According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations..
How CCPR is Staying Green
As a two-time NRPA Gold Medal of Excellence winner, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation is committed to continually improving its sustainability practices and promoting park stewardship. According to the CAPRA Environmental Sustainability Policy and Program Standard: “The agency shall have an established policy on environmental sustainability that states the agency position on energy and resource conservation. The policy should address sustainable product purchasing; reduction and handling of waste; wise use and protection of 51 land, air, water and wildlife; and sustainable design/construction of buildings and facilities.”
Here is a snapshot of some of our green efforts:
Jill Perelman Pavilion
The Jill Perelman Pavilion (JPP) is located in the Upper White River Watershed and was designed to follow the natural north and south flow path of stormwater movement throughout the property. Innovative stormwater and green infrastructure strategies were put in place like a butterfly wing-shaped roof to direct water to an area in the middle of the roof and chain gutter systems that move water effectively off the roof and down to the ground. Beyond the Jill Perelman Pavilion, the stormwater flows through several connected wetland and pond areas with native prairie and wetland vegetation to slow, filter, and clean water before discharging from the site and back into our waterways.
Monon Community Center green design
The Monon Community Center (MCC) treats millions of gallons of annual stormwater runoff from the Monon Community Center roofs and parking areas using constructed lagoons and wetlands. These lagoons and wetlands treat greywater from the water park using the saturated areas as natural sponges to absorb particulates and pollutants. The native plants growing in these wetlands help to slow the water and filter it so there is less stormwater running over the hardscapes.
Online File Storage
CCPR is utilizing Microsoft SharePoint – a web-based collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft Office. This allows us to reduce the amount of printing and paper usage at the offices. In addition, Microsoft Teams functionality allows for seamless communication and document sharing -reducing the need to use transportation between buildings.
Together with other City of Carmel employees, CCPR staff can access VirginPulse – an employee wellbeing platform designed to foster healthful and sustainable behaviors. They receive rewards for taking more steps throughout the day, for challenging each other to complete healthy habit streaks, and for reading information on mindful and sustainable behaviors.
Green Employee Highlight
“About 4 years ago, I stopped buying plastic bottles and now use only re-fillable water bottles and bring my own re-usable bags to the grocery store. More recently, I have eliminated all zip-loc baggies and now use re-usable zip-loc bags.”
– Aimee Rich, ESE/SCS Inclusion & Engagement Supervisor
Lend a Hand
Join Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation in creating an accessible system of vibrant and sustainable parks, diverse recreational facilities, and engaging programs that contribute to healthy lifestyles, a tight-knit community, a thriving economy, and a high quality of life in the City of Carmel and Clay Township.
Own a business? Have a company gifting program? Contact us for in-kind donation process of items that can benefit the parks!
Reduce + Reuse + Repurpose
The concepts of reducing, reusing, and repurposing are more relevant today than ever before. The United States has the third-largest population of all countries, but it produces the most municipal solid waste in the world: 258 million tons of MSW was generated in 2017 alone (Sebastian, 2020).
Despite many efforts of the National Recycling Coalition and Keep America Beautiful, the national rate of recycling in America has languished at about 34%. Even this modest success rate came crashing down in February 2018 when the Chinese government, in response to growing waste contamination and effects of pollution, issued a declaration that China would no longer accept 24 classes of imported waste. It led to escalating prices for recycling and incineration and many towns across America ended curbside pickup for recycling altogether (Dolesh, 2019).
As a result, the need is clear. To be a more sustainable community we need to direct greater focus on reducing and reusing, thus lessening the burden placed on the recycling facilities. There are many books, podcasts, and social media channels dedicated to educating people on reducing their consumption and reusing things they already own.
Recycling Do's + Dont's
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Easy Tips to Reduce + Reuse + Recycle
Here are just a few ideas on what you can do at home to reduce your consumption, reuse items, save money, and help the environment:
Bamboo dish brush
Plastic grocery bags
Canvas grocery bags
Plastic produce bags
Mesh produce bags
Steel or glass reusable bottles
Metal, glass, or bamboo straws
Plastic single-use utensils
Portable reusable utensil set
Wool or rubber dryer balls
Scent room sprays, scented candles, wall plug-ins
Diffuser with essential oils (in glass bottles only)
Take out in plastic and styrofoam
Prepped meals in reusable containers
Balloons, plastic party decorations
Paper and reusable fabric decorations
Trash + Recycling in Carmel
- Bring a trash bag when hiking or walking in the parks – pick up any trash you find and take it to the nearest trash can.
