Building a Green Legacy: A Local Nonprofit

Bedford 2020 is making waves in local environmental planning

FCWC’s Announces its Three Honorees for its 50th Anniversary Gala on September 26, 2015


On September 26, 2015, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County (FCWC) will be holding its 50th Anniversary Gala to celebrate its achievements over the past five decades. The evening will be held at a private estate in Sleepy Hollow, and will be filled with music, hors d’oeuvres, and good company. We will be marking this milestone event by honoring three of Westchester’s most influential environmental leaders, Pace Law School, Bedford 2020, and Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig.

FCWC took care in the selection of its honorees, as it was important to represent its three founding pillars: Education, Advocacy, and Science. Additionally, due to the significance of this occasion, FCWC wanted to honor an institution, a nonprofit, and an individual. We are delighted to award these outstanding environmental leaders with our Green Legacy Award; we thank them for their environmental contributions to our Westchester community and the world.

We are proud of what our honorees have accomplished in the realm of environmental progress, so would like to provide a little background on each of them.

Bedford 2020

Screenshot 2015-08-13 23.39.45A local nonprofit, Bedford 2020 has been a trailblazer for community outreach and grassroots environmental activism. Their mission has been to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2020 in the town of Bedford, NY. Bedford 2020 has identified a five-part action plan to achieve this goal, the areas include: Energy, Food & Agriculture, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, and Water & Land Use. FCWC is appreciative of their many accomplishments and progress this group has made. We are delighted to have selected Bedford 2020 as one of this year’s Honorees, as they represent the importance of grassroots organization.

bedford2020This year, one the group’s most successful events was an Environmental Summit & Solar Action Day; an event that had over 550 attendees and over 88 sign-ups so far for Solarize Bedford – Mt. Kisco. An inspiring day of action, there were workshops, speakers, and expo to showcase the great green businesses and community groups in the area.  The Summit  brought great environmental visionaries all under one roof, and really jump-started (funny electricity pun!) the community into environmental action.

From one nonprofit to another, FCWC truly respects all the hard work Bedford 2020 has done to make their hometown a better, greener place. This group has become a community hub, and a respected institution in Bedford and all of Westchester. We are pleased to be presenting this Award to this outstanding group.

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Summary of FCWC’s Federation Meeting

Helping Our Member Organizations Plan for the Future

By Kate Munz, Member Relations Coordinator 

On April 29th, 2015, we hosted our annual Federation Meeting. Each year FCWC hosts this meeting as an opportunity for our Member Organizations to congregate and discuss the current state of Westchester’s Environment. FCWC facilitates networking among the organizations and general attendees, so to help our organizations expand their base and

Dr. Mike Rubbo from Teatown presenting on Teatown's current climate change studies.
Dr. Mike Rubbo from Teatown presenting on Teatown’s current climate change studies.

relationships. We also bring experts on a variety of subjects to the meeting to teach our organizations something we think would be useful. This meeting is about strengthening our “federation” and spreading knowledge.

This year we had representatives from 10 organizations, all of whom had the opportunity to share projects they were working on, and what they would like to see out of their membership of FCWC.

Much of 2015, FCWC’s 50th anniversary year, has been spent pursuing two goals: addressing the topic of climate change and sea level rise, and trying to sustain the nonprofit grassroots fundamentals that FCWC was founded on. Therefore it was on these two topics that we chose our experts. The first speaker of the program was Mike Rubbo, Director of Conservation at Teatown Lake Reservation. He spoke about Teatown’s current environmental projects and the efforts they are making to create a more resilient ecosystem. The second speaker was Lori Ensinger, Executive Director at Westchester Land Trust, who discussed the many intricacies of communicating with a Board of Directors.

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5 Recommendations for Reducing Westchester’s Waste

Trash Talks: “A Near Zero Solid Waste Strategy” for the Town of Mamaroneck

Sponsored by Sustainable Westchester’s Materials Management Committee

By Kate Munz, Membership Relations Coordinator

On April 9th, 2015 Sustainable Westchester’s Materials Management Committee orchestrated an informative and interesting program titled “Trash Talk” to share the findings of a team of 10 Columbia graduate students after the completion of their final project of “A Near Zero Solid Waste Strategy” for the Town of Mamaroneck. The main take-away from their research was that the solution to the waste problem is not faster removal, but sorting and reduction.

The Project

The Town of Mamaroneck’s average recycling rate of all potentially recoverable materials is 63%. The goal of the capstone project was to provide the Town of Mamaroneck with suggestions, which if implemented, could reduce the town’s waste to “near” zero. The team’s project Leader, Stacy Kotorac, presented the group’s findings and defined “near zero” as, “the diversion of 90% municipal solid waste from the waste-to-energy facility [county incinerator in Peekskill] by 2018 from the 2013 baseline.” The resulting plan was to try to close the gap between the current 63% recycling rate and the 90% or more potential recycling rate.

The Findings
The team of graduate students conducted their study using proxy data from different municipalities across the U.S. and abroad. The team applied the data to predict the change in rate of recycling for different waste management practices, and produced a list of potential recommendations. After a cost/benefit analysis of these recommendations, the team settled on five.

1. A textile and carpet-recycling program – The town can partner with businesses, such as Carpet Cycle, that recycle residential carpet and have designated bins placed at popular locations for collection.

2. Support composting – Provide outreach about backyard composting, create designated organic material drop off locations (ex. Farmers markets), and increase food composting in schools with organizations like WeFutureCycle.

Images from Columbia Graduate Students' "Town of Mamroneck, NY - ZERO WASTE" presentation
Images from Columbia Graduate Students’ “Town of Mamroneck, NY – ZERO WASTE” presentation

3. Address recycling in multifamily buildings – Provide those residents with a tote bag to carry recyclable items to collection locations.

4. Oops! Sticker – A large, visible sticker for garbage collectors to put on trash bags with recyclable items or on poorly sorted recyclable bins. The collector will then not remove those bags or bins for that pick up.

5. Volume-based Pay-As-You-Throw program – A growing practice in the United States, this system would require residents to purchase and use only the trash bags specified by the town. This would require households to pay up-front for their waste production. If a household decreases their waste, their cost of purchasing the bags will also go down.

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Earth Day 2015

2015 is certainly a year for anniversaries. Federated Conservationists has entered its fifth decade, and Earth Day is celebrating its 45th year. When looking back to the first celebration of Earth Day, it is easy to wonder if the 20 million Americans who gathered across the country knew what their movement would become.

Coverage of the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, in The New York Times.
Coverage of the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, in The New York Times.

In 1970 the Beatles’ “Let It Be” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” topped the charts for the year; the Vietnam War sparked anti-war protests among students nationwide; and the hippie and flower child culture was at its height. The United States of 1970 was a much different place than it is today.

The roots of the environmental movement stem from this period in history. Earth Day 1970 used the energy from anti-war protests to move environmental concerns to the forefront of politics; it united those concerned individuals as activists under an environmental banner. Prior to 1970, environmental degradation was not clearly in the public consciousness. There were small rumblings that human activities were causing disturbances in the environment. For example Rachel Caron’s Silent Spring was a NY Times bestseller in 1962, however the general consensus was that poor air and water quality was simply a product of successful development and economic growth.

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