Environment Matters Podcast
EPA Region 3
Topic: EPA Environmental Achievement Awards
Date: September 26, 2008
Lena Kim: In Pennsylvania's Lower Makefield Township, if you have an idea for improving the environment, chances are it'll soon be in place. Over the past two years, the township has been on a mission to be one of the cleanest and greenest. And those efforts have caught the eye of EPA's Mid-Atlantic region.
Hi. I'm Lena Kim of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Mid-Atlantic region, and welcome to Environment Matters - our new series of podcasts.
In selecting its first-ever Environmental Achievement Awards, EPA gave Lower Makefield high marks for being a green leader among towns.
Township officials joined other winners for a ceremony at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia where the featured speaker was the EPA's top official, Administrator Steve Johnson.
Quote from Steve Johnson's speech: And so as I think about all the great work that the agency has done, I also recognize that we can't do it alone. Whether an organization or an individual, I'm ever reminded that environmental responsibility is everybody's responsibility.
Lena Kim: In Lower Makefield, the environmental actions include everything from smart power to green buildings. Jim Bray, chairman of the township's Environmental Advisory Council, says local government can make a difference.
Jim Bray: The reason that we are so pleased with the award today is because it really shows, it's a great example, of what can happen when local government works the way local government is supposed to work. And that's what's happening in our township.
Lena Kim: The EPA awards showcase exceptional actions by non-profit groups, citizens, businesses and government to protect public health and the environment. Whether a blue-chip effort by a "green team" at Frito-Lay, or a car-sharing program driving down air pollution, the 10 winning entries rose to the top of a pool of more than 100 nominations.
Project manager Heather Kemp says Philly CarShare is focused on several goals.
Heather Kemp: Philly CarShare's mission is to reduce automobile dependency in the Philadelphia region. And we do that in a number of ways. One is through reduced automobile ownership, either by people selling their cars or avoiding the purchase of vehicles. Also because our fleet is over 50 percent hybrids, so we increase the number of miles that are driven on hybrid cars. And lastly, we reduce the number of cold starts, because it's numerous people sharing one vehicle throughout the day.
Lena Kim: Fred Brown and Barb Buchanan of Frito-Lay say that keeping waste out of the landfill and instilling a green ethic at work are helping the company and the environment.
Fred Brown: Our big thing at Frito-Lay, nationally, is we're trying to get to "zero landfill." We plan on recycling just about absolutely everything out there—wood, metal, plastic, super sacks, cans, you name it—we're recycling everything. We're trying to eliminate our waste, probably about 67 or 70 percent since we started.
Barb Buchanan: Part of our mission is to have as many employees in the organization involved in making a difference with regard to sustainability. It's a corporate philosophy that we have—a bold goal of leave no trace
Lena Kim: The only individual to win an award is Dr. Joan Plisko of Baltimore County, for leadership in the Maryland hospital community and in her local neighborhood. Joan says it’s important to get involved.
Joan Plisko: I think the primary reason to get involved, obviously, is to protect our environment, but that really relates to protecting the health of our children and our children's children. And I think by setting an example for our children on what it takes to make change happen, and voicing your opinion and taking action. That's the only way that we'll actually have true community involvement across the board. This year, for instance, we're starting an after-school club at my children's elementary school—the Green Club--and to really bring home the local issues. Not so much talking about climate change, but really helping children understand that their daily choices affect the environment and public health, and how the environment--the trees, the butterflies, the moths, the turtles in our neighborhood--are part of the bigger picture.
Lena Kim: For a complete list of winners and their achievements, visit our Web site at www.epa.gov/region3 . And thanks for joining us on Environment Matters, our new series of podcasts.