Avid Fans of: Earth Day

Avid (adjective) – having or showing a keen interest in or enthusiasm for something. It’s more than just our company’s namesake. Passion for our work and for the things we love is part of our core values. Each month we’ll share some of the things we’re Avid Fans of with you.  

To celebrate Earth Day this year, each of our team members took action in honor of the spinning rock we call home. From beach cleanups to farmers’ market adventures, we wanted to use this day to contribute to a more resilient and sustainable future. We encourage you to do something, big or small, to leave a positive impact on our Earth.

Isabelle & Sophie cleaning up the beach. Photo by Stephanie Mace

Cleaning Up Our Earth – Steph

“Leave this world a little better than you found it” is the motto our family lives by whenever we visit a park, beach, or a new place. Earlier in April we were fortunate to spend time at the beach and my daughters served as our trash detectives. It proved to be an educational scavenger hunt and we felt as if the beach wildlife would live longer without the pieces of plastic, bottles, and cardboard boxes we picked up. On Monday, my daughters kicked off Earth Week by taking shorter showers (which seems like a miracle), attending virtual school in their pajamas, watering plants, learning about endangered species, and pledging to volunteer with Rock Creek Conservancy to clean up our favorite local parks throughout the year.

Picking up trash at Rock Creek Park. Photos by C. Montgomery.

Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World – Hana

The Hebrew phrase and Jewish teaching, tikkun olam (תיקון עולם),translates to “repairing the world.” While I learned about this in religious school as a child, I love how this concept is a universally human one. We are all responsible for our planet’s future and we should all contribute to its resilience. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you get stuck in the blackhole of statistics about climate change, habitat destruction, and greenhouse gas emissions.  But looking through the lens of tikkun olam, I remember that I can’t be responsible for saving the planet; I can just do my part to help repair it.

My apartment is a block away from Rock Creek Park. I’ve found myself there nearly every day—whether I’m taking a walk through it to get away from my computer or sitting at the picnic tables reading my book. It is both peaceful and vibrant and is home to some of the best fetch D.C. has to offer its canine residents. However, it is also home to countless discarded water bottles, plastic wrappers, and forgotten mystery items. To celebrate Earth Day and practice tikkun olam, I spent an afternoon picking up trash near the creek. As someone who loves the Park, I try to practice Steph’s family motto and leave it better than I found it when I visit, even if that means just picking up one piece of trash. When you dedicate an hour to it, you’ll be amazed at how quickly that trash bag fills up!

Photo by Amanda Roberts.

Helping Our Pollinators- Amanda

Last year, I invested in landscaping with native Virginia plants and flowers. For Earth Day this year, my daughter and I wanted to expand on our garden to include more plants attractive to pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies. We went on an adventure to purchase seeds from our local garden store and planted them along our yard. Now, we’ll be waiting to see if any germinate. I’m hoping our garden will help keep the pollinator population thriving! 

Tremayne poses with his wife and one-year-old daughter after picking up trash in the neighborhood. Photo by Tremayne Nez.

Neighborhood Cleanup – Tremayne

Every neighborhood has some sort of municipal code on street litter and waste. However, despite our best efforts to reduce our neighborhood litter, there will be a piece that escapes us, especially with active construction going on. My neighborhood had many construction projects this past year, with new homes and townhomes being built. Unfortunately, with the few remaining projects left, my front patio is now a favorite spot for the blowing construction debris. I started to grow frustrated when I would open my front door to find another piece of trash waiting for me to pick it up.

This year, I decided to celebrate Earth Day by doing my part to clean up my neighborhood. I love to take walks around the area with my wife and one-year-old daughter. We usually take our time to enjoy the cool breeze and warm sun. I now take a small garbage bag for our walks, so whenever we stumble upon a piece of garbage blowing around the street, I run it down and place it in the bag.

Keeping our neighborhoods clean is not only visually pleasing it is also a great way to keep our community and local habitat safe.

Photo by Andrew Curtin.

Anacostia River Cleanup – Andrew

Every summer, I try to get in as much kayaking as I can. Near me in Washington, DC and further out into Maryland, Northern Virginia, and West Virginia there are some pretty spectacular places to launch. But one of my favorites – often overlooked – is along the Anacostia River. While the Potomac can get you some great views of the monuments, the Anacostia is by far the best way to find wildlife within the District – there are always plenty of turtles, herons and cormorants out and about, and I’ve even seen a couple of ospreys. This year, I’m supporting the Anacostia Watershed Society’s Earth Day cleanup efforts to help restore and protect this beautiful natural resource for future generations.

Photo by Virginia Quiambao Arroyo.

Farmers’ Market Fun – Virginia

I lived most of adult life in New York City or Washington D.C. and took full advantage of every farmers’ market I could find. Since moving to the suburbs of Virginia, I lost sight of frequenting farmers’ markets but recently rediscovered my love for them. I try my best to buy our produce and meat from farmers’ markets. It has also been a great opportunity to spend time outdoors with friends during COVID and has become a Sunday ritual for my daughter Selena and me. When the Dale City Farmer’s Market is in full swing, the produce options are endless!

Herbs growing in the AeroGarden. Photo by Ashley Dobson.

Reducing My Food Waste – Ashley

I read recently that if food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind China and the U.S. I love to make new recipes or have themed food nights, but a lot of these one-offs meant I was not using the items I bought to their fullest potential. I’ve spent the past year putting more of a concerted effort toward reducing my food waste and for Earth Day this year, I want to make that commitment public.

I’ve been making it a personal challenge to plan my meals ahead of a grocery run to ensure I am only getting what I need and that I’ll be able to eat it while the food is at its freshest. I’ve also made the most of my refrigerator and freezer space to support this goal. I organize my fridge with the items to eat first in the front and often split items from the package to save half in the freezer. I love sandwiches, but as the only person eating gluten free in my household, I can’t eat a full loaf of bread before it spoils. Taking advantage of the freezer has extended the life of my loaves and meant that I don’t waste a single slice.

My husband bought me an AeroGarden for Christmas and I have loved growing my own basil, mint, thyme, dill, and parsley. The packaging that fresh herbs come in from the grocery store is often wasteful and it spoils quickly. Having easy access to it has kept me in a steady supply of pesto and offers me different ways to vary up the meals I plan for the week. I also repurpose food scraps, regrowing items like green onions and lettuce.

All of these strategies have had added benefits beyond conservation and reducing my food waste. I save money by only buying what I need, time because I’ve already made a meal plan, and I’ve also reduced my use of single-use plastic because of these efforts. My individual impact is small, but paying attention to my own food waste has been a wake-up call and brought my attention to advocating for more large-scale changes that can be done.