Aquarion names Environmental Champion winners

On Saturday, June 2, 2018, Aquarion Water Company announced the winners of the eighth annual Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards at a ceremony held at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.

Aquarion accepted hundreds of nominations from across the state in four categories: business, nonprofit organization, and adult and student (grades 9-12). The awards recognize volunteer projects that have significantly contributed to the improvement of environmental quality through the protection, conservation, restoration and stewardship of Connecticut’s water, air, soils, and plant and wildlife habitats.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to salute businesses, organizations and individuals from across the state making substantial contributions to Connecticut’s environment,” said Charles V. Firlotte, president and CEO of Aquarion Water Company. “The stewardship of our natural resources is a core value of Aquarion Water Company and we believe it is important to recognize those who have dedicated their time, energy and talents to preserving the environment.”

This year’s business, nonprofit and adult winners received a $2,500 grant to the environmental nonprofit of their choice, and the student award was a $1,000 prize.

The winning entries for 2018 are:

Large business:

Bigelow Tea, Fairfield, CT — The Bigelow Tea Company has a proud legacy of good citizenship and sustainability. From their corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities where 880 solar panels provide 10% of the facility’s power, to achieving “zero-waste” status by diverting 92% of their waste stream away from landfills, Bigelow Tea continues to make sustainability a top priority.

Small business:

ShopRite Grade A Supermarkets, Stamford, CT — ShopRite’s 11 supermarkets go the extra mile to avoid waste. Not only do they donate unused food to local food banks, but what cannot be donated is turned into animal feed or compost. In 2017, ShopRite stores sent more than 2.3 million pounds of organic material to be converted into animal feed and sent 100 tons of organic material per month to composting facilities.

Nonprofit organization:

Avalonia Land Conservancy, Old Mystic, CT — For over 50 years, Avalonia has been safeguarding wildlife habitats, recreational lands, and scenic vistas. As the largest regional land trust in southeastern Connecticut, Avalonia protects more than 90 parcels totaling over 3,500 acres of land. The Conservancy has built a membership of more than 900 households and organizations. Equally, impressive, Avalonia boasts over 160 supporters who volunteer their time to stewarding lands that provide important watershed protection, safe habitat for wildlife, and recreational opportunities for the public.


Erica Kipp, Norwalk, CT — Erica teaches environmental science at Norwalk Community College while also tirelessly promoting ecological stewardship in her community. She has worked with the Norwalk Housing Authority to find an innovative way to green up the local community and now has more than 35 students working to plant gardens and installing birdhouses in urban landscapes. Erica also supports senior living community residents with seeds and plants, tree-related story hours and other hands-on learning experiences. Her efforts have resulted in many new volunteers, young and old, supporting the environment in the Norwalk community.


Kailee Puzzo, Northford, CT — Kailee, a student at Lyman High School in Wallingford, CT, set out to research the rapid spread of non-native plants in the state. She worked with scientists at the University of Connecticut, as well as the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station for her research. After a 10-month investigation, Kailee found that of 303 plant fragments, 269 turned out to be invasive species, plants that if left uncontrolled can quickly damage native ecosystems. Her work afforded her the opportunity to present at the 11th annual Conference on CT’s Natural Resources where she won the top prize.

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