Tag Archives: Sustainable Westport

Unsung Heroes #161

Alert — and ecologically conscious — “06880” reader Pippa Bell Ader writes:

The Sustainable Westport Zero Food Waste Challenge — with a goal of decreasing residential food waste by 25% or more — is off to a good start.

Each week the transfer station collects half a ton of food waste. It’s brought to an industrial composting facility, and made into compost.

Every Saturday since the initiative began in July, a group of committed volunteers has handed out food scrap recycling flyers and answered questions at the transfer station.

They were there at 7 a.m. in the heat of the summer. They did not leave until well after noon, after the gates closed. They did it all with smiles (behind their masks).

Greens Farms Elementary School 5th grade teacher Stacey Fowle hands out a flyer.

Now, in the fall, the volunteers keep giving up part of their weekend, because they know they make a difference. And they know it, because residents thank them for the work they do to make Westport a sustainable community.

Since many transfer station regulars have received the flyer, Zero Food Waste Challenge volunteer hours have been decreased. They now start at 8 a.m.

The lines — which sometimes stretched to the Post Road this summer — are rare, now that all transfer station parking spots are open.

Stacey Williams teams up with a transfer station employee.

So the Zero Food Waste educational focus will move to other locations and events, as opportunities become available. The team was scheduled to attend over 30 events and meetings this summer. COVID canceled them all.

Congratulations to all Zero Food Waste Challenge volunteers: Pippa Bell Ader, Emma Alcyone, Aileen Brill, John Ferencz, Matt Ferencz, Stacey Fowle, Laurie Goldberg, Matthew Longhitano, Julie McDonald, Dylan Michaels, Ashley Moran, Leslie Paparo, Henry Potter, Jessie Schwartz, Dawn Sullivan, Stacey Williams and Trevor Williams. You are our very helpful (and green) Unsung Heroes of the Week!

(For more information about the Zero Food Waste Challenge, click here. For a starter kit ($25; free if income-eligible) go to Earthplace (10 Woodside Lane) weekdays between noon and 4 p.m. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Matthew Ferencz assembles starter kits at Earthplace.

Sustainable Westport: An Idle Idea

Alert “06880” reader — and yearning-to-breathe-free Westporter — Peter Boyd chairs Sustainable Westport. He writes:

Sustainable Westport recognizes that families are making tough choices during the pandemic. Not the least is if and how to get your students to and from school.

Safety comes first. Bus capacity is reduced to enable safe distancing of students, and many parents and guardians opt to drive their children after encouragement from the schools to do so.

In these strange times when we all do our best for our families and community, Sustainable Westport has another suggestion for how drivers can help protect our children: When waiting in stopped traffic at pick-up and drop-off, please turn off your car whenever possible to reduce the impacts of idling engines.

Waiting in line for a school pick-up

Poor air quality affects the health of everyone — especially children, who breathe 50% more air per pound than adults.

If you need other reasons to switch off, a state regulation requires all vehicle engines be turned off after 3 minutes of idling (except in certain conditions, including air temperature below 20 degrees F).

 

In addition, you start saving fuel if you are not moving for more than 7 seconds (hence the auto cut-off on many of the newer vehicles). No one will ticket you if you don’t switch off, but hopefully you feel better when you do.

And you can keep the radio on while you wait.  Modern, well-maintained car batteries can last for several hours while playing music.

During this difficult time, when so much is out of our control, let’s take initiative to control the air pollution we produce.

It is so nice to see how many students now walk or bike to and from school.

If feet or pedal power is not an option, consider an electric vehicle. (Westport has the greatest number of EVs per capita of any town in Connecticut – as celebrated at the recent EV car rally).

 

EVs are increasingly affordable. They provide impressive savings over the lifetime of the vehicle. They can idle without polluting the air, and be charged at home.

We understand that going electric may not be an option for everyone. We know that life is throwing many challenges at Westport families right now. So if driving your kids to school in a gas-powered car works best for you, please keep in mind that “young lungs are at work.” Let’s look after them!

 

Roundup: Schools Reopening, Milling Project, Food Scraps, MoCA Bags, More


It’s official: Westport schools will open next month with a hybrid model.

Still to be determined: the elementary school schedule. Those students will still alternate between morning and afternoon sessions, but the original plan — to switch which youngsters are in which session every week — may not be utilized. The Board of Education put off a vote on the elementary schedule, pending a parent survey.

