Wellesley’s new bag bylaw and the BYO Bag initiative, the resident-approved plastic bag ban that goes into effect on Jan. 25 for big stores and April 12 for small ones, both are part of a broader campaign to reduce waste in town. In addition, for more than a year, the Natural Resources Committee has been partnering with the Wellesley Sustainable Energy Committee and the Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility to find new ways to implement the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Thanks to a program sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the MA Department of Environmental Protection, this town-wide effort has a new name: WasteWise Wellesley. Through the EPA’s national WasteWise program, Wellesley joins other communities and organizations throughout the country that have committed to reducing waste.
According to the Sustainable Energy Committee, there is a tendency to assume that harmful environmental impacts arise primarily when we dispose of things. However, the production and use of materials also have significant environmental implications. Ellen Korpi, Chair of the Town’s Sustainable Energy Committee reported that “the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that 42% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US are generated from the provision of goods and food. However, our throw-away culture depletes finite resources, wastes enormous amounts of money, and contributes to ever-growing greenhouse gas emissions that damage the planet.”
The EPA says that within just one year, half to three quarters of annual resource inputs to industrial economies are returned to the environment as waste. WasteWise aims to reverse these trends. The program helps its partners to reduce their purchasing and waste disposal costs and decrease their contributions to climate change and other adverse environmental and human health impacts arising from our consumption, use, and disposal of materials.
WasteWise partners are eligible for technical assistance and public recognition for their work. At the Wellesley RDF, Superintendent Jeff Azano-Brown has encouraged more recycling by reinstating the RDF’s Sunday hours and establishing a program to accept used gypsum wallboard and hard plastics. The RDF is also working with the 3R Working Group to reduce waste generation overall, and to encourage recycling by entities that do not use Town disposal services.
Wellesley Free Library’s recently launched “Library of Things,” designed to encourage sustainable materials management. Need a specialty cake pan, a puzzle for your visiting grandchildren, or electronic adapters? Rather than buy something new to use it only once or twice, borrow the item from the library, and save money, and the planet’s resources. According to Wellesley Free Library Director Jamie Jurgensen, “There are many possibilities for expanding the Library of Things. What about a sewing machine that you could borrow for that rare project, or a lending library of power tools?”
The WasteWise theme also applies to the bag bylaw. In an effort to reduce litter and non-recyclable waste in town, while encouraging residents to bring reusable bags whenever they shop, the Wellesley Board of Selectman has designated January 2017 as Bring Your Own Bag Month. In keeping with this goal, Wellesley High School students have designed a special reusable bag now on sale at Roche Brothers.
For questions, call Marybeth Martello, Sustainable Energy Administrator, 781 654-5004, [email protected]