While probably one of the most challenging and difficult challenges to make for most of us, modifying our diets can result in significant environmental and health benefits. Meat and dairy products require far more land, water and resources to produce than grains, vegetables and fruits. It takes nearly 100 times more water to raise a pound of beef than it does for a pound of wheat. Merely eliminating or reducing the amount of meat we eat can result in a substantial lowering of our carbon footprint.
Here are six important facts that are undisputed by scientific studies:
A hidden environmental cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is the energy required to transport products to the market. When we patronize local farmers markets, we not only cut down significantly on the transportation footprint of the food we eat, but we often get fresher fruits and vegetables. Plus, the produce at farmer’s markets does not come with all of the unnecessary packaging found in stores. As a bonus, we are also supporting local economies and working families from our area. Learn more about the Village of Schaumburg's farmers market here.
More than one quarter (28%) of municipal waste in America is compostable. This includes not only yard trimmings but also food waste from our kitchens. Composting this waste, rather than sending it to the landfill would significantly decrease the amount of waste that is…wasted. Composting recycles the nutrients found in organic waste, which can then be used as fertilizer for plants. Composting also saves fuel and cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions, as much less waste needs to be trucked to distant landfills. While home composting is one option for those with green ambitions(and gardens), many municipalities now offer composting pick-up as part of their waste hauling services – Schaumburg does! Yard and kitchen waste are placed into a separate bin and picked up separately from the garbage and recyclables Click here to learn about the Village of Schaumburg's Yard Waste and Organic Composting options.
While we all know about the importance of recycling, recycling is and should be the last option in dealing with waste in a sustainable way. The biggest impact on waste reduction is REDUCTION! Reducing the amount of ‘throw-away’ stuff we purchase will result in significantly reducing the amount of trash going into landfills. While this can be a challenge in a society where single-use products and over-packaging are everywhere and often the cheapest items to buy, buying reusable beverage containers, shopping bags, food storage containers, etc. is a great way to reduce your footprint.
SPD gets to zero at Sugar Bush Fair! Spring Valley’s Sugar Bush Fair breakfast is being designed as a zero waste event. Zero waste means that all waste generated will either be recycled, reused, or composted – nothing goes to the landfill! By using all compostable plates, cups and tableware, and encouraging patrons to dispose of all breakfast waste in compostable collection totes, all waste will then be picked up by Collective Resource. This company ensures that all waste is then composted at a commercial composting facility. In addition to composting, cardboard boxes and maple syrup jugs are recycled.
SPD maintains 253 acres of natural areas, and in addition, maintains about 12 acres of parkland planted with native plants. These areas provide what are called ecosystem services, benefits to the local environment and to people. These include:
· Trees and other natural vegetation absorb heat from the air as they evaporate water from leaves, acting like air conditioners.
· Each acre of natural grassland or woodland is able to remove from 1-3 metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere, storing it in their roots, trunks, branches, etc.
· Ground planted in trees or other vegetation is able to absorb rainwater, preventing flooding and erosion in local streams.
· Wetlands in particular, act like sponges and can handle huge volumes of water from storms. In addition, natural wetlands cleanse runoff and filter pollutants from water.
Sustainability has emerged as a global environmental theme and a major business imperative for the 21st century, dramatically influencing thinking and policy making. It is essential that the Park District become known as a benchmark and role model for the best sustainable practices in the area.
Environmental sustainability is defined as meeting our needs today while ensuring that future generations can continue to meet their needs. Sustainability means long term cultural, ecological and economic health and vitality. Environmental sustainability is a process that maintains and enhances economic opportunity and community well-being for every segment of society while protecting and restoring the natural and social environment upon which people and economics depend. Sustainability calls for actions which are ecologically sound, economically viable and socially just and humane.
As a public institution, the Park District has an ethical and social obligation to safeguard a critical public resource – the natural environment. The Park District also has a duty to establish physical environments and organizational practices that are conducive to the health and well-being of its citizens.
The Green Light Sustainability Plan (PDF) is a dynamic document intended to ensure the Park District can continue to meet its current and ongoing environmental, social and economic needs without compromising the future for succeeding generations. The rationale for developing this plan includes consideration of environmental issues as sustainability is a concept that ensures a higher quality of life for current and future generations. The metrics or measurements of progress are intended to be part of an annual report to inform the Park District on how well the plan is achieving its desired effect. The plan is a working document that should be updated as new technologies and procedures are developed.
The Environmental Sustainability Plan confirms the Park District’s commitment to leadership in the advancement of sustainable practices that manage land use for long term benefits, reduce dependency on non-renewable fuels, reduce consumption of resources without offsetting benefits, and improve our impact on the environment.