Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vote for Grow Berlin Green for Tom's of Maine Award!

Grow Berlin Green’s Neighborhood Green Teams project has been selected as one of 50 finalists for a $20,000 Tom’s of Maine Community Sponsorship award and we can all have a say in the outcome by voting online.

Grow Berlin Green’s Green Team Project is competing against nonprofit organizations from dozens of other states for the Tom’s of Maine award. GBG’s ultimate goal is grow the town “green from the grassroots up”, educating and engaging the community to meet pressing environmental and conservation challenges, leading to establishing it as a model community for environmental protection and conservation.

The Green Teams project will mobilize neighborhood teams to take practical steps to conserve energy and water, increase recycling, reduce solid waste, and build a more sustainable community. Results will include lower energy and water usage, improved water quality and a reduced waste stream. The project will spur neighborhoods and the community as a whole to improve the town’s environmental health and protect the surrounding fragile landscape and hopefully sow the seeds of a citizens’ movement to establish and sustain environmentally sound policies and practices.

Rarely do we have a chance to influence a company’s decisions on where their donated money should be allocated, but here we have a chance to do just that. To vote for Grow Berlin Green go to, click on Community Involvement, then click the Project Sponsorship tab for the list of contenders. You can also find a link to the Tom’s website at Winners will be based on the total number of votes cast on the Tom’s of Maine website. You can vote once a day through Oct. 30. Tom’s of Maine will announce the five winners in November and award each $20,000.

Grow Berlin Green is a three year campaign managed by the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the Lower Shore Land Trust and Assateague Coastal Trust. It’s funded by a $125,000 grant from the Town Creek Foundation, a private, philanthropic organization dedicated to encouraging a sustainable environment. The GBF campaign includes events and activities designed to involve citizens, business owners and government officials to better build a foundation for citizen and policymaker participation. A community information meeting held in February attracted a standing room only crowd at Berlin Town Hall where citizens offered numerous ideas and suggestions for programs and activities.

In less than one year, GBG has made great strides to meet its goal, including installing a rain garden in town, purchasing and installing rain barrels at several Berlin eateries and distributing thousands of free, reusable shopping bags to area merchants and shoppers. GBG also awarded scholarships to four local teachers to attend the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education Conference held in Ocean City earlier this year. Still, there is more to be done and winning the $20,000 Tom’s of Maine award will help keep the momentum going.

Tom’s of Maine manufactures personal care products in Sanford, Maine, in an environmentally sensitive manufacturing facility using natural ingredients derived from plants and minerals and biodegradable, earth-friendly recycled and recyclable packaging, according to the company’s website. Ten percent of the company’s profits are donated to charitable organizations and Tom’s employees are encouraged to use 5-percent of their paid time doing volunteer work for the organization of their choice.

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