HomeClimateOfficials, activists kick off inaugural Earth Day celebration

Officials, activists kick off inaugural Earth Day celebration

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WESTFORD — Activists and town officials commemorated Earth Day at Westford Climate Action’s inaugural celebration on the town common.

The event saw nearly two dozen organizations, student groups and town departments in attendance. The event celebrated the town’s climate roadmap, one of Westford Climate Action’s legislative accomplishments at Special Town Meeting in Oct. 2020.

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Dirje Legerstee, of Westford, in costume promoting environmental stewardship. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

Town departments, commissions educate residents 

Dozens of organizations, including Westford Conservation Trust, Westford Recycling Commission and Mass Save were in attendance, among others. Richard Strazdas, clerk of the Conservation Trust was in attendance, educating attendees and distributing tree saplings.

“We want this to be kid-centric because they’re the future,” Strazdas told WestfordCAT. “They may not internalize it, but 20 years from now they’ll worry about it.”

Strazdas noted that the Conservation Trust is always seeking trail stewards to manage trails within the town’s network.

“If there’s a trail that you like, you could volunteer to be the steward of that trail,” he said. “Just keep tabs on it, let us know if there are any issues like erosion or any others.”

The Westford Recycling Commission was in attendance, hoping to speak with residents on reduction, sustainability and composting. Elizabeth Sawyer, a member of the commission, encouraged reduction to residents as the first step in reducing waste.

Westford Recycling Commission representatives promoted their recycling and composting bins to residents. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

“People should be reducing and reusing. By the time you’re recycling something, you’re still requiring energy to be invested to refactor that material into something else,” Sawyer told WestfordCAT.

She continued, “I think a big strategy is around producer responsibility. The companies that are creating all of the goods have more responsibility to reduce, if not eliminate all of this packaging.”

Private partners share energy efficiency tips

Private partners, like Mass Save, an initiative sponsored by utility providers to provide incentives and resources promoting energy efficiency.

“In theory it’s about greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions. But it’s also about lowering energy use across the state,” said Jaime Haber, representing Mass Save. “It also has the side effect of making homes more affordable to live in and more resilient over time.”

Programs that involve modifying homes like solar panels are typically unavailable for renters. Haber affirmed that options exist for renters to reduce their carbon footprint.

“They can get energy efficient shower heads, generally,” he said. “They can also get smart power strips that can basically change the load of what’s plugged in and what’s not.”

Speakers address attendees, organizers 

A number of speakers addressed attendees, including Westford Climate Action’s indigenous representative Jill Cresey-Gross. Cresey-Gross, a citizen of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki spoke on the impact of climate change on indigenous populations.

“Indigenous peoples live the closest to the land. Climate change, pollution and land acquisition affects them first,” Cresey-Gross told WestfordCAT. “These people do not have the same resources as the mainstream so it hurts them even more.”

She continued, “People are living on their land. When it’s gone, all of the ceremonies associated with that land are gone. All of their culture, their burials, it really hits people in the gut.”

Rep. James Arciero (right) speaking with Westford Climate Action founder Carol Morse. (Photo/Ben Domaingue)

Legislators, such as Rep. James Arciero spoke during the event, praising the state’s climate roadmap and the Offshore Wind Power Act, which provides $50 million in incentives for offshore wind development.

“Massachusetts continues to be a leader in renewable energy and sustainable practices,” Arciero told WestfordCAT. “We continue to lead the way in climate resiliency and sustainability.”

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Ben Domaingue, Managing Editor
Ben Domaingue, Managing Editorhttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.