I was encouraged last week to see some of our youngsters actively engaged in activities to improve the environment around us.
Picking up trash at Western Middle School was the visible activity, but science teachers at the school, Stacey DeBlasio and Jessica Iannacone, also provided environmental instruction and encouraged students to determine their carbon footprint and to rethink their use of energy and materials that contribute to waste. Kudos to Western Middle School.
While there are scientists who line up with credible arguments on both sides of the global warming debate, this isn't about that. Inheriting this planet, we are obligated to be good stewards of the earth's resources. After all, as many have said, it's the only planet we have. I don't know of anyone who rejects cleaner air, water and landscapes.
Now, it's your turn. Here are some ideas for GreenScaping your home that can have positive effects on its value and reduce the cost of maintaining your garden. Combining green and landscaping can be fun too.
The Environmental Protection Agency, created under President Nixon on December 2, 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, proposes these four `Rs.'
Reduce: "Reducing the production of waste is the first and most important step toward efficient material use. When planning a new landscape design or updating a current one, avoid products that require frequent replacement or regular maintenance to reduce future waste."
Reuse: "Reuse serves as the second key component to environmentally beneficial landscaping. Reuse of products prolongs the useful life of these materials, thus delaying final disposal or recycling. Many items can be reused effectively without adding much time or energy."
Recycle: "Recycling is the segregation, collection, storage, and removal of recyclable or compostable materials from the municipal solid waste stream. Recycling minimizes waste generation by recovering and reprocessing usable products that might otherwise be disposed of (e.g., plastics, green trimmings, food waste)."
Rebuy: "Rebuying means re-thinking your purchasing habits. Look for products that meet your needs but have a better environmental profile than your current product purchases. Consider biobased, recycled content, and other environmentally preferable aspects in your purchasing decisions. Recycled products, for example, are often more durable than those made with virgin materials, saving money and raw materials over time."
As many of you know, I've been active in enhancing the green status of my home in Cos Cob. In the GreenScaping category I have replaced a water, chemical and labor-hungry lawn with a variety of synthetic turf products made with organic materials like soy beans and recycled materials, such as plastic bottles. I even converted a sports area of my lawn using a nylon putting green and synthetic fescue turf to a croquet court, golf hole and fringe. Even in heavily shaded areas like mine, you can have both grass and trees. The only thing left to do is to enjoy it.
New green space regulations in place
Our Planning and Zoning Commission has passed new lot coverage regulations designed to maintain our open areas and green spaces. The goals are to help improve drainage (more green space allows increased absorption of rain/snow water), reduce the possibility of flooding (more green space dramatically slows down runoff water) and enhance water quality (green space allows the soil to naturally clean rain/snow water that enters our public and private water supplies).
The new minimum green area requirements by zone are as follows:
RA-4: 84 percent; RA-2: 78 percent; RA-1: 72 percent; R-20: 62 percent; R-12: 55 percent; R-7: 50 percent; R-6: Single and multi-family, 35 percent
A little puzzling are the inclusion of "Synthetic turf playing fields for school or municipal uses only" and the exclusion of "permeable inter-locking concrete pavers."
Using a very porous synthetic turf on my residential lot has eliminated the runoff I used to experience across a natural grass lawn in that area and my paving stone driveway, in a bed of sand, is great for drainage. When I wash my car, I can't get the water to run more than about three feet from the car. I guess that's the penalty for being a little ahead of your time.
This Week's Success Quote
"What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
Ken Edwards is the principal Broker for Edwards & Associates and has lived in town since 1974. All opinions expressed in this column are entirely his own and not those of this publisher. Comments, questions and suggestions may be sent to K_W_Edwards@Yahoo.com or by phone or text at 203-918-4444. Questions of general interest will be addressed in this column, while others will receive individual responses.