Who we Are
As set forth in our mission statement the Greener Gateway Committee carries out a wide range of activities - on its own and with others - to help make Lee attractive and sustainable for residents and visitors. We hope our efforts will strengthen Lee's postion as the Gateway to the Berkshires and help our economy. We seek new members and volunteers to help us succeed and look forward to serving and working with you to make Lee a Greener Gateway. To learn more about us, please refer to this flyer.
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. We also hold special meetings as needed. All meetings are posted in accordance with Open Meeting Law requirements.
On this page, learn about:
- Did you know: tips for a greener and safer world
- Many hands helped Lee reduce waste and shine during Founders Weekend
- The plastics reduction bylaws went into effect May 12, 2017: Background and Useful Information
- Our continuing efforts to have Lee be litter free: it's hard to believe how much litter we find every month!
Did you know?
- 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.
- Here's a link to a recycling guide covering 200 items - to be safe, check with your hauler or where you take your recyclables: https://www.personalcreations.com/blog/how-to-recycle-anything. We hope the guide is useful. Note that we do not officially endorse the website or other offerings it might have.
- Those new - and different - produce and meat bags Big Y is using....CAN BE HOME COMPOSTED! If you don't have a compost bin, the DPW sells them. If you can't have a bin, you can take your compostables to Meadow Farm 24/7 (see separate write-up below).
Lee residents can now dispose of compostable items 24/7 at Meadow Farm: Meadow Farm maintains a hopper to the left of its Meadow Street driveway (about 1.5 miles south of Big Y off Tyringham Road) where Lee residents can dispose of compostables at any time for free. Only natural, non-toxic materials are acceptable, ranging from all food waste (including meat or fish bones) and plain paper and cardboard (plates, napkins, boxes, etc.) to pet hair, certified biodegradable/compostable products, household yard waste, and much, much more. Please do not dispose of the materials in plastic bags, unless they are certified compostable. We greatly appreciate Meadow Farm's help in reducing the waste stream.
Many hands helped Lee reduce waste and shine during Founders Weekend 2017
Waste reduction at Lee’s Founders Weekend took a major turn for the better this year. During Friday’s Taste of Lee and Saturday’s events we witnessed a significant decline in trash thanks to the reduced use of polystyrene plates, bowls, cups, and clamshells. From that effort plus the recycling-composting-trash stations set up for Saturday’s events in the Park, Henry’s Big Green Egg Cook-off, and the activities at the athletic field we collected between 300 and 400 pounds of compostable items and about twice that volume of recyclables. Overall, downtown was also more litter free than in years past, thanks in part to DPW staff. We’re extremely grateful for the cooperation of almost all the food vendors and the help of volunteers, as well as the instrumental role played by the Lee Chamber of Commerce, the Tri-Town Health Department, Daley & Sons, and Meadow Farm.
We've already started planning improvements to further reduce trash and keep downtown clean during next year’s Founder Weekend. But we’ll need even more volunteers to succeed….and it’s not too early to sign up. To volunteer or get more information please contact Committee Chair Peter Hofman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We sincerely thank everyone who contributed to this year’s success.
The Plastic Bag and Polystyrene Bylaws Went into Effect May 12, 2017
The bylaws regulate the use of thin-film plastic shopping bags and polystyrene drink and food containers. The Committee, along with the Tri-Town Health Department and others, will continue to support a smooth transition and will maintain on this site a wealth of resources for residents, visitors, and establishments.
The bylaws minimize impacts on citizens when shopping or getting drinks or food outside the home. Shoppers will be able to use whatever bags and containers you want, but will no longer receive free thin-film plastic bags or food or drinks in polystyrene containers. Some people reuse plastic shopping, so we've drafted a list of options to meet these varied needs and welcome other ideas we can add to the list. The compostable produce bags provided by Big Y can be backyard composted. Other compostable bags may be taken (along with other compostables) to the hopper at Meadow Farm (see write-up below).
The bylaws require establishments not to use the regulated products. Many alternatives exist. To aid in the process we've developed some tips for establishments. Another section of the website contains a wide range of information, including the following:
- The Bylaws: We posted a guide to the bylaws as well as a PowerPoint slide show - for consumers and establishments, a separate guide just for consumers, links to the full text, and Frequently Asked Questions.
- List of Alternatives: As required in the bylaws, the Lee Board of Health approved a list of alternatives. Links to the full list and a summary appear in that section.
- Reusable Shopping Bags: One of the goals of the bag bylaws is to encourage the use of reusable bags,rather than having people switch to paper bags. Our Committee have used a portion of its 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 all-natural cotton reusable bags. We provided more than 400 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 (half the bags were donated by Blue Q in Pittsfield). We are selling the bags for $4 (below cost) at special events and through downtown merchants, including Carr Hardware, Lee Hardware, and Paperdilly. The bags are also available at the Chamber of Commerce Information Booth (at the corder of the Church park). 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.
If you have any questions, 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 continuing efforts to have Lee be litter free
As part of our mission to help Lee be a Greener Gateway to the Bershires, we have organized two annual roadside cleanups as well as monthly mini-cleanups. Thus far more than 100 volunteers have helped and we've collected more than 350 large bags of trash and recyclables plus a wide range of other items - from car parts to televisions and computers - that had been thrown by roadsides. Here's what part of our haul (and some of our volunteers) looked like following the 2017 cleanup.
While a few cleanup crews have noticed improvements on some roads, roadside litter remains a significant and ongoing problem. The litter detracts from one of the most popular recreational activities in town - walking along our roads. It can also adversely affect the environment - from soil quality to animal health. The presence of litter also gives the impression that Lee residents and businesses don't care about our town, which just isn't true, but some times it looks like it
The problem is that Lee has 55 miles of roadways. Many of them have stretches with no houses - areas that are most frequently littered. Our small committee can't do it all, and unfortunately neither can 50 or so volunteers who come out once a year for our annual cleanups. These efforts do make a difference, but there is so much more that needs to be done - including not littering ourselves and speaking up when we see other people doing it. The ongoing challenge makes our monthly cleanups that much more important. We hold them the last Saturday of the month (weather permitting) - from 9 to 11 (May to October) and 1 to 3 (November to March). We hold our annual cleanup in late April or early May from 9 to 11. We meet at the Railroad Street gazebo - near the Post Office - for all our cleanups. We have gloves (you can bring your own), safety vests, bags, and some pickup tools. If you're interested, please contact Uli Nagel (email@example.com), Valerie Bluhm (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Peter Hofman (email@example.com).
Here are links to a few shots from recent monthly mini-cleanups:
- January: downtown (again) and a portion of Stockbridge Road
- November: Columbia and Stockbridge Roads and downtown (again)
- October: downtown as always plus Columbia and Stockbridge Roads (not all we collected is shown)
- September: post-Founders Weekend - ongoing downtown cleanup plus Stockbridge Road
- August: pre-Founders Weekend downtown cleanup
We are greateful to everyone who participates in our cleanups and to all those who help cleanup litter on their own! You're all making Lee a greener gateway to the Berkshires...and a more attractive place to live and visit!