New Year's Resolutions from Local (Green) Leaders

With the New Year upon us and the possibility of a fresh start, consider a Green New Year’s resolution or two for 2019. To help you get started, here are a few ideas from some of the area’s local environmental and sustainability leaders.

And if you’re still looking for inspiration, check out Rye Sustainability Committee members’ own New Year’s Resolutions!

Andrea Alban-Davies

Conservation Chair, Rye Garden Club

A typical lunch for Andrea’s children

A typical lunch for Andrea’s children

  • Reuse it. Pack a waste-free lunch for yourself and/or your kids. To include in your (reusable!) lunch bag: reusable water bottle, reusable metal food containers, reusable cloth (or other) sandwich bags, silverware, and a cloth napkin.

Chris Burdick

Town Supervisor, Bedford & Founding Chair, Sustainable Westchester

Chris with his Electric Vehicle, the Chevy Bolt

Chris with his Electric Vehicle, the Chevy Bolt

  • Keep that car. Consider whether you can hang onto your car a bit longer. Maintaining your car as long as you can is the most cost efficient use of your automobile dollars and the fewer cars you buy, the less goes into the waste stream. 

  • Staying cool. Consider turning down your air conditioning next summer. Try fans.  

Liz Garrett

Organic landscape designer & former Chair, RSC Rye Healthy Yard Program

  • Leaves. Think of three ways you can use leaves in your own yard to feed the earth; be it the brown in your home composting recipe, shredding them and blowing them into a shrub (or arborvitae) border to blanket the shrubs and beds, or making sure your landscape company mulches the leaves in place on your lawn next fall. January is the time to discuss this with your landscape contractor or find a new one who can. [Need a new landscaper? Visit RSC’s Landscape Directory for suggestions.]

  • Pesticides. Remove at least one pesticide from your arsenal. Are you using chemicals to get rid of weeds in the patio or driveway? Hand pull them instead. Does your lawn care service apply some blanket herbicide as weed control? Try mulch-mowing or over-seeding in the fall to combat weeds that thrive in poor soils. Are you quick to grab a fungicide or pesticide if you see disease or an infestation on your prized ornamentals? Try an organic systemic soil additive or biologic control instead. The recent NY Times article on “The Insect Apocalypse” is a sobering read.

  • Go native. In that vein, if you are adding to your yard, add natives or other beneficial plants and shrubs that will provide pollen and sustenance for native caterpillars and insects. The birds and larger bugs will appreciate it.

Anne Jaffe-Holmes

Executive Director, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County

Anne’s 2019 Resolutions:

  • Get OUT OF MY CAR!!! I'm good about walking when I can, but I am pushing myself - already in December! - to ride my bike to the store, take the bus to work, and get on the train to meet people in another village or town! It requires being more organized so that I give myself enough time to bike, or to be at the bus stop or train station on time. The extra exercise is a major benefit, and being able to read on the bus or train feels like almost like a chocolate reward! The challenge is the discipline of getting out early on my bike, or being on-time for the bus or train I need to take!

  • Do I really NEED to buy this? In the interest of reducing the waste, the clutter, the maintenance that come with owning "things", in 2019 I am excited about slowing down my purchasing. I want to consider more carefully whether I really need to buy something, or whether if I dig through my closet I will find the item I need, or whether I can borrow it from a friend - or maybe even do without it!!! And if I DO decide I need to buy, I am excited about exploring whether I can buy it second-hand!

Kerry Linderoth

Director of Sustainability & AP Environmental Science Teacher, Rye Country Day School

RYE_Family Wellness Day_118.jpg

I will continue striving towards a zero waste lifestyle - both at school and at home! I don't have a trash can in my office, which serves as a conversation starter and educational opportunity about the growing problem with waste in our society. The average American generates 4.4lbs of trash per day, but that number can be greatly reduced by recycling, composting, and reducing unnecessary packaging.

Kerry reports that she also asks her AP Environmental Science students to write out their own green New Year’s resolutions. A good idea to get young minds thinking green!

Peter McCartt

Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability, Office of the Westchester County Executive

I, Peter McCartt, resolve to:

Peter has made the    Green Westchester Pledge   . Have you?

Peter has made the Green Westchester Pledge. Have you?

