Ever since the U.S. announced in June 2017 that it will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, the number of Americans that are worried about climate change has risen to almost 70 percent, according to a study done by Yale University. With Gallup polls showing that nearly two-thirds of Americans consider themselves environmentally conscious, Meridian Township offers numerous efforts to help reduce climate change.
Meridian Township is home to over 42,000 people according to U.S. Census Bureau and offers numerous environmental movements for local residents and students to take part in as they push for a greener environment.
The Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) recently announced its plans to build a cleaner and more efficient gas-fired power plant. According to Amy Adamy, who works in the communications department for Lansing BWL, the company currently services approximately 1,200 Meridian residents and plans to use the new plant to further expand into the Meridian Township area.
General manager Dick Peffley said that he believes that Lansing BWL holds environmental standards that are second to none in Michigan and that offering clean and affordable energy is the only way to a sustainable future.
“Continuing to generate our own power will ensure energy independence for decades to come for all of our customers so we’re not relying on the grid,” he said.
The plant construction is expected to be completed in 2021, which will allow for the closing of its remaining coal-fired plants. The plant is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2025.
RECYCLING PROGRAM AND EVENTS
LeRoy Harvey, environmental programs coordinator for Meridian Township, has been working with the township for a decade. He was hired to aid with the needed recycling efforts and hosts numerous events in the community throughout the year. These events are open to anyone in the region and allow community members to properly dispose of their unwanted recyclables. Paints, bikes, electronics, metals, Styrofoam, egg cartons and even paper shredding are all accepted at the recycling events.
“Our first effort is waste reduction. Reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink,” Harvey said.
With a growing need for a greener planet, Harvey plans to expand the awareness of curbside recycling. However, he has run into challenges along the way.
“Promotions cost a fair amount of money and as a township we are looking for cheaper and more effective ways to expand promotion,” he said.
Harvey has been using social media as a cheaper, more cost effective way to get the word out about the importance of recycling. He currently runs a public Facebook group where he spreads the word about events, climate change facts and facilitates discussions.
“For some people it’s just a matter of getting a bin. Social media has been a great way to get the word out and promote and greener environment,” he added.
Harvey said that yearly education and outreach is the key to the recycling centers success. Harvey is currently in the process of developing a program that will make recycling easier and more readily available to apartment residents.
PETITIONS AND CAMPAIGNS
“Just look at some of the national phenomenon going on. Our carbon dioxide emissions are off the records,” said Jay Garlapati, the grassroots organizer for Michigan State University’s campus corps of the Climate Reality Project.
The Climate Reality Project MSU campus corps has gathered hundreds of signatures from Meridian Township residents during the fall of 2015 to present to the leaders at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris. The MSU campus corps continues to petition in the Meridian Township and the Lansing area in an effort to have both areas commit to completely renewable electricity by the year 2030.
“The way that we view it is this is just a problem for all of mankind, it’s not necessarily directed toward any political party or region,” said Virginia Jacobs, vice president of the MSU campus corps.
“People are always looking toward our leaders for guidance of course, but we are going to try to push the hard science,” she added.
Garlapati and Jacobs both said that the student association is trying to find renewable sources of energy. They said that their goal is to focus mainly on solar energy, given that as of 2011, solar powered technology produced less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the Earth’s global energy demand, according to National Geographic.
The Campus Corps will retain their mission to raise awareness of how important and beneficial solar energy is for the future. Their newly launched “100 percent committed campaign” aims to further educate that message to local government and business officials.