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For Immediate Release:
Awards honor Individuals, Nonprofit Organizations and Businesses that demonstrated commitment to sustainability and community in 2016
PORTLAND, MAINE – (March 16, 2017) OceanView at Falmouth, Wayside Food Programs, and Scarborough resident Stuart Axelrod each captured top honors in the Business Leadership, Community Leaders, and Individual categories, respectively, at the 2017 ecomaine eco-Excellence Awards ceremony on March 14.
“Behind every recycling statistic is a person who makes a difference,” said Kevin Roche, chief executive officer of ecomaine, during a special awards brunch in ecomaine’s community room here March 14. “Through the ecomaine eco-Excellence Awards, we celebrate each of our winners for leading their communities, businesses and their families to make more sustainable choices about both consumption and waste generation.”
The top winners were selected among 17 award recipients in total, from 10 ecomaine member communities.
OceanView at Falmouth – Falmouth
OceanView at Falmouth, the top winner in the Business Leadership Category, is a thriving and growing retirement community, providing a continuum of care with a thoughtful eye toward sustainability. The list of OceanView’s many accomplishments include: realization of a net zero school; diversion of 30,000 pounds of food scraps; dozens of kilowatt hours of grid-tied solar electric; a 360-tube solar hot water collector; 18,000 gallons of displaced propane; elimination of more than 223,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions; and over $1 million invested in renewable energy.
Rooftop solar arrays are being installed on new residences, which each save 4,000 to 5,000 lbs of CO2 per year. The community also offers a robust composting and recycling program. Components of the program include recycled fryer oil collected by Maine Standard and used for biodiesel and soaps; locally sourcing produce and seafood; sourcing all disposable products from recycled or compostable material; and composting food waste. The community’s Blueberry Commons, Legacy Memory Care, Lunt School, and Schoolhouse Cottages projects recycled 95% of all waste and surplus materials. Solid core wood doors, vinyl windows, cabinetry, appliances, and laminate countertops from older buildings are continuously donated to Habitat for Humanity.
“The Business Leadership category recognizes businesses that don’t operate under a mission focused on environmental sustainability or conversation, but who make it their job to integrate it into everything they do. OceanView has done a notable job of demonstrating that both large scale and small-scale sustainability programs are achievable and replicable,” said Caleb Hemphill, chair of ecomaine’s Outreach & Recycling Committee. “We have a growing need for senior housing solutions and OceanView is an exemplary, very relevant model to other developers across the state.”
Wayside Food Programs – Portland
Wayside Food Programs has been rescuing food from grocery stores, wholesalers, farms, shipping companies, and other food establishments to feed people in need in the Greater Portland area for 30 years.
Wayside estimates that in 2015 they re-distributed over a million pounds of food to more than 40 partner agencies to feed households throughout Cumberland County. Wayside’s programs include the Community Meals program, which offers 14 community meals a week for free in Portland and Westbrook. They also operate five Mobile Food Pantries, offering access to non-perishable items as well as fresh produce, meat, and breads when available, and healthy afterschool and summer program snacks to students in the Greater Portland area (Kid’s Healthy Snacks Program). After all of this, they recycle leftover food waste through Agri-Cycle Energy’s hauling service.
“According to the latest USDA statistics, 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer level in 2010 when uneaten. Here in Maine, we have a goal to reach a 50 percent recycling rate by 2021, so every effort to find innovative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle that food waste brings us one step closer to this goal,” said Troy Moon, chair of ecomaine’s Board of Directors. “We are pleased to present Wayside Food Programs with this top eco-Excellence Award in the Community Leader category, for the scope of impact it is having on sustainable waste management, and for the meaningful improvements this waste reduction is bringing to so many people in Southern Maine.”
Stuart Axelrod – Scarborough
Stuart Axelrod (“Stu”) is entering retirement from his position of Division General Manager for Pine Tree Waste, and is also a leader in his Scarborough community and throughout Southern Maine. Innovative concepts in which he has played an instrumental role have included automated curbside collection of waste and recyclables, and the soon-to-be-launched food waste recycling pilot in Scarborough.
“For devoting a long career to sustainable waste management strategies, and in recognition of his outstanding leadership and tireless efforts therein, we are proud to present Stu with this special ecomaine Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Moon. “You have been a tremendous resource to all of us in the sustainable waste management industry.”
