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Working toward a sustainable future

Highland Springs hosts Earth/Arbor Day Expo

Created date

July 19th, 2016
Highland Springs residents (from left) Patty Jantho, Marna Keith, and Brad Keith organized the 2016 Earth/Arbor Day Expo at the North Dallas community.

Highland Springs residents (from left) Patty Jantho, Marna Keith, and Brad Keith organized the 2016 Earth/Arbor Day Expo at the North Dallas community.

Recycling wasn’t a hot topic when Marna Keith was growing up.

“Our generation didn’t give too much thought to conservation,” says Marna, a resident of Highland Springs, the Erickson Living community in North Dallas. “My children are much more aware of their impact on the environment than I was at their age.”

Now, with the time and freedom of her retirement years, Marna is at the forefront of conservation efforts at Highland Springs. She and her husband Brad cochaired this year’s Earth/Arbor Day Expo at the North Dallas community.

“We want to make residents aware that there is so much more we can do with what we have,” says Marna. “The Earth/Arbor Day Expo is a way to showcase options that are better for the environment.”

Pointing to a durable plastic takeout container, Marna explains that residents who switch to the reusable container when they order to-go meals from the Fireside Grille at Highland Springs can keep hundreds of Styrofoam containers out of landfills.

“It’s the little changes that make a big impact over time,” she says.

Making a difference 

At the expo, residents manned booths showcasing ecologically sound practices.

Jim O’Neill displayed a lightbulb station he built in the Highland Springs woodshop, giving residents the opportunity to test some of the newest LED lightbulbs on the market.

“An incandescent bulb will last between 4,000 and 5,000 hours,” says Jim. “An LED bulb will last 50,000 hours. With the LED bulbs, you’re not having to replace them nearly as often.”

Audrey Couvillon and Phyllis Seloff displayed crafts they fashioned from recycled materials.

“We go dumpster diving for Central Market ads in the recycle bins by the mailboxes,” says Phyllis. “The ads are printed on a wonderful quality of paper that’s great for crafting.”

Audrey and Phyllis also take their search for recycled materials to the Treasure Chest, Highland Springs’ on-site resale shop.

“We find all sorts of unique pieces in the Treasure Chest,” says Audrey. “Teacups, glassware, jewelry—it’s fun to repurpose these finds into new projects.”

Also at the expo, Mimi O’Neill, Jim’s wife, led residents in a trivia game to test their recycling IQ.

“We can leave our recyclables right outside our [apartment] doors for pickup,” says Mimi. “This game was a fun way to let residents know what to include in their recycling bins.”

The expo also featured outside vendors and agencies. Representatives from the Collin County Beekeepers Association sold local honey, and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency collected expired medications for proper disposal.

Building momentum

As residents poured into the Hillcrest Clubhouse for the expo, Patty Jantho, chair of the Highland Springs Conservation Committee, marveled at residents’ surging interest in “going green.”

“We’re building on the momentum from last year’s expo,” says Patty. “This event keeps growing because more and more residents are becoming aware of small changes they can make to benefit the environment.”

One ongoing effort that began with last year’s Earth/Arbor Day Expo was the sale of tribute trees.

Highland Springs residents Patty O’Steen and Joe Bendzick launched the Living Tribute project in 2015, allowing residents and staff to purchase a tree to be planted at Highland Springs in honor or memory of a loved one.

Last year, the Living Tribute project added 53 new trees to the community. At this year’s expo, residents and staff purchased an additional 30 trees.

“As a tree lover, it’s exciting to see this initiative take off,” says Joe. “These trees will benefit our community for years to come.”