The Green Report

The scourge of plastics discussed in local forum

On Thursday, Aug. 29, I attended a forum at the Rocky River Public Library titled "Plastic Pollution: Is it the Next Burning River?" The forum was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Greater Cleveland, Rocky River Public Library, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, the Rocky River Green Team and the Bay Village Green Team.

Jocelyn Travis of the LWV and Sierra Club moderated the forum and there were five panelists: Cheryl Johncox, Sierra Club Ohio; Sunny Simon, District 11 Cuyahoga County Council; Sarah Damron, Surfrider Foundation; Sarah Mathews, Rumpke Waste; and Cristie Snyder, Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District.

Questions from the public had been taken online before the event, and the forum started out with those. Many questions pertained to our current state of recycling. Cristie Snyder reiterated that plastics are a commodity and the market for those have all but collapsed, which has been a problem worldwide.

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Volume 11, Issue 17, Posted 9:50 AM, 09.04.2019

Save the Trees!

Have you ever wondered what you can do to save more trees? Yes, you have power to help the trees on earth! To do this is simple: Vote with your dollars.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has a certification system that designates the paper or product made from trees was created from trees in forests that are responsibly managed.

“Responsibly managed forests” means that the trees that are harvested are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally. Furthermore, you can be certain that rare plants and animals are protected entirely, and the rights of indigenous people are protected.

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Volume 11, Issue 16, Posted 9:19 AM, 08.20.2019

Every city should strive to be twins with Minneapolis

I had the pleasure of visiting a close friend of mine up in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) in early June. Minneapolis is doing an outstanding job being a green city.  

While we were visiting, we went to see a Twins game at Target Field. To say I was impressed with Target Field is an understatement – the entire ballpark is waste-free! In fact, I could not locate a trash can!

What are they doing? Composting and recycling only. All of the bottles and cans go into the recycling can, and all food, cups, napkins, forks, etc. go into the compost can! These compost/recycling stations are everywhere inside of the park.

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Volume 11, Issue 13, Posted 9:58 AM, 07.02.2019

Join in Bay Village waterways clean-ups this summer

If you are looking to make a serious impact on the pollution in our waterways and Lake Erie, look no further than one or more of the Bay Village Green Team’s waterways clean-ups this summer. These are fun events that meet at different creeks in Bay Village to clean up litter in and around the local waterways.

When I say they are fun, I mean it! You get to meet other like-minded citizens who care deeply about keeping our water clean, and you also get to feel good about going out and making a difference! Grab your kids, friends and neighbors and plan to attend one! Here are the events:

  • Wednesday, June 19, 7 p.m. Meet at Reese Park on Clague Road for a Sperry Creek clean-up.
  • Tuesday, July 16, 7 p.m. Meet at Columbia Park on Lake Road for a Columbia Beach and Tuttle Creek clean-up.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Meet at the Cahoon Park gazebo for a Cahoon Creek Clean-up.

For more information please visit the Bay Village Green Team Facebook page for a complete listing of these events and more.

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Volume 11, Issue 12, Posted 9:49 AM, 06.18.2019

And the winner is ... Lake Erie!

Yes, Lake Erie is the winner! On May 28, Cuyahoga County Council passed a plastic bag ban! This is really great news for Cuyahoga County and for Lake Erie. The ban passed by an 8-3 margin, which went along party lines, with Democratic council members voting for it and Republican council members against it. (Our Cuyahoga County Council representative, Nan Baker, voted against it.)

Cuyahoga County is the first county in Ohio to pass such legislation. The city of Bexley, Ohio, passed similar legislation just hours after Cuyahoga County did, and Orange Village passed a similar ban last year for its municipality. The Cuyahoga County ban stops stores from offering plastic bags to consumers and instead customers need to bring reusable bags or the store must offer paper bags made of recyclable material.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 10:26 AM, 06.04.2019

White flowering pear trees: so pretty and so invasive

I’m sorry, but you’ll never look at those white flowering trees the same after you read my column this week. Those beautiful trees (but smell terrible, right?) have turned out to be an environmental disaster.

Ohio put the pear trees on the invasive species list in January 2018. You are probably asking yourself what damage can these trees possibly do? The answer is plenty.

