OUR POSITION: Today is celebrated worldwide as Earth Day and there is no better place or event that symbolizes what it’s all about than the Edison Best New Product Awards at Babcock Ranch.

Babcock Ranch, the first solar-powered city in the USA, is a prime example of what Earth Day is all about.

And anyone who isn’t aware of Babcock Ranch and founder Syd Kitson’s commitment to the environment may get a lesson as, for one day at least, the spotlight will be on Charlotte County and the rural development which is often hailed as a city of the future. The prestige of hosting the Edison Best New Product Awards this week — pulling the annual celebration away from its normal site in big cities — will further stamp Babcock and Southwest Florida as an emerging player in green living.

The awards are the culmination of global competition in new products and service development, innovation and leadership. The finalists this year range from small start-up businesses to Fortune 500 companies according to a press release. Awards will be given today in 14 categories and some sub-categories. It’s no surprise that Babcock Ranch is a finalist in the category of sustainability.

If anyone doubts the prestige of today’s event all they have to do is look at some of the speakers and presenters who came to Southwest Florida this week to be a part of the celebration. They include: Miles O’Brien, of the “PBS NewsHour,” CNN and NOVA; Clinton Robinson, associate vice president, Black and Veatch; Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO of Dow Inc. and Michael Ellis, vice president of Strategic Environmental Affairs, U.S. Sugar.

The whole idea of the Edison awards is to recognize people and companies that have produced truly innovative products to make our world a little better, a little greener and little more sustainable. This year’s finalists represent countries that include Australia, China, Canada, Israel, Russia, UAE, South Korea, United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

Some of the products highlighted include a bionic mop, COVID-19 testing tools, a new zero calorie sugar, tip proof cookware and new ocean mapping.

Babcock is the perfect backdrop for the event. The ranch has 18,000 acres set aside for greenways, parks and lakes and has a mission to set an example for how to live with a minimum carbon footprint and/or impact to the environment. Besides its commitment to solar energy — which means 870 acres of 688,000 solar panels — it uses reclaimed water for its irrigation needs (which include a golf course).

“We set out to create a whole new model for smart, sustainable growth and it is extremely gratifying to have our efforts recognized,” said Syd Kitson, chairman & CEO of Kitson & Partners in a news release. “Our full potential as a game changer rides on our ability to inspire others in the U.S. and around the world to grow more responsibly. We are proving that doing right for the planet doesn’t have to cost more and, in fact, it can give you a competitive advantage.”

It’s a coup for Southwest Florida to bring the Edison Awards here. The event, even with its limited attendance opportunities, is a wonderful way to recognize Earth Day.

If you weren’t able to score an invitation or ticket to the Edison Awards, go do something to celebrate Mother Earth today. Plant a tree, pick up garbage along the roadside, install water-saving faucets in your bathroom. And remember, there is only one Earth.

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