San Diego Earth Day announces EARTH Awards

by Julaine Chattaway
hose who doubt that environmentalism is good business should consider the winners of San Diego Earth Day's 1996 "EARTH" Awards. On April 18th, four San Diego businesses and one individual received awards during the Very Important Planet (VIP) Reception held at the Paladion downtown. Demonstrating this year's Earth Day theme "Plan for the Future," the awards were part of the Earth Week build-up to the annual EarthFair in Balboa Park on Sunday, April 21.
The EARTH Awards (Environmental Action and Restoration That Helps) recognize businesses, organizations, governmental agencies, individuals and (for the first time this year) youth projects that make important contributions to our local environment and community. The winners have each demonstrated a commitment to improving and protecting the quality of life in San Diego.
This year's EARTH Award Winners are: Lotsa Pasta, Sheffield Platers, SONY Electronics of America, San Diego Gas & Electric and Brian Parrish.
The small business winner is Lotsa Pasta. This restaurant and caterer has integrated environmental commitment along with the challenges of running a growing business. Good food, good service and good to our planet, Lotsa Pasta shows how it can be done.
The medium-sized business winner is Sheffield Platers. Sheffield is part of an industry rarely, if ever, associated with environmental responsibility. Plating is a tough science that relies on some very toxic materials for success. Sheffield deserves recognition for their efforts to control the production of toxic wastes, their written plan of action and clear policy statements covering corporate and individual responsibility. Leadership is the key to greater environmental achievement and we hope others can be enrolled to follow Sheffield's lead.
Industrial winner San Diego Gas & Electric is being acknowledged for three separate actions that add up to some precedents being set nationwide by SDG&E in the utility industry: According to Don Rose, the Land Planning & Natural Resource Supervisor who heads the Endangered Species Program, "the quality of life in San Diego is a result of our region's diverse environmental resources. SDG&E believes this quality of life can be preserved if we all make an effort to enhance and protect the environment. We hope our environment programs inspire other businesses to join us in our commitment." As do all of us!
In addition Skip Fralick, Solar Engineer working on the Demandside Management Program, gives most of the credit for its success to us - the customers - in this collaborative effort to make a "win-win" situation. As we participated in this program, we are "the ones who took actions to conserve energy." So keep it up, San Diego.
SONY Electronics America's San Diego plant, the second Industrial winner, was recognized for their creative dedication and implementation of a sustainable industrial ecology called co-generation. This includes organic edible landscaping, utilizing on site heat and water by-products to feed 3,100 employees at their plant.
The Youth category winner is Brian Parrish. We can thank the alert and proactive perspective of Brian who, when in the 6th grade, recognized endangered plants and identified a previously unknown vernal pool habitat. Brian then wrote an articulate letter to city planners signed "a concerned teen of Mira Mesa." We can thank Brian for saving approximately 14 acres of vernal pool habitat that is now a Nature Learning Center. Brian is a once and future champion in our community.
Brian also contributed the most memorable statement of the evening. As he accepted his award, Brian said, "I met a man from the planning department while I was playing in 'my' field. I told him I wrote a letter to save the area from being developed. The man just laughed and said 'it's gonna take a lot more than a letter to save this place kid!'" With beaming eyes, Brian declared, "I wish that guy could be here tonight! He'd see that one voice can really make a difference!" With that, the audience rose to their feet to acknowledge a young man that really "gets it." We need more like Brian!
Judges this year included: Lori Saldaña, Chair of the Executive Committee of the San Diego Sierra Club Chapter; Scott Murray, organic farmer and industrial planning and development consultant; Bill Harris, Supervising Recycling Specialist with the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department; Carolyn Chase, San Diego Earth Day founder; and Julaine Chattaway, San Diego Earth Day Youth Outreach Coordinator.
These winners and all the nominees are making environmental protection and economic efficiency a winning mix. Protecting our environment is a very important aspect to sustainability that integrating concern for our social well-being, the environment and local economics. These people and businesses are leading the way in doing their part toward preserving our quality of life in the San Diego area.
San Diego Earth Day's VIP Reception provides a forum for informal dialogue between the region's business, community and environmental leaders. For more information on the listed businesses, the EARTH Awards, or San Diego Earth Day, call Julaine Chattaway at 272-7370.