The Callery Pear was introduced in 1964 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. American horticulturists started selective breeding these trees for stronger branches (pear trees have very weak branches) and shape. This is how we got the Bradford Pear, Cleveland Select and Aristocrat. The trees are fast growing, low maintenance, have a nice shape, and produce beautiful spring flowers, which is why they quickly became a popular choice.

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:30 PM, 05.06.2019

Plastic Purge

On March 21, I attended an event titled “Plastic Purge: How did we get here and what do we do about all of this plastic?” at the Rocky River Public Library, co-hosted by the Rocky River High School Environmental Club and The League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, Rocky River Chapter. The guest speaker was Dr. Michael SanClements, author of “Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles!”

I loved this event – I thought Dr. SanClements did a great job talking about the history of plastic, and how we have arrived at the monstrous plastic problem we face today. He talked about how over the course of history humans have had different ages: The Stone Age, The Bronze Age, The Iron Age, and now we are in The Plastic Age. He likens the plastic problem to an invasive species: It is not all bad, and arguably plastic saves lives daily, but it has become “invasive” and we have too much of it in the wrong places.

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 9:46 AM, 04.02.2019

Simple, small steps to protect Lake Erie

As we head into spring (yes, I think we are heading into spring even though it doesn’t feel that way!) some of you may be thinking about the condition of your lawn, and also starting to perform more outdoor activities such as washing your car at home. This column is about simple changes you can make to protect Lake Erie. 

Almost all of the storm drains in Bay Village and Westlake drain to Lake Erie – that’s right, what goes in there goes straight out to the lake. This means it is imperative that each and everyone of us take responsibility for what does and doesn’t go down those drains. Springtime brings, sadly, chemical lawn applications. I have written about chemical fertilizers before, asking that you stop using them, and I bet you have! But your neighbor may still use them … What can you do?

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 10:08 AM, 03.19.2019

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the fire on the river!

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the last fire in the Cuyahoga River, which occurred in 1969. The 50th anniversary is a cause for celebration. Why? Because that infamous fire helped spur the modern environmental movement. That fire initiated a response that includes the establishment of the EPA and the Clean Water Act. Furthermore, the first Earth Day occurred in 1970, and that’s no coincidence either.

The infamous June 1969 Cuyahoga fire was indeed the last fire in the river. The river had been used for industrial dumping for decades and decades, and had caught fire at least a dozen times between 1936 and 1969. In fact, the 1969 fire barely made the news in Cleveland, let alone nationally. However, Time magazine decided to run a story on the fire, further igniting the national concern for the environment. The picture of the river fire that Time magazine ran in 1969 was not from the June 1969 fire, it was from a larger fire in 1952. 

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Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 9:53 AM, 03.05.2019

Northern Ohio gets chapter of Surfrider Foundation

Last April, Northern Ohio got its own chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. The Surfrider Foundation is “dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network.”

The chair of our local chapter is Christy Gray. Including Christy, there are seven members on the board and they have adapted the mission of the national chapter to include the Great Lakes. The chapter hosts meetings and local beach/river cleanups. In 2018, they collected over 1,600 pounds (mainly plastics) from local beach and river cleanups.

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Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 9:53 AM, 02.05.2019

Does it spark joy?

If you know what the title of this column is referring to, you are one of the millions of people who have tuned in to Netflix’s new show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Marie Kondo is a tidying expert and the author of the best-selling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Her new Netflix show has propelled her into stardom.

It has been reported in major news outlets that since the release of her show, thrift stores nationwide have seen an increase in donations. Isn’t that amazing? This show (which is great, you should watch it) has created such a flurry of people cleaning out their homes that charities such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army are benefiting!

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Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 10:08 AM, 01.22.2019

Protect Lake Erie from plastic pollution

On Dec. 4 the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland along with seven other local sponsors including the Bay Village Green Team, hosted a free public policy form on the topic of "Plastics & Lake Erie." The forum was held at Rocky River Library and was well attended, with about 70 people in attendance. A video of the forum is available on Youtube, search "plastics and Lake Erie."

The forum was moderated by Elizabeth Miller, who is an environmental reporter for Ideastream. The participants in the form were Jill Bartolotta, extension educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program; Crystal Davis, policy director for Alliance for the Great Lakes; and Erin Huber, executive director and founder of Drink Local Drink Tap.

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Volume 10, Issue 24, Posted 10:04 AM, 12.18.2018

Simple ways to 'green' your holidays

This is a topic that I write about around this time every year because I think the message is so important. 

