Green Scene

Backyard composter provides great education for kids and grandkids

You’ve probably heard about backyard composting and may have thought that it would be nice to try it yourself. Well, this is a great time of year to set it up. Why compost? If you are recycling your bottles, cans, paper and cardboard, the majority of your remaining trash is probably compostable yard or food waste.

Even if your yard waste is being taken to a commercial compost facility instead of the landfill (as is the case in Bay Village), you can still benefit by composting your own yard waste and creating a rich soil amendment to be used in your yard. It’s a great educational opportunity for children to see how easily and quickly organic material can be returned to the soil.

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Volume 6, Issue 12, Posted 9:28 AM, 06.10.2014

Spring Green Garden Show promotes sustainable, healthy lifestyle choices

On Saturday, May 24, the Bay Village Green Team hosted the second annual Spring Green Garden Show. The show was held outside at the Bay Village Community Garden which is at the corner of Forestview and Wolf roads. The family-friendly event was designed to promote a sense of community and sustainable, healthy lifestyle alternatives.

This Garden Show featured casual, hands-on workshops to learn about sustainable topics including gardening, composting and beekeeping. Local vendors and nonprofit groups promoted sustainable lifestyle options including organic lawn care and cleaning products, vegetable and herb gardening, recycling and composting, and bicycling as a clean mode of transportation and exercise. Young children were kept busy at the crafts table where they had fun making useful household items out of recycled materials.

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Volume 6, Issue 11, Posted 9:25 AM, 05.28.2014

Bay studentsí enthusiasm makes Bike to School Month an award-winning program

When the Bike to School Challenge started in Bay Village back in 2008, no one could have predicted how incredibly popular it would become with Bay students. The program, which began with Bay High School, was expanded to include Bay Middle School in 2009. This year, it will include Westerly Elementary School for the first time. The award-winning program encourages students to bike to school, which not only helps the environment by reducing harmful emissions but allows the students to become healthier through physical fitness.

Over the past few years, schools in Rocky River and Medina were added to the challenge, making it the biggest bike-to-school program in the United States, according to program founder Scott Cowan, owner of Century Cycles. Last year, Bay middle and high school students biked 28,257 miles, took 9,783 round-trip bicycle rides to school, burned 480,369 calories, prevented 31,083 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, and saved their parents $4,964.78 in gasoline.

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Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 10:05 AM, 05.13.2014

Spring cleaning? Donate your used household items to Habitat for Humanity

Donation drop-off available Saturday, May 3, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Bay Village Police Department parking lot

The residents of Westlake and Bay Village ranked second and third among all area cities for the number of donations given to the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity in 2013. Many of those donations came from the local Habitat for Humanity donation drop-offs like the one planned for Saturday, May 3, at Bay Village Police Department parking lot, 28000 Wolf Road. Bay Village Green Team and Habitat for Humanity volunteers partner to provide this local donation drop-off on a semi-annual basis, usually scheduled in May and September.

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Volume 6, Issue 8, Posted 10:10 AM, 04.15.2014

Celebrate Arbor Day with the Bay Village Green Team and order a free tree

One of the most sustainable things we can do as private residents, community directors and corporate property managers is to plant trees. The benefits of trees are significant. Not only do they beautify neighborhoods, increase property values and reduce storm water runoff, trees also clean the air of pollutants and particulates while providing oxygen.

We are lucky to live in an area with many beautiful trees. In fact, both Bay Village and Westlake have achieved the “Tree City USA” designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. This designation shows the community’s commitment to caring for and managing their public trees. To be a Tree City, communities must maintain a tree board or department, have a community tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrate Arbor Day.

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Volume 6, Issue 7, Posted 9:26 AM, 04.01.2014

Protect your children and pets through organic lawn care

With the arrival of spring expected any day now, our lawns will need some attention. This is a great time of year to plan for an organic lawn solution. Pesticides and other lawn chemicals are more toxic than most people realize.

Beyond Pesticides is a nonprofit organization that works with organizations including cities, counties and schools to lead the transition to a world which is free of toxic pesticides. This is needed to protect the public health and the environment.

According to Barry Zucker, executive director of Beyond Pesticides Ohio, many of the commonly used lawn pesticides and other chemicals are linked to serious health problems such as cancer, birth defects, liver or kidney damage, neurotoxicity, and/or disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Children are particularly susceptible to these toxins because they are growing rapidly and have a decreased ability to detoxify toxins.

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Volume 6, Issue 6, Posted 9:20 AM, 03.18.2014

Reusable bags help reduce toxic litter

Many people are now bringing their reusable bags to the store. So, why is it so important?

Well for one thing, plastic bags litter the environment. It’s hard to leave the house and not see a plastic bag either sitting in a puddle on the roadway or blowing around. The cumulative effect of all of these plastic bags blowing around is significant source of pollution to our soil and waterways.

No one knows exactly how long it will take a plastic bag to break down, but we know that it can take many years and when it does break down, it is still toxic since the bag is made from petroleum.

