Guest Column (8/13/09)

Green yourself, green the world

Aug. 13, 2009

By Christine Landon

Let’s transition ourselves from non-green to green, as we’re each the little carbon dioxide factories in the cap and trade model.

Locally, the Williston Green Initiatives Group of WING, a volunteer group of green-minded people with a variety of compelling green backgrounds, is conducting efforts to make the town a more environmentally friendly place.

Who are the current members? Come and find out. We meet on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex.

What does WING do? If you didn’t know it, WING recently promoted recycling awareness at Williston’s ice cream social on July 3, serving products in compostable containers and pointing all in the direction of recycling instead of garbage.

Be sure to practice this at home and while shopping. Check your purchases for paper and disposable products to see if it is compostable — and then, compost!

Next month, a six-week course on green topics is planned. Sign up at Dorothy Alling Memorial Library — 12 spots are available to keep the discussion viable. More classes are planned for the future.

Next is a Button Up winter efficiency fair scheduled for Oct. 24, planned in conjunction with showing off the efficiency work being done at Town Hall.

A series of sustainability fairs are also scheduled, the first on Sept. 23. This is to focus on the topic of garbage, packaging and recycling awareness, hopefully in conjunction with the Chittenden Solid Waste District. We will ask all Williston residents to “voluntarily” attend. As such, three seminars are being considered for garbage, packaging and recycling awareness. The goal: One bag of non-compostable garbage a week, and minimizing recycling needs.

Of a more hands-on nature, WING is working on composting and gardens. One garden is planned for part of the new ball field being eyed near Allen Brook School. There are educational plans around the gardens and rain gardens envisioned, as well.

Additionally, we are endeavoring to apply, on a volunteer basis, for several Economic Recovery Act grants pertaining to green communities and production. The overall hope is to green the entire community in one fell swoop, even putting us on the Smart Grid, which uses energy- and cost-saving digital technology to supply energy, as a “Green Showcase Community.”

If there are any grant writers in town who would be able to volunteer for WING, it would be appreciated, as it does depend on the grants.

What can residents do at home? Make a Green List from the options below and then check off the items. Eventually, it will become second nature.

– Cut out one trip to the store a week; walk somewhere twice a week instead of driving; carpool once if you don’t already.

– Go to a farmers’ market once a month — and walk, car pool, ride a bike, or take the bus to get there).

– Start asking yourself, when you go to buy something, “why do I not need this?”

– Unplug the washer, dryer, television, stove (but not the fridge or freezer), computers, cell phone chargers, iPod chargers and stereos before leaving the house — every time. Efficiency Vermont is a good resource for methods and tools to make this easier. Or, hire a licensed electrician to put all of these on one or two kill switches that are wired to your front door panel; your last thought leaving the house should be, “Kill switch.” It will “kill” your electricity usage, and the bill.

– Replace all your light bulbs with compact fluorescents. The mercury you save by recycling the compact fluorescents and not using the electricity consumed with the regular bulbs (electricity generated by burning coal that can produce mercury) is far greater than any mercury that might accidentally be disposed of with a compact fluorescent. The compact fluorescents should always be recycled, and will pay for themselves. On a budget? Try replacing one to four bulbs a month from a “green change jar.” Make it a game.

– Finally, make a Green Calendar, and for each person in the home, a 10-year Green plan.

See you at the Town Annex on Wednesday!

Christine (Marie-Helene) Landon is a Williston resident and member of WING. She recently launched www.greenhelene.com, a blog dedicated to the process of transitioning non-green folks to green.