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Virtual Presentation: Preserving the Tree Canopy

On May 6, EcoPel and the Village of Pelham Sustainability Advisory Board Climate Task Force co-sponsored a talk on “Preserving the Tree Canopy,” featuring Pelhamites Fiona Watt and Rich Heller.

Fiona is senior advisor of horticulture and forestry the the NYC Parks Department. Rich Heller is a certified professional coach and member of the Village of Pelham Sustainability Advisory Board Climate Task Force.

Click here to view the Zoom presentation.

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The Case for Electric Vehicles

On Monday, February 3, Ron Kamen of EarthKind Energy spoke on the topic, “Electric Vehicles: How to Save $$$ and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.”

The program was the first of four “Sustainability Series” meetings co-sponsored by the Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel) and the Village of Pelham Climate Smart Communities Task Force on climate and sustainability issues at The Manor Club in Pelham Manor.

Here are some slides from Kamen’s presentation.

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Winner, Winner, Vegan Dinner!

More than 50 diners got to taste the deliciousness of homemade plant-based meals during EcoPel’s first vegan cooking contest on November 9. Organized by Marin Zielinksi, the event took place at the home of Romina and Jerry Levy in Pelham Manor.

The contest had three judges: State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, Pelham Mayor Chance Mullen, and Clay Bushong of The Picture House and the Pelham Chamber of Commerce.

And the winners were…
-Mariette Castillo Morrissey and Karen Gardner for their “crab”-stuffed mushrooms appetizer
-Liz Massie for her side dish of glazed carrots with tahini
-Dale Walkonen for her kale/quinoa stir main dish
-Sheri Silver for her vanilla confetti cupcakes

Pelham Memorial High School student Nadine Whalen made the beautiful cutting-board winner plaques.

As one guest remarked, “The food was so good and abundant. I didn’t expect to be so surprised at how good it was.”

EcoPel hopes events like this will prompt more people to consume plant-based food, which is healthy and beneficial to our planet.

Photos by Greg Shunick
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Pelham Families Clean Up Halloween Candy Wrappers and Other Trash

Reprinted from Nov. 5, 2019 Pelham Examiner

By Kiran Schwaderer

Passing bags around, parents chatted while kids learned how to help pick up recyclables and trash. That was all a part of the EcoPel Fall Town Cleanup Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. EcoPel and high school group Pelham Eliminates Plastic worked together on the project.

EcoPel does these cleanups around Pelham, especially after Halloween, to pick up trash that ends up on the ground, in bushes and by fences.

On Saturday, people brought gloves and were ready to work by the time they got to the work area. There, every family collected one recycling bag and one trash bag for the cleanup.

“I feel good about doing this,” said Manu Naik. “Pollution is a really bad issue, and one step can change a lot.”

After volunteers got their bags and were ready to work, EcoPel members recommended places with a lot of trash for the participants to work on. Some candy-wrapper filled spots included Prospect Hill School, Shore Road, Boston Post Road, Hutchinson School, Lincoln Avenue and Wolfs Lane.  In this event, there were really no rules for anyone to follow, so people went wherever they wanted to pick up trash.

“Pelham Eliminates Plastics is a student-run organization” at Pelham Memorial High School, said PEP co-founder S.J. O’Connor. “And we’ve had a bunch of events in Pelham. We’ve worked with DeCicco’s to eliminate their plastic bags. We are mostly an awareness group, and we are really trying to influence the town through education to realize the facts of their actions on the world around us and starting locally is really important. For the Halloween cleanup, it’s mostly like on Halloween people are eating their candy, it might’ve fallen out of their bag, and we’re here to clean up after that because it will end up in the ocean otherwise.”

PEP is focused on spreading awareness on single-use plastics and eliminating them throughout the Pelham community and the world. PEP, after helping DeCicco’s get rid of  plastic bags, is working on the Pelham school district on their sustainability goals and lowering the amount of plastic waste that comes from the schools.

EcoPel is a group that works for a cleaner and greener environment. EcoPel, which stands for Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams, is a not-for-profit organization that focuses on all environmental problems. PEP partners with it for a lot of events, and they support each other.

