If you see a City of College Station crew cutting down a large, seemingly healthy oak tree on Friday in Brison Park, don’t be deceived. The tree may still be green, but it’s not healthy – the city’s forestry experts say it has hypoxylon, a common fungus that sadly means the oak is all but dead already.
The City of College Station’s Sanitation Division is always researching new methods and technologies to provide safe, efficient and cost effective solid waste services to our residents, but don’t take my word for it – read our mission statement:
“To provide safe, efficient and cost effective solid waste and recycling collection services incorporating state-of-the-art methods and technology, with world-class customer service to all citizens of College Station, in conjunction with promoting waste reduction and clean community programs through public education.”
That’s why we’re excited about unveiling our first Autocar E3 Hybrid this week, making us the first city in the Brazos Valley to operate a hybrid garbage truck.
Almost everyone has heard of the successful Adopt-A-Highway program. Roadway signs across the country mark sections that are maintained faithfully by local community organizations and clubs. The program started in Texas in the early 1980s and now has a presence in such faraway places as Japan and New Zealand.
The City of College Station took that popular concept and developed the Adopt-A-Greenway program, which encourages volunteers from area neighborhoods, churches, businesses and other groups to help maintain the city’s greenway system. All that’s required is a two-year commitment to remove trash from a designated greenway at least twice a year. Volunteers will be recognized on the city’s website and on signs along their adopted greenway.
Reorganization of Sustainability Efforts
After several years of using a council-appointed task force to assist the city with its sustainability efforts, it was determined that a different approach would need to be taken to complete the Green College Station Action Plan prior to the conclusion of the Department of Energy grant we received in 2009. The Action Plan, which will address energy efficiency, renewable energy, air quality, water conservation, protection of green areas and green house gas emission reduction as it pertains to the city organization, will be presented to the council for approval in 2012.
Using Department of Energy stimulus grant funding, Parks and Recreation was able to complete the installation of irrigation system upgrades and smart controllers as well as LED parking lot lighting and solar-powered trash compactors at Veteran’s Park and Central Park. Several pilot projects were also undertaken to reduce costs and promote conservation, including the use of nitrogen in vehicular tires, synthetic motor oil, retreaded tires on certain equipment and a lighter weight copy paper city wide.
Consider practicing these 10 easy tips during and after this holiday season:
During the holidays:
- If you are a late shopper (and who isn’t?), remember to buy green — look for recycled content, environmentally-friendly products such as a compost bin, Energy Star logos, local goods, membership to environmental organizations, or rechargeable batteries.
- Reuse gift bags, paper and old holiday cards as gift tags.
- Bring your own bags on shopping trips so shops won’t have to give you new ones with your purchases. Make sure to tell the clerk that you have your own bags.
- Review the list of recyclables that College Station accepts at the curb and be sure to recycle. Recyclable items include newspaper, white paper, phone books, magazines, No. 1 and No. 2 plastic containers, clear and brown glass bottles and jars, and aluminum cans.
- Review the Bryan / College Station Recycling Directory to recycle items such as cardboard and packaging materials.
“Howdy, I’m Erin Chastain-Harris, sustainability coordinator for the City of College Station.”
When I introduce myself these days, I am often met by a puzzled look, followed quickly by a question: “What’s a sustainability coordinator?”
Although sustainability is not a new idea, it is a hot topic in government and corporate business. Now that it’s popular to be “green,” many entities are publicizing how effectively they balance resources used and dollars spent with social responsibility. Businesses are tackling their resource usage with a complete systems view and are touting a smaller carbon footprint as a result. The City of College Station has embarked on a similar course.
Finding a Better Way
As sustainability coordinator, I find myself challenging the status quo, encouraging long-term thinking and actions that result in positive economic, social or environmental impact. In simple terms, I’m the one who walks around the office asking why things are done a certain way and if a better way is possible.