Newton is on its way to sustainability but we need to commit to whatever it takes to make the city truly green. Here are some of the most important ways.
A biking city. We need to commit to making more and better bike lanes on every major artery in Newton and to implementing a long-planned bike-share program. If biking were safe and truly feasible in terms of connecting us to where we need to go, more and more of our residents would bike to school and work. With more business development planned for our major thoroughfares, adding to existing traffic congestion, the need for bike lanes is even more pressing. Biking is not only good for the environment and our physical health, it gets us out and among our fellow citizens, adding to our collective communal life.
Composting. We’ve got city-wide recycling but we haven’t got city-wide composting. Providing everyone who asks with a free composting bin is not only environmentally sound, it will save the city money by removing compost from the trash stream. How much will be removed? 30% of household waste is organic. That’s a big reduction in trash removal and the amount of waste going to landfills. Plus homeowners end up with terrific fertilizer—“black gold”—for their gardens. There are even services who will come around and do your composting for you.
Lawn Farms. What better way to use that terrific composted “black gold” than on your own vegetable garden? There’s little to no open land left in Newton for farming, but there are acres of unplanted lawns and yards that can be put to use growing food. And consider this: what you don’t eat, you can donate to the Newton Food Pantry. One in eight Newton households lives on less than $25,000 a year. The Newton Food Pantry supplies food to 650 residents per month; fresh produce is one of the hardest things for food pantries to obtain. Growing food allows us to help feed others while using our land for better purposes than to grow grass, which wastes water and may involve pesticides. Lawn farms also bring people together. Food Not Lawns, a national organization encouraging home food gardens, has neighbors sharing seeds, pooling their labor and resources, and generally connecting to do good and have fun doing it. We can do the same right here in Newton!
Green Housing. Green housing takes many forms. Urging the use of solar power and getting better insulation into our homes is one way. Building denser housing in the form of apartments is another way since denser housing is typically greener housing. Another way is by creating shareable communal housing, such as co-housing, house-sharing and more. These out-of-the-box living arrangements are green because resources are shared and often existing buildings can be retrofitted for a new purpose rather than torn down. For more about these innovative housing ideas, please see Housing on this site.
Sharing resources, bartering, swapping, and freecycling. Making a commitment to promoting freecycling, barters and swaps, ride-shares, and other forms of resource sharing (does everyone really need their own lawnmower?) through apps and other social media will help make Newton green while also raising awareness about the need to make sharing and re-use a conscious choice.
Carpool-designated parking spots. Like carpool lanes on highways, we need to allocate parking in city lots for those who use their vehicle for carpooling.
Committing to do all we can as a Green Community in Massachusetts to find clean energy solutions and advance the use of renewable energy in our public buildings and facilities.
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