I was asked these questions by Go Green Park Ridge.
Here were my responses.
Briefly describe any environmental accomplishments or projects with which you have been involved, either professionally or personally.
We need to conserve and care for our environment as if it was our home because it is. All of these changes need to start at home and I try to do that for my family. The most impactful way we can make change is to demonstrate it to friends, neighbors, and families. I utilize rain barrels and reclaim my sump water to water our vegetable garden, fruit trees, and landscaping. My landscaping is filled native species that are drought tolerant, I pick flowers to attract natural pollinators while discouraging mosquitoes and other pests. I use wood ash from my fire pit to keep down slugs, etc and add potash to the soil. I use corn gluten on my own lawn as a weed suppressant and weed my dandelions by hand, I also only use an organic fertilizer.
In our home we cook 95% of our own meals leaving take out containers and transit out of the picture. Living near downtown Park Ridge, I have the ability to walk to so many places and we are able to do our grocery shopping without getting in the car. We avoid harsh cleaners in our home and putting them into the sewer, opting for white vinegar and baking soda for our cleaning needs. While we built our home, I always was looking for Zero VOC products, the health of my family and removing carcinogens whenever possible is very important to me. We maintain our heat at 68 in the winter and 78 in the summer. I think if we all focus on our own lives and the things we can do in and around our homes individually, we can make much more impact than trying to enact change in other people’s lives.
Is there a top environmental issue in town that you think can be addressed with your help or leadership if elected? If so, what do you think should be done and how/with whom?
A large thing that bothers me is the amount of fertilizers used in our public parks. I so much rather let the park naturally grow clover or dandelion than try to maintain a perfectly green lawn at the cost of adding so much fertilizer to our water table, also encouraging our neighbors to do the same. I would like the peace of mind of knowing that my children can play on it with no worries, as I maintain on our own lawn. Willing to work with your group to promote those changes.
Storm water management is a serious community issue as well as an educational opportunity. If elected, do you envision promoting green infrastructure practices and educational opportunities that aim at reducing flooding? If so, how?
I trust you have done more research in this than I have. I would like to hear the proposal you have, and we can evaluate them. What is done is done as far as development unfortunately, we obviously have paved over way too much of the land not allowing water to naturally drain and reach their proper destinations. I point to the things I am doing in my own life to help by repurposing my rainwater and sump pump water.
Would you specifically suggest adding environmental sustainability into the next strategic plan for D64? If so, provide ideas that would help teachers and staff increase their expertise and comfort level teaching about and demonstrating environmental efforts.
I think awareness and modeling for children is going to make the biggest change. I think showing our kids how to conserve and making them aware is most impactful thing we can do.
Appreciation for the resources we have and to not wasting them is key. The wasting of water, food, heat, fuel, eating over processed foods, all contribute to this. We need to make the sacrifice of some convenience and comfort in our lives, for better health of our environment. I actually wrote an article that will be in the next Park Ridge Living magazine talking about getting closer to nature, and it is instruction on making my own wine that I have done the last two years.
An idea would be to encourage the students to start gardens in their school, understand how the food chain works and where their food ultimately comes from. The closer we get our children to nature and the beauty of it, the more they will appreciate and care for it, I know I do. If we surround them with nothing but media and technology, they will never learn to appreciate the environment we all need to care for.
What expectations could the board set for staff and administration to incorporate sustainability into its operations in order to make the schools more sustainable, save the district money, and demonstrate the importance of sustainability to students?
When we are talking about the public’s money we need to make sure there is cost benefit analysis done and be respectful of that. That is why I always push that individuals make the changes in their own lives and then pursue the changes with the public’s money. Teaching our little ones to be much more conservatively minded when it comes to their environment is the best thing we can do for the future when it comes to this item. If common sense proposals come up that can demonstrate a cost feasibility, that would be a no brainier I would get behind, but other changes would need to be weighted with other pressing demands on the district. I do not know enough about what can be done with the school buildings themselves at this time, but given how I live my own life you can imagine the types of changes I would be behind.