Sustainability celebrated in downtown Phoenix

Nearly 80 corporations, businesses and nonprofit organizations gathered at the Earth Day Phoenix event Friday in downtown Phoenix, some distributing information about green corporate practices and others letting people know how they can get involved.

Keep Phoenix Beautiful, a nonprofit organization and host of Earth Day Phoenix, presented sustainability methods meant to reduce the pollution in Arizona.

Keep Phoenix Beautiful Executive Director Tom Waldeck oversaw the event.

“We want to use opportunities like these to help trigger people’s imaginations as to how they can recycle in their daily lives,” Waldeck said.

Keep Phoenix Beautiful hosts dozens of smaller recycling events throughout the year, including paper shredding and electronics recycling days, Waldeck said.

Los Angeles-based Kika Paprika, which sells women’s clothing made from recycled materials, and other green companies tabled booths at the event.

Kika Paprika opened in 2008, and wardrobe consultant Erin Edwards illustrated how the company has been using discarded materials in the production of various garments and dresses.

“We use everything from polyester derived from recycled water bottles to organic cotton and eucalyptus fiber in our products,” Edwards said. “For instance, we use at least 10 water bottles in each dress we produce.”

Edwards said showing women that eco-friendly clothing can be fashionable is the most rewarding aspect of working for the company.

“The ladies we cater to are often amazed at how stylish they can look wearing a summer dress made almost entirely from used plastics,” Edwards said.

Booths from Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Verizon Wireless showed how their businesses were using new sustainability methods.

Coca-Cola’s Arizona spokeswoman Rebecca Hecksel displayed a new electric hybrid delivery truck the company is using to transport its products.

“We are headed toward making our entire truck fleet hybrid in nature,” Hecksel said. “Like a Prius, these new trucks will run on electricity and if it runs out, it can switch to gas usage.”

Hecksel said Coca-Cola wants to be able to recycle 100 percent of all its products by 2020.

“We understand that this is a very lofty goal, so in order to attain it, we’ve made the commitment to collect not only our own used products but also those of our competitors,” Hecksel said.

Rosanne Albright, the City of Phoenix environmental programs team leader, said Earth Day events help local businesses and allow organizations to spread eco-friendly messages.

“Oftentimes, people don’t realize that these programs are out here and how we can help,” Albright said. “Local businesses that run into contaminated land can be lent financial assistance or helped to find a more suitable location.”

Saturday was Phoenix native Ryan Grey’s second appearance at Earth Day Phoenix. As a longtime environmental enthusiast, Grey was grateful for the positive message it sends to Phoenix.

“It is so very important for Phoenix to host these types of events and to remind people of the importance of everything from the atmosphere to native birds and other wildlife,” he said.


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