By Sue Waits, Environmental Task Force Chair
The JONAH Environmental Task Force(ETF) is busy planning projects for 2024 around the two priorities of Waste Diversion and Biodiversity which are further explained below.
Waste Diversion Strategies Composting
A recent DNR audit revealed that 40% of landfill waste is organic and thus could be composted and diverted from landfill to save precious space. The Eau Claire and Eau Claire County Sustainability Advisory Committees have both identified composting as a strategy to reduce landfill waste. The big question is what strategy can we develop to educate the public on the benefits of composting and communicate how residents and institutions can participate.
One strategy is to start in the schools. Although there are a few schools in the ECASD that compost cafeteria food waste, the Eau Claire County Recycling and Sustainability received a USDA grant to increase school composting programs. The program has just been launched by the EC County Office of Recycling and Sustainability with the goal that more schools throughout the county will implement a compost program.
The ETF is also reviewing other opportunities to promote composting at various Eau Claire festivals and events. Planning for these projects will continue through 2024.
Single Use Plastic
The ETF is also organizing waste free and education platforms focusing on Single Use Plastic Reduction. One event is planned at the Fall Festival in September where the ETF will host a table with information about single use plastic alternatives and will challenge participants to take the “Plastics Quiz”. In addition, clear information on plastics recycling will be shared. The fact that only number 1 and 2 plastic bottles are recycled in EC County leaves a large portion of plastics sent to the landfill. Information is the first stage to promoting change.
In addition to education programs, the ETF Plastics Subcommittee is looking at various projects in 2024 that reduce single use plastics in EC County. These projects are in the planning stage at this point.
Lawn Care Alternatives
The ETF was part of a partnership with many community groups to promote No Mow May earlier this spring. There were several events in June and July that challenged individuals to rethink their lawn and consider less turf and more native plantings. We plan to continue the momentum in 2024.
“Nature’s Best Hope”
The ETF is excited to promote the Eau Claire LE Phillips Library’s One Book One Community and the Chippewa Valley BookFest selection, “Nature’s Best Hope” by Douglas Tallamy. This book features the concept of the Homegrown National Park and introduces eight major steps that individuals can take in their own yard to support essential insects, birds and other wildlife.
The primary goal of the ETF is to introduce as many people to reading the book as possible. Book groups are being encouraged through Neighborhood Associations, Garden Clubs, Master Gardening Associations, and Interfaith Green Teams. The library is also hosting various events into Spring 2024. A major highlight is a presentation on October 14 by the author, Douglas Tallamy. Further information is available at the library website, https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info.
In addition to community book clubs, the JONAH organization will host a “Nature’s Best Hope” book discussion on September 27. Information about this particular book group is available at the JONAH website, https://jonahjustice.org. Copies of “Nature’s Best Hope” are available through the library or Dotter’s Books.
The ETF is energized by the number of collaborations throughout Eau Claire County which only strengthens our community.
JONAH ETF welcomes anyone to attend meetings which are held the second Monday of the month. Meetings times do vary to accommodate schedules, so please check the JONAH website for details, https://jonahjustice.org. For more information about the Environmental Task Force, please contact Sue Waits at [email protected].