By Chris Webber, Engineer at Pare Corporation and a member of Pare’s Sustainability Committee
The 47th annual Earth Day celebration, which has grown from a United States tradition to one shared by countries around the world, was held on April 22.
The idea for Earth Day was born out of the counterculture environment of the 1970’s, a time of protest and opposition to many established norms in the United States. Growing environmental unease backed by literature like the 1962 book Silent Spring and the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara served as the catalyst for the first Earth Day. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson spearheaded a bipartisan effort to create events raising awareness across the country. Over 20 million Americans turned out that day, which began a significant shift in environmental policy. The Environmental Protection Agency was formed before the end of the year and the passage of several major laws–including the Clean Air, Safe Drinking Water, Environmental Quality Improvement, and Endangered Species Acts–soon followed.
Earth Day expanded as a day of global awareness in 1990, with over 200 million people from 141 countries participating in events around the world. The event was followed by the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, which sought to address global environmental issues like increasing water use and climate change. More recently, Earth Day 2016 marked the signing of the Paris Agreement as a worldwide effort to combat climate change.
Even as Earth Day seeks to promote global awareness through monumental events, the initial 1970’s grass roots mission to care for the environment in one’s local community continues.
Latimer Reef Lighthouse on Fisher Island in Long Island Sound taken by Erika Klinkhammer
In addition to the contest, several Pare employees participated in a local cleanup organized by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers Young Members Group (RI ASCE YM). They participated in the 5th Annual Providence Earth Day Spring Cleaning event sponsored by the City of Providence, Providence Parks Department, and the Partnership for Providence Parks. For the cleanup they were partnered with the West Broadway Neighborhood Association to help with the 33rd Annual Neighborhood Spring Cleanup. More than 100 people came out to clean and improve this metropolitan neighborhood resulting in the pickup of 400 bags of trash, 300 bags of yard waste to be composted, more than a dozen mattresses, and several large items such as televisions and tires. Despite the cold and rainy weather, Pare engineers Bobby Sykes, Jessica Damicis, and Marc Weller were cheerfully picking up trash, spreading new mulch in the play area, and helping to construct a brand new bocce court at the Dexter Training Ground Park.
Bobby Sykes who coordinated Pare’s involvement in the day stated, “I’m grateful to have participated in the earth day cleanup and to have had the opportunity to work with friends from engineering firms throughout Rhode Island. Pare has always had tremendous participation at our ASCE events, and I’m thankful I work for a company with so many like-minded individuals willing to donate a Saturday to give back to a local community.”
As April 22, 2018 approaches, there are many ways to participate in Earth Day activities; learn more at http://www.earthday.org/take-action/. While the day is a fantastic way to stay environmentally conscious, simple efforts like recycling and composting at home and other small activities are great ways to reduce our environmental footprint throughout the year. Every day is an opportunity to be a better steward of Planet Earth. Thanks to all who participated in this year’s Earth Day events; we’ll look forward to seeing you again next year!
The focus for Earth Day this year is Environmental and Climate Literacy so that we can build a “global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our Planet.” (Kathleen Rogers, President of Earth Day Network) Following that mandate, parties across the globe joined together to respond to global climate change and global warming at the Paris Agreement. Learn more at http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/climatechange/
In that spirit, the Sustainability Committee at Pare is pleased to share our 6th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest. The theme of the contest this year is “Be Green Outside!”
Please enjoy the photos submitted by Pare’s staff below, and vote using the poll located at the bottom of this post. The winner of the 2017 Earth Day Photo Contest will receive a Gift Card to B-Good and their photo framed in the office. Voting will close at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 7.
1. Handmade Water Quality
To treat runoff from the driveway, deck, and concrete walkway at our newly acquired home, we installed – by hand – water quality trenches with filter fabric. Our project also alleviated areas of standing water. The pipe system connected to an overflow discharge point after storing and treating a certain volume of runoff. We then capped off the project by raising the elevation about 18” with clean loam and new sod!
2. Franconia Ridge Vegetation Preservation
On the crest of Franconia Ridge in Lincoln New Hampshire, 5,260 feet up above sea level, a low rock path helps hikers protect the groundcover ridgetop vegetation.
3. British Columbia Roadtrip
This was from a road trip with my family up in British Columbia, an outdoor expedition into Alaska that definitely helped me appreciate being green outside.
4. 26.2 Emission Free Miles
You see stuff when you run. Stuff you don’t see when you drive. Little ponds. Nondescript trail heads. Wildlife. Unfortunately, you also see lots of trash, debris, roadkill. Running can give you a unique perspective on the environment and how we impact it.
5. An Early Appreciation of the Great Outdoors
To our family, “being green outside” typically means going for hikes and learning about nature. We came across this tree during a short hike in Scituate, RI. It was a great opportunity to discuss local wildlife and the role that specific animals, in this case beavers, have in the environment.
6. My Home Office
Wake. Skate. Work at Pare. Sleep. Repeat.
