Book sparks eco-challenge among local libraries in Suffolk County

By Scott Terwilliger and Kiara Thomas

The Comsewogue and Lindenhurst Public Libraries will compete to find out which one is the most environmentally friendly during the Drawdown EcoChallenge that takes place between April 3 to April 24.

Based on “Drawdown” a book edited by Paul Hawken, the competition is focused on carbon reduction. Participants log in their progress and earn points for sustainable actions. So far, Lindenhurst has earned 163 points, leading over Comsewogue with 145 points.

Comsewogue Public Library aims to get the New York Library Association’s (NYLA) Sustainable Library Certification by the end of the year. The Lindenhurst Library received the Green Business Partnership in January, becoming the first library on Long Island and joining the 40 libraries, hospitals, farms, and other institutions.

“Since putting on a new roof and updating the heating air conditioning system, we’ve been saving over 30% on energy bills,” Lisa Kropp, director at the Lindenhurst Library, said. “The other big piece was the waste audit. You really are going through a bag of trash, and seeing what you are getting rid of that could be reused, could be recycled.”

Lindenhurst audited their building and also partnered with the village to have paper and bottles recycled and saw a 40 percent to 60 percent decrease in the trash that went in their dumpster.

The Comsewogue library is one out of about 80 establishments pending for certification in the program. Eligible libraries must achieve the triple bottom line of stewardship, economic feasibility, and social equity according to NYLA’s website.

“It’s a filter you kind of run everything through. It basically covers three areas, whether or not something is economically feasible. Does it make good sense financially?” Debra Engelhardt, the library director at Comsewogue, said. “Whether something is environmentally appropriate and whether something is socially equitable. So if you could answer yes to all those questions you’re in good place”

Suffolk County may benefit from more sustainability initiatives, as data from the American Lung Association in 2018 showed that the air quality received an F.

“It’s great that these libraries are moving forward with these initiatives…because it can be a great educational tool for the public,” Jordan Christensen, program coordinator at Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), said. The campaign teams up with libraries to deliver lectures about environmental issues like renewable energy.

“We could look for ways to reduce and recycle, eliminate some plastics and replace it with wood products or other sustainable material,” Debbie Bush, the children’s teen services librarian and family place coordinator at the Comsewogue library, said.

Libraries on Long Island which are not part of the Green Business Partnership also have green initiatives of their own. The Port Jefferson Free Library implemented Think Green, which includes using Green Seal Certified cleaning products, recycling ink and toner cartridges, and their Caps For Love drive.

“We collect caps, like milk carton caps, with the numbers, two, four and five,” Samantha Digacomo, the head of reference at the Port Jefferson Free Library said. The funds are used buy wheelchair parts for children in need.

About Scott Terwilliger 2 Articles
I’m a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in creative writing. As a journalist, I enjoy seeking out the opinions of others and learning more about a given subject. I’m also passionate about music and video editing.