Bolsos plásticos y EnvisionLV Reto de Sostenibilidad del 2014

plastic bags imageMe encuentro en el proceso de mudarme a Lehigh Valley lo que se resume en estar empleando todo mi tiempo libre en empacar y limpiar mi casa. En los últimos años me he mudado varias veces, notando en mi vasta experiencia que cada vez que es momento de comenzar a empacar siempre enfrento el mismo problema: Demasiados bolsos plásticos acumulados en algún rincón de las gavetas o closets en la cocina. Cansada de este problema tan recurrente he decidido utilizar bolsos reusables. He buscado lugares cercanos a donde vivo en NJ donde pueda reciclar los bolsos plásticos pero lamentablemente fue una búsqueda sin resultados positivos. Entonces,  ¿qué hago con tantos bolsos? Puedo usarlos para limpiar los desechos de mi gato y para la basura pero aun así son demasiados que nunca logro agotarlos.

RenewLV comenzó el año 2014 con el EnvisionLV reto en sostenibilidad y ahora que estoy trabajando con ellos como voluntaria me siento inspirada a proponerme un reto para llevar a cabo en mi nuevo apartamento en Lehigh Valley. Mi decisión es no usar bolsos plásticos ni de papel y comprar en el mercado de agricultores locales ya que minimizan el uso de envases plásticos y Styrofoam. Con el único fin de tomar decisiones inteligentes como consumidora para así tener más espacio en mi hogar y de paso hacer una aportación positiva al medio ambiente.

Siguiendo esta línea de pensamiento, hace unos días vi en Emmaus Patch (periódico ofrecido en línea) una noticia sobre la prohibición de bolsos plásticos. Varios días después el Alcalde de Allentown, Ed Pawlowski, publicó en su cuenta de Facebook una pregunta al público sobre qué pensaban respecto a este tema.  Muchas personas han comentado que están de acuerdo y otros que no. Algunas personas temen del peligro que puedan causar los bolsos reusables ya que se publicó un artículo en donde se encontró que estos bolsos pueden obtener EColi (una bacteria peligrosa para el sistema digestivo) con el uso continuo. Sin embargo, el mismo estudio explica que si los bolsos son lavados frecuentemente las bacterias son reducidas en un 99.9%. Mientras otras personas no les gusta la idea de que les impongan la esta decisión de prohibirlos, pensando que cada persona es libre de decidir si usar bolsos plásticos o no. Algunas personas deciden reciclar o reusar bolsos plásticos para la basura. Mi manera de verlo es que el proceso de reciclaje conlleva un gasto en energía doble ya que originalmente la fabricación del bolso ya conllevó utilizar energía una vez. Una solución ideal sería reducir la producción de desperdicios plásticos para poder disminuir el impacto ambiental.

Read the rest of this entry

Plastic bags and the EnvisionLV 2014 Sustainability Challenge

plastic bags image

In a week I will be moving to Lehigh Valley which means lately I have been doing a lot of packing and cleaning. Noticing that everytime there’s a move I face the same problem: a mountain of plastic bags stored in a cabinet or the kitchen closet. This has led me to decide to take the EnvisionLV 2014 Sustainability Challenge by avoiding using plastic bags from stores altogether and instead use reusable cloth bags. I have been looking for plastic bags recycle bins at grocery stores close to where I live in NJ and I haven’t found them. That leaves me guessing… What options do I have? There are only so many bags I can use to clean my cat’s litter and as trash bags but in the end it is not enough, I still always have so many extra.

Now, working as a volunteer for RenewLV I learned about the 2014 Sustainability Challenge. This has led me to take a personal challenge: after moving to PA I won’t get plastic bags from grocery stores! By avoiding the use of plastic bags and shopping regularly at farmers markets I will also alleviate the waste of plastic/Styrofoam containers generated at home which will help me support the local economy, be a smart customer and also help the environment.

Lately, Emmaus Patch has posted news about banning plastic bags. That same week the Mayor of Allentown, Ed Pawlowski, questioned on his Facebook profile what people think about banning plastic bags. The reactions were varied. A lot of people were in favor of the idea; some were not. Some people based their denial of the banning to a study that found that reusable bags could carry bacteria such as: EColi. However, the same study mentioned that the bacteria could be eliminated by a 99.9% if washed frequently. Others didn’t like the idea of banning because they don’t want to be told what to do by government. In addition, some people mentioned that they recycle and/or reuse plastic bags and that they don’t consider it necessary to ban plastic bags. While I see recycling as an option to try and mitigate environmental impact as a result of the waste we all generate, I realize it is not an absolute solution. A better one would be to reduce waste as much as possible because the recycling process used now requires a lot of energy, in addition to the energy already used to produce the bags.