7. Mattapoisett Waterfront
Water front view of the Mattapoisett Marina that leads into Buzzards Bay. The sun is shining and the boating season is underway.
8. ‘It’s not easy being green’
A little green in an unexpected place. Almost 10 feet below grade in a dark catch basin this little guy found just enough sunlight to make it happen!
9. Latimer Reef Lighthouse on Fisher Island in Long Island Sound
Taken on the first cruise of the season in the Clam Ram, a mighty Boston Whaler coming out of hibernation. A nice day to test the electronics and run the engine, then sit in a protective harbor with a Sierra Nevada and a beautiful sunset. Beauty in nature at its finest.
10. The Dry Tortugas
The Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles off the coast of Key West, FL and is home to the largest stone-masonry fort in United States. Over 300 species of birds, 5 species of sea turtles, 30 different species of coral, and several hundred species of fish are protected within the waters and islands that make up the national park.
11. Below the Tower
Stissing Fire Tower stretches 7 flights into the air above the Nature Conservancy and hiking trails in Pine Plains, NY. Formerly for use to spot forest fires, the tower is now a viewing spot for appreciation of the area’s natural resources.
12. Winds of Change
Engineers can be the stewards of a healthy planet through the implementation of clean, green, renewable energy. Rhode Island has begun paving the way with the construction of America’s first offshore wind farm.
13. Chasm Lake
Chasm Lake, Rocky National Park, CO
14. Hiking Activist
Enjoying Mass Audubon’s Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary while promoting recycling on Earth Day weekend.
15. Cliffs of Prince Edward Island
Ever since I was a young girl, I have been in awe of the impact that water can have on a shoreline after watching the waves wash away a house following a hurricane on the Outer Banks. This picture was taken in this fall on Prince Edward Island where the magnitude and simple beauty of the erosion took my breath away.
16. Kayaking on the Colorado River
The Colorado River system is a vital source of water for 40 million people in southwestern North America. The river and its tributaries are controlled by an extensive system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts, which in most years divert its entire flow for agricultural irrigation and domestic water supply. The Colorado’s large flow and steep gradient are used for generating hydroelectric power, and its major dams regulate peaking power demands in much of the Intermountain West. Intensive water consumption has dried up the lower 100 miles (160 km) of the river, which has rarely reached the sea since the 1960s. The river (pictured outside Austin, TX) is also a great recreational resource. It offers visitors and city-dwellers a picturesque escape from city life and an opportunity to “be green outside”.
17. “Cueva Ventana”
An hour west of San Juan, Cueva Ventana, or “Window Cave,” can be found. The lush valley below maintains its natural beauty as the rural area is situated away from urban Puerto Rico.
Water cascading from the 317-foot Vernal Falls at Yosemite National Park. Except for the thundering water, quiet as a church, not a conversation to be heard. Everyone enveloped in and reflecting on the natural beauty. To Be Green Outside is to be in the moment.
Thank you for voting for your favorite photo that best represents our theme of “Be Green Outside!”
It’s that time of year! Photo entries for Pare’s 5th Annual Earth Day Photo Contest are posted below.
This year, Earth Day’s challenge is to: Take a stand, so that together we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead. Our world leaders will follow. The request to redefine what progress looks like prompted our photo contest challenge. Pare staff was invited to submit photos with a short description that demonstrate what progress means to them; how we are leading; and how we can do better.
Please enjoy the following photos, submitted by Pare’s staff, and vote using the poll located at the bottom of this post. The winner of the 2015 Earth Day Photo Contest will win a $25 Gift Certificate to Brigg’s Garden & Home. Voting will close Tuesday, April 28th.
1. “Synthetic Turf Field, Marshfield”
Is this just a field…???….
This is the reduction of runoff
This is promoting infiltration of stormwater
This is the elimination of the application of pesticides, nutrients, and herbicides
This is the elimination of geese waste
This is stabilization of exposed soil from overuse, which is susceptible to erosion due to wind and runoff
This is a facility that can handle three times the use as the one it replaced, eliminating the need for development elsewhere
Is this just a field…???….
This is progress.
2. “Back to Nature”
The Bartlet Pond Dam, originally constructed in 1814, was a barrier to the natural ecology of the Wekepeke Brook for nearly 200 years. During that time, the presence of the dam resulted in increased water temperatures, lower Dissolved Oxygen, disconnected environments, and other environmental detriments. In 2014, the dam was removed, restoring the area to a natural stream channel and allowing for the natural healing of the ecosystem to begin, which will benefit both the Wekepeke as well as the Nashua River, located shortly downstream. In recognition of this achievement, state and local officials gathered to celebrate the project and other environmental initiatives being supported financially through programs being offered by EOEEA. Attendance at the event demonstrated the state’s commitment and progress in restoring our natural environment; the new growth embodies the power of nature to overcome man’s interference in the cycle of nature.
