Sustainability Fest this weekend in Cheshire brings together local, statewide groups

CHESHIRE — Josh Koppel cares about the environment.

Since his freshman year at Cheshire High School, Koppel has been interested in how to make the planet a better place and how to keep the environment clean for generations to come. After Koppel attended an Earth Science seminar at the University of Connecticut at the direction of his AP environmental science teacher Mary Lent, he returned with an idea to put Cheshire on a path to a more sustainable future.

“I attended a seminar put on by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and, after the two-day experience, we were told to see how we could implement change in our own communities,” Koppel said. “So, I came up with the idea to hold a sustainability festival in town so that residents can get more involved and (learn) more information about how to become more sustainable in their everyday lives.”

Koppel currently serves on the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire as one of the high school liaisons, and presented his idea to the group. 

“Things like urban ecology, water testing — these are all topics that we should be talking about on a regular basis, and we just aren’t,” Koppel added. “I wanted to get all these important groups together to be able to inform the public about the biggest environmental issues that they can help with.”

The festival will be held Saturdayon the green in front of the First Congregational Church. The event will bring together statewide organizations such as Save the Sound and University of Connecticut’s Natural Resources Conservation Academy, with Cheshire-based organizations like Friends of Boulder Knoll and the Cheshire Land Trust.

“We wanted to bring these groups together to help Cheshire residents learn about how to become more sustainable, and hopefully foster collaboration between the different organizations which are all trying to do similar things,” Koppel said. “There is also a lot of misinformation out there about composting and recycling that we want to address as well.”

Fiona Pearson, a member of the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire’s board of directors and one of the driving forces behind the group’s establishment, began a composting project earlier this year with the hope of teaching people about about the sustainable activity and getting more residents involved.

“A lot of people think that composting is smelly and gross and just a bad time, but that is really composting done incorrectly,” she said. “If you do it the right way, there is so much benefit and it doesn’t smell bad. That is an old myth we want to help bust.”

Another myth Koppel and the Coalition for a Sustainable Cheshire want to help address is the misconception that nearly every plastic item is recyclable. 

“Unfortunately, that's just not true,” said Koppel. “People mean well, but soiled plastic is not recyclable. And one piece of soiled plastic that ends up in the recycling plant ruins the whole batch. People need to be much more careful about what they are recycling and how they are doing it.”

The festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the First Congregational Church green, 111 Church Drive. Parking will be available behind the church and the event is free to attend and open to everyone.

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