Earth Day, Everyday

By Elle O’Casey

How did you celebrate Earth Day? While it may have been a bit soggy and grey last Saturday, there were a number of events going on across the state and country to observe Earth Day. People were digging into trail work, participating in park cleanup projects, leading climate marches, and more.

Sustainable Woodstock celebrated by hosting an annual meeting Wednesday, April at the Little Theater in Woodstock . Rick Kendall, Superintendent of Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and Saint Gaudens National HIstoric Site offered his thoughts on sustainability and community. Attendees enjoyed food from Heart Rock Kitchen, heard from this year’s Community Sustainability Awards winners, and listened to updates from Sustainable Woodstock’s yearlong activities.

If you didn’t get around to celebrating Earth Day or if you forgot about it entirely, there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate and care for our community, our state, and our Earth. In fact, you could see this week as your “Earth Year” kickoff. If that sounds corny to you, think of our current political climate. Think of current socioeconomic needs, mounting inequality, and an impending climate crisis. The Earth could use a few, ney, many good souls to step forward lead communities toward positive, sustainable change all year long.

The Climate March  Photo Credit: Susan Melkisethian

The Climate March
Photo Credit: Susan Melkisethian

The good news is, we live in one of the best states when it comes to sustainability and environmental stewardship. There’s a lot to be excited about related to sustainability in Vermont. A recent analysis done by WalletHub found that Vermont leads U.S. states in sustainability when looking at the number of LEED certified buildings per capita, air and water quality, and photovoltaic capacity per household. Burlington now leads the nation as the first city in America to run off completely renewable energy.

At the household level, Vermonters are also taking action and making a dent in our landfills. Currently, Americans throw away over 40 percent of their food waste. In Vermont, Act 148, “The Universal Recycling and Composting Law” is being increasingly adopted. By 2020, food scraps and organic waste will be banned from landfills and this year, haulers in Vermont offering curbside trash pickup must also offer collection of food scraps.

Vermont’s educational institutions are also being recognized nationally for their sustainability efforts. Last year, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Colleges named the top national performers. Several Vermont colleges and universities made the list of the greenest institutions in the country including Sterling College in Craftsbury, Middlebury College, and Green Mountain College in Poultney.

Green Mountain College was the second college in the country to become carbon neutral, in part through its biomass facility on campus that runs on wood chips, generating 85 percent of its heat.

The work each of us do in our communities makes a difference in our state and on the broader level. Individual efforts roll up into collective impact. This “Earth Year,” if you haven’t already, find where you fit into the sustainability movement and make your mark.

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