A Green Machine–Norwalk and a sustainable future
While it seems cities across the country and around the globe can’t get there soon enough, progress continues to be made toward a more environmentally, economically, and socially responsible future for Norwalk. Whether you label it “green,” view it as a sustainable notion, or participate as a conscientious consumer, the goal is a universal one, and the City of Norwalk is making advances in the direction of a more environmentally responsible city.
In January 2019, the Norwalk Common Council unanimously passed the Carryout Bag Ordinance, which took effect on July 8. Local grassroots organization Skip the Plastic Norwalk was one of the first groups to announce the news, continuing to educate and empower business owners and consumers to “refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic in order to work toward a community free of plastic pollution.”
Riding on the heels of this well-received plastic bag ban, and effective Earth Day, April 22, food and beverage establishments in Norwalk will no longer offer plastic stirrers, and plastic straws will be available only upon request.
Put forth by the Norwalk Common Council and supported by city and statewide consumers, non-profits, student groups, and business owners, this ordinance outlines a strict ban on plastic stirrers and allows single-use straw distribution on request for persons with a disability or medical condition who use such straws as a drinking tool.
At the same time, Norwalk will implement its ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam) use, which scientists have concluded is harmful to human health, including leading to higher risks of cancers and neurological effects.
To address greenhouse-gas emissions and as a step toward achieving equitable, accessible, affordable, and clean mobility, Norwalk’s Department of Public Works will be replacing city vehicles with partial electric hybrids this summer. Ten new hybrids will act as “pool cars” that will be staged at City Hall to be used by the various city departments. The electric hybrids will replace the city’s 2008 Ford Taurus automobiles. The 2020 Ford Fusion hybrid averages 43 miles per gallon, replacing the 2008 Taurus, which averaged 15 miles per gallon.
This year will also see the City of Norwalk’s Green Infrastructure project begin at Webster Street Parking Lot, which will improve water quality in Norwalk Harbor. The project will install green infrastructure as part of the repaving of a 5.4-acre public parking lot in the South Norwalk business district located near the Norwalk Harbor, which drains stormwater into Long Island Sound in Connecticut. It will alleviate local flooding, increase tree canopy, and prevent 6,700,000 gallons of stormwater and 12 pounds of nitrogen annually from flowing into the Sound.
“Protecting the environment is a top priority for the City of Norwalk because it directly affects our entire community,” says Mayor Harry W. Rilling. “Ensuring residents have access to basic resources, that their health is being protected, and that they enjoy a good quality of life is critical to the growth of our City.”
DID YOU KNOW?
›› Norwalk has been an acknowledged Tree City USA city for 15 consecutive years as designated by the Arbor Day Foundation. This distinction is bestowed upon cities that adhere to strict guidelines and have an appointed tree warden who has care and control of all public trees. Norwalk’s tree planting throughout the city provides an environmentally sound tree canopy, which helps to stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. The trees also block cold winter winds, attract birds and wildlife, purify our air, prevent soil erosion, clean our water, beautify our community, and improve the physical resiliency of the City.
››In the fall of 2019, the city planted 34 trees, 14 of which were planted at 50 Washington Plaza thanks to an $18,500 Community Restoration and Resiliency Fund grant from Keep America Beautiful. Some 260 trees were planted in fiscal year 2018-2019 through a combination of the City’s tree planting program funds and outside grants and development projects.
›› In 2018 Norwalk launched its “Call-In Bulky Waste Collection” service to curb illegal dumping in the city. The call-in collection program is available to the City of Norwalk residents that receive city garbage collection (4th Taxing District). The 4th Taxing District is divided into four sections. Each section is assigned one bulky waste collection per month. Collectible items include furniture, mattresses, rugs, metal appliances (sans Freon), children’s’ toys, patio furniture, and more.
›› Spring Cleanup 2019 with Keep Norwalk Beautiful had more than 600 volunteers collecting over 7,000 pounds of litter and debris from Norwalk’s beautiful shoreline, the banks of the Norwalk River, area ponds, city parks, neighborhood surroundings, business centers, school ground, and public wooded trails. This year’s cleanup is April 18, 2020, as a kick-off event to Earth Day, April 22, and other green events taking place throughout the City of Norwalk.
›› Many city buildings, including Norwalk City Hall, have implemented the automatic on/off detector for lighting and water faucets.