Earth Month in Greenwich Kicks Off with the ReThink Waste Fair, Because Sustainability Matters

Our Greenwich Sustainability Committee and Waste Free Greenwich held a successful “ReThink Waste Fair” event on Saturday at Christ Church’s Parish Hall.

The April 1 event kicked off a month of observation of Earth Day in Greenwich.

A highlight of the event was the Sustainability Committee’s presentation of its first Sustainability Awards, including Everyday Heroes, Future Leaders, and Icons. All are excellent examples of how any one person can make a difference.

State Rep Hector Arzeno (D-151) gave a legislative update during the event. Arzeno serves on the Environmental Committee in Hartford.

“In this session I believe we are passing most of the bills that had been postponed for many years,” he said, mentioning there are bills in the works address Connecticut’s “waste crisis.”

He noted that Connecticut has had to close one of its incinerators and today spends hundreds of millions of dollars shipping waste to Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“The bill that will be very important will (involve) separation of organic waste,” Arzeno said. “There will be incentives from Hartford to municipalities. There are some already doing it, but we are not doing it here. It is something we should start planning – separation of organic waste is coming soon.”

“It’s Waste Free Greenwich that is showing us how to divert our organic waste. We thank Julie (DesChamps) and her team for leading that charge,” said Myra Klockenbrink.

Pictured: Sustainability Award winners Andy and Nancy Chapin, Sally Davies, Bob and Jan DeAngelo, Karen DeWahl, Isabelle Harper, Matt and Alana Kontos, Thomas McQuillan. Missing: Isabel and Peter Malkin, Kelly Repaci, Karina Pruitt. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

First Selectman Fred Camillo delivered a proclamation declaring April “Earth Month on Greenwich.” He noted that a national Earth Day was established in 1970 and is celebrated each year on April 22 to increase awareness of how fragile the environment is and how each person can make a difference in protecting it.

The proclamation also recognized that everyone shares the planet with other species in a fragile ecosystem, and maintaining species diversity is key to sustainability.

“We need to remain vigilant about controlling demands on our drinking water supplies, reducing energy consumption, managing our waste by reducing, reusing and recycling, composting, growing and eating healthy foods, and creating a sustainable and healthy environment for future generations,” Camillo said, adding that Greenwich was fortunate to have a large network of environmentally-minded organizations that host events throughout the month of April, Waste Free Greenwich’s “ReThink Waste Fair” being the first of many.

Myra Klockenbrink and Svetlana Wasserman show off some of the handmade Sustainability “Awards of Excellence” at the ReThink Waste Fair, April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Myra Klockenbrink with “Icons,” Nancy and Andy Chapin with their Sustainability Award at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Andy and Nancy Chapin were recognized as “Icons.”

The Chapins have been ahead of the curve. In fact, they have spent their lifetimes in service to the environment and sustainability.

From rescuing an older home and keeping it out of the landfill to promoting and adhering to sustainable landscapes and native gardens, the Chapins truly walk and walk as well as talk the talk.

Nancy currently serves on the Greenwich Board of Parks & Recreation, Greenwich Point Conservancy Board, GRTA Board, Friends of Binney Park, Friends of Pinetum, Tuchman and Pomerance.

In the recent past she has also served on the Conservation Commission, RTM, GBC Board, PTA Council Green Schools (Co-founder), Binney Park Advisory Committee and has mentored Boy Scouts of America.

Andy is currently on there GBC advisory board, Friends of Pinetum, Tuchman and Pomerance. He was formerly a member of the Greenwich Land Trust Board, an Audubon Greenwich Staff member, RTM, and the Greenwich Community Gardens Advisory Board. In addition to being an official Master gardener, Andy has also mentored over 20 Eagle Scout environmental projects for the Boy Scouts of America.

Ashley Cole and Myra Klockenbrink from the Sustainability Committee, presenting an award to Isabelle Harper. April 1, 2023
Isabelle Harper with her Sustainability Award and certificate. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Isabelle Harper, was acknowledged as a “Future Leader.”