It is estimated that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste increases 25 percent. I want to share some easy ways to reduce waste, and help make your holidays earth-friendly!


If you are hosting a holiday meal or party at your home, please use real dishes, napkins, silverware and glasses. Your choice to use “real stuff” will not only drastically reduce the waste your party will generate, but guests will appreciate eating and drinking out of real items. In my opinion, eating Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner off of a plastic or paper plate with a plastic fork and knife is just not the same.

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Volume 10, Issue 22, Posted 9:34 AM, 11.20.2018

Bay Middle School forms new Green Team Committee

Bay Middle School’s PTA has a new Green Team Committee. The new committee has the support of Bay Village Superintendent Jodie Hausmann, Bay Middle School Principal Sean McAndrews, and Bay Middle School PTA President Chrissy Morscher. 

The Committee is proud to report many positive changes already this school year: The Green Team Committee purchased permanent dinnerware, cutlery and glassware from Ikea for use during staff meals and meetings throughout the year, preventing a lot of waste from being generated during these events. These events typically produced a lot of waste in the form of plastic water bottles, plastic/paper plates, and plastic cutlery.

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Volume 10, Issue 21, Posted 10:00 AM, 11.06.2018

Reduce plastic beyond just bottles and bags

I know, I have written a lot about this topic, but the recycling situation is getting dire. I wrote about China’s end to the purchase of the majority of our plastic recyclables a few months ago. This had created utter chaos in the recycling system in the United States. Recyclables are building up with nowhere to go all over this country. It is happening here, and I’m afraid that unless major changes are made, most all of our plastic will end up in the landfill. 

The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District has updated the guidelines on what plastics are accepted in curbside recycling programs. Plastic bottles and jugs are still accepted, which includes water bottles, shampoo bottles, milk, juice jugs and laundry detergent jugs. All of them need to be rinsed and emptied before being placed in recycling.

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Volume 10, Issue 19, Posted 9:52 AM, 10.02.2018

Boats made from recyclable materials prove seaworthy in Great Lake Erie Boat Float

The 10th annual Great Lake Erie Boat Float was held on Sept. 8 at Edgewater Beach. The Boat Float is a fun competition in which participants build boats using post-consumer recyclable materials.

The purpose of the event is to help raise awareness about the impacts of plastic on the environment and of course to have fun! The event is hosted by Sustainable Cleveland, the Cleveland Metroparks, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. 

This year, the Bay Village Sea Scouts entered the contest. Their group was led by Sea Scouts leader, Richard Gash, with five scouts as the crew. The crew members were Leo Cavalier, Nick LaRosa, Isadora Miller, John Cannata and Gwynn Miller. They constructed a boat using large white plastic drums that were donated by a local farmer and had previously contained a biodegradable herbicide. They also used a wooden pallet that had been utilized to ship a consignment of aluminum plate.

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Volume 10, Issue 18, Posted 10:07 AM, 09.18.2018

Idle No More

I have witnessed this many times: It’s a beautiful, sunny, warm day and I’m waiting in my car for one of my kids to come out of school/sport/activity. I turn off my car and roll down the windows. What I hear around me is always shocking: the sound of car engines.

So many parents let their car run while picking up their children. This is a very bad habit that I suppose is culturally acceptable; to sit in your car while it’s running. If each of us were to stop this habit, the quality of our air would greatly improve. 

Every minute your car is idling, it is detrimental to the engine, it’s detrimental to the earth, and it wastes gasoline (and money). It is estimated that in the United States, approximately 3.8 million gallons of gasoline are wasted daily by Americans voluntarily idling their car. Voluntary idling is when your car is on while not being driven. For example, leaving your car on in the driveway is voluntary idling; waiting for a light to turn green is not.

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Volume 10, Issue 16, Posted 8:49 AM, 08.21.2018

Time to re-think lunches

School is starting soon, and with that a lot of trash will be generated that was on pause all summer. I’m going to write about how you can make your (and your child’s) lunch waste-free – and I promise it is easier than you think!

I know you might be thinking, “That will be so difficult, it’s so easy to throw a sandwich in a plastic bag, an individual pack of chips, a plastic water bottle or juice box, etc.” I’m hoping to persuade you that it’s not only easier to pack a trash-free lunch, it’s also less expensive!