- Always rinse and dry your recyclable items before placing them in the recycle bin.
- Do not bag your recyclables and do not place plastic bags into recycling – these items jam the sorting machines at recycling facilities costing them time and money.
What Not to Recycle
All paper grades Styrofoam Clean aluminum foil Shrink wrap, plastic film, plastic grocery bags Empty aluminum, metal, tin and steel cans Ceramics Tins and steel cans (please rinse, labels are okay) Light bulbs, window glass, mirrors All plastic bottles marked #1-#7. Empty, clean and dry. Place the cap back on the bottle. Food-soiled items, clear covers from takeout trays, microwaveable food trays Newspapers and inserts Plastic flower pots Magazines, phone books and soft cover books Electronics Cardboard/cereal box type packaging Wax paper, cardboard and drink cartons Brown paper bags Paper towels, napkins
Prevent Food Waste + Composting
According to the Indiana Recycling Coalition, food waste comprises roughly 22% of all landfill volume, making it the single largest category of Municipal Solid Waste in America. It is also responsible for almost 40% of methane emissions from landfills. Minimizing food waste can create significant positive impacts on the health of our environment. But where do we start? Here are a few ideas.
Reducing food waste at the source is a great first step. Consider meal planning/prepping for the week – numerous applications and programs can help you plan your meals and generate a grocery list to ensure you get only what you need. See this resource from U.S. Department of Agriculture for best practices on planning your weekly meals. Many grocery stores allow online ordering and pickup. Choose the grocery pickup option if you know that being inside the store means you will grab extra things that may go to waste. Adopt the “feed the freezer” philosophy and freeze/preserve things that did not get consumed by the week’s end. You can defrost and eat them later when you are too busy to cook.
Did you know nature provides a bounty of wild edibles? Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ article shares how early Indiana pioneers relied heavily on wild fruits, nuts, seeds, and grasses to supplement emergent agriculture in the new land. Foraging is currently having a big comeback, with high class gourmet chefs seeking out unique wild ingredients for their seasonal menus. You do not need to be a gourmet chef to add wild edibles to your diet! The benefits are numerous: lower your reliance on grocery stores, reduce food waste and consumption of single-use packaging, get more vitamins and minerals from wild plants, and get physically active by going on foraging walks.
Although there are numerous benefits of foraging, doing so in a sustainable manner is of upmost importance. Here at Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, we follow strict guidelines and have rules in place regarding foraging. Here is an excerpt from our rules regarding foraging: “It is strictly prohibited for any person to harvest, collect, dig up, cut, trim, break, set fire to, disturb, or otherwise damage any vegetation or tree within any park. It is permissible to harvest ripe fruits, nuts, or mushrooms in amounts appropriated for immediate consumption or use by the person or his or her family, except in areas specifically designated as “No Harvest” areas.”
As long as these guidelines are followed, we allow foraging in the parks, keeping in mind that the parks are ultimately preserved for the wildlife living in them. You can check out our Program Guide for the next Wild Edibles workshop or look for a foraging guidebook at your local bookstore. Make sure to be well prepared with the knowledge of what is edible and what is not before you venture out!
Composting is a process of turning your food scraps and other organic matter into a soil conditioner rich in nutrients. It is the best way to utilize your food waste as composting turns it into a useful product for organic agriculture. You can compost your food scraps at home (backyard composting, using a composting tumbler, enlisting the help of composting worms) or sign up for professional compost pickup services. Check out the Indiana Recycling Coalition guide to food waste composting for ideas and a list of professional composting services.
Report a Polluter in Hamilton County
It is up to all of us to be the eyes and ears for the natural resources around us. It’s important to be an advocate and if you see something that just doesn’t seem right, report it. If you are in Hamilton County, you can report a polluter here: https://www.hamiltonswcd.org/report-a-polluter.html