Sustainable Long Island’s
Sustainable Long Island held its Ninth Annual Sustainability Conference on Friday, April 17, 2015 at the Carlyle on the Green at Bethpage State Park – focusing on the theme of “Sustainable Solutions.” The conference was highlighted by a keynote address provided by Bernadette Castro, former Commissioner of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation from 1995 – 2006 and CEO of the legendary furniture business Castro Convertibles. The conference also featured interactive workshops led by Long Island leaders and the 5th Annual “Getting It Done” Awards.
Sustainable Long Island would like to thank all those who attended, as well as our generous sponsors who made the day a great success; all the exhibitors who promoted wonderful organizations and services; all the restaurants who offered delicious samplings of their signature dishes; all the speakers who lent their expertise on a variety of topics; the businesses and individuals who donated to our giveaways and raffles; and the Carlyle on the Green for once again hosting the event.
Almost every living species has an impact on our environment, economy, and social surroundings. Every action we take – and choose not to take – affects each and every one of us now and in the years to come. Sustainable Long Island’s Ninth Annual Sustainability Conference concentrated on Long Islanders’ commitment to sustainable lifestyles, strategies, and responsibilities.
Through the “Getting It Done” Awards, the day begin by giving special recognition to those who utilize innovative sustainable practices; addressing environmental challenges within their communities. Awards were handed out to three deserving honorees:
The Town of North Hempstead’s School Recycling Partnership Program
In 2008, the Town of North Hempstead initiated its groundbreaking School Recycling Partnership program. Through this program the Town and the Solid Waste Management Authority provide recycling bins for every classroom, office, and high school sports field in each participating district, while facilitating the carting and recycling of paper, bottles and cans, bottle caps, and e-waste. To date, North Hempstead has partnered with 9 of the Town’s 11 school districts, and another partnership with the Roslyn school district is currently under development. With more than 40,000 students in 49 buildings participating, the recycling program collects an average of 25 tons of paper and 6 tons of co-mingled recyclables a month.
As part of the School Recycling Partnership Program, schools have a host of ancillary programs available to them. These include the “Weighing-In” on Recycling Program; the Annual Recycled Artwork Contest, which recently had over 1,000 students participate; the Annual “Trashion Show,” which had 64 students participate and walk the runway wearing recycled materials at the Yes We Can Community Center; the Annual Earth Day Video Contest; the Composting Cooperative; the “Recycle the Rain” Rain Barrel Program; the “Caps Back” bottle cap recycling program in partnership with Estee Lauder; and the in-classroom Environmental Education Program.
Implementation of this comprehensive School Recycling Partnership Program in local schools teaches an invaluable life lesson to youth who will eventually become the stewards of our communities and precious environment.
The Cedarmore Corporation
The Cedarmore Corporation is a 501(c)3 organization based in Freeport, New York. The organization began as a series of summer Basketball Tournaments designed to create a safe haven for under-served youth, keeping them off the streets and away from the rising gang activity in Freeport and the surrounding communities. Since its inception in 1996, it has emerged into an organization that is continually evolving to serve the needs of youth and their families across Long Island. Currently, the Cedarmore Corporation now operates five key programs, including: Afterschool Enrichment; Ready, Set, kNOw; Big Brothers Basketball Association; Young Entrepreneurs Training Program; and the Freeport Farmers’ Market.
Specifically, they were recognized with a “Getting It Done” Award for one of their most recent projects: the “Seed to Table” Community Garden. The “Seed to Table” Community Garden began operating in the spring of 2014, after nearly three dozen volunteers built eight garden beds and two compost bins. The primary goal is to utilize the garden to serve as an outdoor learning science and nutrition laboratory, as well as to teach local youth business principles and skills as they are guided through an entrepreneurial process that begins with planning the garden and ends with selling a portion of the produce at the Freeport Farmers’ Market.
Throughout the season local youth and all those involved are:
- Provided gardening, nutrition and environmental education.
- Engaged in self-employment. Produce from the garden is sold; profit is split – students share two thirds and the program gets one third for sustainability.
- Developing life-long interest in food production, healthy eating habits, and business principles.
- Empowered, giving them a sense of ownership and commitment.
- Exposed to examples of green jobs and technology, while developing social and leadership skills.
D’Addario & Company
On the surface, D’Addario is a manufacturer of musical instrument strings, primarily for guitars, currently headquartered in Farmingdale, New York. But what sets them apart from others is their commitment to being environmentally responsible, while striving to inspire this sentiment in musicians worldwide. D’Addario has consistently supported the economy through its manufacturing business, generated opportunities for employees from all different backgrounds, and utilized recyclable products and practices to positively impact not only their employees, but their customers and local residents. D’Addario prides itself on promoting the three E’s of sustainability in all aspects of the company:
- By facilitating a successful global manufacturing business on Long Island – a key way to support the local economy;
- By designing exciting work spaces that allow people to be encouraged, healthy and productive – having a direct, positive effect on the bottom line;
- By streamlining processes such as printing, shipping, photography, videos, etc. – creating efficiency, control and delivery of services.
Social Equity aspect:
- Company-wide notices are given in English and Spanish – impacting training and internal communications in a positive way;
- The Charitable Works Committee generates opportunity for employees to organize and fundraise for local causes;
- The D’Addario Foundation conducts programs that encourage young musicians and awards educational programs that offer sustained opportunities for active participation in music making, particularly in under-served areas.
Environmental Health aspect:
- Office spaces were designed and laid out to optimize collaboration and creativity;
- Low VOC, recycled and recyclable products are used in the spaces;
- HVAC units, lighting, access to natural light, and ergonomic design of chairs, desks and computer placement all affect employee health, well-being and productivity.