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Volume 10, Issue 15, Posted 9:50 AM, 08.07.2018

Skip the Straw

Momentum is building with the global movement to ditch plastic drinking straws. In Cleveland, the Skip the Straw campaign is being promoted by the Sustainable Cleveland Plastic Reduction Working Group. Sustainable Cleveland is a 10-year initiative by Mayor Frank Jackson to encourage residents and businesses in Cleveland to be environmentally conscious.

Last month, Melt Bar and Grilled announced that they would be joining the Skip the Straw movement and will not automatically serve a plastic straw with beverages. Melt is committed to do their part to help curb the use of single-use plastics and help Cleveland and Lake Erie's environment. Also this month, Starbucks announced that it would stop using plastic straws by 2020. This is a big deal, and will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws per year from the earth! Hopefully other large food retailers will follow suit, and other local restaurants will follow Melt.

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Volume 10, Issue 14, Posted 9:56 AM, 07.17.2018

Confused about recycling? You're not alone

It seems that most people have good intentions when it comes to recycling, which is wonderful. However, “hopeful recycling” – which means putting an item in your recycling bin and hoping that it will be recycled – can sabotage all of your efforts. One item can contaminate your whole bin, so it is important to learn what you can, and cannot, throw into your recycling bin in Cuyahoga County.

Luckily for us, we have a fabulous resource called the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District. Their website,, offers a lot of information about what should be placed into your recycling.

The site even has a “What do I do with?” tool that allows you to enter in an item that you are not sure what to do with, for example “Styrofoam.” When you enter in  "Styrofoam," a couple of choices pop up: “Styrofoam blocks” and “Styrofoam containers.” I chose “containers.” The site then tells you how to deal with this kind of waste.

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Volume 10, Issue 13, Posted 9:21 AM, 07.03.2018

One step at a time

At the end of last year, I joined the board of The Village Project, a small nonprofit in Bay Village whose mission is to bring the community together through a common cause. That cause is making and delivering meals to local families who have a family member fighting cancer.

One of Village Project’s fundraisers is called Project Pedal, in which participants choose from a few different bike routes around Bay Village to ride. The event this year was held at Cahoon Park on Saturday, June 14, as part of Destination Bay, and it was a success!

A few weeks ago I asked the event coordinator if we could talk about ways to reduce waste for Project Pedal. My main goal was to stop the distribution of single-use water bottles, and encourage participants to bring their own and refill at Cahoon.

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Volume 10, Issue 12, Posted 9:20 AM, 06.19.2018

The solution is simple

Plastic pollution in waterways is a huge worldwide problem. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to be larger than the state of Texas and Lake Erie is one of the most polluted Great Lakes in terms of microplastics. The good news? The solution is simple. It’s not easy, but it is simple.  

Everyone, everywhere, can take part in a beach clean-up every single day simply by picking up litter when you see it in your yard, on your street, or anywhere at all. This is not easy, nor is it enjoyable, but this simple activity can and will make an impact on our waterways. Litter on our streets, in our yards, and in our parks easily ends up in the lake through the sewer system or wind blowing it there.

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Volume 10, Issue 11, Posted 10:09 AM, 06.05.2018

Gas versus electric?

As we head into spring and the weather warms, it’s time to start with the yard work again. I want to write about something that quite honestly I had not thought too much about and was surprised by some of the facts I learned.

When it comes to lawn mowers, should you use an electric or gas mower if you want to cut your grass in the most environmentally way possible? Well, the MOST responsible way to cut your grass is to use a push mower, which does not use gas or electricity, just your muscle power. However, this is not realistic for the majority of homeowners with larger yards. If you have a very small yard, however, that may be a good option for you.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, Posted 10:02 AM, 05.01.2018

Green your spring cleaning

When winter is over (will it be over? Ha ha!) do you like to spring clean your home? Many people enjoy clearing stuff out of their home in the spring and giving it a good cleaning before summer arrives. I want to offer suggestions that will help you dispose of unwanted items in an environmentally friendly way. 

The No. 1 thing you should think about when wanting to get rid of things is if they are in good enough condition for donating. Donating used items keeps them out of the landfill, and also helps people with limited means. When looking to get rid of used clothing, toys, furniture, housewares, shoes, books, small appliances, etc., please make sure you donate what you can. There are many services that will come pick up your items from your house, such as AMVETS, Easter Seals and Volunteers of America. It is easy to Google these organizations and check their websites for how to set up a pick-up at your home. Donations are also tax-deductible so keep track of how many bags you are donating and their estimated value.

