The Roanoker - September/October 2020 - 47

Shrink Your
Footprint
Reducing your environmental impact
is easier than you might imagine.
Consider, for example, buying less
food. In the U.S., 40% of all food
becomes garbage and just five
percent is composted. "Pre-cycling"
means paying attention before using
anything that can be recycled.
Here are a few ideas on how to
reduce your impact:
Recycle appliances and old
technology (Home Depot recycles
appliances).
Recycle only items larger than a
credit card. Small items jam recycling
machines.
Clean containers before recycling.
Use toothbrushes with replaceable
heads.

Mark Baker of the Blue Ridge Environmental
Defense League has kept track of emissions in
our region for years, using the Department of
Environmental Quality monitors. He says that in
the Roanoke Valley "the pollutant levels for PM
2.5 [particulate matter] and ozone [which has a
devasting effect on lungs] have decreased over
the years. That's good. ... Research has shown
that small increases and decreases in this impact
health, so reducing as much as possible should
be the goal.
"There are several factors in the decline. Of
course, the coal-fired power plant reduction is the
primary reason for the declines. ... Better vehicle
emission standards and fuel standards have also
played a role. Various EPA programs such as the
Clean Diesel Program, which supports ways to
reduce diesel emissions, have also helped."
Award-winning environmental activist
Diana Christopulos of Salem insists that "the
biggest challenge is in energy use for electricity.
American Electric Power continues to rely much
more heavily on coal, the source with the heaviest
footprint for greenhouse gases, particle pollution,
mercury, and others. The other source that is hard
to control is I-81 and its truck traffic, a major
source of particle pollution and ozone."
ABOVE:
Reduce your environmental imprint by not throwing stuff in the
rivers and streams.

TheRoanoker.com

Use cloth instead of paper towels and
facial wipes.
Use razors with replaceable blades.
Replace plastic kitchen wrap and foil
with reusable containers or fabric
containers.
Eliminate bottled water (you can use a
seltzer maker if you like seltzer).
Reuse plastic grocery bags in a variety
of ways.
Eliminate plastic cutlery and straws,
using steel.
Employ reusable coffee filters.
When eating in restaurants, take your
own containers for leftovers.
Shop for fresh groceries using mesh
bags.
Compost food leftovers and yard
waste (a mulching mower eliminates
raking).
Give old clothes to thrift stores and
buy your clothes there.
Recycle paper, batteries and printer
cartridges from home offices.
Refill ink cartridges (a number of
Roanoke area business do that; it's
cheaper, cleaner). -DS

There has been talk in the business community
of "dramatic expansion" of the Valley's population,
including projections of a population of a
million people within a few decades. That would
have numerous environmentally destructive
consequences, says Christopulos.
"Roanoke City is the only local government
acting to reduce its carbon footprint and thereby
generally reduce the cost of energy use [through
conservation and efficiency] while cleaning
the air," says Christopulos. However, there are
a number of non-governmental organizations
working toward footprint-reduction. (See
sidebar.)
"Our air quality remains good," says Wayne
Strickland, director of the Roanoke/Alleghany
Regional Commission. "We've haven't had 'red
alerts' on ground level ozone for several years.
Water quality is important to us since we are
marketing our 'Outside' brand. Stormwater runoff
is still an issue, especially when we receive twoplus inches of rain in a short time period. Our
Tree City status in our urban localities has been
maintained." Roanoke is a major planter of trees.

"A key issue
related to
continuing to
improve our
environment is
having enough
funding to cover
the costs of
environmental
protection,"
says Strickland.
Ivy Main, renewable energy chairwoman of the
Virginia Sierra Club, notes that in mid-March
Virginia's Virginia General Assembly "passed

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

47


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The Roanoker - September/October 2020

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The Roanoker - September/October 2020 - Cover3
The Roanoker - September/October 2020 - Cover4
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