To the Editor:
I want to thank the eight inspiring presenters from our community who provided their diverse visions of a Sustainable Community at our Great Ideas Breakfast on January 28 at the Princeton Public Library. The visions included statements about courage, creativity, product stewardship, fruit and nut trees, faith, open space, legacies, buying local, and bold vision.
My bold vision is that Princeton will become Net Zero and Waste Free by 2023. But we need coordination and collaboration to even begin to get us there.
In the past six years in Princeton there have been many important sustainable steps taken, partnerships formed, policies considered and award winning sustainable programs established in this town.
All these actions have led us to this moment. The moment where action and vision meet in 2016.
Our municipality has installed LED traffic lights, conducted energy audits in all their buildings, purchased four hybrid vehicles, launched the first curbside compost program in the state, installed water bottle refill stations in our parks, and will soon put a solar array on the landfill on River Road to power the Sewer Operating Commission. Our town has Share-rows and bike racks, parks and walking trails, open space, and farmers markets.
There is more — at least 150 residents have conducted energy audits on their homes. 1,000 residents have diverted almost 500 tons of food waste from the landfill. Residents and businesses together have recycled more than 1 million plastic bags since September, 2015. These plastic bags weighing about 1,000 pounds would have ended up in the landfill.
What is missing is a boldly stated and constantly repeated vision that connects all these actions. We need to consider creating a Princeton Climate Action plan with goals to measure the town’s progress toward Greenhouse Gas Reduction. We need to follow in the footsteps of Boulder, Chicago, Oakland, and many more communities that are refining and connecting their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We can draw on the considerable passion, intellect, and social capacity of this community to do it. It will take a sense of humor and a sense of urgency, countless hours of planning, patience, and persistence, but I believe Princeton is up to the challenge.
Our community cares deeply about the environment. We love our trees, our lawns, our parks and our Priuses [according to Toyota Prii is plural for Prius]. We now need to organize that passion. We need to involve and challenge every corridor from housing and retail, to schools and homes to reduce our negative impact on the environment. We need to connect the dots between our commissions, committees, nonprofit groups and institutions. We need our mayor and Council to adopt this bold vision and embrace and imbed a sustainable mind set in every decision they make.
Sustainable Princeton is ready to lead this charge but we cannot do it alone. Please join us.
Diane M. Landis
Executive Director, Sustainable Princeton