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Volume 10, Issue 8, Posted 9:49 AM, 04.17.2018

Celebrate Earth Day in Bay by recycling, reusing

Bay Village is celebrating Earth Day on Saturday, April 21, at the Bay Village Police Department. Between 9 a.m. and noon, you will be able to drop off your sensitive documents for shredding, bulk cardboard, and any usable building materials and supplies you may have. There is no limit to the amount of paper you can bring to shred, so please bring it all!

Additionally, Habitat for Humanity will be on location that morning from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to collect items in good usable condition such as: building supplies, trash containers, furniture, windows, doors, cabinets, light fixtures, sinks, tubs, showers, plumbing/electric/HVAC, lumber, and full rolls of wallpaper. Please do not bring mattresses, paint or clothing. For a full list of what is accepted, please check

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Volume 10, Issue 7, Posted 9:40 AM, 04.03.2018

Plastic particles found in bottled water

You may have seen a report the last few weeks in multiple news publications that a recent study of 11 brands of bottled water has revealed that 93 percent of them contain microplastic contamination. The researchers from State University of New York and non-profit journalism organization Orb Media found an average of 10.4 plastic particles per liter of water. Included in the study were common brands such as Aquafina, Dasani, Nestle Pure Life, as well as San Pellegrino.

My hope is that you’ll take the information you read here and tell your family and friends about it. I know you know someone (most likely lots of people) who habitually drink bottled water.

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Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 10:14 AM, 03.20.2018

Church embraces plastic reduction; Earth Hour 2018

The Church of England this year asked people to give up single-use plastics for Lent. It is remarkable that their entire Lent program was focused on an environmental issue. This request came at a perfect time after the plastics ban China has issued (China is no long accepting plastic recyclables from around the world) and England is seeing a back-up of recyclables, just as the United States is. Additionally, the European Union announced in December targets for waste reduction for member nations, with a focus on plastics.

The Church of England created a calendar for a plastics-free Lent, with each day providing tips about reducing everyday plastics or Bible verses that are environmentally themed. You can find the calendar at In it are suggestions such as bringing your own water bottle and shopping bags, as well as requesting restaurant take-out (or as they say, “takeaways”) to be packed in a container you bring.

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 9:26 AM, 03.06.2018

Ecotourism in Costa Rica

I am very fortunate to have recently visited Costa Rica. In addition to being a tropical, sunny, beautiful and lush destination to visit from Cleveland in February, Costa Rica was one of the first countries to promote “eco-tourism.” According to the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of the local people.”

As we got off the plane in San Jose, one of the first signs we saw read, “The earth does not know what to do with plastic.” As we walked further into the airport, there were separate recycling receptacles for plastics, for paper, for glass and aluminum. Furthermore, in 2017, Costa Rica ran entirely on renewable energy for 300 days. Their renewable energy comes from: 78 percent hydropower, 10 percent wind, 10 percent geothermal, and 1 percent solar.  

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Volume 10, Issue 4, Posted 9:44 AM, 02.20.2018

Recycling, recycling everywhere with no place to go

Unfortunately, there is a huge recycling problem in the United States and the world: We have recycling piling and piling up because China has put a ban on buying the world’s plastic and mixed paper recycling.

You probably didn’t know that up until Jan. 1, 2018, China had been purchasing over half of the world’s plastic and paper recycling to process in China. That has all come to a screeching halt, as six months ago they announced a ban on any imported solid waste that had more than a 0.5 percent contamination rate. A 0.5 percent rate is extremely high and pretty much an unattainable standard. Currently, the U.S. achieves a 1.5 percent contamination rate, and would most likely be able to lower it to under 1 percent, but not to 0.5. 

China decided to ban the solid waste coming into the country with higher contamination rates because of the pollution the contamination was causing China. They have committed to “protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health” and focus on recycling their own solid waste, so they have closed the door on the rest of the world.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 10:03 AM, 02.06.2018

2017: Year in review for Bay Village Green Team

The Bay Village Green Team had a successful 2017. Bay Village Bay Days was a much more environmentally friendly event last year, as the Green Team partnered with Bay Village Kiwanis to reduce landfill waste. Over 1,000 pounds of food was composted during the event, and the 20-yard recycling dumpster was filled to the top with recycling. To put this in perspective, five years ago the event would fill two 30-yard landfill dumpsters; this year one landfill dumpster was used, and it was only 2/3 full.