  • Complete the update of the Climate Action Plan through the newly established Climate Crisis Task Force;

  • Complete the Demand Response Program that eliminates the chance of brown-outs and black-outs and the subsequent need for more expensive infrastructure repairs and upgrades;

  • Complete the 2 MW Solar System on the Yonkers Bus Depot and start the solar projects on County properties and facilities totaling 4 MW;

  • Further electrify County and municipal fleets and expand EV charging infrastructure, creating a network of stations across the county;

  • Plan the construction of our County-wide food scrap recycling program;

  • Complete the installation of 30,000 LED bulbs across multiple County properties.

Nina Orville

Founder, Abundant Energy

Nina’s resolutions for 2019:

  • Raise awareness. Talk more directly about the implications of climate change for our future well-being. Our reluctance to discuss it makes it easier for us to carry on as if this unprecedented challenge was not disrupting the miraculous natural processes and systems that sustain us. When we connect what science tells us about future conditions with the implications of those conditions for our children and all that we love, it spurs action and resolve.

  • Reduce, reduce, reduce. Reduce use of plastics in all forms and to recycle all plastics that are recyclable (including bringing recyclable bags and plastics film to the grocery store for recycling).

  • Convert to LED. I've already done this one but it's timely for many people: Converting your interior and exterior lights to LED. Look for "warm white" designation to replace any incandescent bulbs. LEDs save about 75% in energy usage and will last for many years.

Ron Schulhoff & Michelle Sterling

Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council


The FSR Dynamic Duo’s resolutions:

  • Number 1, by far: Purchase a food scrap recycling kit and start using it!

  • Grasscycle. It’s so easy for your landscaper to do, requires no extra equipment, and has a significant environmental impact!

  • Mulch mow your leaves

  • Switch to an organic landscaping program. Get those little yellow poison signs off your law for good!

  • Use a Green Garmento bag for dry cleaning, and always save and return your hangers to the dry cleaner! 

Christine Siller

Executive Director, Rye Nature Center

  • Don’t let the winter cold make you idle! Turn off that engine.

  • Once a week, buy nothing.

  • Christine suggests taking a look at Rye Nature Center’s Green Tips as well.

Annie Teillon

Chair, Apawamis Club Green Team

My dream for 2019 is to help foster an understanding that going green is not just for the younger set. Our efforts to protect Mama Earth affect today's environment, economy and our overall health. I am working with members of The Apawamis Club Green Team to pinpoint areas that can easily go green without making a huge lifestyle impact to members. Our initial goals are to reduce the single use plastics such as straws and cups club wide and find alternatives to the coolers full of single use water bottles on the golf course. Waste reduction must span generations so that we can learn from and teach one another. Recycling is integral to regaining a balance of the environmental intricacies of our planet, but not using plastics in the first place beats all!


Rye Earns Clean Energy Community Designation

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Rye Sustainability member Linda Mackay, the City of Rye earned Clean Energy Community designation on September 26, 2018 for its commitment to cut costs and reduce energy consumption.

A program of the NY State Energy Research and Development Authority, acceptance in the CEC Program provides municipalities greater access to "implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment. In addition to providing tools, resources, and technical assistance, the program recognizes and rewards leadership for the completion of clean energy projects."

The first CEC benefit was realized just this month with the award of a $5,000 NYSERDA CEC grant for a Rye Sustainability community composting initiative.

Read more about Rye’s designation in the press release, below.

Press Release

The City of Rye Earns Clean Energy Community Designation for its Commitment to Cut Costs and Reduce Energy Consumption

The City of Rye (Rye) today announced it has been designated a Clean Energy Community by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), recognizing its leadership in reducing energy use, cutting costs and driving clean energy locally.

Announced by Governor Cuomo in August 2016, the $16 million Clean Energy Communities initiative supports local government leaders across the state by providing grants to eligible municipalities to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development projects in their communities. Clean Energy Communities advances the Governor’s Reforming the Energy (REV) strategy by demonstrating the importance of communities in helping New York reach its Clean Energy Standard mandate of having half of the state’s electricity coming from renewable energy resources by 2030.

Rye received the designation for completing four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions identified by NYSERDA as part of the Clean Energy Communities initiative. In addition, the designation gives Rye an opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 toward additional clean energy projects, with no local cost share.