In related news: Coleytown Middle School will not be available to begin reopening until November 18. The first day for students will likely be after Thanksgiving.


Our rough roads are getting a bit better.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has begun a milling and resurfacing project on 1.27 miles of the Post Road, from the Sherwood Island Connector to Maple Avenue.

Certain lanes will be closed from 7:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Work is expected to be done by August 31.


Sustainable Westport‘s food scrap recycling program got off to a great start.

In the first 3 weeks of the project — part of the town’s Zero Food Waste Challenge goal of decreasing residential food waste by at least 25% — Westporters dropped off 2 tons of food at the transfer station.

The site was temporarily closed to enable Department of Public Works staff to assist with cleanup after Tropical Storm Isaias.

Food scrap recycling will resume at the transfer station on the Sherwood Island Connector this Saturday (August 22).

To get a food scrap recycling starter kit, email zerowaste@sustainablewestport.org.

The Paparo family was the first to drop off food scraps for Sustainable Westport’s recycling project.


In other environmental news, Wakeman Town Farm is giving away its precious Brown Gold. The all-natural compost/fertilizer is rich in nutrients from WTF’s organic gardens, select organic veggie scraps, and animal manure.

In other words, it’s really good s—.

It’s also free. Just BYOB (bag or bucket), and haul away a load for your fall garden. It’s outside the red barn at 134 Cross Highway.

Wakeman Town Farm’s Brown Gold. BYOB (bag or bucket).


MoCA Westport is selling messenger bags, as a fundraiser.

But these are not glorified grocery bags, with “MoCA” stamped somewhere.

Made of high-quality material and featuring digitally printed artwork, they feature 10 local artists: Trace Burroughs, Yvonne Claveloux, Bethany Czarnecki, Susan Fehlinger, Jana Ireijo, Amy Kaplan, Susan Leggitt, Fruma Markowitz, Dale Najarian and Jay Petrow.

The bags are $200 each. But the opportunity to carry a handsome bag with great art, everywhere you go — while supporting an important Westport institution — is priceless. Click here to see all 10 bags, and purchase (at least) one.

The bag designed by Yvonne Claveloux.


And finally … on August 18, 1920 — exactly 100 years ago today — Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. It was the 36th (and final) state needed, to ensure that women had the right to vote. Less than 3 months later, 26 million women were eligible to vote for the first time in a presidential election.

 

(Traffic) Lights At The End of The Tunnel

Happy Friday!

It’s happier for people living near the Post Road, from the Roseville Road (McDonald’s) light to the Southport line.

Their power is back on. Congrats, guys! Let’s hope the rest of us follow soon.

Eversource says that the “vast majority of customers” will have power restored by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11. Customers in isolated areas or those with issues close to individual homes may be without power for longer.

As of 9 p.m. last night (Thursday), Eversource had restored power to 434,919 customers across the state. It was still out for 480,125 customers.

That includes 10,169 Westport customers. That’s still 80.5% of the town without power.

In Weston, meanwhile, the emergency dispatch center — damaged by fire — has been restored to full capacity. Power is out in that town to 93% of customers.

Evesource says crews arrived yesterday from Massachusetts. We saw some here from Pennsylvania. Others are coming — hopefully soon — to Connecticut from New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Canada.

Drive safely, guys. But quickly!

Valley Forge Road in Weston is still closed. (Photo/Steve Mochel)


This will put a smile on your face — and keep you smiling all day.

Lisa Russ lives in Georgia. Her parents — both in their 90s — live on Rocky Ridge Road, off Valley Road. It’s impassible still, due to a downed tree.

Concerned about ambulance access in case of an emergency, Lisa called Westport’s Department of Human Services. Margaret Pinheiro and Kristen Witt sprang into action.

They worked with the Fire Department to evaluate the situation. They offered to find hotel space, if needed.

Then last night, director of Human Services Elaine Daignault surprised Lisa’s parents with dinner, fruit, water — and toilet paper.

“Their level of care and concern is amazing,” Lisa says. “I can’t thank them enough!”

Rocky Ridge Road is still cut off from the rest of Westport. (Photo/Linda Doyle)


Other Westporters are helping too. The Conservative Synagogue on Hillspoint Road, near the Post Road, now has power and WiFi. Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn says all are welcome!

