Senior community embraces sustainable ‘green’ practices

East Ridge Retirement Village, life care community in Cutler Bay, has a special mission in finding sustainable solutions to minimize the community’s footprint on the environment.

Under directives from the community’s board of directors who are sensitive to environmental impact of their community, Kenneth Gould, director of Environmental Services, meshed his passion with their goals.

The community, located on 76 acres, began adopting new practices in 2010 starting with single stream recycling. Since then, the program has been expanded to include continued emphasize on education and recycling in all departments.

“The benefits affect residents and employees,” Gould said. “We are providing healthier facilities, increasing worker productivity, improving morale and reduction of sick days. These efforts are bringing residents and staff together.

“It takes everyone believing that living green is vital to our future. Resident committees evaluate and make viable suggestions. We want to create the healthiest possible atmosphere for residents and employees without harming the environment.”

Various recycling programs include glass, paper, plastic, aluminum, cardboard, batteries, fluorescents, and cell phones.

In addition there is a concerted effort to reduce the use of paper and the community has adopted innovations from using electronic files and email to paperless operations. Hard plastic water bottles are provided to staff to discourage the use of Styrofoam.

Energy conservation is practiced as well, from shutting off lights in unused common spaces and unoccupied offices to purchasing Energy Star appliances and CFL light bulbs.

Gould’s department also practices Green Cleaning policies, which include purchasing green seal and environmental preferred cleaning products to selecting vendors that are environmentally cautious and support the sustainable initiatives.

Living at East Ridge offers the advantage of weekly housekeeping and yearly deep cleaning so residents are assured that the Green Cleaning program is carried out.

Recycling also has been embraced through a community’s on-site, volunteer managed thrift store. This is a wonderful outlet to sell unwanted furniture and mis- cellaneous household items and is open to the general public on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Gould organizes yearly expos to help in education and include residents, employees, families and friends as well as companies offering recycling and green products.

“What we are accomplishing at East Ridge can show other communities it can be done,” he added. “It takes a commitment to embrace the change.”

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