Read the rest of this entry

Smart Growth Book Discussion Club 6 pm Monday

Come to the Allentown Brew Works at 6:00 Monday, March 31, when we’ll begin discussing Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. If you’ve no time to read, please come anyway to listen and share about ways to make the Lehigh Valley more walkable, sustainable…doable!

RSVP here.

Smart Growth Book Club 5:30 this evening

Come tonight to the Veteran’s Sanctuary, 24 S. 5th Street, Allentown, to share your ideas about how we can make the Lehigh Valley more liveable and walkable for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. No need to read! Click here for more info and to register (optional).
Smart Growth is the best framework to contain almost every area of life:  housing, food, community, families, work, the economy, entertainment, transportation, conservation, education, art, public safety, social equity, worship, health care, fitness, even time management. During the last 69 years, we have forgotten a fact that mankind knew for millennia – that our built environment deeply affects our psyche in many ways.

Smart Growth Saves Municipal Dollars

A recent report by Smart Growth America, “Building Better Budgets,” says that, “Many municipalities have found that a smart growth approach would improve their financial bottom line. Whether by saving money on upfront infrastructure; reducing the cost of ongoing services like fire, police and ambulance; or by generating greater tax revenues in years to come, community after community has found that smart growth development would benefit their overall financial health. Many of these findings have been made publicly available.
No national survey has examined these savings as a whole until now. This report is the first to aggregate those comparisons and determine a national average of how much other communities can expect to save by using smart growth strategies.
Building Better Budgets: A National Examination of the Fiscal Benefits of Smart Growth Development surveys 17 studies that compare different development scenarios, including a brand- new study of Nashville-Davidson County, TN, commissioned specifically for this report.
The development scenarios included in our analysis are separated into two categories: “Smart growth development” is characterized by more efficient use of land; a mixture of homes, businesses and services located closer together; and better connections between streets and neighborhoods. “Conventional suburban development” is characterized by less efficient use of land with homes, schools and businesses separated and areas designed primarily for driving. While not all studies use these terms, the scenarios in each category share many of these defining traits. A detailed discussion of individual studies is included in the appendices of this report.
The report looks at the costs associated with each development strategy as well as its revenue potential. When compared to one another, we find:
1. In general, smart growth development costs one-third less for upfront infrastructure.
Our survey concluded that smart growth development saves an average of 38 percent on upfront costs for new construction of roads, sewers, water lines and other infrastructure. Many studies have concluded that this number is as high as 50 percent.
Smart growth development patterns require less infrastructure, meaning upfront capital costs, long-term operations and maintenance costs, and, presumably, cost for eventual replacement are all lower. Smart growth development also often uses existing infrastructure, lowering upfront capital costs even more.

2. Smart growth development saves an average of 10 percent on ongoing delivery of services.
Our survey concluded that smart growth development saves municipalities an average of 10 percent on police, ambulance and fire service costs.
The geographical configuration of a community and the way streets are connected significantly affect public service delivery. Smart growth patterns can reduce costs simply by reducing the distances service vehicles must drive. In some cases, the actual number of vehicles and facilities can also be reduced along with the personnel required.

3. Smart growth development generates 10 times more tax revenue per acre than conventional suburban development.
Our survey concluded that, on an average per-acre basis, smart growth development produces 10 times more tax revenue than conventional suburban development.
An opportunity for municipal leaders
Local leaders everywhere can use this information to make better fiscal decisions about development in their region.
The evidence presented in this report suggests improved strategies for land use and development can help local governments maintain and improve their fiscal solvency. As this report shows, smart growth development can reduce costs and in many cases increase tax revenue. This combination means that in some cases smart growth development can generate more revenue than it costs to operate.
These findings are true for any rural, suburban or urban community, anywhere in the country. Local governments throughout the United States are already facing unprecedented challenges in providing high-quality infrastructure and adequate public services to their residents on a tight budget. Choosing financially responsible development patterns can help communities across the country protect their fiscal health for generations to come.”

That’s a compelling argument for smart growth.

Why Should We Have a Smart Growth Book Club?

