Saturday, June 19, 2021

Emerald Keepers Coronado – Keeping the Emerald City Green and its Ocean Blue

Emerald Keepers: Lori Mendez, Tami Sandke, Sharon Raffer, Amy Steward, Bryn Butolph, Jane Simeral, LuAnn Miller, Lisa Thompson, and Jesse Hill (Not pictured: Libby Troyer, Laura Hill, Kelly Purvis, Roberta Lenert, Amy Morton, Samantha Bey, Sue Gillingham, Zayanne Thompson, Dave Spatafore, and Marla Steel) Photo by Brad Willis, Coronado Cultural Arts

Emerald Green, Ocean Blue — Sustainable practices in Coronado begin with you. Whether or not the mission of Emerald Keepers was intended to rhyme, the sentiment rings loud and clear: to keep our beloved community and surrounding coastlines beautiful– everyone must do their part to Reduce their environmental impact, Reuse sustainable products rather than single-use plastics, Recycle products and materials wherever possible, and Refuse to support businesses that don’t use sustainable products or adhere to sustainable practices.

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The newly-created volunteer organization, Emerald Keepers, was founded eight months ago by former school teacher and lifelong Coronado resident Amy Steward, along with two of her environmentally-conscious friends Lisa Thompson and Libby Troyer.

“It’s become kind of a movement,” explains Amy. “It started with finding ways to reduce my own impact on the environment and then spreading the word to friends, family, and neighbors. Along the way, I realized there were others in the community who wanted to help with the efforts. Now, as a team of almost a dozen, we have become the ‘Emerald Keepers.’ It’s our mission to inspire a cultural shift so Coronado can become a model city in environmental sustainability.”

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Councilmember Bill Sandke and the Emerald Keepers modeling environmental sustainability at the concert at Spreckels Park

Amy, a lifelong lover of the ocean and outrigger canoe enthusiast began to recognize the need for Emerald Keepers watching the decline of a destination many still regard as one of the most beautiful and pristine in the world.

“My family and I have been going to Maui on vacation for almost twenty years. The deterioration of the reefs and depletion of the fish population over the years really shows the damage caused by human impact. I worry about what we are leaving for our grandchildren and their children.”

Although reefs and the fish population are of lesser concern to Coronado than Hawaii, Amy insists that the oceans are only one example of the global threats to the environment. She and the Emerald Keepers believe each citizen in Coronado and beyond needs to be accountable for their overall environmental footprint.

“Ride your bike instead of driving. Remember your reusable bags at the grocery store and bring extras to put your produce in. Use refillable water bottles, think about whether you really need those plastic utensils, and don’t walk past that piece of trash – pick it up!” pleads Amy.

The Emerald Keepers have lots of suggestions for reducing your environmental impact in Coronado

In addition to the Emerald Keepers pleas to Coronado residents, they have also enlisted the support of local businesses. Following a model of the Surfrider Foundation, businesses that minimize single-use plastic and embrace environmentally-responsible practices earn the Surfrider Ocean Friendly Restaurant badge of approval. Already, Nicky Rottens, Coronado Yacht Club, and the restaurants within Bluebridge Hospitality Group have earned SOFR status and joined the Emerald Keepers in the pursuit of a more environmentally-friendly Coronado.

“David Spatafore has been amazing. Thanks to his partnership, a whole group of restaurants are on board. Coronado Yacht Club is an institution in Coronado, so the fact that they have joined is also big win… And Bryn at Nicky Rottens is looking into installing a water bottle dispenser at the restaurant. The community support from my fellow Rotarians is incredible. As a new Rotarian, I hope our network and world reach is as positive as it has been within Coronado.”

The Emerald Keepers have also been encouraged by the support of the local City Council. Mayor Richard Bailey officially designated the month of June as Emerald Green, Ocean Blue month and issued a public proclamation as such at the June 4 council meeting.

Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey proclaims June as Emerald Green, Ocean Blue month

The Emerald Keepers plan to build upon the initial support from the community, with aspirations of hosting a sustainability symposium akin to the scale of 92118 Day held last year.

“Next year is 2020 and we would like for Coronado to have ‘perfect vision’ in terms of environmental sustainability,” says Amy. “We want to join efforts with the Chamber of Commerce, Armchair Travel, lifeguards, the library, and other public interest groups to really promote the movement towards more environmentally responsible living in Coronado.”

For more information on the Emerald Keepers, including the opportunity to pledge support for the Emerald Keepers mission*, visit

*Reading this article online ensures no trees were harmed in the publication of this story.


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Aimee Richer
Aimee was a ‘nado Navy baby in the 1970s, where her love for adventure and travel began. After growing up and finishing college in the Midwest, Aimee spent more than a decade living and traveling overseas. She returned to the US in 2009, and made her way back to Coronado to raise her own baby – now a first grader at Village Elementary. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to:
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