WESTFORD — The Town of Westford welcomes its newest employee, Sue Thomas, serving as the town’s new sustainability coordinator.
Thomas has previously served on Westford’s Recycling Commission and currently serves on Westford’s Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee. Her position is split between Westford and Carlisle under an Efficiency and Regionalization grant, with the two towns receiving a $94,902 award to fund the role for one year.
“The hope of both towns is that I will be able to demonstrate in concert with committees in both towns enough value in terms of bringing in resources and spreading information so that our populations can bring down our emissions,” Thomas told WestfordCAT.
She continued, “I hope to bring a lot of added value in terms of embedding sustainability criteria in the decisions across the community.”
Thomas encourages ‘zero waste’
A primary goal of Thomas is to educate residents on ‘zero waste,’ where residents reduce the amount of recycling and waste they dispose of. Thomas says reducing waste will ultimately save the town a money.
“The solid waste issue is that we are paying per ton to dispose of our trash,” she said. “We’re also paying the fee for hauling to pick up that trash. It does cost a good sum of money to do that.”
She noted that though residents should continue to recycle, she notes consuming less and composting food waste will help the environment while saving tax dollars.
“Recycling is still better than trashing something, but it is not the ultimate end. We want to think about producing less trash, and food waste in particular is a focus because its so heavy, its mostly water,” she said.
She continued, “most of us have lawns where we can compost, because you are basically paying your tax dollars to haul around water and depriving your soil of the nutrients.”
With the introduction of a new textile and mattress waste ban on Nov. 1, Thomas encourages residents to repurpose and recycle these materials.
“If after Nov. 1 you put these items in the trash and our hauler takes them and is found at the incinerator floor with them, the hauler will be fined,” she said. “No doubt it will make it back into our contractual prices.”
Thomas praises sustainable architecture, looks to be a resource for homeowners
Thomas praised neighboring communities for creating sustainable architecture, and hopes to promote similar efforts in Westford.
“Some of our neighbors build net zero buildings, and they did so affordably, so we know it can be done,” she said.
Westford has continued to consider or have already approved a number of projects with sustainability in mind, including HVAC upgrades for the Cameron Senior Center, an expansion to the J.V. Fletcher Library, as well as a proposed municipal building at 51 Main St.
As buildings within town continue to move towards net zero emissions, Thomas hopes residents will find value in her services as she begins outreach within the community.
“The first thing is to be a face for these things, so people think ‘oh, I should call the sustainability coordinator,'” she said.
She continued, “I’d like to have a media outreach plan and reach people where they are. The more we can do to keep this in the front of people’s minds so they go ‘oh yeah, I should think about that.'”
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