The Shenandoah Green WHALE
As part of the Kick-off event for Earthtober, a truck full of non-recyclable plastic was collected to emphasize the need to reduce plastic consumption. Then the issue arose of what to do with all that plastic. Volunteer Leslie Chisnell suggested a whale be constructed and filled with the plastic waste to display the dangers of the contaminant to our planet Earth. At that moment, the Whale movement began. Volunteer Melody Tennant reached out to VMI engineer professor Jay Sullivan, who graciously agreed to build a wire whale with the help of his first-year cadets. Their mission was to replicate the 15 foot juvenile whale that washed up on the shores of the Philippines with 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach. The Shenandoah Green whale 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, as well as began filling the whale with plastic waste. Plans are in place for the Whale’s visit to other area elementary schools, as well as participating in the Christmas parades in Staunton and Waynesboro. Financially supported by Earth Day Network.
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.
Financially supported by Earth Day Network.
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.
RESIDENTIAL FOOD WASTE DROP-OFF FOR COMPOSTING
Beginning September 7, Shenandoah Green will be working with Black Bear Composting to reduce the waste stream through residential food waste composting. The drop-off site is the Saturday morning Staunton Farmers’ Market in the Wharf parking lot. 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 which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Area residents will be 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.
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 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 behaviorial 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.
ADVOCACY: 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-outs 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 participation 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 grass roots 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. Financially supported by Earth Day Network.
Whale Sculpture Migration Dates:
Nov. 4-8, Bessie Weller Elementary School, Staunton
Nov. 11-15 Ware Elementary School, Staunton
Nov. 18-22, Stuart Hall main campus, Staunton
Nov. 25- Dec.2, Wilson Memorial High School, Augusta County
Dec. 2, Staunton Christmas Parade
Dec. 2-7, William Perry Elementary School, Waynesboro
Dec. 7, Waynesboro Christmas Parade
Dec. 7-14, Berkeley Glenn Elementary School, Waynesboro
Dec. 15-20, Hugh K. Cassell Elementary School, Augusta County
April 18, 2020: Earth Day, Saturday 10-2, Gypsy Hill Park, Staunton