Community Aware/Outreach

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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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.

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.

Does Organic Lawn Care Cost More Than Conventional?

Does Organic Lawn Care Cost More Than Conventional?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Saving Money While Going Green: Home Energy Efficiency Workshop

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

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

Participants and the topics they covered included:

Delicious refreshments were provided by Le Pain Quotidien in Rye.

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

We Have Two Winners! Rye Sustainability Leadership Award Announcement

  2017 Rye Sustainability Leadership Award winners Christine Siller and Taro Ietaka

2017 Rye Sustainability Leadership Award winners Christine Siller and Taro Ietaka

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

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


Announcement of 2017 Rye Sustainability Leadership Award

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

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

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

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

  Taro and Christine at City Council

Taro and Christine at City Council

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

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

Congratulations to Taro and Christine for their much deserved awards!

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

Killian Announces Nominees for Rye Sustainability's First Leadership Award

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

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

 

RSC Award and Announcement of Nominees - 2017

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

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

Nominees

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

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

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

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

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

"Branching Out For Rye's" First Tree Planting

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

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

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

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

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

Having That Talk ... About Going Organic

  RSC's healthy yard co-chair Liz Garrett and Lenny Merone (Merone Landscaping) field questions from the audience.

RSC's healthy yard co-chair Liz Garrett and Lenny Merone (Merone Landscaping) field questions from the audience.

The room at the The Rye Nature Center overflowed with people as they crowded in to learn more about how to transform their yards into healthy and safe spaces.

The goal for RSC and healthy yard program partner, Rye Nature Center, was to spark a conversation between the homeowner and landscaper about natural landscaping. After introductions by RSC chair Sara Goddard, RSC member and healthy yard co-chair Liz Garrett took over to frame the issue that so many of us struggle with: how to maintain a yard that is both beautiful and natural? As Garrett pointed out, homeowners recognize the dangers inherent in applying synthetic pesticides to their lawns, but fear that if they "go natural" they'll end up with a weed-infested yard. "There's got to be a better way," Garrett concluded, and this event was intended to show the way.

  Rye resident Stephanie Spierings shared her experiences about going organic.

Rye resident Stephanie Spierings shared her experiences about going organic.

After a few minutes of personal insights by Rye resident Stephanie Spiering on how she made the switch from conventional to organic landscaping, the audience jumped right in. Landscaper Lenny Merone fielded questions, but the success of the event was the enthusiasm from audience members, eager to learn how to make the transition. The collaborative nature of the event, where people shared tips and ideas, along with expert guidance from Merone and Garrett was energizing, and demonstrated the desire for residents to make a positive and healthy change.

Did you miss the talk? No worries, the entire event can be viewed here, thanks to Rye TV.

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

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Carbon Neutrality at LPQ

RSC's ongoing series, "Sustainability in Our Community," features individuals, organizations and businesses that have taken steps towards a sustainable lifestyle. We hope you enjoy this profile of Le Pain Quotidien's energy efficiency efforts, are inspired to learn more, and will consider making changes to reduce your home or business' carbon footprint. Tips below.


Carbon Neutrality at LPQ

By Sue Drouin, Rye Sustainability Committee

Rye Sustainability Committee recognizes global restaurant chain Le Pain Quotidien for becoming certified CO2 neutral in all its U.S. restaurants.

A mainstay of the breakfast and lunch scene in downtown Rye, and highly visible on Purchase Street, Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) serves local, mostly organic foods, including fresh bread. It now delivers a message of sustainability.

With dozens of locations across the U.S. and more than 200 restaurants worldwide, LPQ announced in October 2016 that the independent organization CO2logic has certified their U.S. restaurants as carbon neutral. It plans to achieve global carbon neutrality by 2020.

 

What is Carbon Neutrality?

   LPQ staff with the CO2 Logic certification plaque.

LPQ staff with the CO2 Logic certification plaque.

According to one definition, carbon neutrality “or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference. It is used in the context of carbon dioxide releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, and industrial processes.”

