This new year heralds a series of environmental initiatives under consideration by New Castle town officials.
Several ideas are being generated by a key environmental group in town–the Sustainability Advisory Board. This all volunteer group is comprised of several New Castle residents. Its chair, Steven Wolk, explained that they try to find ways to help New Castle become more sustainable. These include proposals to:
• Ban most plastic bags in stores.
Communities that already have bag bans, according to Wolk, include San Francisco and Rye. The underlying reasons for doing so include the impact single-use bags on the environment, such as sewer clogging and pollution of water bodies. Wolk also explained that both the manufacture and transport of plastic bags takes an enormous amount of energy. The bag ban would allow for some exceptions, he added, such as dry cleaning bags and bags that are used for fruits and vegetables. The goal is to implement the ban in a way that resonates positively for residents and businesses, Wolk explained. It is expected that the proposed ban will be presented to the town board before this summer.
• Adopt what is called uniform solar permitting.
This means that New Castle could have the same permitting type for solar installation that is used elsewhere. The benefit of uniform permitting, according to Wolk, include a reduction of the cost of installation, which in turn would lead to a reduction of the cost for solar in general. The permitting proposal could be presented to the town board by this spring.
• Increase New Castle’s recycling rate.
Currently, about 24 percent of the waste in town is recycled, Wolk says. He believes that the figure could rise to 60 percent or more, a level that he feels could have a positive effect on the environment. A higher rate of recycling means saving tens of thousands of dollars, according to an estimate the board cites. By recycling, Wolk believes, people can have a social impact.
• Begin an educational initiative for community residents.
The goal would be to drive home the importance of being sustainable and how to become more sustainable. Several ideas are being considered, including screening videos at the Chappaqua Library for the public and holding discussions right after.
During his interview for this story, Wolk brought up three pillars of sustainability. These include promoting social interests, trying to become more environmentally conscientious, and ensuring a bright economic future.
Within the board, members act as managers for the initiatives, according to Wolk. He holds the role for the solar permitting proposal, while Nicole Lewinter has it for the plastic bag ban. Board member Dick Goldsmith is the manager for the recycling initiative while the educational initiative is being led by Maxine Margo. The board could use volunteers, Wolk explained, and it is “absolutely recruiting.”
In an interview, Supervisor Robert Greenstein described environmental ideas that he is interested in. One initiative would be to have pails located downtown that have the option for recycling. These containers could include merchant sponsorship, which would be noted with plaques. The supervisor would also like for them to be classy and is interested in getting the beautification committee involved.
Aside from desired initiatives, changes are already set for 2014. New Castle’s website lists several enhanced recycling items that have been added for this year. They include waxed coated containers (such as for ice cream, butter, juice, milk and frozen foods), plastic bags with the numbers one to seven, and aseptic box containers that have broth, soup or juice. Residents can also take advantage of New Castle’s recycling center. It is located at 210 Hunts Lane in Chappaqua and is open between Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and again from noon to 2:30 p.m.
Tom Auchterlonie is the former local editor of the Chappaqua-Mount Kisco Patch.