About the Writer
Kiran Schwaderer, Staff Reporter

Hi! My name is Kiran Schwaderer. I am so excited to be a part of this. I am in sixth grade at the Pelham Middle School. I have done the Hutchinson Bear newspaper for two years and want to continue writing.  When I have free time, I like to write, color or play outside. I can’t wait to start writing stories.

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Bike Travel Film Festival on May 19th to Benefit EcoPel

Metro bike donated by Danny’s Cycles

A series of short films that celebrate cycling is coming to The Picture House Regional Film Center in Pelham, NY on May 19, 2019, as part of the 10th Annual Ciclismo Classico Bike Travel Film Festival.

The event, which will also feature a raffle of cycling-related items, will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased here or at The Picture House box office.

Started by bicycle tour operator Ciclismo Classico in Arlington, Mass. a decade ago, the festival is making its New York debut in Pelham. The raffle will support three nonprofit organizations that promote bicycle safety and travel on two wheels. The organizations are:

  • Adventure Cycling Association, which is mapping a U.S. bicycle route system and offers resources for bike travelers;
  • East Coast Greenway Alliance, which is creating a bike route from Maine to Florida, including a segment that passes through Pelham Manor;
  • Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel), a grassroots enviro group that supports cycling as a healthy, pollution-free form of transportation.

Among the raffle prizes are a child’s Metro bicycle with helmet, bell, and water bottle, donated by Danny’s Cycles in Pelham; a folding bicycle helmet; jewelry made from bicycle parts; and other assorted cycling gear. There will also be a basket of gift cards and goodies from local Pelham restaurants and businesses. (A complete list of raffle items and sponsors is included below.)

Sheets of 25 raffle tickets will sell for $10 and $20 each (cash or personal check only), with the more expensive tickets giving buyers a chance at the higher-priced items. Every raffle purchase includes a chance at winning a door prize.

The event also will promote Adventure Cycling’s “Bike Your Park Day,” which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. “The idea is to get out on your bike and visit a county, state, or national park,” said Karen Gardner, a life member of Adventure Cycling and Pelham resident working with The Picture House to stage the film festival. “Bike Your Park Day helps to promote local amenities, and Westchester has some wonderful parks for us to explore.” Maps and information about Westchester’s many parks will be available at the film festival.

Financial support for the bike travel film festival was provided by Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

For more information, please contact:

Karin Turer, Festival Director, 617-599-8509,

Clayton Bushong, Director of Programming, Marketing and Theater Operations, The Picture House, 175 Wolfs Lane, Pelham, NY, 914-738-3161;



Donors contributing prizes for the fundraising raffle include: Abus, Adventure Cycling Association, Aileen Dose Licensed Massage Therapist, Amedeo Fitness, Apothecary Muse, Bangkok City,, Bike Tube, Caffe Regatta, Cantina Lobos, Charles Fazzino, Danny’s Cycles, DaHanger, Deborah Lowery, DeFeet, East Coast Greenway Alliance, E-ko-logic, Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams, Ergon, Evelyn Hill Cycling, Kryptonite, La Fontanella, Marcello’s, Morpher, Ortlieb, Planet ert, Revolution Cycle Jewelry, Sassy Cyclist, Sinewave Cycles, Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club, The Open Road Game, The Voracious Reader, Vespertine, Westchester Bike Camp, and Westchester Parks.


Whether you’re an avid cyclist or an armchair traveler, the films in this special festival offer tales of adventure that everyone can enjoy.

 The festival features the USA premiere of a stunning film from Australia called Lowest to Highest. Through the boundless landscape of Australia, five friends attempt to be the first to cycle from the continent’s lowest point, Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre, a vast salt lake in the desert at 15 meters below sea level, to the highest point, the snow capped summit of Mount Kosciuszko. The 1,300+-mile journey would be hard enough for anyone. But Duncan is blind, Walter can’t breathe, Daniel can’t walk, Conrad can’t bend, and half of Paul’s body doesn’t work. What could possibly go wrong?

Another USA premiere is INARI, which shares the first bicycle travel adventures of a father and his four-year-old son under the Northern Lights in Finland. Despite its brevity – six minutes – it packs an emotional punch and was chosen as the Grand Jury Prize winner for the event.

