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Johanna Martell and Gately Ross (Photo: Jerri Graham)

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Sustainable Westport

On a Mission

Sustainable Westport, the non-profit that advises town bodies on matters that touch on environmental responsibility and sustainability, has two fresh faces at the helm. Co-Executive Directors Gately Ross, a veterinarian with a focus on the health and conservation of wild and domestic animals, and Johanna Martell, a lawyer and business advisor, have traded their professional lives for the volunteer eco-warrior life, and they have a lot on their (compostable, bamboo) plates.

What drew them in? Johanna has always been interested in environmental issues but hadn’t been active around the cause. Gately, on the other hand, says she’s spent her professional life acting on her “profound love for the environment.” She found herself raising her family in Westport and wanted to do something purposeful in the community.

Their goal is to expedite Sustainable Westport’s mission - a Net Zero community by 2050 - by bringing low-stress, low-cost lifestyle changes into your household now. Gately explains, “We want to educate people about what they can do on an individual level, because everyone’s little something adds up to a big something and every step inspires another step.” Here are a few small steps:

Reducing Food Waste

What you can do: You can garden at home and compost in your yard, hire a commercial hauler to take it away (check out Curbside Compost or Action Waste) or, the free alternative, drop your compost at the transfer station’s collection bin. The Transfer Station, 300 Sherwood Island Road, has a sustainable solution for everything you can’t or don’t want to keep.  

Calendar note: Sustainable Westport, with the Westport Farmers Market and the Remarkable Theater, is presenting a film festival focused on food systems to the big outdoor screen this spring: stay tuned!

No Single Use Plastic

What you can do: Gately says, “I recommend people start to explore household items that don’t include plastic. I now buy all of my detergents and soaps in naked packaging (and I’m a snoot about my products).  Instead of many plastic bottles of dish or hand wash soap, I’m buying something that can be reconstituted in water.”

Calendar note:Sustainable Westport plans to partner with Staples High School students to host a beach clean-up this April around Earth Day, sponsored by ZenWTR (a brand executive is a local resident). The bottled water brand, packaged in 100% recycled ocean-bound plastic, is the first beverage in the world to receive a Plastic Negative Certification from the Plastic Credit Exchange. Isn’t that positive?

Green Buildings

What you can do: Johanna states, “We’d love to see more homes move towards renewable energy.  But in the meantime, you can do a home energy assessment through EnergizeCT,  It’s affordable and can pay for itself very quickly.” 

Want to do more?

Gately and Johanna have a team of multi-disciplinary leaders on their Advisory Board, including chair and resident expert Peter Boyd and Tony McDowell, Executive Director at Earthplace. But they need more community involvement, specifically middle level team leaders around home and commercial energy efficiency.  “We have a lot of incentives from the state to push solar energy along, but you don’t want to just rely on the solar providers for information,” explains Johanna. They also need someone to head up the commercial waste reduction program. They’re already working with restaurant owners and the Massachusetts based Center for Ecotechnology to set up a certification process which would award a badge to restaurants if they follow requirements, like food waste management and local food sourcing. “But someone is going to need to run with it.”

If you want to lend your talents to Sustainable Westport’s committee, or just have questions or ideas, find more information on their website,, and follow on Instagram @sustainablewestport. We are a competitive community and we are T minus 28 years to “Net Zero 2050” - let’s make this year count and beat the clock.

  • The Westport Transfer Station
  • The transfer station accepts E-waste.
  • The transfer station accepts batteries and light bulbs.
  • Compo Beach, sparkly clean.
  • Johanna Martell and Gately Ross (Photo: Jerri Graham)
  • Westport's compost initiative.
  • (Photo: Mindy Briar)