New Castle News

Local News

April 8, 2014

Green team: Local Earth Day leaders are back home again

NEW CASTLE — They are as enthused about New Castle’s future as they are proud of its past.

Two women who grew up in the heart of Lawrence County moved away in search of greener pastures. They thought they had found what they were looking for, each living in exotic locales.

But two decades later, Mary Burris and Rhonda DeFelice have returned to their hometown.

As part of the New Visions For Lawrence County team, the women have joined forces in preparation for New Castle’s first Earth Day celebration, which will take place downtown April 26.

Burris and DeFelice hadn’t even met until last year when their passions for environmental issues brought them together.

Burris, a 1981 graduate of New Castle High School, has lived in Ireland and England. She returned to America in 1990, living in Virginia before returning to New Castle in 1999.

DeFelice, 46, spent several years in Los Angeles. But she came back home in 2012. Despite the relentless winter weather, her husband, Johnny Dam, has enjoyed the change of scenery.

Her favorite childhood memories include trips to the Towne Mall.

Their stories are remarkably similar and both say they have come home for good.

Being away only increased their appreciation for their hometown.

“How did I not value this before?” Burris said.

Burris said she had fallen into the trap of complaining instead of getting involved and helping to make the community better.

She heads up the Clean & Green team, which includes DeFelice.

DeFelice had been involved in other Earth Day celebrations and green events in Los Angeles.

“We’re looking for sponsors and eco-friendly vendors for this event,” said DeFelice.

The emphasis will be on teaching and showing examples of ways to protect the environment.

The EPA reported that in 2010 more than 34 million tons of food waste were generated, and only 3 percent of that waste was diverted from landfills for composting. The fact that some of that food waste becomes useful compost is a positive thing, but there are ways you can save food scraps from landfills without composting them, and you could save money on your grocery bill.

In addition to saving money, DeFelice said using those methods will cut trash at the curbs by two-thirds.

If you take a minute and look at which food scraps you’re throwing away, this is possible. It turns out some fruits and vegetables can be regrown from scraps, which means you can grow your own food without starting it from seeds.

Collecting rainwater might also help your garden.

Most gardeners find their water bills rise as fast as the temperatures. Save yourself money and help the environment by collecting water in a rain barrel.

It may not seem like much, but you can collect a considerable amount of water with a rain barrel.

“It’s about education,” Burris said. “People will be more interested in saving the world when they know that it will save them money, too.

“We’re excited to have this and to be able to teach people about the advantages of going green.”



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