*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the East Coast Current.
The city commission of New Smyrna Beach recently and unanimously passed a single-use plastics ban on all city properties, and kudos to them. The same body also voted to appropriate $9 million to preserve 152 acres of woodlands and marsh along Turnbull Creek after a bond resolution was overwhelmingly approved for that purpose last year. These are but a few steps, but they’re headed in the right direction.
New Smyrna Beach Bans Single-Use Plastics
Other municipalities in Volusia County have been slow to catch on, and that’s too bad. The environmental issues facing Florida are not going to improve any time soon, and local governments have an opportunity to lead by example through innovative efforts to improve how we live, move and dispose of our waste. I’m glad the city of New Smyrna Beach is stepping up to the plate. With the city’s position at the headwaters of the Indian River Lagoon, it is vitally important that it leads the charge to protect our natural resources, which are also our principal sources of income.
Though Volusia municipalities have been mostly inert in enacting meaningful ordinances aimed at reducing waste and environmental destruction, other cities in the state have been unequivocal in their approach. The city of Orlando has a massive sustainability initiative dubbed Green Works Orlando. Mayor Buddy Dyer hired a chief sustainability officer, and enacted ambitious goals for the city to create more public gardens, more farmer’s markets, create more power from sustainable resources, and reduce waste and pollution.
Orlando’s City Energy Project
Orlando was selected as one of 10 U.S. cities to participate in the City Energy Project, which will save the city around $2.5 million annually in energy costs throughout its 55 municipal buildings. Other cities participating in the program include Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Last month, my company, Yaupon Brothers, installed the first “learning garden” at the City of Orlando’s water treatment facilities at Conserve II, which aims to educate the public on the importance of native food systems inside sustainability initiatives. The garden features 12 native Yaupon trees, which have been used agriculturally to produce tea in Florida for thousands of years, and demonstrate the viability of native crops without the application of fertilizers, pesticides or supplemental irrigation.
Things You Can Do to Help the Local and Global Environment
Steps like these from the cities of New Smyrna Beach and Orlando are encouraging, but there is a lot of work to be done. Thankfully, protecting the environment in Florida is becoming a bi-partisan issue as we’re realizing that it takes all of us to maintain this wonderful state as a life support system.
With that said, please be mindful of your trash and your application of fertilizers and pesticides. Volusia County has a summer-time fertilizer ban in place. Please do your part to keep our community beautiful. And – cheers to thoughtful businesses like Island Roasters, Go-Juice and our beach concessions, which have been using compostable cups and/or straws since long before the ban went into action. You guys rock!