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Responsibility for the environment starts at home

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

Global leaders from the G20 are meeting at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow until Nov. 12. Their mission is to bring parties together to accelerate action toward the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, according to the COP26 website. As President Joe Biden and the other G20 leaders negotiate actions to address climate change, it’s a good time for Northwest Corner residents to evaluate our own approaches to environmental responsibility and action.

It can seem overwhelming, hearing the issues being discussed at the COP26 summit, to try to think of ways to address climate change locally and make a difference where we live. But this is a time when it is really important to take that on. As reported in last week’s Lakeville Journal by Leila Hawken and Patrick Sullivan, towns here are preparing to cope with the July 2022 closing of the trash-to-energy facility outside Hartford, MIRA (the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority), where this region’s trash is now sent for disposal. That closing will take on great importance for the ability of our towns to dispose of our garbage.

It may seem relatively inconsequential compared with the global problems being talked about at COP26. But we need to remember that if all communities across the Earth took such matters in hand and found the most environmentally sound way of living in our own places, the health of the planet would be in a better state right now. So let’s try to find a solution as a region that will be viable longterm.

The state of Connecticut is offering the option of the towns signing on to having their trash trucked to other areas of the country (the Midwest and the South) and buried. But even if all the towns sign on and get the best rate for such a service, costs to consumers will escalate. And it wouldn’t be a long-term solution. There are only so many places willing and able to take other regions’ garbage in and dispose of it, and let’s face it, their space to do so is certainly not infinite.

The towns here have historically followed the most environmentally responsible structures for disposing of waste they could find, in general. Cornwall in particular is now considering opting out of the state’s plan, searching for better alternatives. Encouraging wider composting of food waste is one way to try to reduce the solid waste that needs to be disposed of somehow.

Another way, of course, is for all of us to work to reduce our solid waste that needs to be dealt with at all. That may not be a simple task with so much packaging and other waste being a seemingly unavoidable part of our society, but it’s one that needs to be taken on seriously.

If we expect our world leaders to achieve a path to change on the global scale, we need to take our own steps to improve the lot of the planet, as well as our homes and neighborhoods. Take any ideas you have to do that to your town leaders right now. There is no time to waste.

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