Author Archives: maggiemckee

Quincy takes first step towards curbside composting

Huzzah! On November 13th, the Quincy City Council voted unanimously to create a task force to study curbside food waste pickup. The supportive letters that QCAN friends wrote to their ward councilors and the councilors-at-large no doubt made that happen, so thank you to all who made their opinions heard! Thank you also to Ward 6 Councilor William Harris, who introduced the resolution, and to Ian Cain, who amended it, suggesting the task force study the pros and cons of building a food-waste recycling facility right here in Quincy.

2017_-88.jpgWhy does QCAN support this plan? In short, recycling food waste is cheaper than throwing it away. Cambridge pays $100/ton for trash but only $65/ton for food. (Quincy pays $74/ton for trash until next summer, but the cost for trash is expected to rise statewide as two landfills are slated to close next year.)

It’s also better for the environment. If the food is sent to an anaerobic digester, as Cambridge’s food waste is, its decomposition creates biogases that can be burned to produce power, reducing the need for power sourced from fossil fuels, along with “digestate” that can be used as fertilizer. And if it’s sent to a composting facility, that compost can be used to improve soils, obviating the need for chemical fertilizers that are surprisingly energy-intensive to produce.

Let’s keep the momentum going and join more than 100 other cities, such as Cambridge and Seattle, and soon Washington, DC, in turning our food waste into a valuable resource. Email info@quincycan.org if you’d like to play a role in bringing curbside composting to Quincy.

(Photo credit: Stefan Malner)

Parking tweaks could save money and fight climate change

Minimum parking requirements are rules set by the city spelling out the fewest off-street parking spaces that a new or rezoned property must have. They are designed to be very high – to guarantee plenty of parking even at the busiest times – meaning that most of the time, there is an overabundance of spaces.

These very specific requirements – Quincy requires a bowling alley to have four parking spaces per lane! – sound scientific, but they are rarely based on the needs of their communities. In Quincy Center, for example, 37% of households don’t even own a car, and the neighborhood averages 0.88 cars per household. But even the lowest parking minimums in this neighborhood specify at least one parking space per household in residential buildings, meaning that many families are forced to pay for parking spaces they don’t need.

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PARK(ing) Day in Washington, DC, part of an open-source global event where citizens, artists, and activists temporarily transform metered parking spaces into public places. Credit: Edward Russell

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Support green energy at city finance meeting

If you want to support green energy in Quincy, come to City Hall on Monday, October 15th at 6:30 p.m. That’s when the city’s finance committee will discuss green municipal aggregation.

Municipal aggregation (also known as community choice aggregation) allows a municipality to purchase electricity in bulk on behalf of its residents and businesses. If Quincy were to join other communities nearby such as Brookline and Somerville and adopt green municipal aggregation, the city would increase the percentage of its electricity sourced from renewable energy. Electricity rates would likely stay about the same, and customers could easily opt out if they so chose.

During the committee meeting, Shelly Dein, Quincy’s energy and sustainability director, and Larry Chretien, executive director of Green Energy Consumers Alliance, will provide brief presentations on GMA.

To show your support for greening Quincy’s electrical grid, please join members of QCAN at the city meeting and write to thank the councilors who support the initiative: Nina Liang, Anne MahoneyIan Cain and Noel DiBona. Please also encourage your ward councilor to consider the benefits of green municipal aggregation.

Human genome pioneer to discuss climate change at library

Charles_DeLisiHow should we tackle climate change? “We need something like a moon shot, human genome project or Manhattan project,” says Charles DeLisi, a Boston University professor of science and engineering.

DeLisi knows firsthand the magnitude of what he’s proposing. In the 1980s, he helped spearhead the human genome project, a massive, worldwide effort that by 2003 had revealed just about every gene in our bodies.

Now, DeLisi is turning his attention to climate change and how to combat it, matters he’ll discuss in a free talk at the Thomas Crane Public Library (40 Washington Street in Quincy) on Tuesday, October 16, at 7 pm. The talk is sponsored by the library, the Quincy Climate Action Network, March Forward Quincy and the Quincy Making Waves Coalition.

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Tighter recycling rules in effect for Quincy

Those of us who recycle religiously like to think our discarded plastics and paper are ultimately finding their way into other useful objects. Unfortunately, now that may not always be the case.

Most municipalities in the United States have been shipping their recycled materials overseas. Although countries such as India and Vietnam accept recyclables, the bulk of reusable materials are sent to China.

Last year, China announced that it is tightening its standards, rejecting shipments that contain more than 0.5% non-recyclable materials. Common contaminants include plastic bags, styrofoam, and food waste (all containers should be rinsed).

Contamination results in thousands of dollars’ worth of fines to Quincy. Recycling properly, on the other hand, not only saves the city money but reduces our contribution to climate change because making products with recycled goods requires less energy – and therefore spews out fewer greenhouse gases – than making them from virgin materials.

So please read and follow Quincy’s new recycling guidelines to ensure that our recycled materials make it on to another life.