Sustainability Business Basics
Long Island’s business climate is ever-changing – embracing a more socially responsible approach. Specifically, many companies have begun promoting and integrating environmental, social and governance factors into their investments. This process has shifted the financial landscape as businesses have found investments in sustainability operations can not only benefit the community, but cut expenses, streamline goals, and generate revenue. With countless success stories to back the idea, the time has finally come where “doing the right thing” can go hand-in-hand with increasing profitability. This topic was discussed by:
- Cara Longworth (Moderator) | Long Island Regional Director | Empire State Development
- Lisa Burch | Director of Sustainability and Social Responsibility | North Shore-LIJ Health System
- Shari Gilfillan | Equity Strategist for Sustainable Investors | UBS Global Asset Management
- Dan Grinberg | President | Elara Foodservice Disposables LLC
- Tom Stack | Architect – Planning & Design | D’Addario & Company, Inc.
This workshop had numerous easels set up around the room with visuals and a voting activity about different workspace environments (i.e. cubicle or variations of an open space set-up). The idea was to illustrate work style vs workspace preferences. For example, marketing and advertising professionals, who tend to be more social and collaborative, may prefer open-plan workstations. Computer programmers and engineers, whose work tends to require higher levels of concentration and freedom from distraction, might prefer a private office or cubicle.
Workspace and job satisfaction can go hand-in-hand. Parts of the workshop examined ways to integrate sustainable business practices: how companies create a more engaging work environment that results in retaining and attracting talented employees, while increasing profits in the long run.
It’s hard to believe that today – in the year 2015 – many communities are still struggling to bring healthier food options to their neighborhoods. Although much progress has been made, there is still a great need to pinpoint solutions to improve access to healthy, affordable food across Long Island. Examining a range of issues from hunger relief to obesity and considering different approaches such as the practice of urban farming and the exploration of how to empower people to make healthier food choices can give us insight into possible solutions. Multiple factors working together will ultimately help make the healthy choice the easy choice moving forward. This subject was explained by:
- Dr. Josephine Connolly-Schoonen (Moderator) | Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine | Stony Brook University Medicine
- Scott Chaskey | Director | Quail Hill Farm
- Karyn Kirschbaum, PhD | School Health Policy Coordinator | Western Suffolk BOCES
- Allison Puglia | Vice President of Program and Agency Relations | Island Harvest
- Dana Youkilis | Farm to Preschool Nutritionist | Child Care Council of Nassau
This workshop included interactive displays where attendees had the opportunity to participate and cast their vote on subject matters, such as which meals are healthiest, which meals are most costly, what healthy food is typically available in bodegas and small delis, and how much farming/gardening land it takes to feed a family of different sizes.
The Region’s Resilient Resource
Recent natural disasters, including Superstorm Sandy, have highlighted the need for communities and societies to be resilient in the face of unexpected and constantly changing environmental challenges. Many will agree that one of the biggest issues facing Long Island, both now and in times of disaster, is the region’s water quality. Whether it’s identifying strategies to avoid flooding and protect our shoreline; implementing projects such as rain gardens and bioswales to mitigate runoff; or employing more sewers and newer septic technology to protect our estuaries, solutions are needed to improve water quality across Nassau and Suffolk Counties. This issue was explored by:
- Dr. Wayne Horsley (Moderator) | Regional Director | Long Island State Parks
- Amanda Ludlow | Principal Scientist | Roux Associates, Inc.
- Walter Meyer, ASLA, LEED-AP | Adjunct Professor Parsons New School | Local Office Landscape Architecture
- Rusty Schmidt | Landscape Ecologist | Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, LLC
- Carl LoBue | Senior Marine Scientist | The Nature Conservancy
This workshop featured an interactive voting activity through a remote control product known as iClicker. Multiple choice questions were posed to the audience on a projector screen and attendees were able to cast their votes via the iClickers. Questions ranged from where the most sustainable place to wash your car would be to how many Long Island beaches closed last year due to high levels of bacteria.
The Ninth Annual Sustainability Conference was accentuated by Bernadette Castro’s keynote address. Bernadette’s unique understanding of utilizing natural resources while still ensuring their protection – and her distinct economic and business acumen – made her the perfect choice of keynote speaker. Bernadette has always understood, and through her actions, represented the idea that being environmentally responsible does not have to come at the cost of succeeding in the business world. You can listen to Bernadette’s full speech here!
Preceding the keynote address was the fan-favorite “Sustainable Samplings” Luncheon. Restaurants and eateries from across the region once again presented their favorite signature dishes, beverages, and desserts to the crowd during an hour-long networking portion of the program. Sustainable Long Island encourages everyone to visit these fine establishments when you have the chance and enjoy what their full menus have to offer:
- American Classic Ice Cream
- American Culinary Federation
- Ayhan’s Shish Kebab
- Bedell Cellars
- The Curry Club
- Divine Olive
- Gino’s of Port Washington
- La Bottega of Farmingdale
- The Simon Center Café
- Spring Brook Farms
- Taste 99 Restaurant
- Uncle Bacala’s
- Verona Ristorante
Throughout the day attendees were able to enhance the already educational and networking experience with a chance to learn about the latest sustainable products and services through the “Hall of Exhibitors.” Local businesses and nonprofits shared information about themselves and looked to build exciting new relationships. Those who participated included:
- 511NY Rideshare
- EmPower Solar
- Grid City Energy
- Hauppauge Industrial Association
- Lighthouse Mission Inc.
- LIU Post
- Stony Brook University Students
- Transit Solutions
- Albanese Organization
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- D+B Engineers and Architects
- Level Solar
- North Shore-LIJ Health System
- PSEG Long Island
- St. Joseph’s College
- Tritec Real Estate
- Waldorf School of Garden City