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healthy environment is critical, and the desire of a mom who wants to leave a better world for our children. But it is also a way of simply and responsibly representing her constituents. “Here in West Chester, our residents recognize that our ‘throw-away’ culture is unsustainable, and we are making decisions to reject unnecessary conveniences, practices, and behaviors that do more harm than good,” she told us. “West Chester recently became the second municipality in Pennsylvania to ban single-use plastic bags and straws. And we are a local leader in cutting fossil fuel energy waste; we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions community-wide by 10% over 2005 levels.”

committed citizens working to establish a food co-op grocery store in town that will sell locally-produced food and provide work-for-healthy-food programs to residents in need,” she told us. “This greatly reduces ‘food miles’ traveled, which in turn greatly reduces fossil fuel energy use and also substantially reduces plastic packaging waste.” Another important component of the program is an economic one. “They will give profits back to the citizen owners of the store, all of whom are local residents,” Mayor Herrin added. “Right now, more than $7 million flows out of the borough to large, chain grocery

Paula stresses that it’s imperative that entities and businesses take action. “We have passed the point that individual actions alone can help us avoid the dangers we are facing, which is why the vision of our businesses and local governments to take action is so critical.” But, that certainly doesn’t mean that the average person is off the hook in terms of making changes in their everyday lives to reduce their impact on the planet and proactively take steps toward sustainability. “The number one recommendation for individuals is to look for energy reduction opportunities — invest in things that will reduce our demand for energy overall, so that our eventual transition task is more manageable,” says Jim. “In 2015, the greater West Chester area spent about $285,000,000 on energy — all sectors: residential, transportation, industry, institutions. There is a lot of opportunity here for an educated consumer to spend their energy budget wisely and on clean products — from investing in LED light bulbs, to better attic insulation, to caulking leaky windows, to choosing a higher mileage car when it’s time to get a new one. It’s basically looking at the total cost of ownership, not just the sticker price, as well as at the kinds of energy choices you have. When you can, choose electric so that when Pennsylvania steps up to a cleaner grid, and we will all be the beneficiaries.”

“West Chester recently became the second municipality in Pennsylvania to ban single-use plastic bags and straws. And we are a local leader in cutting fossil fuel energy waste; we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions community-wide by 10% over 2005 levels.”

Other initiatives the mayor’s office is implementing include such simple and immediate things as the upcoming Clean & Green West Chester Downtown Sidewalk Clean-Up, scheduled for Earth Day (Saturday on April 27 at 10am, with a rain date of April 28). “With the support of some of our amazingly talented residents, we created a Clean & Green West Chester campaign that includes not only the ‘green’ sustainability initiatives we’ve talked about, but cleanliness as well,” Mayor Herrin said. “I’m a huge advocate of basic respect — not only for our environment but for our community and each other.” To that end, WC residents, Rotary members, WCU students, elected officials, the police department, in-town business people, and Scouts will all participate in the sidewalk cleanup. “We’re even buying a gum-removal machine for this event!” she said. “Our success is rooted in the power of context, and seemingly little things like dirty sidewalks matter more than we might realize. Experience and research show that a clean environment is essential to safety and success on every level.” A more long-range plan that the mayor’s office is working on is something most people probably don’t give a lot of thought to: the distances people travel to get food (and that food travels to get to them). “We have a group of

stores. With this new model in place, we will be able to retain a good portion of this money right here in our town, to the great benefit of our residents and to our environment.” Indeed, while businesses are implementing changes all around us, the concept of sustainability is a broad one that the average person can view as difficult to get their arms around. But whether we, as individuals, should embrace it is not a difficult call to answer, according to Paula Kline, another local Sierra Club volunteer and WC Ready for 100 member. “The question of whether we should be worried about the impact of climate disruption has already been settled,” Paula told us. “With more than $17 billion in weather-related disasters in 2017, the average person is not confused that we need to both prevent these disasters and know how to be prepared to face them. The notion that climate disasters would only strike island nations and third-world countries has been dispelled. This reality explains why, in a recent survey, most of us in Pennsylvania support a transition to renewable energy.”

“Travel light,” Paula adds. “Live near work, walk, carpool, bike, purchase a low-polluting, fuel-efficient car — a hybrid or electric one if possible. Eat right: fewer meals with meat, purchase local, in-season, whole and organic foods. Live well: reduce your heating and hot water costs with efficient heat pumps and solar, install LED lights, buy Energy star appliances, buy 100% renewable electricity through PA Powerswitch. And speak up: Let local and state officials know you want to be part of the new clean energy revolution. If you have professional skills to contribute, volunteer with grassroots organizations to educate and train us all on how to move forward!”

APRIL 2019 THEWCPRESS.COM

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Profile for The WC Press

The WC Press Sustainability Issue - April 2019  

Voice of the Borough

The WC Press Sustainability Issue - April 2019  

Voice of the Borough