As Philadelphia makes strides to become one of the greenest cities in the country, these individuals are helping to propel the city further. Their efforts demonstrate that sustainability is not limited to only one focus and is just as much of a lifestyle as it is a movement.
Founder, Bennett Compost
In 2009, Tim Bennett (above) started Bennett Compost after seeing a need for composting in the city. Today, Bennett Compost services approximately 950 residential households and more than 15 businesses on a weekly basis. For every three months of composting, Bennett Compost reduces the amount of waste that is headed to landfills by 100,000 pounds.
“Composting is simple,” said Bennett. “Anyone can do it. Whether they do it themselves or they do it with a service like we have, it’s one of those simple choices you can make that really does have an actual impact.”
Owner, Organic Planet Handcrafted Foods
With 37 years in the food industry, chef and teacher Lindsay Gilmour has become a prominent figure in the natural food movement in the Philadelphia area, working with Fair Food Philly, Common Market, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia and Green Village Philadelphia.
In 1991, Gilmour founded Organic Planet Handcrafted Foods, a business dedicated to preparing healthy and personalized meals for Philadelphia residents. Organic Planet Handcrafted Foods utilizes locally-sourced and organic food products, while also exercising sustainable practices through composting, recycling and using biodegradable cleaning supplies.
Gilmour’s goal is simple: “[I aim] to help people understand that food is their best medicine.”
Erica Smith Fichman
Program Manager, TreePhilly
Officially launched in February 2012, TreePhilly is a program of the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department in conjunction with Wells Fargo and the Fairmount Park Conservancy that works to increase the overall tree canopy cover throughout the city.
TreePhilly Program Manager Erica Smith Fichman was brought on in April 2011 to help provide a more “friendly, educational, citizen outreach aspect” to the initial program. Fichman worked and strategized for an entire year to help get TreePhilly off the ground.
“Part of what we do is we educate people about existing resources that there are to plant trees,” explained Fichman. “We connect them with more resources so that they can become more educated about it themselves.”
Executive Director, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful
Keep Philadelphia Beautiful is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization in building and sustaining vibrant communities. Keep America Beautiful and its affiliates are “focused on litter reduction and litter abatement, recycling education and promotion and waste reduction.”
“We focus on community cleanups, promoting [and] assisting in community cleanups in as many neighborhoods as we can, [as well as] environmental education for all ages,” explained Michelle Feldman, Executive Director of Keep Philadelphia Beautiful.
As part of the 7th Annual Philly Spring Cleanup, Feldman and Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, in conjunction with the Philadelphia Streets Department and the Eagles Youth Partnership, will be organizing a cleanup event at the Gideon School to help beautify the school’s playground.
Co-Founder, Green Philly Blog
After finding out that a particular company did not recycle materials as promised, the Green Philly Blog was born out of shock and dissatisfaction in 2008. Co-founder Julie Hancher began blogging about her frustrations and interests in sustainability and healthy living in Philadelphia. Nearly six years later, the website continues to serve as one of the area’s top informational resources for environmental news, events and lifestyle options.
“Being sustainable isn’t just black and white,” said Hancher. “There’s a whole gray area in there. It’s more about an overall healthy lifestyle.”