3. “Save the Bay Swim”
Earth Day is always a timely reminder about our need to be good stewards to Mother Earth – we only get to enjoy her for a short time (relatively speaking) before making way for the next generations. And where we can, it’s gratifying to see us turn back the clock and create a cleaner and healthier planet than the one that existed when we were born. Narragansett Bay is a good example of this, where the work of the Narragansett Bay Commission and non-profit organizations like Save the Bay have resulted in dramatically cleaner, healthier water. Considering the amount of bay water I swallowed during last summer’s Save the Bay Swim from Newport to Jamestown, I am personally thankful for the efforts of so many good stewards!
During a recent visit to the University of Vermont, I was shown a former students Master’s degree project: the “Eco-Machine”, which is essentially a small wastewater treatment facility containing aquatic life that collects and treats all of the wastewater in a large building located on campus. The buildings wastewater is collected and treated by the Eco-Machine through six primary steps: primary settling, closed aerobic reactors, nutrient uptake through open aquatic vessels, wetlands, bio particulate filtration, and UV disinfection. While the finished water is not intended for drinking, it is reused as all the water for flushing the toilets in the building. It has been reported that the finished water discharged from the Eco-Machine is cleaner than the outflow from Burlington’s sewage treatment plant that discharges into Lake Champlain. The Eco-Machine is an excellent example of redefining what progress looks like – environmentally sustainable, cost effective wastewater treatment system alternatives that provide similar or better treatment efficiency compared to multi-million dollar facilities that consume enormous amounts of energy.
5. “Tread Lightly”
The tiny Woodland Jumping Mouse can propel itself up to 6 feet in one leap! While these elusive little critters live throughout the northeast, it is rare to ever see one as they silently hop through pine forests, feeding on fungi and insects.
With today’s fast paced lifestyle full of digital distractions, it is more important than ever to lead our children to connect with the natural world. Fostering an appreciation for the diversity, complexity and fragility of our ecosystems will help shape the next generation to live consciously and tread lightly.
6. “S-s-s-s-s-s-s-springtime buddies”
Our leaders are like the tail of a snake, they don’t always point in the direction of the head, but give them time and they will arrive at the same place. If we show our leaders the way, they may not look like they’re going to in the right direction, but they will eventually get there.
We lead by example. By following square foot gardening techniques, a relatively small area with not a lot of effort can produce a surprisingly bountiful crop of fresh vegetables. This garden is ready for a spring preparation and can also be a welcome visual addition to the rural scenery.
8. “Koi Pond”
A backyard koi pond brings nature to the city. The sound of the water filters out the noise pollution of the busy city and provides a relaxing outdoor recreational space.
9. “Living Machine”
Pictured above is the modern day wastewater treatment plant: the Living Machine. Wastewater is treated through a series of 7 steps (settling, equalization, anoxic tanks, constructed wetlands, aerated lagoons, sand filter, and dispersal field) and without the use of any chemicals. The aerated lagoon phase is pictured in the photo and consists of 4 cells each about 10 feet deep. Wastewater enters the lagoons and is converted to ammonia and other harmless base elements by the plants, fungi, and microorganisms that thrive within the lagoons. Once wastewater passes through the lagoons, it is piped to a sand filter for final particulate removal before being released back into the ground. The Living Machine truly goes back to the basics and treats our “waste” as a precious resource.
10. “Aurora Borealis”
Auroras occur in both hemispheres, and the aurora in the northern hemisphere is called the aurora borealis, or northern lights. The aurora borealis is most often seen during the months of September, October, March, and April.
One myth says that the aurora borealis is telling stories of what happened in the past and what will happen in the future.
11. “Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?”
Every day, more and more people can say that they do. Today, farmer’s markets are an important part of many of our communities, giving us access to healthy, locally grown food and a way of connecting to the farmers and purveyors that produce it. They have even helped solve the problem of “urban food deserts” that plague many of our largest cities, neighborhoods and other areas where people lack reasonable access to fresh healthy food – something most of us take for granted. More information on urban food deserts from the United States Department of Agriculture can be found here.
12. “Living Green”
We can all lead by example and make living green a part of our lives. These good examples will turn into the average way of living. For example, bringing your own bags to the grocery store was pretty much unheard of when I was a child going to the store with my parents. Today I fairly consistently use my own bags and I see a lot of others doing it too. The other day when I forgot my bags at home and went to check out, my child actually noticed the lack of bags and asked, “where are our bags?”. It has become such a normal activity of shopping that even at a young age children pick up on what we do in our life and will make it a part of their normal activities when they grow up. Something that seems like we need to put so much effort into now will become part of our life’s in the future without effort. Every effort we make to lead now results in change for the future.
13. “Follow us, together we will lead”
It is through our children and the younger generation that we are being shown the importance of environmental stewardship. Respecting the environment and the planet we live on so that it will be possible for future generations to enjoy life and the wonders that our planet has to give is now at the forefront of the conversation. They are the real leaders of the future.