HomeClimate2023 Climate Resolutions: Easy to Make and Affordable to Keep

2023 Climate Resolutions: Easy to Make and Affordable to Keep

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By Sue Thomas, Sustainability Coordinator, 978-399-2798

2023 Climate Resolutions:

Easy to make and affordable to keep Climate news is everywhere this year. And overwhelming. However, while extreme weather events interrupted holiday celebrations across the continent and the globe, the Federal Government continued to roll out programs and financial assistance to citizens, municipalities, landlords and business owners for reducing emissions, and the incoming Healey Administration buttressed recent state legislation and funding for the same array of constituents with an Executive Order creating a new Climate Chief for Massachusetts. How does this impact you? It means whatever your circumstance, there is a climate resolution you can keep.

These steps make Federal and State dollars available to help you lower your carbon footprint and protect the town and the people you love in the form of free equipment, rebates and tax credits, to:

  • Make your home more energy efficient, just as energy prices are increasing.
  • Electrify your home and install clean energy.
  • Add battery storage.
  • Purchase a new appliance.
  • Buy an electric car.

See Mass Save, Energy.gov, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Green Energy
Consumers Alliance, and the IRS for more information. Incentives and tax credits are usually “stackable” meaning you can claim them all, and generally people are eligible for greater discounts in lower income brackets, as the most recent legislation at both the federal and state levels places a priority on equity. Don’t be shy about checking into these resources!

How is Westford helping you?

  • Westford’s Climate Roadmap outlines municipal, residential and business goals.
  • Grant funded part time Sustainability Coordinator charged with coordinating the
    implementation of the Climate Roadmap and helping everyone in town capture this
    money to make positive changes. Come meet me at the Cameron Senior Center in
    January and February!
  • Group purchasing of electricity and municipal net metering agreements. If you are not
    already part of Westford Pop, sign up! Opt Up to higher levels of renewables if you can.
    Perhaps this is your New Year’s commitment?
  • Sustainable Building Standards.
  • Curbside trash and recycling removal and resources to recycle everything else.
  • Education in composting, Earth Machines and the Litter League.
  • Participation in the Green Communities Program, resulting in grant funded
    improvements to municipal facilities and fleets and a more resilient building code.
  • Participation in the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program. Come to the Public Forum on January 19th to learn about the Tree and Invasive Species Inventory and Management Plan.
  • The Westford Public Schools have made sustainability and the Westford Climate Roadmap a priority, adopting a new sustainability policy on top of the town wide Buy Recycled policy and incorporating Sustainability into the District Wide Plan.
  • Conservation Planning to protect the character and resilience of the town.
  • The Water Department (plan to buy a rain barrel this spring!) and the Health Department have outstanding education initiatives on water quality.
  • Our Public Safety officials (DPW, Police, Fire, Ambulance, Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Corps, shelters) are all prepared to help during extreme weather events.
  • While it is not possible to mention every effort, department and committee that is hard at work in this space in one newsletter, all of town government is committed to protecting your health, the health of the town and of the planet as we address changes in the years ahead.

What will you resolve to do this year?

  • Make a plan using the resources above to select energy and money saving tasks that
    work for you.
  • Call MassSave to make a plan for you based on a free energy audit. Did you know energy audits can be redone every three years?
  • If this year, you hope to reach out and learn more, consider how you might volunteer
    for a town committee or an advocacy organization like Westford Climate Action.
  • If money and time are tight, even with these resources and supports, traditional
    conservation values can underpin your resolution to help the planet and yourself.
    Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is the new motto and it works for almost any decision
    you may make.

    • Refuse it – distinguish between needs and wants and choose the lower emission
      option.
    • Reduce – If you can’t or won’t refuse an item, take or buy less of it. Consider
      items with recycled content and limit plastic when possible, including in clothing.
    • Reuse – before you buy, consider if you have something you can repurpose
      rather than purchase, and before you toss, if that item has more life, or a
      possible second one, give or donate it to someone who will use it.
    • Recycle – Buy things that recycle or compost at the end of their lives and then do
      so when their utility has been exhausted. Aim for zero waste, meaning no trash,
      and see how low you can go!

This thought process can make a big difference when it comes to big problems for
the environment, your budget, and town trash costs, as well as our global climate
footprint.

One important example is to apply this thinking to food waste:

  • Refuse: Limit or eliminate items that are high on the food chain, use a
    tremendous amount of water to grow, are out of season, or come from far away.
    Buy local to encourage sustainable local food production. You may be surprised
    at how satisfying a blend of substitutes and small portions can be.
  • Reduce: Buy only what you will use. Measure your current food waste. Most
    people are shocked to realize how much food they throw away. Make a list
    before you shop to avoid duplication and multiple trips to the store.
  • Reuse: Make a soup or a sauce or a casserole or a stock with your leftovers or
    older produce. Freeze items for later.
  • Compost! You don’t have to be a chemist or a gardener to make great topsoil
    for your lawn or garden.

Other examples of areas to start thinking about Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle include
paper and plastic goods, but really any area of purchasing and consumption might
benefit from a second look using this mindset.

Consider doing a trash audit one week and use it to guide your changes. Limit yourself to one thing at a time and give yourself time (3 months at least) to build the new habit. Once you have made the switch, you will wonder what took you so long!

Take advantage of all these people and dollars working for you. Make a plan and work it
to keep a climate resolution in 2023!