Going for Green in Lyons
By Kathleen Thurmes, Eco-Cycle
This column has been part of the Lyons Green Star Community Project, a partnership between the Town of Lyons and Eco-Cycle funded through grants from the Environmental Protection Agency and the CAN’D Aid Foundation Crush It Crusade. As the Zero Waste project winds up this month, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on our
successes, and to thank everyone who has participated; from students and teachers, to businesses and elected officials, as well as the outstanding Lyons residents who have taken surveys, attended workshops, and contributed in so many other ways.
What We’ve Accomplished
As many of you already know, both public schools in Lyons are now certified Green Star Schools, which means that everyone works together to recycle, compost, and reduce their waste as much as possible. It’s not only the students who are involved in this program; it’s also the teachers, the administration, the food service staff, and the janitorial staff. Both schools now have student “Eco-Clubs,” to help continue sustainability efforts well into the future.
Likewise, one of the main goals for the Green Star Community Project has been to engage with everyone in the community and be as inclusive as possible. We’ve been focusing on reaching out to residents, schools, businesses, the Town government, and town events.
Every house in town has been visited by local high school students who stopped by for a survey or a waste audit and a chat about recycling and composting. Hundreds of residents participated in the “Spring Cleanup Days,” selling used items for others to reuse and recycling hard-to-recycle materials, and in workshops on backyard gardening, composting, bee keeping, and chicken-keeping.
Today, local businesses proudly display posters in their shop windows proclaiming: “Our Business Supports Making Lyons a Green Star Zero Waste Community!,” and most have been visited by a member of Eco-Cycle’s outreach team offering help with waste reduction. The Town organized an all-staff meeting to talk about why recycling and composting are important, and what can be done to make both activities easier. And finally, the Town of Lyons, with its rock star Sustainability Coordinator, Toby Russell, has amped up Zero Waste services at all Town-sponsored public events. All of these activities have moved the town closer to the common goal of achieving Zero Waste.
A major challenge that Lyons continues to face is a lack of compost collection services for organic material, whether in the form of commercial composting, a wood-chipper for mulching yard waste, or a community composting site. Many residents have taken matters into their own hands by maintaining compost piles and tumblers in their backyards.
The Lyons Sustainable Futures Commission has been working diligently to assess a number of different options for the town to increase its recycling and composting rate. Eco-Cycle looks forward to continuing to work with the Town of Lyons to seek out appropriate solutions for waste services and programs, and to help with education efforts within and around the community.
It’s been an honor to work with the Town of Lyons and Lyons residents, and lots of fun too!