Also notable is Escape, the story of a Montreal-based DJ called JaBig who buys a bike on a whim and decides to attempt to beat the record for the longest continuous bike ride in a single country.


The festival is a production of Ciclismo Classico, a community-minded company located in Arlington, MA, that has been a leader in active bicycle vacations since 1988. Ciclismo Classico offers well-crafted trips in Italy, France, Spain, Austria, and New England that are active immersions into local art, language, music, and delicious cuisine.

Through the proceeds from the film festivals, Ciclismo Classico has donated thousands of dollars to a variety of bicycle and other local charities.


Since 1921, The Picture House Regional Film Center (TPH) has served as a cultural center and community hub and is the oldest, continuously running movie theater in Westchester County. Thanks to an extensive renovation and the addition of state of the art technology, TPH is also a thriving regional film center providing dynamic film and education programs to a diverse and multi-generational audience in Westchester County and beyond. In the 300-seat Main Hall and the luxurious 14-seat Screening Room, audiences see the best in new, independent, and classic cinema. TPH education programs provide students of all ages with the opportunity to learn about the art, science, and business of film. A community-based, mission-driven, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, The Picture House is located at 175 Wolfs Lane, Pelham, New York, 10803. Contact us at,, or (914) 738-3161.




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This story is reprinted from the website of the Rye Sustainability Committee. 

By Melissa Grieco, Chair, Rye Sustainability Committee

Balloons are generally associated with fun and festivity. However, balloons have a dark side, as they can cause power outages and pose a serious threat to wildlife and the environment. They’re also an eyesore, marring the landscape of our beautiful communities.

Released balloons ultimately return to the earth as litter, with many ending up permanently clogging and polluting our waterways and oceans. As a coastal community, Rye (and Pelham) are part of an ecosystem that is particularly sensitive to the effects of released balloons.


Balloons are available in two varieties – latex and Mylar.

Latex: While natural latex qualifies as a biodegradable substance, balloon latex is treated with preservatives and plasticizers to guard against bacterial decomposition. It can take anywhere from six months to four years for a latex balloon to biodegrade.

Due to their bright colors, latex balloons in the ocean are often mistaken for food by marine life such as whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles, with deadly results. Once ingested, balloons can release toxic chemicals into the blood stream and cause physical damage to wildlife by blocking the digestive tract. In addition, ribbons, tassels and strings attached to released balloons can entangle and ensnare marine animals and terrestrial wildlife.

Mylar balloons are made from mylar nylon, a material developed for use in the U.S. space program. They are not biodegradable and are often coated with a metallic finish. Their durability means that Mylar balloons that land in the ocean remain forever. As they drift, they become part of the ever-accumulating hordes of permanent trash that we find in and around Long Island Sound – and beyond. Their shiny quality also makes them particularly susceptible to being mistaken for food by marine animals.



In addition to being a choking hazard in small children, balloons caught in power lines can be a real nuisance and hazard, causing power outages, fires, and possible injuries.

Furthermore, the widespread use of helium to inflate balloons is contributing to the depletion of accessible helium for use in MRI scanners, fiber optics and LCD screens.

Some communities, including East Hampton, NY, have taken action to prevent the proliferation of balloon litter in the environment by banning the intentional release of balloons.


The good news is that the party, parade, or real estate open house can still go on without the balloons. There are a wide variety of fun, colorful, and eco-friendly alternatives to balloons, including reusable paper streamers, flags, banners, and even bubbles.

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County Executive Latimer Launches Climate Action Task Force

Reprinted from

December 12, 2018 – Speaking to the crowd gathered at a workshop entitled “Confronting Climate Change: What To Expect In Our Region,” County Executive George Latimer announced the creation of a Climate Crisis Task Force tackling actions needed to reduce Westchester’s carbon footprint and make us more resilient to climate change.

Steered by Sustainability and Energy Conservation Director Peter McCartt, the Task Force led by Janet Harckham, Beth Sauerhaft and Anjali Sauthoff will be creating short-term action initiatives the County can take, while in parallel working on an updated long-term Climate Action Plan. Both of these moves will help shape Westchester’s climate future both now and going forward.

