Community Aware/Outreach

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.

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:

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.

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.


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:


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

Walker Healthy Yard Signs.jpg


Other Great Ideas ...

  • 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...

  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 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.


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.