By Michael Greis and Eleanor Rosellini
On Earth Day, April 22, Green Needham Collaborative and the Needham League of Women Voters launched an exciting new environmental initiative which they hope will have wide participation from the business community.
The GO GREEN Needham Campaign will encourage the entire community -- businesses, institutions, schools, clubs, houses of worship, individuals, and the town itself -- to step up their efforts to live, work and play with sustainability in mind. Volunteers will be doing community-wide outreach, soliciting participants to take a fresh look at their activities and commit to new actions that address climate change and other environmental issues. Possibilities include cutting energy use, adopting renewable energy, recycling and reducing waste, making sustainable food choices, and/or reducing toxic chemicals in homes and workplaces.
For any organization that chooses to participate, GO GREEN Needham volunteers will begin by finding out what sustainable practices are already being followed so that we can share those with the community. Then we will offer ideas, share best practices, and provide contacts to state programs and business services that can facilitate efforts to operate more sustainably. Specifically, we will be asking GO GREEN Needham participants to adopt two or more new green practices in the next six months, which could include committed plans for new practices that require more time to implement.
There is a wealth of ideas to be tapped. Perhaps a restaurant could start composting food waste, or a retail store could do the LED lighting retrofit long under consideration. A club could move toward zero waste at their events. A house of worship could take advantage of solar panels. A florist could solicit gently used floral vases and baskets for reuse. No matter where we are in our journey toward sustainability, we can go further, and often enjoy a cost savings as we do so.
Households play a key role in moving toward sustainability. Individuals will be able to participate in GO GREEN Needham by going to the Green Needham website to learn about and choose actions.
Why are we doing this now? Because time is of the essence, and communities working together can have a big impact. It has become clear that human activity is affecting our environment on a planetary level and that the transition away from fossil fuels and toxics must come quickly. Extreme weather events are increasing, pollinators are threatened, and we are seeing an alarming increase of plastics in our oceans. Fortunately, solutions are at hand. Taken together, they present an opportunity to create a healthier and wealthier society. Look no further than the clean energy economy in Massachusetts -- responsible for 109,000 jobs and $11.4 billion in economic activity. It is up to us to take advantage of the opportunities. There is no time to wait for "someone else" to make the effort.
Green Needham and the Needham League look forward to publicizing the accomplishments of GO GREEN Needham participants, both for the new actions they commit to and for the sustainable practices they are already doing. And watch for the culmination of our campaign -- the GO GREEN Needham Expo at Powers Hall on November 10, 2018, where we will feature businesses offering environmental services, celebrate Needham's accomplishments, offer fun family activities, and let citizens know what they can do to tackle climate change and other environmental issues.
Our hope for 2018 is to release a green wave in Needham. In the coming weeks, businesses and other organizations can expect to hear from us through direct outreach and the media. Let's find practical, creative, and often money-saving ways to be more green and build support for local businesses as we credit and publicize their efforts. If you are interested in participating in GO GREEN Needham, or would just like to know more, please contact us at info@GreenNeedham.org. Or visit GreenNeedham.org and look for #GOGREENNeedham on social media. Let's give ourselves even more reason to be proud of our great town.
Michael Greis is chair and Eleanor Rosellini is member of the steering committee of the Green Needham Collaborative.