Green Heroes by Gia Machlin, September 25 2009, 0 Comments

I'm not talking about the Incredible Hulk, the Green Lantern, or even the Lone Ranger's grand-nephew the Green Hornet. Nope. I'm taking about Tina Hess and Emily Fano. Who?

Tina is the manager of the green team at St. Mary's Children's Hospital in Queens, NY. Just the fact that she works at a hospital for severely disabled children makes her a huge hero in my eyes. Every day she sees children struggling with the most basic daily activities and helps provide a loving, caring environment for them. Pretty amazing. But she is my green hero because of what she has accomplished while leading her green team:

  • Founding member of St. Mary's Hospital Green Team in 2005 - the team was formed in response to employees complaining of health and respiratory issues due to the floor cleaning practices common in all healthcare facilities.
  • Eliminated 90% of the styrofoam used in the facility.
  • Reduced waste in the cafeteria by replacing the paper plates with ceramic plates for all the children, and plates made of recycled paper for the employees
  • Got the hospital to join an energy curtailment organization (ECS) that required the hospital to go on energy backup (using the generator) quarterly resulting in $25,000 in reimbursement from the ECS and reduced electric bills.
  • Replaced all their mercury containing light bulbs and joined a lightbulb recycling program.
  • Instituted a horticulture program - a mini farm in the backyard -that serves a dual purpose: therapy for the children and a farmer's market of fresh (very) locally grown fruits, veggies, and herbs for the staff!
  • Instituted a paper and cardboard recycling program in which they replaced a paper shredding vendor with a vendor that picks up the bails of cardboard and shredded paper and sells it for re-use. This resulted in saving the hospital about $7,000 a year in waste removal expenses, and - check this out - reduced their annual waste by about 20 TONS!
  • Joined recycling programs for computers and electronics, bottles and cans, and batteries.
  • Instituted an annual Earth Day educational program for employees (this year they brought EcoPlum in to increase awareness about environmental effects of plastic shopping bags - good move Tina!).
Emily is the co-chair of the Green/Wellness Committee at PS-166 in Manhattan (where my daughter is in 1st grade and my son is a graduate). Emily has been working tirelessly to make our school healthier and safer for our kids, while teaching them to be budding environmental stewards. Here are some of the changes she and the team have been instrumental in implementing over the past few years:
  • In 2009, PS 166 joined 94 other New York City schools in the five boroughs to become a No-Idling Zone. Children learned about the health hazards of smog from idling vehicles, performed an air quality survey, and participated in a No-Idling poster contest. Official No-Idling and No Smoking signs, provided by Asthma-Free School Zone, are posted outside the school.
  • In September 2009, PS 166’s Green/Wellness Committee distributed green cleaners and alcohol-free hand sanitizers to every classroom in the school.
  • On Saturday, October 24th 2009, PS 166 will host the “Big Green Halloween,” its first green fundraiser, featuring biodegradable tableware, recycled crafts, local and organic foods, a composting demonstration, compost bins for food scraps, and green information booths.
  • In the Fall of 2009, as part of a Kindergarten play yard renovation project, Pre-K and K children will get 2 composting bins, 3 rain barrels and 16 small recycled plastic planters that they can use for gardening. An additional 14 large cement planters, that will be filled with plants and flowers, and 4 benches, will form part of a green, quiet zone on the perimeter of the play yard.
  • In the Fall of 2009, PS 166’s PTA, will issue a PTA Green Policy that will ask parents, staff and children to work together to create a culture of environmental responsibility in the school. The PTA also plans to launch a line of PS 166 canvas bags and stainless steel water bottles to reduce waste.
Thanks, Ladies, for being my Green Heroes! Who are your Green Heroes? I'd like to hear about them!!