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PMHS alum’s Regrowth Project cleans local parks and beaches, recycles plastics, spreads environmental message

By Alex Esteverena
Staff Writer, Pelham Examiner

Former PMHS student Sam Farrell has created a fun, safe and profitable way to help the environment with his new company, the Regrowth Project (RGP).

Growing up in Pelham, Farrell noticed that communities in Westchester lacked access to an adequate composting system. As he brainstormed solutions, he recognized that relying on donations as a non-profit organization would be ineffective. After graduating from Penn State amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in late spring of 2020, Farrell finally had the time to take initiative on his dream and the idea for RGP was brought to life as a new company.

Farrell’s work began by simply going out to local spots like Shore Road and Orchard Beach with some of his friends every day to collect waste and fill plastic bags. In order to track his progress, Farrell posts daily videos on RGP’s Instagram page of the outings and participants. As of Jan. 18, they successfully filled and removed 587 large bags of trash from locations across Westchester and lower Connecticut.

As the project has continued to grow, more people hoping to help keep the environment clean have reached out to Farrell, who recently joined the board of the Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel).

“I go out every day, so I’m always interested in working with anyone who wants to help the cause,” he said.

RGP primarily profits by selling high density polyethylene, or HDPE, products. The polymer is found in most bottle caps and other common recyclable materials, and it can be melted down and reused to produce a variety of products. Along with HDPE, Farrell sells hats and T-shirts featuring RGP’s unique branding.

Gavin Kleinberger, a current student at PMHS, recently worked with Farrell on the Regrowth Project. He learned about RGP through his older brothers, who had contributed to the project several times, and decided he wanted to pitch in and remove waste from his town.

Reflecting on his experience with Farrell, Kleinberger said, “The amount of garbage at Orchard Beach was disgusting, and it seemed like the pickups were needed. Working with Sam was fun, too, he made it interesting and enjoyable.”

In October 2020, Farrell broadened the horizons of the company with the release of his first episode of “The Regrowth Podcast.” Almost every week, a different guest will join Farrell to discuss various aspects of the environment, ranging from birds and plants to diseases and more. The podcast, which streams on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, shows Farrell’s company in a whole new light.

Farrell’s long-term goal for the Regrowth Project is to find a way to put all the trash it collects to good use. He hopes to grow the brand to other regions, but his main objective is simply to help keep the environment clean.

About the Writer

Alex Esteverena is a sophomore at Pelham Memorial High School. He plays basketball and baseball with the school and club teams. In his free time he listens to music and hangs out with his friends. He speaks Spanish at home and is very excited to write for the Pelham Examiner.

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EcoPel Helps Launch Food Scrap Recycling in Pelham

The Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel) is proud to announce a major grant to the Village of Pelham (VoP) to help start a much-needed community food scrap recycling program.

The grant of $3,900 was approved by EcoPel’s Board of Directors on Oct. 7, 2020 and will be allocated from funds raised by EcoPel thanks to the generous support of the Pelham community. The money will go towards establishing a food scrap recycling drop-off site, including the purchase of large collection toters, a one-year’s supply of compostable liners, signage, and publicity outreach.

The VoP will obtain and distribute at cost household starter kits consisting of a countertop pail to collect food scraps, a roll of compostable liners, and a larger storage/transport bin. The goal is to have the participation of 20% of households in the first 12 months, based on the experience of other municipalities.

“If we’re really going to do our part to address climate change, we have to separate food waste from our garbage stream,” said VoP Mayor Chance Mullen. “This is a key priority championed by the Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB), and I am so grateful to EcoPel for committing these resources. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible.”

The Waste Subcommittee of the SAB and the VoP’s Climate Smart Community Task Force (CSCTF) have been working to bring food scrap recycling to Pelham for the past year. They received guidance from Michelle Sterling and Ron Schulhof, who launched food scrap recycling in Scarsdale in 2017 and have been instrumental in helping to set up more than 20 programs throughout Westchester since then.

The SAB and CSCTF reached out to EcoPel for funds after VoP Mayor Mullen and the Board of Trustees approved the program in September but were unable to move forward due to budgetary constraints.

The VoP Public Works Department will maintain the food scraps drop-off site near the DPW yard behind the Village Hall on Sparks Avenue. The VoP will also contract with the county through the newly created Westchester Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal Program to insure proper pick-up and transfer of the food waste to a composting facility. The idea is to start community food scrap recycling early this winter.

Food scrap recycling will be available initially to VoP residents only. In the meantime, EcoPel, members of the CSCTF, and community supporters hope successful implementation of the program will lead it to grow and spread in our town, either in partnership with the VoP or independently.

The benefits of community food scrap recycling are abundantly clear. Food scraps are one of the largest components of trash sent to landfills and incinerators. However, they are not trash. They are a natural resource that can be turned into nutrient-rich compost to mix with the soil, promoting plant growth, preventing erosion, and reducing water, fertilizer, and pesticide use.

Unlike backyard composters which primarily handle fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grinds, and eggshells, community food scrap recycling also accepts such items as meat and poultry bones, seafood shells, leftover or spoiled food, paper towels, wooden chopsticks, cut flowers, and much more.

To learn more about food scrap recycling or the new VoP program, feel free to contact:

Anna Riehl, EcoPel board member and CSCTF member, annariehl@mac.com

Debbie Winstead, CSCTF member, dlwinstead5@gmail.com

Gabrielle Sasson, co-chair of the SAB and CSCTF, sasson.gabrielle@gmail.com

Hanan Eldahry, Village of Pelham Trustee,hanankamal.eldahry@pelhamgov.com

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ABOUT ECOPEL

The Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel), established in 2013, is a grassroots, not-for-profit (501c3) membership organization that aims to educate the community about sustainable green practices that protect our environment, as well as provide resources and mobilize the community to aid environmental initiatives and policies on a local and global level.

Among the events EcoPel has organized or supported are the Solarize Pelham initiative, free screenings of environmental movies at The Picture House, Pelham town-wide cleanups, the Manor Club Sustainability Series, the Vegan Cookoff, and Summer Solstice Yoga.

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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, Karin@tugboat23.com

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

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RAFFLE DONORS

Donors contributing prizes for the fundraising raffle include: Abus, Adventure Cycling Association, Aileen Dose Licensed Massage Therapist, Amedeo Fitness, Apothecary Muse, Bangkok City, Bikeflights.com, 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.

 ABOUT THE FILMS

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.

ABOUT CICLISMO CLASSICO

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.

ABOUT THE PICTURE HOUSE REGIONAL FILM CENTER

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 www.thepicturehouse.org, info@thepicturehouse.org, or (914) 738-3161.

 

 

 

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