WASS Letter To The Editor For Black Westchester

Date:

Thank you for featuring Dr. Courtney Williams from Westchester Alliance for Sustainable Solutions on the People Before Politics show recently. Though it may feel good to separate recycling from trash, the reality is that all that material often ends up in an incinerator like 40-year-old Wheelabrator Westchester in Peekskill, emitting harmful chemicals that affect everyone who breathes, especially those with asthma, COPD, and other respiratory conditions, lowering quality of life and raising the number of emergency room visits. One way to reduce the harmful effects of the incinerator emissions is to keep food scraps, such as vegetable peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, and uneaten food, out of the trash. These materials cause the incinerator to burn more fuel and work inefficiently.

Instead of burning food scraps and breathing them in, we should compost them, which restores soil and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. Community composting programs can improve public health, increase neighbor-to-neighbor connection, and provide jobs and job training skills to participants. For example, the Baltimore Compost Collective is a thriving organization that employs local youth and sustains community connection, using their compost to improve the lives of their neighbors by building their soil and growing nutritious food. Westchester communities like Peekskill have a similar opportunity, and food scrap collection programs already exist, though they are of limited availability to many residents. Peekskill NAACP is working with the Peekskill school district to provide food scrap recycling to students, and the Peekskill Conservation Advisory council is working to provide publicly available drop-off bins in downtown Peekskill.

Westchester County has earmarked $90,000.00 for a waste reduction study that could expand municipal composting programs. Rather than continuing to run the Wheelabrator incinerator, which has operated without a permit since 2021, County Executive George Latimer and the legislature should make full use of that $90,000.00 to secure cleaner air, make our communities more resilient, and improve the future for all residents. They need to hire a certified Zero Waste consultant to ensure that public health and the environment are the top priorities for an updated waste disposal system. Additionally, WASS applauds the $1.3 million approved for a composting facility that will serve the entire county, and we hope that Westchester communities find ways to make it easy for their residents to contribute to this facility. Currently, groups like WASS, the NAACP, and the Peekskill CAC are putting programs into place that the county isn’t offering, but we know that can change.

Travis Carpenter – Westchester Alliance for Sustainable Solutions

[Editor’s Note, if you missed Dr. Williams appearance on Black Westchester presents the People Before Politics Radio Show you can see it here.]

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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