Dozens of local businesses and activists committed to sustainability in Philadelphia were recognized at Green Philly’s second annual SustainPHL awards on Thursday night.
The event, hosted by Green Philly co-founder and editor-in-chief Julie Hancher, featured speeches from a select handful of last year’s winners, who each discussed the importance of environmentalism in the wake of harmful shifts in federal policy.
Hancher told Philadelphia magazine that she first came up with the idea of hosting a sustainable awards ceremony when looking for a better way to bring together the vast community of environmental groups and sustainability activists she saw throughout Philadelphia. “We thought, ‘How can we showcase what Philadelphia is doing, and really make the best of that?’” explained Hancher. “We’re doing so much as a city, and we need to celebrate that, and make sure it’s well-known. We want this to be an event that’s educational, inspirational, and just all-around covers a lot of what we’re doing as a city.”
Judy Wicks, activist and founder of the popular White Dog Cafe, spoke about traveling to Standing Rock, North Dakota to join the Dakota Access Pipeline protests this past year. Similar local action, she said, should be taken against Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline, which has caused significant controversy in the past months over drinking water concerns near drilling sites. “It’s really about caring enough about this beautiful paradise we’ve been given,” said Wicks. “Let’s bring back our state. Let’s be a progressive state again.”
Along with Wicks, presenters included Philadelphia’s Zero Waste and Litter director Nic Esposito and policy and advocacy manager of the Sustainable Business Network Saleem Chapman. Aside from the nine award categories, a posthumous Green Legacy award was announced for UC Green’s Winnie Harris. Harris’ daughter Neche, who accepted the award on behalf of her mother, spoke about the importance of legacy in creating long-lasting sustainable efforts in Philadelphia.
Here’s a complete list of this year’s SustainPHL winners:
Activist of the Year – Russell Zerbo
Business Innovation – OxiCool
Climate Hero – Joan Blaustein
#FuturePHL – Greenworks
Impact Business Leader – Mariposa Food Co-op
Neighborhood Champion – Nadia Elena Burgos
Social Impact Award – Grow Philly
Sustainable Communities – Soil Generation
Sustainability Mentor – Rob Fleming
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