And Jacques Voris has a generator, which anyone can use to charge devices. Call his cell (203-505-4957) for details.


Some folks have wondered why the Longshore golf course has been closed. Here’s one reason:

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)


Pippa Bell Ader of Sustainable Westport proudly announced that thousands of food scraps have been recycled since the program began July 6.’

But it’s temporarily suspended. The transfer station employee who oversees the project is helping with other duties after the storm. And not enough volunteers are available to assist either.

The food scraps recycling effort will begin as soon as possible, Pippa promises.


Cynthia Mindell understands this is a First World problem. She empathizes with everyone sitting in a car in a parking lot trying to use WiFi. But, she cautions, please don’t idle! It’s against the law — and it can be harmful to people sitting nearby.


Speaking of free WiFi: Is the Westport Library parking lot, Riverwalk or Jesup too crowded?

Sharon Fiarman reports you can log on at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. That’s where the Farmers’ Market and Remarkable Theater drive-in movies are (in better times).

And speaking of our great (and new) Westport tradition of hanging out on Jesup Green, scarfing up the library’s internet access: With all the folks there, I’m surprised no one has taken it upon him or herself to pick up the many branches and limbs still scattered all over the green.

A big branch lies in the foreground of this peaceful, post-Isaias Jesup Green scene. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)


Need an absentee ballot to vote in Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primary elections?

They’re available this Saturday (9 a.m. to noon) at the rear entrance to Town Hall (accessible, if Myrtle Avenue is still closed, via St. John Place).

That’s also where you can return completed ballots — in a secure drop box — any time before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Pick up absentee ballots here on Saturday morning; drop them off here before Tuesday at 8 p.m. (Photo/Pippa Bell Ader)


A warning to art lovers: There will be no “06880” Saturday morning art gallery tomorrow. All the great works I planned to run are locked up on my desktop computer, inaccessible for (hopefully) not too much longer.

A blast from the past: “Mid-July Flowers” (Amy Schneider)

And finally … sure, markets are opening up in town. But this is still an appropriate tune:

Composting And Cutting Food Waste: What Westport Needs To Know

COVID-19 has brought changes to Westporters’ relationships with food.

Supermarkets look and feel different. Some people avoid shopping inside altogether. More than we know rely on free food sources.

Few people, however, realize that 20% of Connecticut’s residential trash is food waste. Sustainable Westport challenges all residents to decrease that amount. Pippa Bell Ader offers these thoughts:

Start by getting to know the food you waste, and how to make the most of the food you have. Compost leftover food scraps, either at home, by paying a hauler to pick up your scraps, or trying the new, free food scraps recycling drop-off area at the transfer station beginning July 6.

Also, consider helping out with food rescue for those who are food insecure.

Webinars provide information on how to do all of this. The Westport Library, Earthplace and Sustainable Westport have partnered to inform the community about the Zero Food Waste Challenge. They include:

  • Eat More with Less (June 10, 4 p.m.)
    Learn about changes to make in planning  and preparing meals, and preserving food. Bridgeport-based Chef Raquel, a cooking educator and caterer, will guide participants through practical and actionable food tips and tricks.
  • Composting Basics with Alice Ely, master composter (June 15, 3 p.m.)
    To turn over a new leaf and decrease food waste, turn over some compost. Learn how to save water, reduce pollution and improve your garden, by making “black gold” at home.
  • Town of Westport Food Scraps Recycling (June 17, 3 p.m.) All you need to know about this new, free program. Find out what can and can’t be recycled.

Click here to register. (Webinars will also be recorded, and available later at www.sustainablewestport.org.)

Backyard composting is great. But if you lack the time, resources or energy to dispose of food scraps that way, you can still do your part for the environment.

On July 6, Westport launches a food scrap recycling program at the transfer station at 300 Sherwood Island Connector. All food scraps and some more will be welcome: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, bread, rice, pasta, raw and cooked food, cut flowers, coffee grounds (and paper filters), paper tea bags, napkins, paper towels, wax paper and more. Click here and scroll down for a complete list.

Just collect food scraps and other items. (No tissues, please).Bring them in a lidded transportation bin to the transfer station’s specially marked “food scrap drop-off area.”

From the transfer station, material is taken to a commercial composting facility, where it’s turned into compost.

