As Spring approaches, so do initiatives in the Village associated with the warmer weather. Many are on the green front as we look to redouble our efforts in the Village on the sustainability front thanks to our very active Green Committee.
As a reminder, the plastic bag ban has taken effect though the State has decided not to penalize stores at least until April 1 as they defend a lawsuit in the Albany County Court brought by convenience store owners and a plastic bag manufacturer. As a reminder, even after the ban takes effect, plastic bags can be used for restaurant takeout food, meats, pre-wrapped prepared foods, prescription drugs and dry cleaning. Our Green Committee has ordered reusable bags which they will give out at various events.
At the May 9th Village Board of Trustees Meeting, members of the Green Committee will make a presentation on the benefits of composting our waste. Our neighbors in Scarsdale, Larchmont and Mamaroneck have started programs and they are using them as a template for our Village.
At the same meeting, the Board will also be voting on a materials recycling program for our Village.
If voted in the affirmative, we will be the first Westchester community to participate.
Known as Simple Recycling, it is up and running in many communities throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts as well as the entire Dallas Metropolitan area.
On our regular recycling day, special bags will be distributed to all residences and may be filled with any textiles as well as linens, drapes, even shoes and pocketbooks to be collected by a Simple Recycling truck. A small percentage of the items are resold to thrift shops but most is processed into raw material used for such items as playground surfaces.
Over 40 billion tons of clothing go into the nation’s municipal waste systems and landfills equating to 68 pounds of clothing per person per year. Currently 85% of all clothing actually ends up in landfills with only 15% either donated or recycled. This program is a win-win for everyone involved. There is no cost to the Village. In fact we receive a small percentage of the profits as well as realize a savings on our landfill and transportation costs, while furthering our environmental goals.
In addition, as the warm weather arrives, there are small things we can do as individual families that when aggregated make a real difference. Some simple things include: buying more organic and local foods whenever possible, unplugging appliances when not in use, using organic lawn products and rakes instead of leaf blowers, programming sprinklers to turn off when it rains, purchasing eco-friendly cleaning products and energy saving lightbulbs, not idling cars while waiting for friends or students, keeping reusable bags in your car or pocketbook and of course walking whenever possible.
As we ideally increase our walking around the village, I just share some cautionary research to both our walkers and our drivers to be mindful at all times of your surroundings. Pedestrians are being killed in traffic accidents at the highest rate in 30 years. The cause is partially attributed to distraction by using smart phones and walking later at night due to warming temperatures. Pedestrian deaths in crashes in 2019 increased by 5% from the year before to 6590 according to the Governors Highway Safety Organization. The number of pedestrian fatalities had actually fallen over two decades from 6870 in 1989 all the way down to 4109 in 2009 .Then things changed. In the past 10 years, the number of pedestrian fatalities on our nation’s street has increased by more than 50%. The highway safety report stated that many factors contributed to the increase including the shift away from smaller passenger cars to SUVs which have a more severe impact in a collision. Also cited were, “changing patterns of drug use including decriminalization of marijuana,” and smart phones were named as a factor as they can be, “a significant source of both cognitive and visual distraction.” The Pew Research Center recently reported that 81% of American adults now own a smart phone compared to 35% in 2011. Other factors seem to be the warming weather as pedestrian fatalities at night jumped 67% from 2009 to 2018 while those during the day increased just 16%. Warmer weather often encourages more nighttime outdoor activity including walking and there is an association with increased alcohol consumption which increases the risk of accidents according to the report. Caution is clearly the watchword.
Thanks again to the Green Committee, the Village will increase our participation in April Earth Day activities which I will report on in the coming weeks and I hope to enlist your support and volunteer commitment.