 

How LPQ Achieved Carbon Neutrality

CO2logic helped LPQ identify its major sources of energy consumption and leakages. Switching to LED lights and using more efficient refrigeration, cooking and cooling mechanisms were some of the ways they cut restaurants’ emissions. By switching to LED lighting, for instance, the chain reduced by 20% its carbon footprint per restaurant. It has reduced its overall energy consumption by 60% and its carbon emissions by 168 metric tons.

   To offset emissions, LPQ invested in a cookstove manufacturing project in Uganda. (    Photo Credit: The Gold Standard)

To offset emissions, LPQ invested in a cookstove manufacturing project in Uganda. (Photo Credit: The Gold Standard)

A final step towards achieving carbon neutrality was the decision to invest in a carbon-reducing project in Uganda to offset the remaining unavoidable emissions. The project provides families with fuel-efficient cookstoves that reduce carbon emissions and deforestation.

Initiatives that reduce water and energy consumption and cut pollution and waste will improve any business’ bottom line. They also benefit from providing employees with a workplace they can be proud of.

By reducing carbon emissions and its carbon footprint, LPQ hopes that they can inspire other corporations, organizations and individuals to do the same to help mitigate climate change.

 

What Can You Do?

   Photo Credit: The Gold Standard    

Photo Credit: The Gold Standard
 

Wondering how to get started? Whether you're a business owner or homeowner, start with an energy audit to determine your carbon footprint. The RSC Tips page includes several ways for residents to determine their carbon footprint. Businesses can engage a consultant, such as CO2logic.

For further energy efficiency ideas and tips, refer to RSC's Energy page and The Rye Sustainability Plan.

Are Your Trees in Trouble?

The meeting room at Rye Free Reading Room was packed on February 2nd as people gathered to learn about how to protect their trees from the threat of invasive pests. RSC and The Rye Garden Club co-sponsored the film screening of "Trees in Trouble", which was followed by a presentation from Frazer Pehmoeller of Bartlett Tree Experts.

RGC's Sarah Barringer has written an excellent article about the event and what we can do to protect our trees. The article is reprinted in its entirety below.

Want to do more to protect our trees? Consider a donation to the Rye Tree Fund!


Trees in Trouble

By Sarah Barringer, Rye Garden Club

Trees in Trouble:border.jpg

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is on its way to Rye and the effects could be ugly. First discovered in the US in 2001, this tree eating pest arrived accidentally in wood crates from Asia. Since then it has spread to nearly all the states of the US and is estimated to have decimated 50 million ash trees already. This could have a devastating effect on the trees of our area, as white, blue and black ash trees comprise 13%-20% of the tree canopy of Westchester County. The emerald ash borer has been detected in Greenwich, so it is time we in Rye take action to protect our trees.

Frazer Pehmoeller, an arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts, is concerned. Frazer is known by many in Rye as he has been caring for Westchester's trees for the past 28 years. He leads Bartlett Tree's collaboration with the Friends of Rye Town Park and has been caring for the trees there for more than a decade.

In a program co-sponsored by the Rye Garden Club and the Rye Sustainability Committee on February 2 at the Rye Free Reading Room, Frazer addressed the threats to trees in Westchester and how we can protect them. The evening began with the film Trees in Trouble, a short documentary about the effect of the emerald ash borer on the city of Cincinnati. Cincinnati's trees were devastated by the emerald ash borer. What funds were put to the problem went to removing dead trees, with very little budgeted to protective measures. Some streets lost every single tree lining the roadway. Homeowners lost countless trees on their properties.

  Frazer Pehmoeller (Bartlett Trees) with Melissa Grieco (RSC Tree Fund chair) and Julia Burke (RGC president)

Frazer Pehmoeller (Bartlett Trees) with Melissa Grieco (RSC Tree Fund chair) and Julia Burke (RGC president)

One of the difficulties with the EAB is that by the time you see the damage to the tree and/or see the insects, it is too late to save the tree. The EAB female lays eggs beneath the bark. The larvae feed under the bark in the cambial tissue of the tree. Their burrowing disrupts the tree's ability to absorb and transfer nutrients and water. By the time this larvae hatches into the bugs one can see, the tree is dying. Preventative measures are a must.

