Alice Wainwright Park – Connecting People to Nature on World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day, so let’s celebrate Alice Wainwright Park.

Alice Wainwright Park is located just south of the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway on the northern edge of Coconut Grove along Brickell Avenue. The 28-acre waterfront park & nature preserve showcases a tropical hardwood hammock. This stand of trees is a remnant of the Brickell Hammock, the “world’s northernmost tropical climate forest“.

The Brickell Hammock was a High Hammock, an extensive sub-tropical “jungle” that grew along the elevated bluff that extended along Biscayne Bay from Downtown Miami south to Coconut Grove and Cutler. This elevated bluff was formed by marine life and was the oldest land in southeast Florida. It was forested by seeds brought in by high tides over the land, and there were more varieties of trees found here than in any other section of the state.

The elevated bluff, also known as “Silver Bluffs”, is a small section of the oolitic limestone Miami Rock Ridge that stretches from northeast Miami-Dade to the Upper Keys. The Miami Rock Ridge formed a barrier between Biscayne Bay and the interior part of South Florida, “establishing a geological basin that facilitated the development of the Everglades“.

The park, named for the first woman elected to serve on the City of Miami Commission, is a like a secret gem in the city and one of my favorite places to reconnect with nature.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Since it began in 1974, it has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries.

The 2017 host country is Canada, and the theme is “connecting people to nature” – “get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share.”

From your backyard to your favorite national park, nature is closer than you think. It’s time to get out and enjoy it.

“Learn About Composting” Day

Yes, there really is an annual “National Learn About Composting Day” and it is today. Created in 2011, the originator explained his reasons:

As a Boy Scout leader, this author follows the Boy Scout motto “Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle”. Composting is a great way to re-use a wide range of things that otherwise would go unnecessarily into the waste stream.

Even before that, International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) was started in Canada in 1995 and is held the first full week in May each year. International Compost Awareness Week and National Learn About Compost Day have the same goal:

… to raise the awareness of the public regarding the benefits of using compost to improve or maintain high quality soil, to grow healthy plants, reduce the use of fertilizer and pesticides, improve water quality and protect the environment.

So in the spirit of learning about composting, consider the humble banana peel and “regenerative loop of life.”.

And if you want to learn more about composting at home, Miami-Dade County in partnership with the University of Florida is giving a FREE workshop on Saturday, July 8 from 9:00am – 10:30am with Master Gardener Terri Stephen at Thalatta Estate, 17301 Old Cutler Rd, Palmetto Bay, FL. Call 305.259.1245 for more information or to RSVP.  “Learn how to make organic soil from your own kitchen and yard waste. Easy and fun and great for your garden.”

“The Compost Story” was produced by Kiss The Ground and Elevate Films. Be sure to visit their site to read about the wonderful work they are doing.

April 15 is National Citizen Science Day – Spend It with the Miami Science Barge & Frost Science at Museum Park

Join the Miami Science Barge and Frost Science for the Second Annual Citizen Science Day at Museum Park in Downtown Miami. Citizen scientists of all ages can participate in a “BioBlitz” using the iNaturalist app (FREE for Apple or Android devices) to document the biological diversity in Museum Park. All ages are welcome, and the event is FREE but donations to support the Miami Science Barge are greatly appreciated.

When: April 15, 2017; 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Miami Science Barge @ Museum Park, 1075 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132
Cost: FREE
RSVP: Eventbrite

What is Citizen Science Day

In 2016, the first year of Citizen Science Day celebrations, activities kicked off with a major celebration at the USA National Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. A series of citizen science “open houses” and activities followed, organized locally by science centers, museums, libraries, universities and schools, and federal agencies around the US and beyond.


This month-long series of regional events is a chance to celebrate and bring attention to the ways that everyone can engage with science to make a difference in the world – whether that is helping find a cure for disease, using data to address sources of air pollution, or making discoveries of new phenomena in our backyards or in space. #CitSciDay activities will commence on Saturday, April 15th and will continue into May.

Health First: Reimagining the Conversation on Sustainability

Could a greater awareness of our own health become the catalyst for transforming the way we think about the wellbeing of our planet?

That is the question Paulette Frank, Vice President of Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability at Johnson & Johnson asks in this video from the Sustainable Brands 2016 Copenhagen summit

Today, people are thinking about their personal health and wellness unlike any other time in history. Readily-available nutrition and health information, as well as innovations such as wearable technology have made it easier for people to make well-being part of their daily routine, giving them the power to monitor their own health and feel empowered to achieve their personal health goals. Breakthroughs in information gathering, research, and treatment are taking healthcare out of the doctor’s office, and making it a part of daily life. As a company that aspires to deliver better health to the world, Johnson & Johnson has embraced this societal shift and used it to reconsider its vision around global citizenship and sustainability. Could a greater awareness of our own health become the catalyst for transforming the way we think about the wellbeing of our planet? Paulette Frank, VP of Sustainability and Environmental Health & Safety will discuss Johnson & Johnson’s 2020 vision of integrating planetary health with human health and how the company is sharing that vision to inspire consumers.

