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Conservation Corner: Informal survey reveals Newarkers’ sustainability goals

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How many of us can relate to this bit of sage advice given to the City of Newark’s Conservation Advisory Commission (CAC) by a young Newarker at last September’s Community Day? Too often have I entered the grocery store only to realize that my reusable shopping bags were still in the back of my car.

The CAC benefits from such conservation insights at each September’s Newark Community Day. The CAC asks the kids, parents, UD students and citizens who drop by our booth to share their conservation goals with us. Their conservation goals, usually hastily scribbled on a large brown piece of paper stretched across our booth’s table, are testaments to our citizens’ awareness of how their small, individual actions add up to good things for our city’s natural and built environment. The fact that the majority of the conservation goals written down on the paper are from kids, Newark’s youngest citizen, gives hope that the next generation is that much more environmentally conscious and knowledgeable than prior generations.

Here’s a sampling of your fellow citizen’s personal conservation goals from the 2019 Newark Community Day:

• Reuse things more often!

• Idling gets you nowhere.

• Buy from local businesses.

• Compost more.

• Take a reusable cup with me when getting coffee.

• Walk instead of drive.

• Conserve water.

• Don’t waste paper.

• Reduce the amount of plastic bags that I use.

• Reduce plastic waste.

• Use reusable straws.

• Donate kitchen scraps to community composts.

• Plant more trees.

• Ban plastic bags

• Recycle every water bottle.

• Pick up all trash.

• I have a garden.

• I will write and call my congressperson!

• Recycle and walk more ☺ (smiley face in original…)

The most frequently written personal conservation goal was to use less plastic bags, straws or packaging. It would appear that Newarkers know that plastic poses a tangible environmental and health threat to all of us. Conserving resources is the theme that cuts across almost all of the personal conservational goals, let it be about using fewer materials (plastic straws or bags) or using less gas (no idling or walking instead of driving) or using less energy to get goods to Newark (planning a garden or buying locally.) Less is clearly more to this sampling of Newarkers.

Finally, Newarkers’ personal conservation goals illustrate their understanding that sustainability has multiple facets, not just environmental. Newarkers recognize that sustainability has economic benefits (buying local reduces the carbon emitted to bring goods to Newark), agricultural benefits (eating local helps our farmers and decreases transportation costs and carbon emissions), democratic benefits (writing your congressperson about conservation strengthens citizen participation in government), and personal health benefits (walking more is healthier.)

Indeed, our citizens’ awareness of the many aspects of sustainability strengthened Newark’s brand new Sustainability Plan, a plan that citizens, the CAC, City Officials, businesses, non-profits, schools, among others, all helped write over the last few years. The CAC encourages Newarkers to check out the city’s new Newark Community Sustainability Plan (https://newarkde.gov/1067/Newark-Community-Sustainability-Plan) and to drop by our booth at this September’s Newark Community Day to share your conservation goals and insights with us.

The Conservation Advisory Commission was created in 1977 to advise the city of Newark in the development, management and protection of its natural resources, with appropriate consideration of Newark’s human and economic resources. It meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The public is invited to attend and provide input. Commission members provide this monthly column to inform area residents on conservation issues.

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