The additional esteemed 2017 eco-Excellence Award winners are:
- Alison McKellar, founder of Waste Watchers & community activist, Camden
- Laura Summa, staff member at Chebeague Island School & community activist, Chebeague Island
- Cathy Nichols, Recycling and Energy Advisory Committee, Falmouth
- Celeste Bard & Pamela Moulton, Portland Greenfest’s Upcycled Art, Portland
- Wynne Wirth, volunteer at Reiche Community School, Portland
- B. Kavaliauskas and the South Portland High School Beekeepers Club, South Portland
- Carrie Gordon, Maine Medical Center/ Maine Medical Partners, Portland
- Patti Wininger, Community H.E.L.P, Bridgton
- Kari Sawyer and students, Sacopee Valley Middle School, Hiram
- Gabriel Nichols, Gabe’s Grab & Go, Portland
- Anna Sommo, Jake Hanin and Chris Malmberg, Maine Tool Library, Portland
- Jennifer Ocean and students, Manchester Elementary School, Windham
- Ken Kunin, Superintendent of South Portland Schools, South Portland
- Laura Turner, Wild Birds Unlimited, Scarborough (and Cornish resident)
Read more about these winners at the bottom of this post.
About ecomaine and the eco-Excellence Awards
Ecomaine, the nonprofit, recycling and waste-to-energy operation that serves a third of the state’s population, is owned by 20 communities and is located in Portland, Maine. The eco-Excellence Awards is an annual program organized by ecomaine to recognize businesses, schools or individuals in any of ecomaine’s 65 member communities. Winners are selected based on the effectiveness, increased awareness, community impact, and ease of replication of their sustainability programs or initiatives.
About our 14 additional winners:
(Due to weather, Alison was unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting her award in Camden in the near future.)
|Among her many sustainability and community-building accomplishments, Alison established the "Waste Watchers" community group, which has since become a formal advisory group to the Midcoast Solid Waste Board of Directors. She has also reclaimed six overseas containers worth of of materials that would otherwise have been waste, and successfully delivered these materials to Syrian refugee camps, providing comfort and desperately needed supplies. This has included sheet plastic, medical aids such as walkers, crutches, canes and even prosthetic devices and braces, as well as hundreds, perhaps thousands of buckets useful to haul water.|
Pictured l-r: Caleb Hemphill, Cathy Nichols, Kimberly Darling, Nathan Poore, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
|Cathy's wealth of knowledge and experience has made her a truly cherished addition to Falmouth's Recycling and Energy Advisory Committee, which she joined in 2014. When the Town began looking at shopping bag ordinances and started thinking about implementing a policy in Falmouth much like Portland’s, Cathy was quick and eager to help. She has put in countless hours researching ordinances around the country and the world, has developed an immense amount of knowledge on manufacturing of paper versus plastic, and is deeply passionate about recycling thin-film and making sure folks know exactly what can be recycled and the appropriate place in which to do so.
|Pamela Moulton and Celeste Bard|
Pictured l-r: Caleb Hemphill, Pamela Moulton, Celeste Bard, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
|This is the second year in a row that Celeste and Pam have selflessly collaborated on pulling together what has become a highlight of Portland GreenFest in Monument Square: The UpCycled Art program. o The UpCycled Art event has become a fantastic, repeatable way to raise awareness of the value of items that might ordinarily be discarded as waste by stores, companies, manufacturers, etc. It is a highly effective method for bringing the concepts of up-cycling, re-purposing and reusing materials into the public consciousness, among children and adults alike, who can make their own masterpieces to take home for free.|
Pictured l-r: Caleb Hemphill, Wynne Wirth, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
|Wynne is a volunteer at Reiche Community School in Portland who has - over the last three years - dedicated herself to making sustainability education really come alive for hundreds of students. Wynne is a volunteer who has dedicated herself to just that. As the volunteer leader of the PTO's Green Team, each season, you can find her working with teaching staff and running special blocks of programming to bring real, hands-on, meaningful experiences to kids. She has carted her family's apple presses into the school in the fall, juiced frozen blueberries in the winter, and brought students outside to scout for maple trees to tap for sap in the cold, early spring. In everything that Wynne does with Reiche's kids, she tries to help them see their role in the stewardship of the earth, how their choices affect the world around them - from composting, to eating simple locally-grown foods, to limiting packaging, and recycling and reusing materials wherever possible.
