Published on October 17th, 2013 | by growwny0
A Taste of a Green Future
BY SARAH EISENSTARK, THE GROWWNY TEAM
On Saturday, September 28th, my fellow interns and I trekked down to the Environmental Summit held at Daemen College. From 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. we were able to interact with interested and passionate individuals from the community, as well as several local businesses and organizations, who all had different approaches to the same goal–to make Western New York a greener place.
The theme of this year’s event was “Food For Thought: Safe and Green for the Future.” The event featured panels and guest speakers–the first presentation was given by Nellie Brown, the Director of Workplace Health & Safety Programs at Cornell University. Her speech was about endocrine disruptions in our everyday lives. She spoke about how these chemicals could be absorbed through skin from cash receipts and regular shampoos and conditioners as well as detergents and a startlingly large amount of other household products. These endocrine disruptors can mimic hormones in our body that disrupts the balance. They can impede cognitive and sexual development as well as cause a variety of cancers.
The second presentation was made by Michael Lee who is part of the Community Action Organization of Erie County, Inc. The group is one of the many who are part of the WNYEA and are always welcoming volunteers. With a much lighter theme of getting back to local produce and how much of an effect local food can have on a community, Mr. Lee spoke about his efforts to bring organic fruits and veggies into low-income neighborhoods. He then told us how his organization blossomed to not only include providing food, but also education. Eventually, Lee’s idea of fresh and local eating made its way to a juvenile detention center. In the detention center, the kids grow their own food and maintain the entire system. Since this project has been installed, the center has seen a sharp drop in return rates of the kids and there has been interest expressed by both juvenile and adult detention centers all over New York State in starting a similar project.
The second panel was “How Local Manufacturers are Addressing Sustainability” in which companies invested in the local region–McCullagh coffee, Rich Products, and the beloved Perry’s ice cream–had representatives come to speak about the green initiatives. All three provided a forward-thinking and hopeful vision for green programs and future sustainability efforts. These initiatives ranged from something simple, like using metal silverware vs plastic in the employee break room to reducing the carbon footprint of their entire operations through large-scale lighting improvement projects and waste disposal projects.
Not only were the panels informative, but it was amazing to see the effort and interest put into the preservation and restoration of the local region by individuals, nonprofits and larger companies. Many times we are only informed of the overwhelming problem that is the misuse of environmental resources, but this summit provided a positive outlook on what is being done about it.