Looking for a town that’s in-step with your green-and-clean priorities? Start here.
From saying “so long” to plastic bags and straws to promoting environmental awareness and action in the schools, these towns are way ahead of the go-green curve—and we think that deserves a major thumbs up. If your family wants to get in on the action, it couldn’t be easier (or more fun) than it is in these communities where sustainability isn’t just a plus, it’s a way of life.
WHITE PLAINS (Westchester)
Lots of families love bike riding—but White Plains has upped the ante in a BIG way. It started with designated bike lanes throughout the city along with markers for shared bike routes—routes that, together, span 4.3 miles.
Now, though, White Plains is truly all-in, with a bike share program launched in summer 2018. This dockless bike share is run by Lime. To use, simply download the Lime app, register and, instantly, you can locate the closest bike. Scan the QR code to unlock it, hop in and ride—you’ll pay just $1 per 30 minutes of use. And don’t worry—the bikes’ bright, lime-green color makes them super-easy to spot and to ensure you aren’t trying to take your neighbor’s wheels…
RYE BROOK (Westchester)
To encourage Rye Brook residents to ditch the plastic and the paper when they shop, Rye Brook has implemented a mandatory 10¢ charge per bag requested.
“I carry my own reusable bags everywhere I go,” says Suburban Jungle NYC Strategist and Rye Brook resident Robin Hoberman. “I leave them in my car, I leave one in my bag. It’s become a habit and it’s a really easy way to be more green and support the greater good.”
And bags aren’t alone when it comes to the no-go list. Want a plastic straw to sip your smoothie? You have to ask—otherwise, you’ll be sipping sans-straw unless you’ve jumped on the reusable metal straw bandwagon as many locals already have. “People have started carrying metal straws,” Robin says. “Suddenly, they’re everywhere—and it’s absolutely a step in the right direction.”
In Weston, students are leading the charge—and they’re doing an amazing job of pushing their green goals on the extended community.
This year, Weston High School was named a 2019 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School. Just 25 public schools received the honor this year, with Weston chosen for its ability to garner meaningful, measurable community-wide support.
That, though, is just the beginning. On the heels of this acknowledgment, the school says they’ll look to do even more for their extended community. This fall, for example, a team of students, parents, staff and administrators will convene to determine those next steps and how, according to Weston Superintendent William McKersie, Weston High School can maintain and expand their green education leadership position.
Consider this part of Westchester’s sustainable trifecta. Larchmont has long been committed to going—and staying—green. The village has an Environmental Committee dedicated to building a greater community understanding of and appreciation for the environmental and natural resources in the area. The committee organizes and runs everything from events to special programming and projects that work to reduce the community’s carbon footprint.
And their efforts have clearly paid off. Thanks to this volunteer committee and countless other households committed to “going green,” Larchmont was awarded one of the first-ever Westchester County Eco Awards. The award, County Executive George Latimer noted, was a testament to the community’s “outstanding contributions” to the local environment made by residents, students, schools and businesses.
Environmental action is strong in Greenwich—and it goes far beyond ditching plastic for paper and kicking straws to the curb (though, of course, they do that, too…). Here, you’ll find many active, engaged environmentalists, including long-time residents, educators and students who, together, make this community cleaner and greener.
An administrator at Greenwich Country Day School, for example, anchors the Fairchester Sustainable Schools Alliance, which brings together educators from Fairfield and Westchester Counties to help better educate students on sustainability and their role. At the school itself, students have foregone plastic cups in favor of reusable options. They have also integrated corers and slicers in the dining hall, reducing the number of apples the school buys—and the amount of fruit that winds up in the trash. In the snack vein, students must also commit to bringing one package-free snack per week to reduce waste.
Beyond that, Greenwich has a number of new and emerging local initiatives, including pushes for curbside composting, solar panels on public buildings and planting more trees. And, of course, there are the core policies and programs already in place, many of them promoted by BYO Greenwich. This organization works to support local green efforts by getting businesses, schools and residents on board. Their efforts to promote the September 2018 plastic bag ban helped make this initiative an overwhelming success.
For its work, Greenwich was recently given a “silver” ranking by Sustainable CT. Just 22 towns were recognized by last year’s program.
MUTTONTOWN (Long Island)
Posh Muttontown is home to less than 4,000 residents…and the largest nature preserve in the area.
The Muttontown Preserve spans 570 acres of wilderness, including nature trails, local wildlife, flowers and more. And even outside the reserve, residents are committed to keeping their community clean. Under the town’s tree preservation policies, tree removal is by permit only—and, often, taking down a tree requires the resident plant a new one in return.
Additionally, the area has an annual clean energy plan and the greater town—the Town of Oyster Bay—was the first to sign off on the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
(P.S. If you aren’t familiar with Muttontown, you’re not alone—and that’s one of the things residents love about this quiet, green, family-friendly waterfront community. The six-square mile “incorporated village” is located on the North Shore of Long Island, in the Town of Oyster Bay. Students attend school in one of four neighboring districts: Jericho, Locust Valley, Syosset or Oyster Bay-East Norwich. Homes range from about $1 million to $7 million for prime waterfront properties.)
WESTFIELD (New Jersey)
Westfield businesses have been on the front line of the sustainability movement—and it’s paying off. The town’s Green Medallion program promotes local companies that adopt environmentally sustainable practices. Recognized businesses are noted with a Green Medallion in their shop windows making it easy for residents and visitors to seek out and buy from these green-focused companies.
Depending on the industry, businesses may be recognized for composting food waste, using paper or reusable bags, holding ongoing energy audits and/or promoting other sustainable best practices in their workflows. As of now, 23 Westfield businesses have been named Green Medallion recipients and the number continues to grow.
It’s not about bedrooms and bathrooms, but the right place to raise your family. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.