“A Future Leader is a young person setting the standard for future leadership in prioritizing the environment in meeting the challenges of the future,” Klockenbrink said.

Isabelle, a member of the Greenwich High School class of 2022, was co-president of the Greenwich Environmental Advocacy Group during her time at the school. The (GEAG), is student-led chapter of While at GHS the group organized rallies and became involved in grassroots projects and comprehensive climate efforts. 

More recently Isabelle led a group who drafted and proposed the Board of Selectmen a “Climate Emergency Resolution” for the town. After pushback from those who balked at the word “emergency,” Isabelle worked with people who held a variety of viewpoints. She said “people on all sides were included” and the result was a comprehensive and bi-partisan document. After Isabelle’s tireless efforts, the town passed a resolution renamed the “Sustainability and Resiliency Plan.”

Thomas McQuillan. Thomas brings entrepreneurial knowledge, passion for sustainability and an impressive to his role in the Do Good leadership team’s pecking order. Whether he is working to promote the value of up cycling food at retail and food service facilities or running business programs in Rome.

Thomas has an impressive track record when it comes to using food as a force for good in fighting climate change. He has been instrumental in developing and implementing strategic sales initiatives, spearheaded energy efficient initiatives and is focused on reducing the amount of food to landfill to zero.

As part of the team of Do Good climate warriors, Thomas takes on challenges because he believes you have to join the fight to do what is right.

Ashley Cole presents Sally Davies with her Sustainability Award and certificate. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Sally Davies is noted in Greenwich for her long time commitment to sustaining and improving natural resources and reducing waste in our community.

She has spent decades supporting these initiatives as chair of the Greenwich Recycling Advisory Board (GRAB) and as a board member of Greenwich Green & Clean.

Sally has led the town’s annual paper shredding event, beach and town-wide clean up efforts, as well as the textile recycling program.

She is also known for mentoring the next generation of town leaders through her countless efforts in education and outreach.

Matt and Alana Kontos receive their Sustainability Award at the Rethink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Matt and Alana Kontos represent in many ways everything that can be done in one’s own backyard. They recycle their waste products and compost food scraps. They use the compost to nourish their home vegetable garden and potted plants. They have even taught their neighbors and friends the importance of composting.

Their pollinator friendly and organic garden brings admirers far and wide – bunnies, butterflies, bees and birds are all welcome to visit and find refuge.

Alana is a lifelong Greenwich resident and uses her knowledge and leadership as the communications manager at the Greenwich Botanical Center.

Matt and Alana’s children, Dahlia and Miles, are following in their parents’ footsteps as sustainability is lived and practiced everyday.

Lilly Cancellieri and Kate Fronio from The Marketplace by Fofie & Mia’s,” a Thrift and Vintage Shop in Byram, with Waste Free Greenwich Founder Julie DesChamps at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Isabel and Peter Malkin. Perhaps no name is more synonymous with community beautification and trees than the Malkins. Peter is the founding president of the Greenwich Tree Conservancy and is currently Chairman of the Board.

The Malkins have been instrumental in planting over 5,500 trees in 16 years. They have advocated for all the benefits of trees in communities both locally and in the state.

They have formed the Greenwich Arboretum which labeled over 1,000 trees and is accredited by ArbNet and also created the “Treasured Tree Program” which recognizes special and important specimen trees on private property.

For the last six years, Greenwich has been designated a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation due to many of the efforts of Peter and Isabel. The Malkins have assisted in getting Greenwich receiving a Silver level Sustainable CT Award.

State Rep Hector Arzeno (D-151) gives Sustainability Committee member Ashley Cole a hug as Beth Evans, Greenwich’s Director of Environmental Affairs, looks on. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Myra Klockenbrink presents the Sustainability Award to Bob and Jan DeAngelo. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Bob and Jan DeAngelo. Bob is a longtime outdoorsman with a love of wood and kids. He worked for many years with the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich introducing them to the natural world and taking them on hikes and bike rides. Recently, he created the Bicycle Task Force and holds bike clinics throughout town teaching children about bike safety. He is also behind the “bike bus” effort, which kicked off with Riverside School families.

