Going Green at the Y

Here at the Keene Family YMCA we believe that environmental sustainability is rooted in our commitment to social responsibility. With Earth Day falling on the 22nd of this month, it seemed an appropriate time to share with you the many recent initiatives at the Y that have helped us go greener than ever:

This winter, we replaced large overhead lights in our Gymnasium, Gymnastics Center, and Aquatics Center with energy efficient LEDs. Our new LED lighting not only saves us money by using less electricity to power our lights, but the lights are also brighter and have a longer lifespan than the older technology they replaced, further reducing their environmental impact. While we don’t know the exact energy and cost savings of our new lights yet, we are tracking the numbers and are excited to see how much these lights save us – and the planet – over the course of the year.

On April 11th, staff and members from the Y volunteered their time to pick up trash at Wheelock Park as part of Green Up Keene. This is the first year the Y has participated in this city wide effort to reduce litter, and we were happy to do our part to help allow the natural beauty of our city parks and streets to shine. Together, Y staff and volunteers collected more than a dozen bags of trash. Thank you to all who came out to help!

You may also have noticed new refuse bins and labels on trash cans and recycling bins around the Y – that’s because we recycle and we want you to know it! Co-mingled recycling is collected at the Y and then sorted by our disposal service at the transfer station. All recycling goes into clear plastic bags while regular garbage goes in black bags – this makes it easy for the disposal company to distinguish which bags need to be sorted. Help us help the planet by recycling appropriate items, and making sure all containers that go into our recycling bins are empty and (relatively) clean:

What Can Be Recycled
• Tin (metal) Cans
• Aluminum Cans
• Clear Glass
• Green Glass
• Brown Glass
• Plastic Bottles (Type 1 & 2)
• Corrugated Cardboard
• News Papers
• Other Printed Papers (Junk Mail, Magazines, etc.)

Additionally, we use timers and motion sensors on lights throughout our facility to reduce the amount of energy being used in our bathrooms, racquetball courts, studios, hallways, and other areas. We reuse old flyers and junk mail as scrap paper, and have a bike rack outside where health and earth conscious members can lock up their wheels after cycling to the Y. Behind our building, small garden beds are maintained by our preschool, camps, and members, where fresh vegetables and herbs are grown naturally. We even offer an Outdoor Skills class for kids, which introduces children to the wonders of nature, teaching a combination of plant and wildlife ID, wilderness survival skills, and environmental and adventure education.

In the future, we also anticipate installing a wood pellet heater to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and allow us to instead rely on locally and sustainably sourced energy, a step that will both save us money and reduce our environmental impact. The Y is currently under contract with an engineering firm to conduct a facility audit to see if there are other ways we can “go green” and we are eager to implement sustainable alternatives and investigate new technologies as they become available.

Environmental responsibility is everyone’s job, and we are more than happy to do our part in acting as stewards to this beautiful planet we call home.

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