Meet the Winners From the 2017 SustainPHL Awards

Philadelphia businesses and activists were honored for their eco-savvy on Thursday.

The crowd at the 2017 SustainPHL Awards | Photo by Dave Rosenblum

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.”

Julie Hancher and Judy Wicks | Photo by Dave Rosenblum

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.

Wooden awards given to SustainPHL honorees | Photo by Dave Rosenblum

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

Follow @HaleySWeiss on Twitter.