By now, most CT residents are aware of the 10-cent tax on single-use plastic bags resulting from Public Act 19-117 Section 335, which went into effect on Aug. 1. Those keeping up with trending culture might have also noticed the popularization of paper/metal straws rather than their plastic counterparts.
What isn’t as well-known, however, is EL’s recent placement among 87 other CT towns in a program called Sustainable CT. EL registered for the program on March 14, and this was determined by the East Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS).
Retired CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection employee, Penny Heller serves on the Sustainable CT Subcommittee. The sub committee’s purpose is to gather information about EL’s green projects relating to Sustainable CT to present to the BOS. She connects her passion for the project with the idea that “[when] you work with natural systems rather than destroying them everyone’s life is better, and cheaper, in the long run.”
Sustainable CT’s goals, as summarized in the Subcommittee’s summary report presented to the BOS on October 2, are: “to save towns money by helping to improve energy efficiency, promote partnerships within and among towns, and assist with planning tools that help avoid expensive infrastructure damage during storms and power outages.”
The Sustainable CT Subcommittee submitted 300 points to be considered for a Bronze Certification, which requires at least 200 points, on Aug. 28, which sets them above the minimum for certification, which is 200. These accumulate through actions completed by EL, which include a few such as creating a community garden, installing LED streetlights, and many others.
Joining Sustainable CT will help create new pathways for a greener EL future. But some are asking, “what more can we do individually?”
Junior Ella Rupe is critical of the plastic straw situation. Cities like Seattle, WA, have gone as far as to ban them, but others are simply encouraging others to stop using them. Rupe argues that neither is enough.
“Using fewer straws isn’t going to match the amount of environmental damage large companies are producing. Sure, they’re ocean pollution, and reducing that’s a good thing, but it’s one step out of a million that needs to be taken,” said Rupe.
Kip Kotzan, a science teacher at ELHS, is optimistic regarding sustainability efforts, explaining that EL is “ a lot greener than it was when [he] was a kid. That’s because motivated people demanded changes.” The good news, it seems, is that those “motivated people” seem to have found a home in EL, and whether it’s through programs or people, green change is brewing.