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Green Thoughts at Recreation and Parks

If any­one is famil­iar with the breadth of ser­vices offered by the Depart­ment of Recre­ation and Parks, then you know that man­ag­ing pur­chas­ing for all of these oper­a­tions requires a lot of work. Even so, the Pur­chas­ing Man­ager, Patri­cia Wiebking, sat down with me to talk about some of her (and oth­ers’) efforts to “green” the Department’s pur­chases and practices.

The all-encompassing theme that seemed to per­me­ate the con­ver­sa­tion with her was: “Do what you can.” Pat recounted a long list of things she does on a daily basis that go above and beyond the call of duty, but make a lot of sense at the same time. (Scroll down to see her sug­ges­tions.)
At present, Pat pur­chases envi­ron­men­tally prefer­able prod­ucts when­ever it is appro­pri­ate in terms of cost and prod­uct per­for­mance. One exam­ple of a well-performing prod­uct replace­ment is park benches; the County pur­chases benches made from recy­cled plas­tic. These may have a higher ini­tial cost, but have fewer main­te­nance issues than wood benches.

Though Pat is involved in many of the green efforts at Rec and Parks, other employ­ees have stepped up to the plate as well. Neal Holling­shead was instru­men­tal in imple­ment­ing “green” changes to the trash col­lec­tion at two of the parks, with plans to expand. In order to reduce use of plas­tic trash bags, over-sized fibrous bags are being used; bags that are so large – though the trash cans look the same, there is actu­ally a hole dug in to the ground and the trash goes all the way down in to it. This reduces col­lec­tion fre­quency, too, which saves resources. Also within the parks, Jenny DeArmey has led efforts to find biodegrad­able bags to pro­vide to res­i­dents with dogs for… well, let’s just say they help keep the parks clean.

Other green prac­tices include the incor­po­ra­tion of motion sen­sors at head­quar­ters to con­serve energy, as well as the use of hybrid vehi­cles when pos­si­ble. And many of you may have heard of a small gath­er­ing referred to as “Wine in the Woods,” which this spring will show­case its envi­ron­men­tal focus by set­ting up recy­cling cen­ters through­out the event.

Any men­tion of envi­ron­men­tal prac­tices within Rec and Parks would be incom­plete with­out the men­tion of the soon-to-be opened Robin­son Nature Cen­ter, a plat­inum LEEDS build­ing, cov­ered in more detail here.

This brief blog only scratches the sur­face of envi­ron­men­tally friendly efforts made by employ­ees of the Depart­ment of Recre­ation and Parks in their every day oper­a­tions, not the numer­ous envi­ron­men­tally friendly aspects of car­ing for our parks and open spaces and pro­grams such as Frog Watch or Stream ReLeaf. Thank you employ­ees of Recre­ation and Parks!

Sim­ple (and eas­ily imple­mented!) advice from Pat:

PROBLEM: Unwanted cat­a­logs, mul­ti­ple copies of trade jour­nals and faxes (“Let’s go to the Bahamas!”)

SOLUTION: Phone call. Find a num­ber on the item and call to get off of their list or reduce the num­ber of jour­nals or cat­a­logs received.

PROBLEM: Out­dated Stationery

SOLUTION: Cut it down and use it for notepaper.

PROBLEM: Sur­plus office sup­plies and furniture

SOLUTION: Place office sup­plies on the “Free Shelf” next to the Pur­chas­ing Office, and store office fur­ni­ture off-site until needed.

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Green Tip

Hi, I’m Howard and I’m here to provide you with green tips. Look for me throughout the site and check out my cool interactive games at the Kids Zone.