Latimer said: “Westchester County is one part of a very large puzzle in the Country – and we all must work together to make a big impact on stopping climate change. While certain levels of government might down play its impact – and even say its fiction – I don’t. We are going to fight for our climate’s future – we are going to do it together – and it starts right here at home.”

McCartt said: “I am proud of the work we are doing here in Westchester County under County Executive Latimer’s leadership. Global warming is real and we need to address our critical infrastructure to withstand rising waters on both sides of the county. Devastating storms and flood surges are going to be much more intense and frequent, we need to build resilience in addition to being proactive on long term sustainability.”

This task force joins an already extensive list of actions taken by the Latimer Administration aimed at combatting global climate change. A few of these actions include:

  • Entering into a Demand Response Program that eliminates the chance of brown-outs and black-outs and the subsequent need for more expensive infrastructure repairs and upgrades;
  • Solarizing County properties and facilities while creating energy savings and minimizing expensive and non-sustainable infrastructure construction;
  • Electrifying County Fleets which will result in savings on repairs and fuel costs, reducing reliance on fossil-fuels and reducing pollutants;
  • Expanding electronic vehicle infrastructure, creating a network of charging stations across the county.
  • Expanding recycling measures, including new programs for textile and food scrap recycling which minimizes waste disposal expenses including incineration;
  • Initiating a teleconferencing system which minimizes travel expenses as well reducing vehicle emissions; and
  • Installing 30,000 LED bulbs County-wide that maximizes energy savings and lowers the cost of maintenance of lighting.
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Letter Advocates for Environmentally Sustainable Hutchinson School


Please Sign the Letter Below to encourage our BOE and Elected Officials that Sustainability is necessary as we build our schools and community for the future!
See link Below. Add your name in the comments below or email

Dear Pelham Board of Education, New Hutchinson School Committee, Dr. Champ:

I am sending this on behalf of a group of Pelham residents. Please see our letter attached. We would greatly appreciate if you would share the letter with the New Hutchinson School Committee members, and with the new Hutchinson School design team.

We are writing to urge the Board of Education to ensure that the new Hutchinson Elementary School building is designed and built as a modern, sustainable, and energy efficient facility that meets, at a minimum, LEED Gold or equivalent standards. We were unable to attend last night’s community meeting, but hope to attend and discuss at the upcoming September 25th BOE meeting.

As citizens of the Town of Pelham and parents of children attending school in the Pelham School District, we believe that the District has a once in a generation opportunity to demonstrate its commitment, to students and the community, by doing its part to maintain a healthy environment and to address the increasingly urgent climate change and sustainability crisis.

We urge the Board to aim for a net-zero emissions design which also moves the district toward a zero-waste future, eliminating waste from the cafeteria by including dishwashers to enable reusable dishes and utensils, as well as food scrap composting.

We believe it is critically important that the District participate in the sustainability revolution. Doing so would not only allow the District to “walk the walk” in teaching our students environmental values; it would instill in them the pride in knowing that we can work together to address environmental problems. It would also save money — because minimizing energy usage reduces energy bills.

The new Hutchinson Elementary School will operate for the next 100 years. Our hope is that it will stand as a testament to the environmentally, educationally, and economically sound thinking of the current members of the Board of Education.

We urge you to think outside the box, to set an example for future building projects, to tap into all the support and resources available to Pelham through NYSERDA and other programs such as the Zero Energy Accelerator Program, and to strive to preserve the best future for our children by building a green, sustainable, Hutchinson Elementary School.

We look forward to continued discussion on the new Hutchinson Elementary School building and how best to ensure a healthy environment and sustainable future for Pelham’s children.


Elizabeth Braun
Kristen Burke
T.K. Chang
Amy Dunkin
Dr. Heather Eliezer
Melissa Eustace
Thomas Farley
Kevin Healy
Maryanne Joyce
Matt Kaplan
Aimee Linn
Rosemary Maggiore
Lindsay Preftakes
Anna Riehl
Mark Rookwood
Ariel Spira-Cohen
Thomas White

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