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What’s new in sustainability in Sullivan County? No better people to ask than the county’s Office of Sustainable Energy. Here are a few environmentally focused projects, headed by a number of different individuals and organizations, at work for the Earth in our area.
Organics management plans
This is a study undertaken by the Sullivan County Department of Solid Waste and Recycling, headed by Donna Egan, to find ways to manage organic waste in a sustainable manner within the county. About 30% of the municipal solid waste trucked to landfills is organic waste that can be composted or otherwise processed into a beneficial soil amendment. The composted end-product can be used within the county to enrich and condition soil for crops and landscaping or added to soil to help with erosion control. The county is also exploring ways to divert usable food to benefit the food insecure. The Tusten Town Board has also discussed the possibility of composting.
Upcycling and repair cafes
Upcycling means taking broken or old items and finding ways to make them new again. For information on repair cafes, check out the feature on page 16 of today’s paper.
Plastic bag ban
These bans have been enacted elsewhere, including in Hawaii and California, and could be coming soon to Sullivan County and possibly to New York State as a whole. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently re-announced his plans to pursue a ban on single-use bags in the state. As of press time, he had intended to incorporate these plans into his 2019 budget proposal. Sullivan County has asked the Office of Sustainable Energy to explore a ban of single-use plastic bags as well, including banning them at retail stores, for use as carry-out food containers and at grocery stores. The county has initiated outreach on this initiative and will be discussing legislation at upcoming meetings of the Parks, Agriculture and Sustainability Policy Committee of the Sullivan County Legislature.
LED street lights
This is an initiative that highlights energy savings while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Towns, including Tusten, Bethel, Delaware, Rockland, Thompson and Fallsburg, have discussed purchasing their streetlights, which are currently leased from the local utility, and converting them to LED technology. In addition to converting to LEDs, there is additional technology that can be incorporated into well designed street lighting. The county, along with its partner municipalities are working with the New York Power Authority to develop designs tailored for each community.
Electric vehicles (EV)
Thompson and Bethel have installed EV chargers for public use, and Sullivan County is currently installing two charging stations at the Government Center. Several small businesses have installed chargers for their customers to use while shopping or dining. The Catskill Brewery, the Roscoe Diner and the Inn at Lake Joseph all also offer charging stations. To find charging stations nearby, visit http://bit.ly/EVlocator.
Editor's note: The OSE is not overseeing all of these projects. A change in the wording of the first paragraph has been made to specify that.