Yesterday I attended a speaking engagement given by Sister Claire McGowan, OP about sustainability and greener living in small rural communities. Sister Claire works with the non-profit group New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future in Washington County. It was fascinating to learn about all of the great things our neighboring county is doing for sustainability. It was also great to learn that because of the Springfield, Ky., curbside pickup program, Bardstown City residents also got a recycling program started.
If there’s a single driving force in Washington County, it just might be the concept of sustainability. In towns and on farms, people are striving to live up to their own proclamation of being the greenest, most sustainable rural community in Kentucky.It has taken time. The local government cleaned up 27 illegal dump sites in 2001, resulting in the county being named the first Certified Clean County in Kentucky by then-Governor Paul Patton. Today, the county has a master plan that focuses on farmland preservation but still encourages growth; Springfield residents take advantage of a free curbside-pickup recycling program; farmers participate in study groups about sustainability; children bring home free energy-efficient light bulbs from school; and leaders of a local non-profit organization are focusing their current efforts on local food and making homes more energy efficient.