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Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 9:53 AM, 03.04.2014

Paper recycling is full-loop process completed in 2-3 weeks

Drop-off paper recycling benefits churches, schools, other nonprofits

You may have noticed the bright green and yellow paper recycling bins (Paper Retriever bins) that are around town. They are typically located in the parking lot of a church, school, park, or other nonprofit and are used as a fund raiser for the sponsoring organization. The bins are seven cubic yards and hold one to two tons of paper when full. As paper is collected, the sponsoring organization earns monthly revenue – a higher monthly tonnage results in higher revenue per ton paid.

Although many local curbside recycling programs allow for collection of all types of paper along with other recyclables, there are advantages to dropping your paper off at a Paper Retriever bin to be recycled. Not only does it provide revenue to a nonprofit organization, it is also not contaminated from glass and other contaminants that can get into the paper when it is consolidated with other recyclables.

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Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 9:24 AM, 02.18.2014

Soup cook-off a big hit with residents (and zero waste!)

Sixth annual soup cook-off in Bay Village becomes first city-sponsored zero waste event

On Friday, Jan. 31, the city of Bay Village sponsored its sixth annual soup cook-off at the Dwyer Memorial Center. This is a popular winter event, with nine chefs from area senior living facilities competing for the top prize. For just $5, the guests were treated to a tasting of ten savory soups, and were able to cast ballots to vote for their winning soup. In addition to the soup choices, desserts and rolls were served.

The atmosphere was warm and festive on a cold winter’s day. Approximately 230 people were in attendance. As the ballots were counted, the anticipation increased. Finally, a winner was announced. Although only three votes (out of more than 200) separated first and second place, Westlake Village's roasted butternut squash soup edged out The Northridge's Southwestern chicken chili soup for the coveted plaque.

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Volume 6, Issue 3, Posted 10:42 AM, 02.04.2014

Wind power support sought

Offshore wind turbines would bring economic development and local green energy to the region

You may have heard about the offshore wind project that is being proposed for Lake Erie. Offshore wind power has been used in Northern Europe for about two decades and is a proven source of local renewable energy. Until now, the wind farms in the United States have been built on land, with states like Texas, California and Iowa leading the way. Wind studies show that offshore wind power is also a great source for renewable energy in the United States and our region is in a unique position to benefit from this industry.

Enter Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, LEEDCo, a non-profit organization that was formed several years ago to lead the development of offshore wind power in Lake Erie. LEEDCo represents many stakeholders including the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation, NorTech, and the lakeshore counties of Cuyahoga, Lorain, Ashtabula and Lake.

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Volume 6, Issue 2, Posted 10:15 AM, 01.21.2014

This year, resolve to make your voice heard for sustainable practices

So, what does sustainability mean? The Wikipedia definition states, "Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well-being, which has environmental, economic and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use. "

It is clear that many of the processes that we’ve grown up with (and take for granted) are just not sustainable. This ranges from fossil fuel-based energy generation to industrial agricultural practices, from landfilling so-called “waste” to rampant use of single use items, from use of chemicals on our yards to pollution of our fresh water supply.

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Volume 6, Issue 1, Posted 10:08 AM, 01.07.2014

Borrow reusable table ware for your large holiday gatherings

Ever thought of partnering with your family and friends to share reusable plates, cutlery, cups and napkins for your large holiday parties?

There is no denying that the holiday season generates an enormous amount of waste. It only takes a few simple changes to reduce the waste that you and your family are sending to the landfill. One of those changes is to start thinking “reusable” when you shop and entertain. It is truly amazing how much waste you can reduce when you minimize single-use items such as Styrofoam plates or cups and plastic cutlery.

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Volume 5, Issue 25, Posted 10:53 AM, 12.10.2013

Plant a tree (or shrub) for Thanksgiving

Looking for ways to “green” your Thanksgiving? How about planting a tree or shrub? It’s a great time of the year to plant vegetation, before the ground freezes. Most area nurseries currently have great deals on trees and shrubs.

The benefits of trees and shrubs are significant. Not only do they help with storm water runoff, vegetation also filters and cleans the air that we breathe. The non-profit organization, American Forests, reports that a single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year, and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen – enough to support two people!

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Volume 5, Issue 24, Posted 9:56 AM, 11.26.2013

Why you should care about storm water runoff

[The Observer is excited to introduce our newest column, "Green Scene," which will shed light on sustainability topics that affect the quality of our lives in Bay Village and Westlake and offer easy, do-it-yourself tips for reducing negative impact on the environment.

Brenda O'Reilly, who has been a frequent contributor to the Observer as the co-chair of the Bay Village Green Team, also serves as a zero-waste consultant for Earth Day Coalition, chairs the Zero Waste NEO subcommittee for Earth Fest 2014, is a member of Zero Waste NEO and participates in Sustainable Cleveland 2019.]

We’ve all heard the term “storm water runoff”, but what does it really mean and why should we care? When it rains, you can see the water running off your driveway, your sidewalk, the street, and even your lawn, and then flowing down a drain. After that, it’s easy to lose track of what happens to the water, since it is below ground and out of sight.

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Volume 5, Issue 23, Posted 10:29 AM, 11.12.2013