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Jan 2, 2018 10:01 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

New Year's 2018 Wish List

Include some integrity in celebrating important occasions: don’t litter! MIKE BOTTINI
Jan 3, 2018 10:34 AM

This is a time of year for taking stock of the year that passed and planning for the new year that lies ahead. Here are some thoughts, hopes and wishes for 2018, by no means comprehensive, related to our local environment.Much good work has been done implementing sustainable energy projects. Many of our emergency services buildings have solar panels on their roofs, and today it is not uncommon to see them on many residential buildings. But there is much more that can be done. Why not get them on all our large municipal rooftops and over parking lots? Schools are an obvious location, and facilities such as the East Hampton Rec Center, with its high demand for hot water, could benefit from a solar hot water system.

Let’s focus on this “low hanging fruit” instead of looking to clear woodlands for large scale solar farms. And let’s not forget that the most inexpensive, simple, and environmentally sound part of the energy solution is conservation. Turning off lights when not needed, turning down the heat and AC when no one is home, and unplugging that second refrigerator that is 90 percent empty. There’s lots of room for improvement there.

Long Island’s dominant land use is residential, and despite our excellent land protection and acquisition programs, how we steward our individual properties has a huge impact on our environment: groundwater, bays and ponds, drinking water, and wildlife. The cumulative impact of reducing the area of our lawn and following the lead of Edwina Van Gal’s Perfect Earth Project for tips on how to eliminate our use of pesticides and reduce our use of water and fertilizer would be tremendous. For more information visit perfectearthproject.org.

It’s clear to the volunteers who organize cleanups of our beaches and roadsides that the nickel deposit on beverage containers is just not enough. I remember the 5¢ Coca-Cola bottle deposit back in the 1970s; that refund figure just doesn’t cut it today and needs to be adjusted.

The most prevalent beverage container among the litter today is one that did not exist in the 1970s: water bottles. Much of that could be reduced if everyone got into the habit of carrying their own refillable water bottle. And while you’re at it, purchase a couple of cloth grocery bags.

In early summer we have thousands of balloons washing up on our beaches. It’s hard to believe that anyone today does not know the problems associated with releasing balloons, a form of littering that apparently has been integrated into celebrations of graduation, fatherhood, and moms. I hope that people will wake up to the fact that these celebrations are no less fun and meaningful without the balloons.

In 2017, a lot of attention was directed at improving the water quality of our bays via innovative septic systems. We need to also consider the long term impacts of sewering and discharging the treated water into the ocean and bays. This amounts to mining our groundwater/drinking water resource and is not sustainable. This problem has been well documented in Nassau County where most of the county is sewered. There’s no simple solution, but as with the septic system and nitrogen issue, the first step is to acknowledge there’s a problem.

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