By Bill Lawyer
When the Rye YMCA, one of the City’s major nonprofit organizations, announces that it is taking a big step to make the annual Derby race operation “green” — well, people take notice.
Some 500 people are expected to participate in this year’s Derby (April 29), and another 500 people will be cheering on the runners and taking part in the Healthy Kids Day activities.
But this year, that’s just the tip of the Derby hat.
Taking their motto — For a Better Us — forward, the Rye Y plans to make the Derby and Healthy Kids Day more environmentally healthy, as well.
They formed a committee of Rye Y staff that includes Denise Woodin, Susan Olson, and Lyell Lewis. They have been joined by John Borchert, Rye Middle School Science teacher; Lori Fontanes, Rye Y Cross District Wellness Committee member; Rye City Councilwoman Sara Goddard; Melissa Grieco, Chair of the Rye Sustainability Committee;
Kerry Linderoth, Rye Country Day School’s Director of Sustainability; and Anne Mottola, school garden consultant and graphic designer.
The Y has reached out to organizations and businesses whose missions overlap with theirs. Sponsors include local restaurants featuring healthy food choices — the Granola Bar, Ruby’s, Morgans, and Rye Grill. Educational institution sponsors and partners include the Rye City Teacher’s Association, Rye Country Day School, and Green Jay Landscaping (to promote healthy lawns).
The “green run” practices established so far are:
- Switch from disposable plastic tablecloths to reusable cloth ones;
- Switch from plastic water bottles to 5 gallon jugs and compostable cups;
- Switch from throwing all compostable in garbage to hiring Zero To Go to collect used cups on the race course and take them for composting;
- Eliminate helium-filled balloons, because they tend to escape, ending up on land or in waterways where they pose a choking hazard to wildlife; and
- Eliminate goody bags that tend to get thrown away with garbage.
According to Zero To Go’s Sarah Wormer, they have diverted over 50 tons of recyclables and organics in the waste stream at 38 events in the Hudson Valley.
Denise Woodin notes that, “Through community programs such as the Rye Derby, people can see what can be done to help improve Rye’s environment, not just in that event, but in all the things that people do every day.”