Meet GaïaMa Miami

There is a very special green-certified home on the market in Miami – GaïaMa in Biscayne Park.

More than just a green home, GaïaMa integrates the very best smart house technology into a low-impact, sustainable, & healthy home. Modern open floor plan with high ceilings, lots of natural light, polished concrete floors in the living areas & warm wood (FSC-certified) in the bedrooms. Kitchen features high-efficiency appliances, built-in breakfast counter & a living wall. GaïaMa is certified LEED Platinum with low-e, impact resistant windows, solar-energy system, air & water filtration & so much more.

Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several areas that address sustainability issues. Based on the number of points achieved, a project then receives one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum

Designed and built by developer Urbaneco, GaïaMa achieved LEED Platinum BD+C: Homes (v2008) with 114.5 points in June 2015. Buildings can qualify for one of four levels of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification:

  • Certified: 40–49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 points
  • Gold: 60-79 points
  • Platinum: 80 points and above

GaïaMa is in the top 2% energy efficient homes in the country, and has a negative HERS score of -4. This means that, on average, GaïaMa produces more energy that it uses. How?

Freedom from the Electric Bill

To achieve its impressive Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score, GaïaMa starts with a cutting edge technology called Insulating Concrete Form (ICF). ICF is a system of interlocking modular units that are dry-stacked then filled with concrete. The resulting walls are energy efficient, more resistant to hurricanes and tornadoes than standard CBS construction, and fire resistant. ICF construction also improves indoor air quality and sound absorption.

The house also features low-E, double-paned, impact resistant exterior glass doors and windows throughout. “Low-E”, or low-emissivity, refers to a coating applied to the glass that minimizes “the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that can pass through glass without compromising the amount of visible light that is transmitted.” In other words, the doors and windows of GaïaMa dramatically reduce the amount of heat coming into the house while allowing maximum sunlight, thus reducing energy use by A/C and interior lighting.

Then there is the net-metered photovoltaic (solar panel) system, which even includes a small battery storage pack as back-up. The solar energy system is connected to the the utility grid, sending excess electrical power to the utility company but also able to draw from FPL as needed.  GaïaMa’s solar energy system is rated to provide over 90% of the electricity needed to run the home; and indeed routinely exceeds 100% resulting in the HERS rating of -4.

Electricity use is further reduced with very high efficiency appliances, including a 20 SEER Trane HVAC (A/C) system, LED lighting throughout, and Energy Star kitchen appliances.

The exceptional energy efficiency of GaïaMa is just a small part of the story. For more information about the edible landscaping, indoor air quality features, water management systems and everything else that makes GaïaMa such a healthy and sustainable home, visit To request a private tour of GaïaMa, click here to make an appointment with Melanie Dawn.

Melanie Dawn Molina Wood is a licensed Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. She has earned her LEED Green Associate accreditation, the NAR GREEN designation, and an Eco-broker credential. She is also a proud member of the US Green Building Council – South Florida Chapter, and a member of the Sierra Club. For more information about sustainability in Miami, or to connect with a real estate agent anywhere in the world, contact Melanie Dawn by text/phone at 305.801.3133, or by email at

It’s Boxing Day!

Monika Wiella, founder of GiveBackBox

Lloyd Alter over at went on a little bit of a (thoroughly enjoyable) rant about Boxing Day today. As he noted in his article, Boxing Day is the “English tradition of putting together a box of money, gifts, hand-me-downs and even leftover food for servants who had to work Christmas day and got the next day off to spend with their families.”

His article was lamenting the fact that Boxing Day in the UK, Canada, and Australia has become a bit too much like “Black Friday” in the U.S. – a day of consumerism on steroids. It was his last paragraph that particularly caught my attention, though:

“Perhaps it is time to bring back the best of the holiday; to celebrate equity and equality. The idea of boxing up the leftovers and the sweaters we don’t need (or the ones that are replaced) for delivery to the homeless and hungry might not be a bad tradition to start. Perhaps it is time to bring Boxing Day to the USA.”

Monika Wiela and Biz Debnath agree with you Lloyd! With their Give Back Box program, the spirit of Boxing Day has arrived in the U.S. Basically, people can fill their empty boxes with clothes, shoes and accessories, print a free shipping label at the Give Back Box website, and UPS or USPS will deliver the items to Goodwill.

There are currently about 20 well-known retailers partnering in the project – including NewEgg, Amazon, and Overstock – encouraging us to participate in a “boxing day” at any time of the year.

The idea makes wonderful sense to me. Not only is the Give Back Box project reviving the true charitable tradition of Boxing Day, it benefits our environment by keeping those boxes (and the clothing being donated) out of our landfills. Give Back Box will even send you a receipt for a tax deduction. For more information, and to print the free shipping label, visit