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A Green Thumb

Sustainable change starts with action, but what if you do not know where to start? The good news is that a small difference can collectively have a huge impact on our planet. From gardening to saving soil, Hitachi employees are getting involved to help grow a greener future.



Growing Goodness

Not only are gardens beautiful to look at – but they also promote sustainable agriculture, create habitats for species and improve the ecology of an area. Gardens can also be a great jumping-off point for other sustainable actions.

Lori Meszaros, proposal coordinator at Hitachi Energy, and Kelly Molchan, talent acquisition and employee engagement specialist at Sullair, LLC, both brighten their properties with gardens.

Meszaros supports her garden by creating no waste, including composting all yard waste, reusing garden bags to pick up trash around her neighborhood, and repurposing plastic cups for new seedlings and propagation of plants.

Meszaros and Molchan soak up the rain for their gardens with rain barrels to help water flowers, vegetables, and other plants. Meszaros also utilizes greywater recycling in the kitchen and a rain garden outdoors to help reduce water usage.

Both Meszaros and Molchan compost to reduce waste in landfills but also to fortify the outdoors. Meszaros has gone as far as collecting her neighbors’ yard waste to reduce the amount of compostable waste going to landfills. Molchan’s property also includes a plethora of homegrown fresh fruits, including an orchard of fruit trees – apples, pears, peaches – raspberries and blackberries, reducing items bought at the grocery store.

“We have one life to live and one planet to sustain for today and for our families' futures. It is important to work together to make the most of this gift,” Molchan says.

In addition, Meszaros utilizes only all-natural products for her garden, meaning no chemicals or pesticides are used. Instead, Meszaros overwinters areas for pollinators and predators. Part of her garden includes nectar plants for pollinators, with at least one in bloom at all times of the year.

“Supporting an ecological-friendly garden is how I help the environment and do my part to protect the planet,” says Meszaros.

A Garden Metamorphosis

Monarch butterflies, while beautiful creatures to watch and look at, are special; They are pollinators that contribute to the health of our ecosystem. However, their population has declined by approximately 90 percent since the 1990s.i

Inspired by his father-in-law’s monarch waystation, an intentionally-managed garden that provides food and habitat, including milkweed, for the monarch butterfly population, Scott Peets, an Engineer II at Hitachi Astemo Americas, Inc., decided he too wanted to make an impact on the local ecology.

Starting in the summer of 2020, Peets has been working to help the monarch population by constructing a butterfly and pollinator garden with plants native to his home state — Michigan.

“It has been a fun experience for me and my children to collect some of the eggs found on the milkweeds and bring them indoors to raise into butterflies ourselves,” Peets says.

Though monarch butterflies are the focus of Peets’ garden, it has brought in other species of insects and birds that are normally not found in the neighborhood.

“Creating a small garden dedicated to the ecosystem can make a world of a difference,” Peets says.

At-Home Ecosystem

Kenneth Yarber, an enclosure engineer at Sullair, LLC, and his wife both grew up with home gardens. When the time came to buy a home of their own together, the family decided to start a garden to continue the tradition.

Yarber and his wife have also been composting for the last six years to fertilize the salsa garden in Yarber’s yard.

“We started composting as an affordable and eco-friendly way for us to return nutrients into the soil after each growing season, and we have plenty of veggie scraps from meal preps to make it work for us,” Yarber says.

Yarber also started planting fruiting trees and other edible plants to reduce reliance on imported foods and, additionally, has welcomed chickens to the family. Yarber and his wife raise the chickens from chicks and house them in a homemade coop. The chickens have free range of the Yarber’s backyard and help fend off any invasive bugs. The chickens also produce eggs throughout the year and will eat leftover food and food scraps.

“In a way, we have created our own sustainable food system here at home,” Yarber says. “These initiatives have taught me the importance of knowing where your food comes from. It’s a great feeling to know that my chickens are treated with dignity in exchange for all the eggs they provide. Knowing that my garden is kept free of any chemicals that may be harmful to bees or other pollinators also brings peace of mind. Overall, it’s led me to feel more connected with nature and highlights the importance of self-sustainability.”

Supporting the Local Community

Beyond gardening, another great way to access fresh-grown foods and support the community is shopping locally. That’s one of the reasons Allison Cohen, employer branding specialist of North America for Hitachi Energy, shops local and buys produce that is in season.

Every week, Cohen tries to attend the nearby farmers market to pick up produce for the week and encourages others to seek out any local markets.

“If we want to ensure prosperity for future generations, we need to start making wide-scale changes today. It can even begin at the individual level, by making more sustainable choices and choosing to support organizations that prioritize sustainability over profitability,” Cohen says.

Down Under

Ravishankar Nilakantan, lead project engineer at Hitachi Energy, is looking deeper, below gardens, at its soil.

Soil makes up an important part of our ecosystem. In the U.S. alone, soil can remove 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.ii But, there are worries of soil degradation.

Nilakantan has been volunteering with a team on the Save Soil movement to bring the issue of soil extinction to the forefront. Over the last four months, Nilakantan has researched and learned about soil. To help raise awareness of the issue, Nilakantan also works in the San Francisco Bay area communities with local non-profits and companies.

"It has broadened my perspective on nutrition, biodiversity, and climate change. Soil and our health are intricately connected,” Nilakantan says. “This is the only living planet we have, and how well we keep the soil underneath our feet directly impacts how well we can exist on it.”