Lakewood takes pride in being an environmentally conscious community, as we should. Recycling rates are up; bike infrastructure promotes a healthy option for Lakewoodites and our environment. But there are other responsibilities where our practice has fallen behind our intentions. To honor Earth Day 2017, here are a few examples of what I believe Lakewood can do better
Despite good progress in aggregate numbers, our city’s approach to recycling has actually become less supportive for many people. Before 2015, apartment residents could leave recyclables in blue bags for collection; now the refuse department only collects from blue bins, which it doesn’t provide to most apartments or businesses. The official “solution” is for them to drive their own recycling to the Berea Road facility—even though city collection trucks pass down their own street once every week. Most probably throw everything away, instead, even if they would like to be less wasteful. Let’s give them a better option.
Several years ago, Lakewood passed an ordinance to restrict vehicle idling, in a commendable effort to “save fuel, improve air quality and reduce noise pollution.” But in the years since Nikki Antonio left city council to represent us in Columbus, the measure which she introduced seems to have fallen into neglect. (The last result for “idling” on our city’s web site is from 2012.) It may not be practical for Lakewood to enforce this ordinance everywhere, but our city could do more to help remind people who simply don’t think about the issue. Particularly operators of city vehicles, who don’t always follow the city’s own rule.
Because our green space in Lakewood is limited, it’s important that we make the most of it. Parks provide not only beauty and recreational opportunities, but a valuable space for nature in a built-up region like ours. I’m for promoting our green space in three ways. First, by formally protecting public green spaces that aren’t yet official parks. Second, by coupling that with investments that encourage people to use our parks. Residents who actively enjoy them, whether by cultivating a public garden or shooting hoops, are the best guarantee of vibrant parks. Third, by modernizing our groundskeeping methods to phase out harmful chemicals, such as…
This could be the biggest way that local policy matters for a safe local environment, at present. Lakewood’s public works department applies the herbicide glyphosate (“RoundUp”) throughout our city; the harsh weedkiller is also used widely in much of the world. But that’s beginning to change since a 2015 report by the World Health Organization’s Agency for Research on Cancer. In the WHO report, 17 international experts unanimously declared glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Since then, the product’s manufacturer Monsanto has resorted to tobacco-industry tactics to dispute the warning. But a growing number of communities big and small are taking the scientists’ findings seriously. Mexico, the Netherlands and Sri Lanka have restricted glyphosate; Canada, Germany and other countries are considering restrictions; cities including Chicago and Paris have made their public spaces glyphosate-free. California now requires that glyphosate carry a carcinogen warning, and while Monsanto has sued over the decision, courts have sided with California.
Lakewood shouldn’t wait for a lawsuit or decision from above. We should make the transition to smarter, safer alternatives now. In this and other ways, I’m running for city council to practice progressive leadership that lives up to our community’s expectations. I hope I can earn your support!