The committee holds regular meetings at 4:00 on the second Monday of the month at the offices of the Tri-Town Health Department on Railroad Street. If that day is a holiday, we hold our regular meeting on the third Monday of the month - same time and place. We also hold special meetings as needed. All meetings will continue to be posted in accordance with the Open Meeting Law requirements.
On this page, learn about:
- Our new mission and name
- Did you know: tips for a greener and safer world
- Materials and activities supporting the transition to the new plastics reduction bylaws that go into effect May 12, 2017
- Our Table to Farm initiative: to make productive use of what would otherwise be food waste, we recognize the first participants
- Our being named the Volunteer of the Year by the Lee Chamber of Commerce
- Our work during Founders Weekend to achieve zero waste
We have a new name: we're now the Greener Gateway Committee
For some time we have been involved in more activities than just recycling. In 2016 especially we actively promoted two other "R's" - reduce and reuse - with our work on the bylaws adopted at the May Town Meeting that aim to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags and polystyrene containers. We also worked hard to make Lee cleaner with our First Annual Greener Gateway Townwide Cleanup in May. And for the fourth year in a row we helped keep downtown Lee clean during another successful Founders Weekend. The Select Board approved our new mission statement and name at its December 6, 2016 meeting. We think our new name better reflects the scope of our work as well as our interest in making Lee attractive for residents and visitors, which will strengthen our postion as the Gateway to the Berkshires and help our economy. You'll still see our former name on materials. We'll switch over as we need to print new copies. We look forward to serving and working with you to indeed make Lee a Greener Gateway.
Did you know? (Details below or elsewhere in this section)
- You should NEVER put recyclables in plastic bags - print and post this as a reminder.
- You can recycle unused medications at the Lee Police Department.
- You can recycle cell phones and rechargable batteries weighing less than 11 pounds at the Tri-Town Health Department. Learn more here.
- You can help keep Lee clean and attractive by picking up roadside litter while you're out for a walk. Or, you can join us at 1:00 pm at the Gazebo on Railroad Street downtown the last Saturday of the month, weather permitting (roadsides snow free, no storms, and the wind-chill no lower than 25). And SAVE THE DATE: our Second Annual Greener Gateway Town-wide Cleanup will be held Saturday, April 29 starting at 9:00 am, also at the Gazebo.
Implementing the Plastic Bag and Polystyrene Bylaws Adopted at May's Town Meeting
The bylaws, which regulate the use of thin-film plastic shopping bags and polystyrene drink and food containers, will go into effect May 12, 2017. The Committee, along with the Tri-Town Health Department and others, will do whatever it can to support a smooth transition. We've developed a wide-ranging list of activities we've started to carry out that are designed to inform the community about the bylaws and their implications and to help residents and establishments make any needed changes.
Based upon research and considerable public input, the bylaws minimize impacts on citizens when shopping or getting drinks or food outside the home. They will be able to use whatever bags and containers they want, but will no longer receive free thin-film plastic bags or food or drinks in polystyrene containers. We know that some people reuse the bags around the house, so we've drafted a list of options to meet these varied needs and welcome other ideas we can add to the list..
The bylaws require those establishments that have not yet stopped using the regulated products to do so. Several businesses in Lee have made the transition and we are trying to recruit the owners to serve as resources for others who now have to do so. There are many alternative products and, since similar bylaws have been in effect around Massachusetts and the rest of the country for years, countless examples exist of establishments that have successfully made the changes. And, to aid in the process, we've developed some tips for establishments.
We have posted a lot of information on another section of the website and offer the following:
- The Bylaws: We have posted a guide to the bylaws, links to the full text, and Frequently Asked Questions.
- List of Alternatives: A key component of the transition is to identify alternative items to those regulated by the bylaws. The Lee Board of Health approved a list of alternatives for both bylaws on November 16th. Links to the full list and a summary appear in that section. The Tri-Town Health Department is sent an initial mailing to businesses in December with information about alternatives.
