By JANIS REID
Fleet Readiness Center Northwest (FRCNW) received the Whidbey Green Seal in June for their efforts in recycling and energy conservation.
“This is the first military facility to earn a Whidbey Green Seal and we are very excited,” said Melody Kuschnereit, coordinator for the Sustainable Whidbey Coalition (SWC), which manages the program.
The efforts to “green up” the command were spearheaded about a year ago by Aviation Administrationman 2rd Class Stephen Anderson who made it his personal mission to get his fellow sailors to recycle, earning him the moniker “Captain Planet” at FRCNW.
“Anderson and his Green Team have done a lot of work to make this happen,” Kuschnereit said.
Noticing that command’s state-of-the-art recycling facilities were underutilized, Anderson was able to form a Green Team that now routinely meets to improve sustainability processes, completes cleanups on base and dumpster dives for recyclables.
Anderson said his team is very proud of the achievement.
“It’s a moral booster for us here,” he said. “And it shows the community we’re trying to be responsible community members with regard to the environment.”
In addition, Anderson said the Whidbey Green Seal brings much-needed attention to an issue that he is passionate about. It is his hope to create policies and programs for the FRCN that can then be adapted to other buildings and commands on base.
“Being environmentally responsible helps us fiscally as well,” he said, adding that the hope is that the program will go base wide by the end of the year.
Chief William Yates, the senior-most enlisted sailor at FRCNW, was in charge of facilities during the genesis of the Green Team and the Office Composting and Recycling Program that exists today.
“I was his heavy,” said Yates, who “served as the muscle to get people to comply” with the new programs.
“The passion that he has for this program… he gets people involved and he’s very charismatic,” Yates said. “I felt honored to help him.”
“But the story is not just about him. It’s about his ability to communicate so effectively that it’s grown past him now and will live on.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Defense (DOD) itself has been in the process of exploring ways they can improve their environmental standards military wide. Due to Green Team’s efforts and the top-notch recycling and composting facilities on base, FRCNW was selected for a visit last month from several DOD agencies who are working to develop sustainability programs.
This attention from the higher echelons of the DOD highlights and reinforces the importance of FRCN’s environmental efforts, Anderson said.
“It’s the right thing to do and it’s a passion of mine,” Anderson said. “I’m an outdoors person, and it’s one of the easiest things a person can do to be environmentally responsible.”
The Whidbey Green Seal is a certificate program that publicly recognizes organizations (business, non-profit and tax-supported entities) that actively implement resource conservation measures, demonstrate a culture of environmental awareness in their operational activities and practice social responsibility in their community
The SWC is a network of leaders who foster sustainability on Whidbey Island. The Coalition was formed in the fall of 2007 in response to global climate change and local environmental concerns.
Since then, SWC meets regularly as a think tank for collaborative sustainability efforts, and to act as a hub for resources and education.
FRCNW is one of the Navy’s eight Fleet Readiness Centers, with locations on the U.S. east and west coasts and in Japan.
For more information, visit www.sustainablewhidbey.org