Green Acts of Love

Published on February 14, 2019

Small acts of consideration can go a long way. For most of us, the positive impact of a well-meaning act fuels us to do more. In the case of the environment, however, acts of preservation and care seldom yield immediate results, and are, therefore, rarely a priority for most people. Residents at Zarrow Pointe hope to change that and are leading by example.

“At Zarrow Pointe, we have made responsible living and environmental preservation a priority because we want to leave a better world for our future generations,” says 97-year-old Rita Shisler, who recently spearheaded an effort to reduce plastic waste at Zarrow Pointe. 

Rita, who hails from Buffalo, New York, hopes to spur lasting change in the community by creating awareness among residents about the problems of plastic waste. “When I read a story about a whale that died after consuming millions of tons of plastic, I thought to myself that we all have a contribution to make. We all need to do better to save precious marine life and reduce our carbon footprint.” 

Rita, who firmly believes that one person’s efforts can make all the difference, is an inspiration to the Zarrow Pointe community. As a result of her efforts, 200 Zarrow Pointe residents have now made the switch from plastic bags to reusable cloth bags donated by Walmart. 

According to Rita, every little bit helps if we all pledge to make a difference. “When I started doing the arithmetic to see how many plastic bags we were collectively saving, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it adds up to a big number.” 

Col. Ray Bachlor, 92, is yet another resident who dreams of seeing big changes in Oklahoma through energy conservation and solar-powered living. “We need to learn from states like Hawaii and California, where homes and retailers are effectively leveraging the power of solar energy.” 

In 2018, Col. Bachlor’s conservation efforts culminated in the installation of Oklahoma’s largest solar-powered parking structure at Zarrow Pointe. Ray hopes that Zarrow Pointe’s solar carport, which currently generates 100-kilowatt hours of energy a day, will inspire Tulsa retailers to replicate the effort. “When we go grocery shopping in summer, we all try to park under that one lonely tree that will keep our cars cool. It doesn’t have to be that way. If more businesses invest in solar-powered parking structures, they can have covered parking spaces that will aid in power generation, heat absorption and long-term savings. It’s a win-win solution in every way.”

Zarrow Pointe CEO, Jim Jakubovitz views the organization’s green culture as a resident-driven initiative that has now become a deeply ingrained value system. “Our residents want to embrace responsible living, and we want to do everything we can to facilitate that.” 

According to Jim, green living is slowly becoming a way of life at Zarrow Pointe. “We are encouraging employees who live in areas where recycling is not an option to bring their waste to Zarrow Pointe.  We have reduced our non-recyclable waste by almost two tons by entering into a partnership with American Waste Control Inc. We also have two electric car charging stations that residents can use. We are exploring ways to introduce recyclable products in our Food Services Department and replace Styrofoam “to-go” packaging with compostable alternatives. 

Zarrow Pointe employees are also joining the green bandwagon with small acts of love. Kimgrace Haokip, Director of Social Services at Zarrow Pointe, holds herself strictly accountable for her paper and energy consumption. “I always shut down my work computer when I leave for the day to save energy. I don’t leave a paper trail, and make a conscious effort to use my own coffee mug, reusable spoon, and Tupperware to reduce the use of Styrofoam and plastics.” 

Sherry Sims, Director of Fund Development at Zarrow Pointe is a proud member of the Zarrow Pointe recycling community. “Prior to our campaign, I researched the environmental benefits of recycling. The process seemed much easier than I had initially thought. Since our waste management company would take care of our unsorted recyclables, I thought to myself, why shouldn’t we recycle? It is our way of caring for the environment, our community and each other. We really can’t afford not to. Now, when someone asks if we recycle, I no longer dread the question and proudly say, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact, we do!’ ” ZP

Green Acts of Love
By Aaliya Briggs 

Article published in The Tulsa World on December 25, 2018: ‘They really care about the planet’: Green ideas have no age limit at south Tulsa retirement village

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