Suffield’s Sustainability Successes and Plans

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Photo by Anna Kristin
The townwide Tag Sale on May 11 included 80 locations identified through an interactive map on Sustainable Suffield’s Town website.

According to Anna Kristin Daub-Murphy, the town’s Sustainable Suffield task force leader, and Keila Silva, chairwoman of the high school’s equivalent Sustainability Council, the town’s sustainability initiatives and plans are flourishing mid-year.

As for achievements so far, Daub-Murphy listed the launching of a central food scrap collection service on April 1, a successful clean-up day on April 27, a townwide tag sale on May 11 and the creation of a Sustainable Suffield Facebook page.

She said that as of the end of May, the total food scraps collected at the dumpster, now relocated to the back of Town Hall from Ffyler Place, equaled 1,940 lbs. The scraps go to farms with anaerobic digesters that combine the food waste with farm manure to create electricity, fertilizer and animal bedding. The town clean-up yielded over 700 lbs of trash. Based on anecdotal remarks she’s heard, the tag sale also proved successful.

Town Plans

She said plans call for launching a food scrap collection program at the McAlister Intermediate School in September and initiating a weekly townwide cleanup program run by supervised area prisoners. It will be funded by “nips” revenues. Nips are miniature liquor bottles for which the state collects a 5¢ surcharge when purchased in town and returns to Suffield every six months to help fund environmental initiatives. Lisa Coatti, who heads Sustainable Suffield’s Energy Subcommittee, said a fall solar energy symposium/fair is also planned. It will feature energy providers like Eversource and energy efficiency organizations like EnergizeCT to inform residents about solar energy installation. Vendors will also be present.

Sustainability Council

At the high school, the Suffield Sustainability Council, led by Keila Silva, helps the Town’s task force accomplish some of its goals and pursues some of its own. As a recent achievement, she mentioned the high school’s first Bioblitz on May 23. Connecticut scientists, including from the CT DEEP, UConn and the Audubon Society, spent the day documenting every plant and animal species they could find in the McClean Outdoor Education Preserve across the street from the high school. Students helped and then met with the scientists to learn about what they found.

She and her team also helped the Town’s task force implement the food scrap recycling program at Spaulding School last November. She presented an overview of the process to the kids, helped build excitement and introduced other speakers. Her team showed students how to separate and dispose of the food scraps. The result: the kids diverted a total of 6,588 lbs. of food waste from the landfill through the end of May.

Council Plans

Silva said she and her team will duplicate those roles when they help the Town task force launch the McAlister food scrap program in September. The team has extensively researched more environmentally sound practices for restaurants.

Next school year, they plan on approaching local eateries with statistics and information on why they should switch from Styrofoam to cardboard takeout containers, for instance. Working with the Town task force, Silva’s group plans to help implement a food scrap recycling program at the middle school, likely next winter or spring.

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