In a lively and informative discussion that followed the film, Frazer detailed what we can do to protect the trees of Rye.

  • Get a tree inventory. Have an arborist help you map the trees on your property so you know what you have. This is important for the city to do for civic properties.
  • Develop a plan to care for your trees. This means pruning trees, keeping in mind the pests and diseases that can harm different types of trees and treating trees that are susceptible to diseases and pests. As Friends of Rye Town Park have done, it makes sense to develop a long-term tree plan. You can spread the work you need to do over time.
  • If you have ash trees, it is time to protect them so they can ward off the EAB. Trees can be inoculated with pesticides that prevent the emerald ash borer from feeding. There is a chemical option and an organic option.
  • Plant trees and keep biodiversity in mind. Planting a diverse variety of trees will not only create a healthy ecosystem on your property, but will ensure that some trees remain even when a pest or disease attacks.
  • Plant native trees whenever possible. Fraser recommends oaks, the sugar maple, the red maple if you have a wet property, beech trees (but make sure to invest in their care) and the white birch. The ash is a wonderful tree to plant but will need inoculations over time.
  RGC president Julia Burke with Frazer Pehmoeller and RSC chair Sara Goddard

RGC president Julia Burke with Frazer Pehmoeller and RSC chair Sara Goddard

Frazer concluded the evening with a reminder of the value of trees. Along with trees' essential roles as habitat and food for animals in a healthy ecosystem, we often take trees for granted and forget that trees provide so much for human health. They are necessary for clean air, for storm water management and for keeping our communities shaded and cool. Time in nature and among trees contributes to human well-being. Trees deserve our care and give back to us in so many ways.

The Rye Sustainability Committee has created a Tree Fund for the city of Rye. Contributions will be put towards planting trees and caring for the trees of Rye. Learn more by visiting RSC's Tree Fund page.

How to Live a Simpler Life

Rye resident Andrea Alban-Davies is a contributing writer for "Green Space," a regular column in The Rye Record that focuses on environmental issues raised by The Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee. In her 2/17/17 column, Alban-Davies addresses the problem of over-consumption in our culture with her review of RSC's most recent Green Screen, "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things." RSC has reproduced the article in its entirety here.

For more information about The Green Screen Series, and tips for how you can live a more simple life, visit RSC's Green Screen and RSC Tips for Homeowners pages.


Incorporating Concepts of Minimalism into Our Super-Sized Suburban Lives

Reprinted from Vol. 22, Issue 3 of The Rye Record

By Andrea Alban-Davies

You may have heard of the Rye Sustainability Committee’s (RSC) work encouraging Rye residents to adopt healthy gardening practices, but the activities of the group go well beyond advocating for non-toxic yards.  The RSC is a group of volunteers tasked by the City of Rye’s Council to implement the holistic Rye Sustainability Plan, and address significant environmental issues throughout our community.   They work to preserve many of the natural and open spaces that make Rye beautiful, protect our air quality, enhance our community through fundraising efforts like Branching Out for Rye to plant city trees throughout Rye, and more.  Perhaps most importantly, they spend a significant portion of their time dedicated to educating the members of our community on best environmental practices and strategies for adopting sustainable habits and, eventually, lifestyles.

RSC education efforts include, among other things, distributing educational materials, arranging informational neighborhood coffees, hosting speakers, and screening relevant documentary films through their Green Screen Committee, launched in partnership with Rye Country Day School.  The first Friday night in February, they screened Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things, after which Director Matt D’Avella spoke.

Why is acquiring less so important? Because ‘business as usual’ just won’t do; not if we want to leave our children, and their children in turn, with a safe, stable world.

The movie mainly follows The Minimalists, a popular simple-living duo as they spread their message, sharing their own experiences far from the familiar world of ‘more’, ‘bigger’, ‘better’.  Now, let me just lay the disclaimer out first: yes, sections of this movie are completely unrelated to the world that almost all readers of this particular paper (myself included) inhabit.  We’re talking the tiny house movement, small – or no – car, people with 33 items in their entire closet, a guy living entirely out of two bags.  It also veers unexpectedly into touchy-feely subjects like hugging strangers and discovering meditation.  Nonetheless, the majority of the movie conveys a powerful message with lasting value, and that’s why I wanted to write about it here for those that may have missed the screening.  The heart of the message was this: “Living more deliberately, with less.”

