STAUNTON LEGACY TREE PROJECT
Shenandoah Green took on the Staunton Legacy Tree Project in the spring of 2020 with the goal of planting one tree within the Staunton zip code for every Staunton City School child--2,746 trees. With the partnership of Bartlett Tree Experts, the Staunton City Horticulturist, Staunton City Schools, the Virginia Dept. of Forestry, Mary Baldwin University, Virginia School for the Deaf & Blind, and many dedicated volunteers, we reached that goal in November of 2021 despite the limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic. We now are transitioning to a Tree Stewardship Program to begin in 2022.
"FLIPPY" the WHALE
As part of the kick-off event for Earthtober, attendees brought their non-recyclable plastic from home to create a pile on the courthouse steps to illustrate the problem of plastic pollution. Then the issue arose of what to do with all that plastic. The idea hatched that a life-sized whale sculpture be created and filled with plastic waste to display the dangers of the contaminant to oceans and the planet. At that moment, the Whale movement began. VMI engineer professor Jay Sullivan agreed to build a whale with the help of his first-year cadets. They created a wire replica of the 15-foot juvenile whale that washed up on the shores of the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach. The whale sculpture made its first migration from VMI to Bessie Weller Elementary School in Staunton. The students there learned about the issues of plastic pollution throughout the Whale’s week there, and, as a visual lesson, deposited their plastic waste into the whale. The Whale has visited many other area schools and participated in the Christmas parades in Staunton and Waynesboro. Financially supported by
Tonya Sivinski, State Farm Insurance, Staunton, VA,
& Sunspots Studios Glassblowing, Staunton, VA
RESIDENTIAL FOOD WASTE DROP-OFF FOR COMPOSTING
A "composting station" is now available to reduce the waste stream through residential food waste composting. Approximately 35% of the material that goes into a landfill is compostable. Because it cannot decompose in that environment, its presence there significantly increases the amount of methane released into the air by the landfill. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Area residents are able to bring their residential food waste to a drop-off bin which will be picked up by Black Bear Composting later in the week. Volunteers with educational material and compostable bags will be available at the site.
EARTH DAY STAUNTON
Earth Day Staunton is an annual educational fair that showcases area environmental and nature organizations that work to protect resources in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. There are interesting and interactive displays for all ages, with many of the exhibitors providing kid-friendly, hands-on activities that engage families as they learn about plants, animals and environmental issues. Earth Day Staunton began in 2007 and is currently held at the Bandstand at Gypsy Hill Park on a Saturday in mid to late April. Visit www.EarthDayStaunton.org for photos of past events and more information.
GO GREEN BANK
Do you want to save money on disposable plates and glasses for your next community event? Our Go Green Bank can eliminate your group’s need to purchase single-use disposable products, such as plastic or paper cups and plates, and plastic
cutlery, while also decreasing the amount of trash that enters our landfills. By paying a fully refundable deposit, you can borrow
glass plates, drinking glasses of many shapes and sizes - including wine glasses and champagne flutes - plus knives, forks, and spoons for your group’s event. Perfect for church or temple potlucks, family reunions, and community festivities of any kind! Make your reservation at least two weeks in advance of your event.
In 2018, Fred Blanton and Georgi Tomisato submitted a proposal to the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) about a project focused on eliminating single-use plastic straws and shopping bags, mapping and cutting back waste flow, measuring plastic in the Middle River (part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed) and educating the public on the hazards of plastics. The project was accepted, Shenandoah Green was formed to help with this initiative, and we are awaiting an AGU scientist who will temporarily be assigned to our area to do the proposed water studies and contribute to the plastics education outreach.
PLASTIC REDUCTION INITIATIVE
Shortly after Shenandoah Green formed, a plastics recycling crisis occurred in Staunton, Waynesboro, and surrounding counties. It immediately became clear that our initial focus must be to address this issue in as positive and constructive a way as possible. The crisis was the primary focus of our general meetings, with attendees desperately wanting to know how they should deal with this new situation. We brought in local speakers and offered various approaches to behavioral and consumer changes to reduce plastic use. We are presently involved in speaking at various local clubs and gatherings, presenting visual alternatives at local environmental events, and working with other environmental organizations and Staunton City Council to address the plastics issue, as well as waste materials at large.
Plastic Reduction Initiative in Local Grocery Stores
A Shenandoah Green volunteer, Carol Turrentine, spearheaded a letter signing initiative, sending letters to four local grocery stores, urging them to reduce their plastic usage. The local Kroger, Martins, Food Lion, and Walmart were each urged to eliminate their use of plastic bags at the check-out by 2020, switching to reusable or paper bags by that date. The grocery stores were also requested to encourage their suppliers to create and package their products using compostable food containers and coverings, not using plastic materials. The goal is to begin the changes in the Staunton stores and spread the movement throughout the Shenandoah Valley. The letters were each signed by an average of 225 concerned citizens.
CBF "Clean the Bay" DAY in STAUNTON
Shenandoah Green partnered with the City of Staunton to participate in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's "Clean the Bay Day" in June 2019. Volunteers worked with City Engineer Patrick Wilkins on Asylum Creek along Greenville Ave. for Staunton's first time participating in this annual event. Local Girl Scouts and others enjoyed the opportunity to fill bags with various types of trash found in the Creek and along its banks. Data was collected to be used in the AGU-TEX project.
This initiative is an opportunity to commit to reducing your plastic waste during the month of October, inspired by various programs and activities offered by Shenandoah Green. We encourage everyone to share facts about plastic pollution with a neighbor, a friend, your church, or any other organization. In so doing, we can build momentum from this grassroots movement, influence legislative change, and consequently help to bring about global change. We encourage everyone to continue REDUCING & REFUSING plastic items throughout the year, and to let your grocers and business and restaurant owners know that you want change in what is offered to the public.