The Bay Village Green Team also partnered again with BAYarts to reduce waste for their large benefit, Moondance, held annually in September. Moondance strives to be a zero-waste event, with everything composted or recycled. The Green Team provides volunteers for the event to help vendors and guests discard their waste appropriately.

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Volume 10, Issue 1, Posted 9:35 AM, 01.09.2018

A greener you in 2018

I hope you are all enjoying this time of year and spending time with family and friends rather than getting caught up in the frenzy and stress this season can bring. For this issue’s column I want to share with you some simple New Year’s resolution ideas as we head into 2018.

  1. Bring your own. I’ve written this here many times, and I can’t emphasize enough how much cutting single-use plastics out of your life helps the health of the planet. Bring your own coffee mug, water bottle, and shopping bags. These three items alone account for so much trash and waste that end up in our landfills and waterways. Make it your resolution to bring your own – soon it will become a habit!
  2. Reduce energy use. Turn off lights and turn the heat down while you’re not home, and unplug phone/tablet chargers when not in use. Our energy source still largely comes from burning coal in Ohio. Using less energy in your home has a direct impact on carbon dioxide emissions into the environment.
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Volume 9, Issue 24, Posted 10:00 AM, 12.19.2017

Real or fake?

Yes, I’m wondering if you have real or fake ... Christmas trees. This is definitely a topic that causes a lot of confusion, and I get it. Some people think: I’m going to buy an artificial tree so I don’t have to keep cutting down a real one every year. However, this is not the answer, environmentally speaking. The most environmentally friendly way to have a Christmas tree is to buy a real one year after year.

There are many reasons why having a real tree is better for the environment. Most artificial trees are made from toxic, non-recyclable materials, so someday that tree will end up in a landfill. A study found that an artificial tree has three times more impact on climate change than a natural tree.

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Volume 9, Issue 23, Posted 10:34 AM, 12.05.2017

Easy ways to 'green' your holidays

This is a column that I wrote last year around this time, and I’m re-running it with a couple of updates. It’s information that I believe is important to remember this time of year.

It is estimated that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, household waste increases 25 percent. I want to share some easy ways to reduce waste, and help make your holidays earth-friendly!

An easy step to take is to purchase local and/or organic foods when possible. Locally grown and raised food reduces the carbon dioxide emissions from shipping foods to you. Purchasing organic foods reduces the need for pesticides and toxic chemicals, and every time you do this, you “vote” for organic foods with your dollars. These chemicals, when used on conventionally grown items, are not only detrimental to your health, but they enter the soil, which eventually runs off into rivers and lakes. This time of year it is not as easy to find locally raised produce, but it’s still available. I have seen it at both Heinen’s and Whole Foods in recent weeks.

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Volume 9, Issue 22, Posted 9:57 AM, 11.21.2017

Proposed county fee aims to reduce plastic bag pollution

Sunny Simon and Dale Miller, two of Cuyahoga County’s Council members, have introduced legislation that would place a $0.10 fee on each plastic bag used by consumers at stores that are more than 7,000 square feet. The average Cuyahoga County resident (not family, but resident) uses 341 plastic bags a year, with 319 million being used county-wide yearly. Only 10 percent of these are recycled. It is also estimated that each of these 319 million bags being used in Cuyahoga County are used for an average of 12 minutes each.

As I have a written about before, over 5 million pounds of plastic enters Lake Erie every year. The goal of the $0.10 fee per bag is to limit the amount of plastic getting into the lake and polluting our environment. Out of each $0.10 collected, $0.06 would go to a fund that would be used to clean up our waterways. The other $0.04 would be given back to the stores and also used to distribute reusable bags at libraries, senior centers and homeless shelters.

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Volume 9, Issue 21, Posted 9:57 AM, 11.07.2017

Keep your garb out of the garbage

Many people I know think of recycling in terms of plastics, cans, glass, etc. However, we have a global problem with unwanted clothing. According to the EPA, 84 percent of discarded clothing ends up in the landfill. In that last 20 years, Americans have doubled the amount of clothes they trash per year from 7 million tons to 14 million tons, which equates to about 80 pounds per person annually. 