“The City of Rye is grateful to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for this recognition and the related grant opportunity. The City thanks the Rye Sustainability Committee (and especially Linda Mackay) and City staff for doing the hard work that has brought us the many benefits of being a Clean Energy Community,” said Josh Cohn, Mayor, City of Rye.

“Congratulations to the City of Rye for its Clean Energy Community designation and for helping to build a cleaner and more sustainable New York,” said Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA. “Communities are at the heart of the state’s efforts, under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, to achieving our ambitious energy efficiency goals and combating climate change.”

To earn the Clean Energy Community designation, Rye completed the following high-impact clean energy actions:

  1. LED Street Lights - Converted street lights to energy efficient LED technology (1038 bulbs replaced with LED).

  2. Clean Fleets - Installed electric vehicle (EV)charging stations or deploy alternative fuel vehicles (Rye purchased four EV’s: Chevy Bolts; April 2018).

  3. Energy Code Enforcement Training - Trained compliance officers in energy code best practices (three employees from Rye attended in April 2018).

  4. Energize New York Finance - Offered energy upgrade financing to businesses and non-profits (Rye became a member of the Energy Improvement Corporation in 2015).

Cities, counties, towns and villages that complete at least four of 10 high-impact clean energy actions are designated Clean Energy Communities and are eligible to apply for funding of up to $250,000 with no local cost share and the option of receiving up to 25 percent paid in advance to support additional clean energy projects. At least two of the four actions must have been completed after August 1, 2016. NYSERDA is accepting applications for funding on a rolling basis through September 30, 2019 or until funds are exhausted, whichever comes first. Funds are being provided through the Clean Energy Fund and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Additional clean energy action items communities can take to achieve designation include:

  • Performing energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to municipal buildings.

  • Implementing Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) so residents can gain greater choice and control over energy use a group.

  • Earning Climate Smart Communities Certification through the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for developing a comprehensive program to reduce its carbon footprint and improve the environment.

  • Streamlining the local approval processes for solar projects through adoption of the New York State Unified Solar Permit.

  • Adopting a benchmarking policy to track and report the energy use of the municipal buildings.

Once all funding is exhausted in a region, local governments designated a Clean Energy Community are eligible to apply for a $5,000 grant, on a first-come, first-serve basis until such funds are exhausted.

Clean Energy Community Coordinators are also available at no charge to help communities to develop and prioritize clean energy goals, access easy-to-use resources such as guidance documents and case studies, and take advantage of available funding and technical assistance opportunities.

Rye Sustainability Committee member commented that “Carla Castillo, from the Hudson Valley Regional Council, was extremely helpful and advised the Rye Sustainability Committee members during the entire process of becoming a Clean Energy Community. We are very grateful for her expertise, responsiveness and enthusiasm!”

For more information on Clean Energy Communities, visit NYSERDA CEC. Local government officials or employees can find contact information for their respective coordinator here for assistance navigating the program.

Rye Sustainability's New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year when we scratch our heads for meaningful yet attainable New Year's resolutions. As you try to sort it all out, Rye Sustainability members offer some suggestions to help your 2018 be a "green" one. We've also compiled a list of suggestions from other organizations.

Happy New Year!

Rye Sustainability's New Year's Resolutions

Walker Healthy Yard Signs.jpg


Other Great Ideas ...

  • Although designed for school children, One World's Eco Passport contains a list of "eco actions" that everyone can print out and complete.
  • Varsity's list includes simple action items, such as turning off the dryer and recycling paper.
  • Huffington Post interviewed eco-friendly experts and celebrities for their suggestions, which include switching to a green energy supplier and avoiding disposable containers when purchasing fresh produce.
  • EcoWatch lists 10 ways to be an environmental steward. Some ideas: Buy local and change your mode of transportation.

When Walking To School is A Perilous Pursuit

A major attraction of suburban living is the ability of children to walk and bike to school. Rye resident Kelsey Johnson lives with her husband and young children near Forest Avenue, but quickly discovered that the short walk along Forest Avenue to Midland Elementary School is a dangerous exercise. Johnson decided to take matters into her own hands and mobilized a group of concerned residents to study the feasibility of sidewalks on Forest Avenue. Now, three years later, Johnson provides an overview of the issue.

