ways to reduce our carbon footprint is to reduce consumption of these products.

  • Shop local. Support your local farmers’ market and merchants to promote your local economy and reduce the emissions from transportation of those products.

Follow the journey of a strawberry from the farm to the refrigerator to understand all that it takes to bring your food to you.

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


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 ten 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 $20 or $25 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

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 


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.


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.


Healthy Yards, Healthy Pets


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.


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.

Some of AJ’s recommendations and tips for keeping your lawn healthy and safe for all:

  • Keep pesticides from leaching into your yard from neighbors’ yards by using plant buffers. Some good native buffers include choke berry and switch grasses.

  • Reduce lawn area with native plantings.

  • Mulch leaves, leave grass clippings to retain moisture and insulate your lawn.

  • Aerate your lawn as a natural way to get nitrogen deep into the soil.

  • Consider using native grass for your lawn. Why?

    • Less maintenance over the long run because these grasses are “meant to be here.”

    • Native grasses reduce storm run off due to their deep roots (vs sodded turf grass).

    • They act as a filtration mechanism for cleaning out toxins from the soil.

    • Requires less mowing, so less air pollution.

    • Native grasses act as a carbon sink.

    • Less expensive than sod.

    • Some suggestions: big bluestem grass, little bluestem, buffalo grass

  • Lawn burn: Tall fescue grass works well

  • Pets and Poison: AJ mentioned contacting a pet poison hotline. A recent article on pets and poison provides information on what to do and who to call.

Most importantly, remember that what’s outside can come inside. You may do your best to keep your home free of harmful toxins, but pesticides sprayed on lawns outside stick to shoes and pets and get tracked inside. A recent study about pesticides lurking in our home addresses this problem.

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.


Rye Boy Scouts Project Aims to Reduce Plastic Straw Consumption


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


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 
  • 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

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

  • 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.