Like Bob, Jan is there when you need her and volunteers for the Culinary Wellness Garden at Nathaniel Witherell, Greenwich Botanical Center and Greenwich Pollinator Pathway.

Karen DeWahl receives her Sustainability Award at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Karen DeWahl is a long time advocate of healthy environments and gardens. She has been a member of Green Fingers Garden Club since 2008 where she spearheaded several conservation and sustainability projects and served as President from 2018 to 2019.

In 2017, Karen connected with other sustainability minded women in town to found BYO (Bring your Own Bag), a not for profit group that initiated and managed the successful passage of an ordinance to restrict the utilization of single use plastic bags.

Karen is also a co-founder of Quiet Yards Greenwich, which advocates for restrictions on the use of gasoline powered leaf blowers in Greenwich.

She currently serves on the Greenwich Land Trust, Town Conservation Commission and has been involved with Pollinator Pathways through the Town Conservation Department. She earned her Master Gardener certification from U Conn and last year she was proud to have her garden on the Greenwich Botanical Center “Grandiflora” garden tour. She hopes to make Greenwich greener by encouraging residents to leave the pesticides our and let nature in.

Students shared information about the upcoming Live Like Luke Beach Clean Up which is set for April 22, 2023. Photo: Leslie Yager
Myra Klockenbrink, Janet Stone McGuigan and Svetlana Wasserman at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
The ReThink Waste Fair featured numerous activities for children. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
The ReThink Waste Fair featured representatives from the Greenwich Schools Green Team who promote zero waste at schools. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Joe Kantorski with Bob and Ros Brady at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Kanako MacLennan, the deputy director of Greenwich Green & Clean with Jeanine Behr Getz at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Kanako MacLennan, the deputy director of Greenwich Green & Clean with Jeanine Behr Getz at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
During the pandemic Jeanine Behr Getz took up sewing. On Saturday, her table featured hand sewn napkins, sarongs and tablecloths made from fabric remnants, with an eye toward keeping textiles out of landfill. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Karina Pruitt receives her Sustainability Award at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023. Photo: Leslie Yager

Karina Pruitt. After getting her Permaculture certificate, Karina put her beliefs to work in her own backyard and created a whole ecosystem that aligns with the Permaculture ethos.

Karina built and maintains a food garden and a chicken coop, along with worm compost and food compost areas in order to create a sustainable environment and create less waste.

Karina renovated her home to be more energy efficient and converted from oil to gas, and installed both a new roof and triple-paned windows.

Kelly Repaci receives a Sustainability Awards during the ReThink Waste Fair at Christ Church’s Parish Hall. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager

Also recognized as a “Future Leader” was Kelly Repaci, who is deeply committed to creating a sustainable future. As a recent graduate of University of Connecticut with a BA in Environmental Studies, she has cultivated her passion for sustainability and environmental issues and works with developers and communities to implement a better future.

Kelly was an active member of the ECO- Husky Club at UConn, a group that focuses on environmental awareness and sustainable living.

During her internship program at University of Conn, Kelly had real world hands on experience with the EPA’s Brownfield program and assisted in community outreach to help empower and educate neighbors on the revitalization process.

Kelly also spent a summer as an Environmental Education Intern with the Maria Mitchell Association in Nantucket. Kelly led campers, ages 5-15, through Nantucket’s conservation lands connecting them to the outdoors and emphasizing the importance of protecting the natural world.

Ashley Cole looks on as State Rep Hector Arzeno (D151) spoke about current environmental legislation. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Vera Blankley with John Blankley, who is the chair of the board of Greenwich Green & Clean and Green & Clean executive director Mary Hull. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
The Greenwich Hospital Operating Room goes “Green & Glam” with recycled apparel and accessories. The team of hospital nurses focus on “green fashion” by upcycling material usually tossed in the garbage into sustainable couture as well as practical items for everyday use. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager
Bags and accessories made from recycled plastic at the ReThink Waste Fair. April 1, 2023 Photo: Leslie Yager