As we revel in the first week of spring, we at village hall are so thankful for the unusually mild winter. Not only was it economically beneficial, but it also freed up our department of public works staff to undertake other chores including sidewalk cleaning, bench repair and staining and park maintenance. I thank our department of public works for making the village shine this spring.
The nice weather also sees the return of landscape company trucks and home gardeners working on village lawns.
On the municipal level, we continue to care for trees and open spaces by keeping them free of chemicals and pesticides. The lush lawn at village hall is a successful example of all organic care. Every leaf that fell in the fall was mulched back into the soil and we will do the same with the grass clippings. The grass will be kept at a length higher than normal (over 3 inches). This facilitates stronger turf which is the best weed control, thus negating the need for pesticides which cling to shoes and animal feet. Many of the lawn chemicals used by local landscapers and first popularized in the 1960’s were by-products of chemicals produced for use during war and are only now being tested for their true toxicity and the actual duration of their potency.
If you choose not to use grass clippings for composting or mulching, we ask that you bag them for disposal this season. We can remove bags much more frequently, preventing the pungent smells emanating from the decomposing piles. Also after rainstorms, these piles end up clogging the sewers impeding needed drainage. The piles also contribute to slippery and narrow road surfaces creating a real danger for drivers and pedestrians. As a benefit, if grass clippings are bagged, twigs and yard waste may be comingled in the same bags.
In the same vein of eco-stewardship, the village is also making a concerted effort to save water. Not only is it a finite resource but the cost of water from our purveyor, United Water, is truly exorbitant.
Environmental experts recommend watering lawns only once a day in early morning when evaporation is at its lowest, thus maximizing the effectiveness of the water. Watering deeply into the soil early in the morning encourages deep root growth that is more drought resistant. In an additional effort to conserve water, make sure sprinklers are calibrated so water is never directed onto driveways or sidewalks.
Apropos to all of the above eco-efforts, the village recently learned that we again ranked in the top three communities of the 45 in Westchester in the percentage of recycled goods versus garbage. To put in perspective, Bronxville recycles approximately 65 percent of our trash versus the national average of 35 percent.
Recycling is not only obviously good for the environment, but it makes significant economic sense for the village. Our cost of dumping non-recyclable garbage into landfills or burn facilities is extremely high. Last year, approximately $180,000 of your tax dollars were spent to remove garbage and the fee is projected to rise again this year.
In contrast, there is no removal or “tipping fee” for recyclables and when we deliver recyclables to the Material Recovery Facility, they are sold to manufacturers and the village reaps its portion of the profits.
As a refresher, the following items may now be recycled in Westchester County in addition to the obvious ones such as newspapers, beverage bottles and aluminum cans: cereal boxes, phone books, pizza cartons, corrugated cardboard, glossy magazines and inserts, aluminum foil and trays, egg cartons and detergent bottles and now even the caps and lids to any tin or plastic item.
The following items still cannot be accepted for recycling: paint or oil cans, plastic and Styrofoam packing materials, waxed cardboard such as milk cartons, cardboard containing any traces of food products, paperback and hardcover books, clothes hangers and uncoded plastics such as found in large toys and plastic tableware. Only glass that has been used for packaging food or beverages may be recycled. Light bulbs, mirrors and ceramic and kitchen cookware must be placed in the regular garbage.
Bronxville has always taken great pride in being in the forefront of most important issues and I believe we must be leaders in the environmental care of our village. We must set the standard for the preservation of water and the natural maintenance of our properties. For Bronxville, compliance should not be the result of compulsory legislation, rather as an intelligent response to the obvious need to preserve our beautiful home with a level of stewardship and environmental care be fitting its history.