Why is acquiring less so important?  Because ‘business as usual’ just won’t do; not if we want to leave our children, and their children in turn, with a safe, stable world.  The current economic model in consumer cultures around the planet is leading to the degradation of our habitat.  We have already blown through the maximum safe level of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and are at a steady 400 ppm (100 ppm higher than at any time in the past one million years).  All scientists knowledgeable about the subject – including pretty much everyone at NASA – predict dire climate change consequences at this level, and we’re only going up from here unless we embrace dramatic change.  A significant part of our CO2 emissions is attributable to the resource extraction, production, transportation, and sale of all the stuff that we surround ourselves with.  A lot of which we don’t really need, doesn’t really matter, and doesn’t make us any happier.

Because people living in affluent communities generally have the means to purchase the most, we need to be the most careful.  So, where can we start?  One easy place is with apparel, which the movie examines.  We are living in the era of ‘fast fashion’, where consumers are encouraged in every imaginable way to buy as much clothing as quickly as possible.  Mainly through low prices (which are only possible because we aren’t paying the true ecological costs or production costs – think sweat shops – of the clothes that we wear).  One expert interviewed tells us the depressing truth: that this model “represents the economics of such an extreme and profound unsustainability”.  So, why not decide to get off that particular hamster wheel?  Why not stop buying lots of things as they come in and go out of fashion, and, instead, buy fewer, classic, high-quality items that we can envision ourselves wearing ten years from now?   By way of inspiration, we see many people interviewed that look great – for work and play! – and own only a handful of items.

  Film creator and director Matt D'Avella speaks after the film.

Film creator and director Matt D'Avella speaks after the film.

This philosophy can then carry over to any area of our lives where we see high consumption trends.  Personally, I think about the toys and gadgets that I buy for my kids.  Maybe your weakness is the latest home consumer goods, or cutting edge technology devices.  Whatever it is, the important thing is that each of us examines it, and asks ourselves if we can be more thoughtful about what we acquire and do with less.  Which, by the way, also means less clutter, less junk, and less to get rid of once the items are no longer of interest to us. To me, this falls into the ‘easy’ bin in terms of emissions reduction.  More than, say, living all summer long without A/C!

The idea of minimalism is valuable for everyone to explore, and I’m so glad that RSC started the conversation in our community by screening this movie.  Even if you are wholly aware of the ravages wrought by our throw-away culture, it’s always sobering to get an acute visual reminder of exactly how much landfill our extreme style of consumption generates on a continual basis, or to watch the bleak scenes of Black Friday hysteria.  There’s still time to change the severity of our environmental fate; and we can each do our part by staying alert to the areas where we can pare back in our own lives.

 

A Rye Healthy Yard Neighborhood Coffee

 Taro Ietaka imparting his healthy yard wisdom

Taro Ietaka imparting his healthy yard wisdom

Surrounded by the delicious smells of freshly baked muffins and brewed coffee, a small group gathered in Rye resident Mary Lyons' gorgeous home last week to learn about the benefits of natural landscaping. As part of Rye Sustainability's Healthy Yard Program (RHYP), RSC organizes neighborhood coffees at homes where the homeowner practices natural landscaping. The purpose of the coffees is to learn about RHYP in a small setting and how simple it is to transform a yard into a natural and safe environment. Although it was too cold to venture outside to wander around, Mary's naturally landscaped yard is a beautiful piece of property.

Rye Nature Center Director of Conservation and Land Stewardship, Taro Ietaka, led the conversation by walking us through his five lessons for a healthy yard. We then had a chance to ask questions and share lawn care tips before we continued with our day.

Want to learn more about how to talk to your landscaper about organic lawn care? Attend our workshop at Rye Nature Center on January 27th. Details and how to register here.

If you're a Rye resident with an organic and/or natural yard and would be interested in hosting a coffee for your neighbors, please contact us.

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

Take the RHYP Pledge!