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.