Climate Talk focuses on tips to help the environment

A community presentation focused on climate change, titled “What can I do? was hosted by the Eco-Justice Council at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church late last month.

Speaker Thomas Bonitz, a sophomore at UConn majoring in geographic information science and economics, spoke to a panel of 45 in person as well as an online audience.

As complex as climate change is, Bonitz, who is also a parishioner of St. Peter’s, focused his presentation on the choices individuals can make to reduce their impact on the environment. He also asked audience members to create three actionable items of their choice. He quoted primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

The February 27 discussion covered food, food waste, lawn and yard care best practices, travel, and minimalism, to name a few.

Bonitz urged the band to consider changes and “make their efforts sustainable and think incrementally.”

For example, a plant-based or plant-based diet with a goal of one meatless meal per day.

As for reducing food waste, buying less often or buying imperfect foods were two of Bontiz’s suggestions.

“When food goes into landfills and rots, it produces methane gas,” he said.

Questions about local bio-waste businesses, like the one in Southington, have been raised. Bonitz agreed that food waste salvage systems and home composting were good ways to keep organics out of landfills.

Bonitz said the lawns “were a barren wasteland for essential pollinators.” Chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides used to maintain lawns also pollute rivers through runoff, and half of irrigation water is wasted, he said, and recommended leaving some of the lawn in the wild. “Challenge the norm,” he said. He also suggested planting pollinator-friendly native plants and logging on to for more information on plants and pollinators.

Air travel accounts for 2.5% of CO2 emissions, Bonitz said, explaining that the transportation sector creates nearly 30% of greenhouse gases in the United States. Personal automobile transport encourages sprawling development patterns that threaten habitats. Bonitz said to choose trains over planes for domestic travel and advised using local public transport when possible.

In the United States, nearly 300 pounds of plastic waste is generated per person each year, causing serious damage to the ecosystem, Bonitz said.

The audience asked about local recycling of items and what happens once the items are thrown in the trash.

Eco-Justice Council member Marj Chapman said the council would research the issue and include more information in a future presentation. She noted that Cheshire’s single-stream recycling system no longer requires residents to separate recyclable items.

At the end of the Bonitz conference, Chapman said conference resources would be posted on the website.