Individuals at Garden Spot Village have been working behind the scenes for years to improve our environment.
Ed and Darlene Smith, Garden Spot Village residents since August 2014, established convenient drop off locations for waste Styrofoam around campus and faithfully transport it to Dart Container in Leola every few weeks. “We worked in plastics for years and we know Styrofoam can be recycled. There are only six locations in the United States that accept Styrofoam for recycling and one of the locations is in Leola. Why wouldn’t we recycle it?” Darlene says.
Barry Block, resident since June 2010, has been recycling since the early 1980s, when he lived on Long Island. At that point he recycled newspapers. When Barry and his wife, Anne, moved to New Jersey in the mid-1980s he was pleased to learn about the robust recycling program in their new community. And now, he says, Lancaster County is on the leading edge of waste management and recycling. Barry is a strong advocate in helping his neighbors understand the importance of proper recycling. “It’s important for the environment,” Barry says. “It’s something we can all do. Recycling doesn’t take a lot of energy and Garden Spot makes it easy. They provide the instructions and facilities that we need to recycle properly. And the benefit of living in Lancaster County is that, even if you don’t get it ‘right,’ the technology is in place to make the most of our trash. The Waste to Energy Facility generates electricity while incinerating
household trash, reducing the trash by 90 percent. The remaining ash is used to cover the landfill at the Frey Farm. So everything is used.”
A retired elementary school teacher, Fran Rapp, resident since August 2011, helped to educate an entire generation on the importance of recycling and caring for our environment. “We all have grandkids and we would like to see our environment stay the same or improve for our grandkids and great grandkids,” Fran says.
On Earth Day 2019 a group of about 30 pioneers, including Fran and Barry and interested staff members, met in the Garden Spot Village Theater to learn more about a new Garden Spot Village initiative entitled, SUSTAIN: Building a Better Life for Everyone. Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Steve Jeffrey and Chief Operating Officer Steve Muller presented and led a brainstorming session on SUSTAIN 2022, a vision to meet several goals for Excellence in Environmental Practices. Fran says, “SUSTAIN provides an opportunity to improve communications around recycling and opportunities to be good stewards of our resources.”
But recycling is just part of the initiative, Barry explains. He points to switching parking lot and hallway lights from halogen to LED and the willingness of Garden Spot staff to help residents safely recycle electronics as ways Garden Spot is already caring for the environment. “We don’t want SUSTAIN to be a program, because as a program, it will fail.” Steve Jeffrey explains. “We want it to be a grassroots movement, where people can say, ‘This makes sense; this is who I am. I want to be a part of it.’”
Steve Muller agrees, “We don’t want to greenwash what we are doing. We want to do the right thing, simply because it’s the right thing.”
SUSTAIN creates a context through which Garden Spot can formally share the ways staff and residents care for the environment. One of the first steps for the initiative is to complete a comprehensive energy use audit, to determine opportunities for improving our systems and save energy. Another step is to create a sustainability report in order to publicly share the ways the community is already recycling, reusing and repurposing, with goals to improve initiatives over the long term. Steve Jeffrey says, “We want SUSTAIN to build on the environmental initiatives already in place, learn better ways to move forward and help all of us to be part of the solution.”