When Walking To School is A Perilous Pursuit

A car swerves to avoid pedestrians

A car swerves to avoid pedestrians

By Kelsey Johnson

The Rye Sustainability Plan has many goals, one of which is to “pursue and adopt measures that will encourage more pedestrian activity [and] less dependence on vehicle transportation”. The Rye City Schools District supports this mission with an annual Walk to School week to raise awareness and support for the health, community and environmental benefits of regularly walking or biking to school.

Walk to Schools Week at Midland Elementary School took place the first week of October and students were encouraged to walk to school and participate in this important initiative.  However, Midland, and hundreds of other Rye middle and high school students are prevented from safely participating in any walk to school effort. The problem: Along the portion of Forest Avenue between Manursing and Apawamis Avenues there is no sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into the street where they perilously navigate their way as cars speed by them. The situation has been made worse in recent years as access paths from side streets to Midland have closed. Children who live on the fifteen streets that feed into Forest Avenue (approximately 170 homes) now have no route to school except via Forest Avenue.

This stretch of Forest Avenue has been the subject of study and highlighted for safety improvements by the City, most recently through a comprehensive study drafting specific off-road alternatives to improve pedestrian and bike safety. It also evaluates the impact to mature trees and landscaping, among other metrics. For the second year in a row, this project has been identified as a "high priority" capital improvement project in the City's Capital Improvement Plan and awaits funding of an engineering and design study, which was deferred last year as the city awaited the outcome of two major grant applications. 

Children walking to school on Forest Avenue

Children walking to school on Forest Avenue

Unfortunately, the City was not awarded the grant money, so residents must rely on the City to keep momentum on this project and fund the next step to ensure the safety of our school children, dog walkers and runners.  The Rye Sustainability Plan highlights infrastructure improvements targeted at enhancing pedestrian activity that include repairing sidewalks and increasing the miles of sidewalks, which this project directly accomplishes.

Together, we can work to redefine idling for our school-aged children.

How Does New York's Clean Energy Future Look? How Can You Help?

A new database released by The Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University and The Nature Conservancy contains a wealth of information on the varied energy policies adopted by 38 states, including New York.

The State Policy Opportunity Tracker (SPOT) for Clean Energy outlines state policies in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, financing, infrastructure and transportation.

You can view the New York profile here.

According to the Nature Conservancy, "The SPOT for Clean Energy is not a score card. Instead, it benchmarks clean energy policies, enabling the user to analyze both the status quo for a state and where there may be opportunities for growth in the future on clean energy. It draws from data sources of 18 organizations."

You Can Make a Difference!

Does all this information seem too wonkish and beyond your ability to take action? It shouldn't be! Each one of our individual actions can make a collective and significant contribution to helping reduce the carbon footprint of our community, state and nation. For some inspiration, read the recent New York Times article featuring a small village in England where residents banded together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (up to 40%) by doing simple things, such as using clotheslines, taking fewer flights, installing solar panels and glazing windows for insulation. If Ashton Hayes Village residents can do it, so can Rye!

For some tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint see our RSC Tips Page.

For more information about RSC's community greenhouse gas emissions audit, visit the Energy Section of our Rye Sustainability Plan.

Contact us if you'd like to get involved. We'd love to hear from you!

Take a Ride on the East Coast Greenway ... in Rye!

Leave the car at home and hop on your bike because Rye is part of the East Coast Greenway, an ambitious project to create the longest bike path in the nation.  East Coast Greenway Alliance, the non-profit that conceived the idea of a "long-distance urban trail," estimates that once complete, the ECG will span a distance of 3,000 miles, linking Calais, Maine with Key West, Florida.

The ECG Alliance envisions the Greenway as "a linear park" that will incorporate "waterfront esplanades, park paths, abandoned railroad corridors, canal towpaths, and pathways along highway corridors."

According to the ECG Alliance, there are numerous benefits that will result from the creation of this ambitious project, including:

  • Improving public health by empowering active transportation and safe recreation
  • Lowering pollution by substituting car trips with bicycling and walking
  • Providing greenway construction & maintenance jobs
  • Increasing transportation options
  • Giving non-drivers, such as children, the elderly, and people without cars, more independence
  • Reducing roadway congestion
  • Enhancing local economic development
  • Connecting people and communities
  • Helping to create new and inviting public spaces for everyone to enjoy
  • Raising land and home values within the greenway corridor

For more information about the Greenway and news about the New York Section, visit the ECG Alliance website. A map of the NY Section is reproduced below.