Gina Adams-Levy has always had a passion for protecting the environment.
Her friends in college nicknamed her “Tree hugger” because she was the one roommate who always drove all the recycling to a facility due to the fact there was no curbside recycling.
It was the complete opposite of what her background is, which is really in clothing and textiles.
“I graduated from Michigan State and I worked in the apparel industry for years, but it was always just a job,” Adams-Levy said.
Just a job and never her passion, which was to promote preservation of our Earth and motivate communities to become engaged in leading sustainable lifestyles. That’s why in 2008, Adams-Levy founded Peace, Love and Planet, a children’s environmental non-profit organization based out of Northville, Michigan, a suburb of Metropolitan Detroit. Its premise is promoting responsible, eco-friendly choices to ensure a healthy, sustainable future for generations to come.
The inspiration behind it was the realization of how much plastic Adams-Levy produced in her household, which at the time included a two-year-old and an infant.
“The thought was, ‘If I’m generating this much plastic waste in one household, what are we contributing as a community and as a city to these landfills?’ It seemed insane that all this plastic was going into a landfill.”
Gina Adams-Levy, Founder of Peace, Love and Planet
What launched Peace, Love and Planet was simply just the idea of collecting and recycling plastic. Adams-Levy took a public opinion poll at the farmers market and collected over 500 signatures.
“I brought (the signatures) to the recycling facility to say, ‘Hey, it’s not just my voice, it’s the voice of the community that we’d like to see this non-renewable resource recycled,’” she said.
In 2013, the facility was acquired by ReCommunity. They invested and expanded to collect all plastic, which can now be done curbside.
It correlates with Peace, Love and Planet’s mission statement, which is “to nurture appreciation for our natural environment and its precious resources, resulting in meaningful behavior changes to achieve a healthy, sustainable planet for future generations.”
Peace, Love and Planet is very involved in the community and offers environmental programs for kids and works a lot with schools to enhance their recycling efforts.
Gina Adams-Levy teaching kids about the importance of recycling
One of Adams-Levy’s most rewarding experiences since creating the non-profit organization has been her and the staff’s efforts with the Farmington public school district. One particular project they’re especially proud of is when they collected over 800, 18-gallon recycling bins to be distributed to all the classrooms throughout the district.
“The simple recognition of that bin increased the school recycling by 20 percent, so that was a huge eye-opener,” Adams-Levy said.
This year, the Peace, Love and Planet team – through a grant it acquired from the Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation – is purchasing large, curbside recycling carts and putting them in all the cafeterias because “school cafeterias are a huge source of waste, not only of resources but of food.”
Webster Elementary School in Livonia, Michigan
“We’re hoping through that recognition again that we see another increase in participation in students,” Adams-Levy said, “and that they understand that they can take their milk cartons, plastic water bottles and containers and actually recycle that.”
The effort doesn’t stop there, though.
Not only is Peace, Love and Planet bringing awareness to kids at school, but those kids are seeing that awareness for themselves outside of school.
Because Adams-Levy has seen a drop-off in the middle school, young teenage mindset, Peace, Love and Planet acquired a grant from Bosch and is now sending all 800 sixth graders on tours of recycling facilities. This is so the kids can understand that their materials are actually being processed and that they shouldn’t look at their packaging as trash, but rather as a valuable resource.
The organization conducted cafeteria waste assessments before-and-after tours and the students increased their recycling by 10 pounds a day through their newfound waste-awareness. Peace, Love and Planet was able to obtain a second grant for the upcoming school year, where the second round of sixth graders will go back on these tours of recycling facilities.
“Education is key,” Adams-Levy said. “We want to promote and fund education and let people understand what is recyclable and what’s not. There’s a lot of confusion behind that and we need more outreach.”
Peace, Love and Planet has certainly done its part, especially with its “Be the Solution” campaign.
These short videos were created for teenagers and feature a Michigan-specific environmental issue, providing solutions on how you can help.