- Reusable Shopping Bags: One of the biggest challenges we face is achieving widespread use of reusable bags. In addition to the other activities we plan to carry out during the transition, we have used a portion of our budget and obtained two grants - one from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the other from the New England Grass Roots Environment Fund - to purchase almost 500 all-natural cotton reusable bags. We have provided more than 200 bags to four local organizations - the Lee Food Pantry, the Lee Council on Aging, the Literacy Network, and the Berkshire Immigrant Center - to distribute for free to their clients who can least afford to purchase bags. We are selling the bags for $4 (below cost) at special events and through downtown merchants, including Carr Hardware, Karen Keneen Gifts and Home, Lee Hardware, Paperdilly, and Zabian's. The bags are also available at the Lee Premium Outlets (in the food court) and will be sold during the summer at the Chamber of Commerce Information Booth. Other merchants who are interested in selling the bags should contact Committee Chair Peter Hofman. Each bag comes with an insert with tips on how to use the bag safely and to ensure it lasts for a long time. The insert is also available to entities in Lee that sell or give away reusable bags. All the banks in Lee have agreed to display the inserts and/or include them in their reusable bags before the bylaws go into effect. Several are doing so now.
If you have any questions or suggestions related to the transition, please contact Committee Chair, Peter Hofman (email@example.com; 603.767.4250) or Jim Wilusz, Executive Director of the Tri-Town Health Department (firstname.lastname@example.org; 413.243.5540).
Our Table to Farm Initiative
Following the lead of the Lenox Environmental Committee, which implemented its initiative in 2015, and with the support of Jamie Cahillane of CET, we began informing local establishments of opportunities to make productive use of food waste. We quickly learned that the following food estabishments were already on board -- the supermarkets due to a state requirement and others because of a commitment to the cause. We've created window stickers that recognize these establishments: Big Y, Cakewalk Bakery and Cafe, Chez Nous Bistro, Fiddleheads Grille, Klara’s Gourmet Cookies, Knead a Bagel, Price Chopper, and Starving Artist Creperie and Cafe. We thank them for their efforts and will be working with others to join the movement.
Lee Chamber of Commerce Honors the Recycling Committee with its Volunteer of the Year Award
The award, which was presented at the Chamber's November 14 Annual Meeting, is in recognition for the Committee's work throughout the year, including its townwide spring clean up, the intensive zero-waste effort during Founders Weekend, and its inclusive and successfull effort in the Town Meeting's adoption of two bylaws intended to reduce the use of polystyrene drink and food containers and thin-film plastic shopping bags. Committee members sincerely appreciate this recognition.
Founders Weekend 2016: Many hands helped Lee get closer to zero-waste goal
Numerous volunteers and greater participation by vendors and groups selling food during Lee’s popular Founders Weekend increased composting and recycling to more than two-thirds of the waste generated during zero-waste activities, the most composting/recycling ever during this event. The Lee Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-Town Health Department were instrumental in spreading the word about the composting/recycling effort.
Members of the Lee Recycling Committee contacted downtown restaurants during the year to offer support in complying with the zero-waste goal. Of the 20 vendors and groups selling food during Friday evening’s Taste of Lee, ten used only compostable materials and seven were partially compliant. Committee members set up and staffed recycling/composting/trash stations on Main Street. On Saturday we had stations at Henry’s Big Green Egg Cook-off, the Sons of Italy food tent, and the Latino Festival. Members monitored public trash bins during the weekend and educated people about what items can be recycled and composted.
We can’t thank our volunteers enough. They were Berkshire Bank employees Donna Boyer, Kay Cahalan, and Mary Turner; Boy Scouts Blake Cella, John Covell, Wilder Denaj, Elijah Mertinooke, Gavin Murray, Dorian Page, Garret and Luke Roche, and Daniel Snow; Ed Rutledge and Katie Costantini from the Center for Eco-Technology; Alison Dixon and Sharon Siter from the Housatonic Valley Association; Lee residents Linda Ackerman, Sal Angelo, Wren Bernstein, Rod Stanbrook, Jim Wheeler, and Nick, Sheldon, and Lily Langley; and Lenox residents Jamie and Sophia Cahillane and Tom Irelan. We also thank Daley & Sons and Meadow Farm for their invaluable support.
With Lee’s plastic bag and polystyrene bylaws going into effect next May, we’re confident that Founders Weekend zero-waste efforts will get a tremendous boost. We’ll work with the Tri-Town Health Department to help businesses, residents, and visitors transition to the new bylaws, and we’ll continue to promote composting and recycling at events other organizations and businesses hold during the year, and to sell home compost bins. For more information please contact me at email@example.com.
We again extend sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this year’s success.