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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

Unplug.40% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while they’re turned off.