In its ecological sense, we generally understand it to encompass such things as environmental preservation, conservation of resources, quality of life and economic vitality. An often cited definition states that it “…implies meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This increasing prominence of sustainability related considerations, and the prevalence of designations like ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’, would seem to reveal a growing awareness of the impact of our human footprint on the natural environment.
Implicit in this awareness is an appreciation of our critical dependence on nature and the interconnectedness of all life. Such a trend can be seen to mark a definite shift away from the old mind set in which the earth’s resources looked inexhaustible and nature was a thing to overcome and conquer.
Many would agree ours is a time of transition, bringing promising advancements as well as cause for serious concern and caution. In such a rapidly changing milieu, personal choices can perhaps seem isolated and inconsequential.
It may be easy to see ourselves as passive recipients subject to much larger forces around us and to believe the effect of a single individual is too small to matter; but a deeper understanding recognizes the personal impact to be a factor multiplied by roughly 7 billion and counting. And while there is no avoiding active participation within the dynamics of our society, and no escaping some measure of impact to our surroundings, there are more opportunities than ever for learning to tread lightly and minimizing the individual and communal footprint.
Gradually we are coming to see the possibility of a way of living that is in attunement and cooperation with nature, rather than set against and seeking to exploit. At Sedona City Hall there is a group known as the Green Team working to do just this kind of “lightening of the imprint” that city business operations have on the environment.
The Green Team has authored the city’s first environmental policy, a document in which environmental commitments are laid out and guidelines are given for practices such as purchasing, vehicle use, energy conservation and recycling. The policy eliminates the purchase of water in plastic bottles except as approved by Department Heads in special circumstances, and it states a preference for doing business with vendors, contractors and companies that demonstrate similar commitments to sustainability.
The Green Team has implemented water, electric and gas conservation measures at the City Hall Complex and Wastewater facility. Hot water heater settings have been lowered, low-flow devices are installed on sinks, toilets and urinals, and energy efficient lighting and motion sensors have been installed.
A battery collection program was begun, and CFL’s and fluorescent tubes are shipped off for recycling. City staff also get a weekly ‘Green Tip O’ the Week’ emailed to them courtesy of the Green Team. The tips contain helpful sustainability related information and reminders like fuel savings tips, organic food buying guides, and environmental facts and statistics aimed at increasing awareness and promoting environmentally conscious lifestyle choices.
One of the Green Team’s major focuses has been the diversion of solid waste from the trash stream to recycling, repurposing, and reuse. A substantial reduction in the volume of trash going from City Hall to the landfill has been achieved through our environmental policy guidelines, and by expanding cooperation with organizations like Sedona Recycles and Habitat for Humanity.
Non-auctionable obsolete items are donated for repair and reuse by those in need. These efforts have reduced dumpster pick-ups at City Hall from three times per week to just once per week, and cut costs accordingly.
The Green Team has staged two highly successful electronics recycling collection days that have brought in thousands of pounds of material from Sedona and neighboring communities, and most recently they’ve begun a program of composting which further reduces trash volume and brings Sedona City Hall another step closer to being a zero waste operation.
The city’s Green Team hopes these sustainable practices not only lower City Hall’s environmental footprint, but that they serve as an example to inspire and encourage others to make similar changes. There is a shifting momentum happening around the world, and each of us has the opportunity to take part in it every day. If you’re interested in finding out more about what the city is doing in the name of sustainable practices, or if you have suggestions or expertise to offer, we welcome comments at 982-203-5031.
Be sure to watch the SedonaEye.com Green Minutes, sustainability and eco-friendly sixty-second ideas and accomplishments that may change your today and future footprints. This Eye on Sedona Green Team with David Jakim article was submitted by the City of Sedona and attributed to David Jakim.