This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day – and while we all are currently experiencing unprecedented challenges – County Executive George Latimer is making sure to recognize the day.
Latimer said: “This Earth Day will be different than any year previously due to the stay-at-home orders in place across the Country. However, there are still many ways to celebrate Earth Day from home this year. Our planet is still facing the existential threat of climate change and it is important to always work to counter its impacts.”
Westchester County Government continues its work on its goals to preserve and protect Westchester’s environment and minimize its carbon footprint. Below is information, tips, resources and local “e-vents” to help you mark this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.
The County’s current work and projects include:
- Planting Westchester – a program aimed to increase Westchester’s tree population and the number of community gardens.
- Solar Projects – the County is adding over 9 megawatts of solar energy for community use.
- Fleet Management and Electrification – adding electric vehicles to its fleet of mass transit as well as County vehicles. Adding EV charging stations to public and County properties.
- Food Scrap Recycling – as announced by County Executive Latimer, the County is working on a program to advance food scrap recycling County-wide.
- Compost Education Center – a one-stop shop for municipalities, institutions, and residents to learn how to begin to set up their own composting facilities.
- Demand Response – the County has partnered with NuEnergen to facilitate going “off the grid” during peak energy use hours. Earning the County income, conserving resources, and minimizing the need for new fossil fuel infrastructure.
County Director of Energy and Sustainability Peter McCartt said: “Our Westchester County government is hard at work on many important fronts to combat climate change, mitigate further catastrophes, and to make our environment a healthier place to work, live, and enjoy. The wider climate change community is looking at different ways to utilize this time to advance the goal of protecting our environment for all of us.”
Recently, Westchester County has joined a growing list of Counties across the US to uphold the Paris Climate Treaty by joining the Climate Reality Project County Climate Coalition. The group of Counties has openly committed to the Paris Climate treaty and to keep global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius..
By joining the Climate Reality Project County Climate Coalition, Westchester can continue its work in concert with other Counties, learn from each other, support each other and work to create a better future for all.
Counties who join the County Climate Coalition agree to continue working toward the United States' commitment under the Paris Agreement through their own results-oriented strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Strategies can include:
· Renewable energy development
· Alternative community energy providers
· Enhanced waste diversion
· Environmentally friendly vehicles
· Reduction of water usage
· Other local solutions
More information can be found here: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/
The first Earth Day took place in 1970 and propelled a wave of action that led to the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts, as well as the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since then, Earth Day continues to be celebrated internationally each year. In 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the backdrop for the signing of the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. While we have made some progress on our environmental priorities, more work remains.
Paper towels are in high demand these days. While you may be using paper towels to clean and disinfect surfaces, try using cotton towels or napkins for other tasks. This will not only conserve and stretch your supply, it will save you money and limit the amount of waste you generate.
Turn the water off when not in use. Whether you’re brushing your teeth or washing your dishes, turn it off in between uses.
Another way to conserve is to only do your laundry when you have a full load. This will save money, energy, and water. Try to not run your washing machines during a major rain event to minimize overtaxing our water treatment facilities.
Because many of us are working from home, you may notice an increase in your utility bills. Conserve energy and money during quarantine by unplugging electronics when you’re not using them; shutting lights off when you aren’t in the room; and taking advantage of more daylight by opening the curtains and using natural light instead of your electricity.
Plant an indoor or outdoor garden:
If you do not have a yard or access to outdoor space, try bringing the outdoors to you by planting an indoor garden. Indoor gardens come in many types and sizes.
If you do have a yard, consider planting a garden this year. There are many different types that require different work and attention. Help out the pollinators by planting a pollinator garden.
You can also do your part to reduce stormwater runoff by planting a rain garden. Grow your own veggies by starting a vegetable garden. Start composting with either a bin or a compost pile if you have the space. Try to not do laundry, run the dishwasher, or take long showers in the middle of a large scale rain event to minimize overtaxing our water treatment plants.
Recycle Right, finally get good at recycling:
This Earth Day hone your recycling skills by following these simple tips:
Don’t put plastic bags in the recycling bin. If you use bags to collect your bottles and cans, make sure to take them out of the bag before putting them in the bin.
Please rinse your recyclables. Only put clean and dry containers in the recycling bin. Dirty containers can contaminate recyclable materials.
Educate yourself. If you don’t know whether something can be recycled, look it up. Don’t “wishcycle,” but instead “Recycle Right!” Always refer to our recycling guidelines at our Department of Environmental Facilities: https://environment.westchestergov.com/residents
While social distancing, many of us are spending more time on the internet and on social media. These can be great ways to get involved with environmental causes. Stay connected with others who care about the environment by participating in a virtual Earth Day activity.
Here are some local events to mark the day:
Tuesday, April 21, 6pm
The Human Element
Renowned photographer James Balog (prominently featured in “Chasing Ice”) uses his camera to reveal how environmental change is affecting the lives of everyday Americans.
Wednesday, April 22, 9:30-1pm
Earth Day 2020 - Moving Forward Together, a virtual Coffee Chat.
Environmental Scientists, Doctors, NY State and Local Leaders host a virtual discussion on modern trends and current events. Opening Remarks by CE George Latimer, Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/earth-day-2020-moving-forward-together-a-virtual-coffee-chat-tickets-102646759220
Wednesday, April 22, 4pm-5:30pm
Federated Conservationists of Westchester County will be hosting an Earth Day 2020 Climate Activist Webinar for high school and college students. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/earth-day-2020-webinar-tickets-102429383042
Wednesday, April 22, 2pm
Drive Electric Earth Day
A tribute to Earth Day and an opportunity to learn how electric vehicles do their part for the environment
Wednesday, April 22, 8:30am
14th Annual Blessing of the Hudson River - join Hudson River Activists, Indigenous Americans, and Religious Leaders on the shores of the Hudson at the Center for the Urban River at Beczak in Yonkers, NY.
Meeting ID: 892 2523 0236 - Password: 022628
Thursday, April 23, 6pm
Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
Through the eyes of chef-heroes like Anthony Bourdain, Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Massimo Bottura, and Danny Bowien, audiences will see how the world’s most influential chefs make the most of every kind of food.