CH Green Team springs to action

CHGT's founders (from left) Catalina Wagers, Natalie Elwell and Alex Sitarik at Forest Hill Park doing a cleanup on Earth Day.

Have you ever wondered if you are recycling correctly? Have you ever felt compelled to learn about, and promote, more environmentally sustainable practices in the Heights, but do not know where to start? You are not alone. The newly formed Cleveland Heights Green Team (CHGT) is a community volunteer organization focused on working with residents and local advocacy groups to identify opportunities and solutions intended to promote healthier and more sustainable environmental practices.

The group’s three founders met while attending a Recycling Ambassador seminar offered by Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District in January. 

“As we introduced ourselves to the class, [I] learned that two other participants were also Cleveland Heights residents. We decided to connect and explore ways to work with Heights residents to help improve recycling practices,” said Natalie Elwell.

An Ohio native, Elwell chose to relocate back to Cleveland Heights last year after spending more than a decade working in Washington, D.C., in areas related to the environment, equity and poverty. “We were looking for a local group working on recycling awareness, waste prevention, green space cleanups, and policy advocacy,” explained Elwell, “but we were not having any luck finding a good fit for us. This is when we decided to reach out to community leaders, local grassroots groups, and residents, who expressed the need for a green action hub, where residents are inspired to connect, learn, participate and act.”

Alex Sitarik, another founder, also returned to her native Northeast Ohio last fall, after spending nine years working in Detroit. She pointed out that CHGT’s mission is to reduce and better manage local impact on the environment through advocacy, stewardship and education.

“For 2021 we have established three goals,” said Sitarik. “We felt that we needed to have clear, achievable and measurable targets, that align with events impacting our community this fall, including the mayoral race and the transition to automated waste collection.”

Those goals are:

  • Support the city of Cleveland Heights as it transitions to automated refuse collection, with heavy emphasis on educating the community on best recycling practices.
  • Engage with CH mayoral candidates regarding their views on the intersection of economic development and sustainability, as part of their candidacy platform, with the purpose of educating and mobilizing voters.
  • Reach out to residents and local sister organizations to understand their visions for healthier and more sustainable green practices, in order to establish a roadmap for action.

“The time is just right,” noted Elwell. “As we celebrate our city’s 100th birthday, we reflect on all the things that have made Cleveland Heights a great place to live, and we look forward to a future where a culture of sustainability is part of all of our residents’ lives.”

Poet Alice Walker said, “Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.” CHGT is optimistic that its efforts to reach out and work with Heights residents will drive tangible positive results in the community for years to come.

To learn more, and get involved with CHGT, visit, and follow the group on Instagram (@clevelandheightsgreenteam) and Facebook (@chgreenteam).

Catalina Wagers

Catalina Wagers is an eight-year resident of Cleveland Heights' Fairfax neighborhood. She is the third co-founder of Cleveland Heights Green Team, and is actively involved with several local organizations, supporting causes and programs focused on the advancement of NEO through better access to education, policy advocacy, and environmental protection.

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Volume 14, Issue 6, Posted 11:04 AM, 05.27.2021