(Due to weather, Laura Summa was unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting her award on Chebeague Island in the near future.)
|Through her efforts, Chebeague Island transitioned to working with ecomaine in the spring of 2016 and has already realized an $8,000 savings, in addition to keeping the island on track with its solid recycling program, according to her nominator Marjorie Stratton, town manager of Chebeague Island. In addition to the formal knowledge she gained about the solid waste world, Laura had already implemented in the school where she works on the island all of the key principles and strategies to becoming a “zero waste” institution|
|JB Kavauliaskas and the South Portland High School Beekeepers|
Pictured l-r: Julie Rosenbach, Maxine Beecher, Julie Lengyal, J.B. Kavauliaskas, Emma Campbell, Troy Moon, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
|In the fall of 2016, the South Portland High School Beekeepers Club began their outreach by helping the Honey Exchange Staff as they went into five elementary schools to teach about bees and their importance to the ecosystem. The club is 50 members strong, and with fundraising and grant applications they have four students who are taking Beekeeping 101 with a Master Beekeeper, as they ready for starting their own hives, being built by the Furniture making class at the high school. Already these high school students are building a bee knowledge base, beginning with elementary students and their plan is to offer their knowledge to other schools. This young group has rapidly grown awareness, education and understanding of the honeybee and its impact on the ecosystem and humans.|
|Dr. Carrie Gordon - Maine Medical Center, Maine Medical Partners|
(Due to weather, Dr. Gordon was unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting her award on-site in her medical office in the near future.)
|Dr. Carrie Gordon is a pediatric nephrologist at Maine Medical Partners, who funded the grassroots, volunteer Sustainability Committee at Maine Medical Center in 2014, together with Dr. Carol Hubbard. On her own initiative and with great investment of her volunteer time (working together with facilities manager Bob Cloutier and with waste management services and local composting business We Compost It) she set up an extensive recycling and composting system for the medical practices at 887 Congress Street. She has designed her recycling and composting project as a model for the rest of the hospital system and has continued to advocate for its broader implementation, for which many staff are eager. This has great potential impact for the largest employer in Portland.|
|Patti Wininger - Community H.E.L.P.|
Pictured l-r: Troy Moon, Patti Wininger, Maureen McDevitt, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
|Patti started Community H.E.L.P. (HELP stands for Helping Enrich Lives Program) to take clothing and household goods that others no longer need and give it to those in need. The shop is located on Nully Street in downtown Bridgton. In a rural community such as Bridgton, where there are no places such as Goodwill and Salvation Army, Patti is filling that need while taking an enormous amount of goods out of the waste stream. According to a December article in The Bridgton News, 400 families have signed up for the Community H.E.L.P. program. This program is available to residents below a certain income level and qualifies them for one free bag of clothes and a second bag for only $3.
|Kari Sawyer & her 8th Grade Class - Sacopee Valley Middle School|
(Due to weather, Kari and her students were unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting their award at the school in the near future.)
|At the beginning of this school year, Sacopee Valley Middle School didn't have any recycling program to speak of. After seeing the bins fill to overflowing, Kari Sawyer asked her 8th grade math class if they would be willing to help her. They have really stepped up in tremendous ways, voluntarily going from room to room throughout the school to collect the recycling from each classroom’s bin. Teachers have been very appreciative of their efforts to keep the bins cleaned out. When given the choice of any problem to solve as a class project, the students voluntarily chose the problem that the school does not recycle the milk cartons in its cafeteria as theirs to solve. The students did some research and found out on average how many milk cartons have been thrown away each week and it amounted to 52 pounds of milk cartons per week! At the time of this nomination, the students were creating a presentation for their principal, assistant principal, maintenance director, and head custodian to prove why it's a good idea to recycle milk cartons.|
|Gabriel Nichols - Gabe's Grab & Go|
Pictured l-r: Troy Moon, Gabriel Nichols, Anne Bilodeau, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
|In the words of his nominator and mother Maria Bellesteros, Gabe is a 23-year-old young man with Autism who started recycling bottles at the age of 12. He found a way as the years went on to start a business called Gabe's Grab & Go. He has built this company with the support of 35 companies, who donate their bottles to his company, and has collected more than 2 million bottles and cans. In turn, Gabe gives 10% of his proceeds to Autism. At the time of nomination, he had donated more than $275 to the Maine Autism Alliance and another $191 to the Autism Society of Maine. Gabe is one of only five, according to Maria, who is autistic and drives, which has been a big support to his business.
