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Sustainability- Buzz Term or the New Normal?

The Village of Patchogue Protecting the Environment Committee (PEP)

SUSTAINABILITY. At the very core it means to be able to exist constantly. The scary reality is that there needs to be a shift in our mindsets and behavior for our environment to be sustainable. The PEP Committee is here to help Patchogue continue to be the model for progressive action and forward thinking. They work on projects to improve the environment in the Village of Patchogue, including reducing plastic pollution, improving water quality, and promoting recycling.

Protecting the Environment in Patchogue (PEP) advocates on behalf of the community to protect one of Patchogue’s most valuable resources – our environment! “Through the leadership of the PEP committee recommendations for legislation, sustainable local programs, and education and awareness of everyday sustainable practices are developed to engage the community on greener choices. These initiatives provide a path to an improved and sustainable natural environment for the Village of Patchogue.”

Patchogue has long been a leader in the Long Island environmental arena. The environmental enthusiasm in Patchogue can be drawn back to the revitalization of the downtown that began about a decade ago. The influx of popular restaurants and nightlife have turned the village into a hotspot attracting new residents and visitors from all over the island. Since they were formed the PEP committee has helped to ban single use plastic bags and all styrofoam containers in Patchogue Village. In partnership with Fire Island National Seashore they have organized the Patchogue River cleanup from 2015- present. This happens every September in conjunction with “National Public Lands Day.”

Through a cooperative effort with St. Joseph's college, PEP has been working with Brookhaven Town on purchasing aerators to help oxygenate the Patchogue Lake, which has deteriorated with algae over the years. They have received a grant for an electric car charger to be installed at village hall as well as a grant to place blue recycling barrels in our parks. In addition, they are involved with environmental research; currently undergoing a microplastic study funded by an EPA grant. Plastic is everywhere; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains, a lot of it ends up in the ocean. Most plastics in the ocean break up into very small particles. These small plastic bits are called "microplastics." Other plastics are intentionally designed to be small. They're called microbeads and are used in many health and beauty products and even toothpaste. These tiny particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean and Great Lakes, posing a potential threat to aquatic life.

One of their biggest initiatives is the Village of Patchogue Green Business program. It is a voluntary program for all businesses within the village. The program is designed to showcase our environmentally friendly businesses for becoming sustainable leaders.

Applications can easily be found at http://www.patchoguevillage.org/patchogue-green-business-program and the committee is happy to help answer and questions and facilitate the process for any businesses looking to take on this action.

Aside from the leadership and pride that these green businesses will have they will also obtain many benefits upon being accepted into the program. They will receive a VOPGB decal to place in their establishment’s window and use of that logo on any business promotion and recognition on the Village of Patchogue’s website and PEP’s social media pages. They will also have access to sustainable business resources such as cost saving solutions, sustainable product options and more.

This committee is comprised of enthusiastic volunteers from a variety of backgrounds that all have a passion for the environment. They are working hard to influence business practices, change legislation and perform direct outreach to our community. Joseph Keyes, a committee member and Village of Patchogue Trustee is encouraging anyone with questions to reach out to him at jkeyes@patchoguevillage.org. Keyes expressed his willingness to learn and make a positive influence. Some of the other members include but are not limited to Kaetlyn Kerr, Susan Lienau, and Nicholas Rosenberg, the environmental health and safety manager at the Blue Point Brewery.

PEP is also working on an effort to provide native plants to those living along Patchogues water ways. Additional Green Topics they want to focus on are:

  • Watershed Protection & Nitrogen Reduction

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • Trees, Bees, & Seeds

  • Green Infrastructure & Energy

Keep a look out for workshops, educational series, and some hands on ways to help.

What can you as an individual take away from all of this? Here are a few simple ways YOU can be more sustainable... Reduce household energy use, eat locally, “dispose with disposables”, plant seeds and grow your own food, recycle and buy recycled products, resell and donate unwanted items, conserve water, buy fair trade products, and rely less on your car. As with most things in life, it takes time and adjustment but eventually these habits become your new normal. These little differences add up. We all matter and have the ability to make an impact. If we want an environment to enjoy there is no other way.

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