According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States produced about 251 million tons of waste during 2012, more than half of which was put into landfills. The Town of New Paltz is aware of the effect this waste has on our environment and has chosen to do something about it.
On Thursday, Sept. 18, the Town of New Paltz held an informational meeting on its Zero Waste Action Plan and Sustainable Materials Management programs. Laura Petit, an active member in the programs, said New Paltz plans to become a zero waste town by 2018.
“Achieving ‘Zero Waste’ in the Hudson Valley is one small piece of a larger, national movement,” Petit said. “If we set a high waste-reduction standard, we consequently leave a precedent for the rest of the country to follow.”
The plans are outlined in two phases: short-term goals and long-term goals. Short-term 2012-15 goals includes a three bin disposal system that consists of food waste, eco-parks, green garden classrooms, a composting facility, public education which includes detoxing home cleaning and waste reduction Petit said. The zero waste plan goes beyond garbage to local sustainability. This includes buying a farm cooperative.
“This is environmentally sound because closed loop living creates a healthy society and economic growth,” Petit said.
According to Petit, the Duzine Elementary School in New Paltz has a green classroom where social studies groups can learn about longhouses or science classes can watch the development of plants. They said environmental steps are increasing their bottom line.
In order to save the municipality money, New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet asked that all departments check with the ReUse Center before buying new materials. The program itself is run by the Recycling Center staff and its volunteers.
According to Zimet, the Town and Village of New Paltz signed on as Waste Wise partners in late 2011 and agreed to be one of the pilot zero waste initiative municipalities — one of 13 nationally. The plan was written in 2012 as several committees formed from public interactive workshops and individuals who had ideas. The town approved the plan in December 2013 and the village approved it in September 2014.