Wilton Bulletin editorial: For us, for the earth

Although Earth Day was Monday, it’s essence — healing our planet from the ravages of industrialization — is something we should carry with us every day.
Over the next two weeks, there are many events taking place to help us in this regard. Sign-up information is in the Bulletin Board.

  • Arbor Day will be celebrated on April 25 at 4 p.m. at the head of the Canyon Trail. Wilton is a member of the Tree City USA program and will honor Kate Throckmorton as tree steward and a sugar maple will be planted.

  • The Children’s Garden Club will meet April 26 at 4 p.m. at Wilton Library. This club meets every Friday afternoon through Aug. 30. Children may plant, tend and eat the bounty from a raised-bed garden.

  • Woodcock Nature Center will celebrate Earth Day on April 27 with a birding hike from 8:30 to 10 and then a vernal pool hike from 10:30 to noon.

  • Also on April 27, there will be a vernal pool walk along the Norwalk River Valley trail beginning at 1. Vernal pools are essential to the life cycle of amphibians.

  • Wilton Library’s Annual Gigantic Book Sale (April 27-30) and Minks to Sinks (May 4-6) are a means to recycle and reuse everything from books to bicycles.

  • The annual Town Cleanup is May 4, from 9 a.m. to noon, when volunteers pick up trash from roadsides and the Norwalk River’s banks.

But Earth Day is more than a day or a week. There are things we can do on an individual basis.

  • Nearly 18 billion pounds of plastic end up in our oceans each year. We can each make a small contribution by:

  • Forgoing plastic bags and using reusable bags when shopping — not just at the grocery store but at other stores as well.

  • Quitting plastic straws — reusable straws are available, or just drink from a glass.

  • Drinking tap or filtered water from a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water.

  • Cutting back on meat consumption. Antibiotics have been overused on farm animals and farm waste often pollutes surface and groundwater sources. But don’t opt for unsustainably caught fish like Chilean sea bass. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch (seafoodwatch.org) helps consumers “make choices for a healthy ocean.”

  • Shop locally and sustainably. The Wilton Farmers’ Market opens June 5 with produce from local farms, including Ambler Farm, and other local sources. When purchasing food, buy only what you need and consider creating a compost heap for produce that’s not eaten. Food tossed in the garbage will only wind up in a landfill or being incinerated.

Air quality
This week brought the American Lung Association’s 20th annual air quality report, which found that Fairfield County has the highest level of ozone in the New York metro area, which was ranked number 10 on the most-ozone-polluted list. According to Ruth Canovi, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut, the unhealthy air is driven by emissions from power plants and extreme heat as a result of climate change.
This year’s report focuses on ozone pollution, also known as smog, and particle pollution, also called soot. Both are dangerous to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects, such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.
Ozone pollution especially harms those with with asthma and other lung diseases. Connecticut has more than 95,000 kids with pediatric asthma, over 305,000 adults with asthma, and over 164,000 adults with COPD, according to the lung association. One bad ozone day can lead to a health crisis.
The 2019 report found year-round particle pollution levels slightly lower in all reporting counties with the exception of Hartford, which was still below the national standards. Nevertheless, these tiny particles can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, Canovi noted.
She attributed the drop in particle pollution levels to the cleanup of coal-fired power plants and the retirement of old, dirty diesel engines.
The full report may be found at Lung.org/sota .