|Anna Sommo & Jake Hanin - Maine Tool Library|
Pictured l-r: Troy Moon, Anna Sommo, Jake Hanin, Anne Bilodeau, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
|The volunteers who run the Maine Tool Library are doing a tremendous service to the community and demonstrating what an authentic part of the sharing economy looks like. Their innovative approach to tapping the sharing economy for reducing, reusing and repairing resources – namely, tools – has enabled broad community benefit. Their volunteer efforts to enable people to borrow a tool they may only need to use once is providing a clear mechanism for reducing consumption, avoiding waste, promoting equity through equal access to these tools, promoting a repair culture, and building community.|
|Jen Ocean & her 5th grade class - Manchester Elementary, Windham|
(Due to weather, Jenand her students were unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting their award at the school in the near future.)
|Jen Ocean has been the driving force behind Manchester Elementary's new food waste recycling program as well as consistent and thorough recycling in the cafeteria during breakfast and lunch periods.
Jen applied for an ecomaine School Recycling Grant this year to receive food waste hauling, as well as new bins for single sort recycling, and she and her 5th grade class have been overseeing the successful implementation of both programs. The students in Jen's class take turns in monitoring and assisting other students’ waste disposal habits and quite happily miss recess now and then for their shift. The project brings them joy and it's because of Jen that they are as enthusiastic and invested in their roles, as she is a stellar role model. Their excitement for the progress their school is taking is infectious. Jen is also working with the district, superintendent and nutritionist to cut down on food waste before it happens as well. It is Jen's goal to implement a share table of sorts, though students have already started sharing among themselves at their tables before the meal is over, therefore cutting down food waste. Jen Ocean and her 5th grade class are a very positive influence on their school and their community, in general.
(Due to weather and scheduling conflicts, Ken was unable to make the awards ceremony, so ecomaine will be presenting his award in South Portland in the near future.)
|In the words of Ken's nominator Tania Ferrante, "It wasn't until Ken Kunin became the Superintendent of South Portland that the sustainability efforts in the schools were finally realized and acknowledged." When Ken became Superintendent it was clear that reducing waste and carbon emissions was a priority for him. He has supported the district’s sustainability team since it's inception with inspiring words and actively ensuring that food waste recycling became part of the district's budget. As a result, money is built into every school’s budget. He has shared data results with the entire school district thereby validating the important work of each individual school and student. For example, publicly praising the entire district for composting and diverting 26,668 pounds of food waste from the city’s landfill last year. “Our society needs courageous and dedicated leaders in all facets of society including our local schools, city governments and local businesses. Ken Kunin exemplifies this type of leader,” said Tania.
|Laura Turner - Wild Birds Unlimited|
Pictured l-r: Troy Moon, Mike Shaw, Laura Turner, Lissa Bittermann, Bill Donovan, Kerry Strout, Kevin Roche
Photo by Brian Fitzgerald.
|Laura Turner has always been a proponent of recycling, and she takes her efforts to reduce/reuse, and recycle wherever possible very seriously, both at home in Cornish and at Wild Birds Unlimited. In Cornish, she is a big proponent of the convenience of single-sort recycling. At Wild Birds Unlimited, she is constantly looking for ways to address reducing, recycling and re-using. She likes to take a bigger-picture, circular economy view of every purchase: where items are made, what they are made of, how they are packaged, and how they ultimately arrive to us. She also works to reduce environmental impact by ordering local, ordering products made from recycled materials, requesting items be left out of plastic bags and packaging, and if that is not possible, ask if they can arrive in recyclable containers. Her store also carries many, many products that have lifetime warranties that can be repaired as opposed to having to be completely replaced. When customers do request bags for their purchases, their items are put in recyclable/compostable plastic bags or paper bags that she hopes are reused – an opinion she freely expresses to her customers. Laura always asks the right questions and unapologetically does the right thing when it comes to our environment and the animals around us.|