For those wanting to lead a more “green” lifestyle, but who aren’t exactly sure how to do it, a new group in Riverside is here to the help.

Riverside SEEDS, which stands for Supporting Eco-friendly Every Day Solutions, is an organization that provides information on environmental problems, like pollution or global warming, and ways in which people can counteract them, through recycling, conserving energy and other activities.

“Small changes can make a big collective impact,” said Riverside resident Ruta Kulbis, one of the group’s founders. “Sometimes people need a little more knowledge, sometimes they don’t think they can make a difference. But when you change certain habits, it makes a difference.”

Kulbis said that she and the group of about six other Riverside residents who formed SEEDS at the beginning of this year were inspired to act after seeing the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and other news reports on the environment. She said they wanted to make eco-friendly activities more accessible and convenient for people.

“The group is about awareness and encouragement,” she said.

SEEDS’ broad mission has led to a diverse collection of projects in its first few months of existence. Their kick-off event was The Great Paint Exchange a few months ago, where Kulbis said residents brought in more than 200 gallons of unused paint to be either reused by others or disposed of in an environmentally conscious manner. Kulbis said that meant either drying out latex-based paint before throwing it away, or driving oil-based paint to a hazardous waste center in Chicago.

“We weren’t expecting that much paint,” she said. “But we were encouraged by how successful the exchange was.”

The paint exchange was followed up by a garage sale in May, where residents could drop off their unused items to be sold off by SEEDS.

“We weren’t interested in making money so much as providing people with a way of recycling their old things,” Kulbis said.

The organization has also worked with students at St. Mary School in conducting three environmental campaigns. These included planting a garden in front of the school, developing a classroom presentation on the importance of recycling and encouraging students to walk or ride their bikes to school.

For that last campaign, Kulbis said, students conducting the campaign gave candy prizes to those who walked or rode their bikes. Over the course of two weeks they counted 50 fewer cars dropping off or picking up students at St. Mary’s every day.

SEEDS also had a booth at Riverside’s Independence Day picnic, where members handed out conservation literature and raffled off environmentally themed movies and games. The group has started a website,, where they have collected information about various recycling centers in the Chicagoland area, and also provide recognition to local residents or groups that have done something for the environment.

There is also an online mailing list, which Kulbis said has grown to more than 50 members over the past few months.

Kulbis said the group doesn’t have another big event planned for the summer, but that their next focus would be working with schools in Riverside to promote more eco-friendly student programs.

She said group members are excited about the positive response SEEDS has received so far, and felt they were making an impact on the community with every event they’ve organized.

“Even on July 4, somebody was reading our poster with information about plastic water bottles, and she said she’d start using reusable water bottles for her kids’ lunches,” she said. “That doesn’t seem like much, but think about the number of bottles saved over an entire school year. That makes a big impact.”