“Starter kits” are not required, but they make it easy. They include a countertop pail, storage and transportation bin, and compostable bags. A kit costs $25 (income-eligible discounts available), and can be picked up at Earthplace.

To order a kit, email ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org (put “Starter Kit” in the subject heading), or call 203-293-6320 and leave a message.

Home composting kit.

The transfer station is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m. to 12 noon. Try to avoid drop-off on Saturdays and Mondays, the busiest times at the station.

Questions about any aspect of the Zero Food Waste Challenge? Click here, or email ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org

Composting During COVID

The idea was important, and bold.

On April 22 — the 50th anniversary of Earth Day — Sustainable Westport was planning to kick off the “Zero Food Waste Challenge.” The goal: Decrease residential food waste by at least 25%.

The group would point out that over 20% of Connecticut’s residential garbage is food waste. It’s costly to haul to the incinerator in Bridgeport, and does not burn well.

There would be a Zero Food Waste Proclamation from 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, and the inauguration of Westport’s free food scraps recycling drop-off area at the transfer station.

Of course, the coronavirus has put both the kickoff and transfer station opening are on hold.

But other aspects of the Challenge are ready for action. In fact, says Sustainable Westport member Pippa Bell Ader, what better time than during self-isolation to think about the food we waste, how we can change that, and what to do with those inedible food scraps.

Jen Tooker already knows how. The 2nd selectman’s family of 5 have been composting for more than 10 years, since they first moved to town.

They are committed to keeping trash to 1 bag a week, follow an aggressive leftover meal plan, and compost all inedible food (though no animal-based products such as cheese, bones or meat).

The Tookers collect food scraps in a lidded container in the kitchen, keeping smells and bugs at bay. When the container is full — usually once a week — it is brought outside to a 3-section composting system, and dumped into the fresh food scraps section.

2nd Selectman Jen Tooker, with her 3-section compost bin.

Once that section is full the scraps are transferred to the second section, where composting really begins. Eventually the pile is moved to the third section, where it becomes rich compost.

The process takes about 6 months, and requires a bit of lifting. But the Tookers would not have it any other way. They find great satisfaction in taking the time and effort to compost excess food.

There are easier ways to manage food scraps, for sure. But composting has become a part of the Tookers’ lives.

Their system is actually one of the most complex. People new to composting can start smaller and simpler. Sustainable Westport’s website includes many options.

For example: Fill one side of the composter with food scraps and some “browns” (leaves, strips of newspaper, etc.). Once that side is full, fill the other side. By the time you have filled the second side, the first should be full of compost material.

Or consider purchasing a compost bin that sits directly on the ground. Place food scraps in the container, and wait. Several months later, compost comes out the bottom of the container. Because food scraps break down over time, containers seldom get completely full.

You can even make your own enclosure to hold food scraps. Animals might enjoy some of the contents. At least you’re keeping food scraps out of the waste stream.

At this extraordinary time — as we think more than usual about how we get ouor food, and how to make the most of what we have — Sustainable Westport’s social media platforms (website, Facebook and Instagram) provide helpful suggestions.

They can’t celebrate Earth Day with a huge composting celebration. But Sustainable Westport is offer a webinar. On Wednesday, writer/activist Lori Fontanes leads a discussion on “Feeding People in a Time of Climate Change and COVID-19.” It’s co-sponsored by Earthplace and the Westport LIbrary, and limited to 100 people.

Click here to register — and join the heap!

(For more information on Sustainable Westport and composting, click here.)

Sustainable Westport Unfurls New Logo

When Westport’s Green Task Force rebranded itself as Sustainable Westport — to reflect its evolved mission engaging the community in projects like renewable and efficient energy, electric vehicles, recycling, waste management, and clean waterways, beaches and parks, all part of our goal to be net-zero by 2050 — they realized they needed a new logo.

Over 50 Westport residents, students and businesspeople submitted designs.

And the winner is:

Westporter Lisa Mezoff’s design will be featured in the new website and social media campaign, which goes live next month.

Selection committee member Dawn Henry says the winning logo “best balanced the multiple aspects of what sustainability means for Westport, while still being an elegantly simple design, and representing growth and the coming together of different parts of our community.”

A poster of all submitted designs will be displayed at Town Hall, beginning Monday (July 15). Click here to see the honorable mentions; click here for all entrants.