The Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission's work is predicated on partnerships.

Thanks in large part to our essential partners – the residents of Hilliard – the ESC has quite a list of exciting accomplishments and plans to share.

Led by our chairwoman, Kristen Hosni, and secretary, Kim Movshin, residents helped us collect 2,060 pounds of bottle caps, which will be exchanged for nine colorful recycled plastic benches that will be unveiled at Earth Day Hilliard in April.

Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department supervisors and friends of the commission Geoff Dew and Hayley Bush have been the driving force behind our Keep America Beautiful affiliate, Hilliard Clean & Green, and the city of Hilliard Adopt-A-Park program. In 2019, these initiatives accounted for 367 trees planted, 6,000 pounds of recycled electronic waste and 90 pounds of litter and debris collected. All of that would not be possible without help we received from 396 volunteers, who contributed a total of 842 volunteer hours.

Our Hilliard City Council partner Pete Marsh is leading a subcommittee of the ESC in drafting language for a new zoning classification that better corresponds with the sustainability objectives and water protections of the Big Darby Accord.

Public-services director Al Iosue has partnered with us to research, plan and submit a substantial grant to the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio for a community food-waste drop-off. Stay tuned on these initiatives, both of which have substantial support beyond the grant.

Iosue also has organized our efforts to achieve a certification from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's Sustainable2050 initiative, which emphasizes quantifying and tracking sustainability efforts in central Ohio.

Inspired by the success of our biannual Styrofoam recycling drives, commission member Jon Hsu has spent two years researching options for bringing a polystyrene densifier to Hilliard. To this end, he recently submitted a grant to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency with letters of support from Columbus, Dublin and Upper Arlington, all of which would love to be able to refer residents to Hilliard for the purpose of Styrofoam recycling.

In 2019, we welcomed two new members to our commission, Ayaz Hyder and Maggie Willis, and in 2020 we are excited to be officially joined by a new partner to the community and to us, City Manager Michelle Crandall.

"My vision for Hilliard in the coming years is that we will be looked to as a regional leader in sustainable practices," Crandall said. "Achieving this vision will take the coordinated efforts of the Environmental Sustainability Commission and city staff, along with an actively engaged community of residents that care about having a positive impact on our environment."

This year, Hilliard will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day from 10 a.m. to noon April 25 at the Hilliard Community Center in Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park.

Next month in this column, we will help residents prepare to take advantage of our Earth Day recycling drives before entering the event.

Peter Spreitzer is a member of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.