The problem of what to do with unwanted clothing is so large that there is currently no good way to deal with it all. Instead of putting it in your trash, you may think that recycling it is a good idea. There are different ways to do this: you can put it in your Simple Recycle bags and place on the curb in Bay Village and Westlake, or you can bring it to a store with clothing recycling, such as H&M, to discard it.

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Volume 9, Issue 20, Posted 9:52 AM, 10.17.2017

One million per minute

This is a column that appeared in the Observer in the spring of 2016. I’m re-running it because I think it’s an important message that needs to be communicated over and over.

One million per minute is how many plastic bags the world uses. It is estimated that worldwide use of plastic bags is between 500 billion and 1 trillion a year. Furthermore, it is estimated that Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags a year. The average American family brings home 1,500 plastic bags a year.

Not only are plastic bags a nuisance for the environment because they either sit in a landfill for hundreds of years or worse are blown around in our environment, ending up in trees and contaminating our waterways, but at least 12 million barrels of oil are used each year to manufacture those bags. Twelve million barrels of oil. A year. For something that is pretty much unnecessary.

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Volume 9, Issue 19, Posted 10:12 AM, 10.03.2017

The Village Project's Garden Angels

The Village Project in Bay Village is an organization dedicated to feeding people who are battling cancer. The Village Project delivers healthy meals to patients and their families twice a week, and serves the communities of Bay Village, Westlake, Rocky River, Avon and Avon Lake. Meals are delivered to patients’ homes and consist of high quality and nutritional food; they never include processed sugar, white flour or red meat. The mission of the Village Project is to provide support to families while their lives are consumed with fighting cancer, along with providing cancer patients highly nutritional food so that their bodies are as strong as possible to fight the disease.

During the spring, summer and fall months, the Village Project tends to eight plots at the Bay Village Community Garden. The majority of the fresh vegetables used in meals during the summer months come from the garden. The garden leader, who is in charge of the eight plots, is Sherri Reilly. She has been volunteering with the Village Project for six years as garden leader. She coordinates volunteers to help water and harvest the crops. Every Monday and Wednesday, she has a group of children that come to help her and whom she calls her “Garden Angels.”

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Volume 9, Issue 17, Posted 9:45 AM, 09.06.2017

2.4 million per hour

My family and I took a trip to California this summer and one of our stops was the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It is arguably one of the best aquariums in the country, if not the world.

I have been to visit the aquarium a few times, and this past time I was the most impressed. The main reason this was my favorite time is because the Aquarium is constantly giving visitors the message about plastic in the ocean, and how to help. From the staff who work the exhibits to many of the displays, you cannot escape the message that plastic is bad for the ocean, that we are choking our oceans with plastic, and that the only solution is for humans to stop using single-use plastic.

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Volume 9, Issue 16, Posted 10:15 AM, 08.15.2017

Bay Village going 'green' one water bottle at a time

Bay Village got a huge boost for being more “green” when the Bay Village Green Team was awarded a grant from The Bay Village Foundation that helped fund a water bottle refilling station/fountain at Cahoon Memorial Park. The Bay Village Green Team knows how important it is that plastic water bottles are avoided, especially at a park like Cahoon, which is very close to Lake Erie.

The first outdoor water bottle filling station in Bay Village was installed at Cahoon because there are so many people who use the park on a daily basis. Further, there are countless children who use Cahoon Park for sports such as soccer, lacrosse, cross country, and various practices for extra-curricular sports in town. The water bottle filling station features the bottle filler, a drinking fountain, as well as a drinking bowl for dogs.

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Volume 9, Issue 14, Posted 9:57 AM, 07.18.2017

Preserving our biodiversity, one yard at a time

Native plants are defined as those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved. I have to be honest and admit that I did not know much about this topic – but as I did my research I now realize how important it is that people understand the issue I’m going to write about and how easy it is to help!

Over the past century, urbanization has occurred in the United States: 54 percent of the land in the lower 48 states is made up of cities and suburbs, and 41 percent is made up of agriculture. We, as humans, have taken over 95 percent of nature. Lawns and exotic ornamental plants have taken over ecologically productive land. Lawns cover over 40 million acres in the United States, and over 3,400 species of alien plants have invaded 100 million acres, and that is expected to double in five years.

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Volume 9, Issue 12, Posted 9:21 AM, 06.20.2017