1. Some people have never heard of smart growth. What a pity it is to be unaware that we’ve been sold an inefficient way of life, and that there’s a beautiful, simpler, less expensive way to live. This book club is a vehicle to raise awareness and do our part to build a critical mass in society that will effect change that will improve air quality, our health and create stronger communities.
2. It’s a forum for smart growth devotees to network and share information. Meeting together is an enjoyable and easy way to learn. We blog face-to-face, if you will, and get to know who else is out there striving for common sense in our communities. Smart growth is about community, right?
3. Together, we may brainstorm ways to practically make the Lehigh Valley a better place to live, work, play, and worship.
4. We can make ourselves available to help one another recalibrate our own communities. For example, we may share ordinances and codes which have worked, or even attend each others’ township meetings.
5. It is hoped that this will lead to local, bi-partisan community support, and commonsense behavior. Smart growth is a broad-based cause that I believe is supported by everyone who understands it. Conservatives ought to be behind it because it aids families and the economy and saves money. Liberals should back it since it is a framework for better social parity and environmental sustainability. The need for it reaches every person’s life.
6. And of course, the book club is an excuse to better educate ourselves and thus make better choices.

To date we have held two meetings, and the conversation has been enjoyable, enlightening, and encouraging. We’re still working through James Howard Kunstler’s Home from Nowhere, an engaging book that will draw in the novice as well as give talking points to the experienced. Our December meeting “covered” only the book’s first half, so in order to do it justice, let’s discuss the second half in January. As always, if you can’t read the book, you won’t be left out in the cold; your presence is important. We hope to see you at The Allentown Brew Works at 6 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 21! Please spread the word.
If possible, sign up on Facebook, or email Joanne Guth at to let me know you’re going.

Smart Growth Book Discussion Club tomorrow – You’re invited!

We look forward to seeing more of you at our second meeting at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, December 17 in the mezzanine at the Allentown Brew Works, 812 Hamilton St. You can use the parking garage behind the Holiday Inn where the Smart Growth Summit was held, or there is a lot behind the building across Hamilton St. from the Brew Works for no charge.

The discussion between the four of us at the first meeting was lively and promising. This time the plan is to actually discuss Kunstler’s ideas in Home from Nowhere. Click here for his article (excerpted from the book) in The Atlantic Monthly.

Again, if you can’t read the book, come anyway with your ideas, or to network, listen, or learn. We need you!

If possible, sign up on Facebook, or email Joanne Guth at to let me know you’re going.

Spread the word!


Lehigh and Northampton Counties and the Cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton are soliciting comments on a draft Regional Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. The Regional Analysis of Impediments (RAI) is a review of barriers that affect the rights of fair housing choice and is required by HUD as a condition of receipt of funds under the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program.


Public Comment Period

A draft of the RAI will be available for public examination and comment from November 18 to December 22, 2013. Copies may be downloaded from http://www.envisionlehighvalley.comor may be viewed in the following locations: Allentown Public Library, Bethlehem Public Library, Easton Area Public Library. After the close of the Public Comment Period on December 18, the counties and cities will move forward with formal approval of the document and submission to HUD.


Public Hearing

A Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, December 17 at 6:00:00 PM at the Lehigh County Government Center, 17 South Seventh Street, Allentown, PA. During this hearing, the LVEDC and its consultants will present information on the draft Regional Analysis of Impediments and receive comments from the public regarding the draft.


To Make Written Comments

Written comments can be made until 5:00 p.m. on December 22. Comments may be emailed to Alternatively, comments may be mailed to: Envision Lehigh Valley, c/o LVEDC, 2158 Ave. C, Suite 200, Bethlehem, PA 18017



How do you Envision Home and Neighborhoods?


The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission is undertaking a Regional Housing Analysis of the LehighValley. How do you envision home and neighborhoods? Join in on a discussion on housing availability and choice and what you like and don’t like about your neighborhood.  Come share your vision and concerns.

Come to the Community Housing Plan meeting tonight November 25, 2013 at 6:30 PM at the East SideYouthCenter on 1140 E. Chair Street in Allentown. This event is a part of a series of discussions in the region that will support a new regional housing plan.

Can’t make it tonight?  A similar meeting will be held on December 3rd at 6:00 PM at the NCCCFowlerFamilySouthsideCenter on 511 East Third Street in Bethlehem.  These are the last two housing meetings so make sure to attend and make your voice heard.

If you can’t make these meetings, you can still participate! Follow this link to complete the Housing Matters survey being administered by the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission.  Your opinion is important, so make sure you participate.

On a similar note, if you’ve missed all of our Food Forums but would still like to learn about Fresh Food Access in our region, visit this link and you will be able to see our Fresh Food Access presentation right on YouTube.  Additionally, we encourage you to share your opinion and take the Fresh Food Forum Survey!  Thank you all for your continued support!

These meetings are a part of the EnvisionLehighValley managed by LVEDC.  With the Lehigh Valley projected to add another 145,000 new residents over the next 20 years (more than have moved here in the last 20 years), your input is needed to make sure that we create a sustainable future for the region.

Go to the website and register to get email blasts about upcoming meetings.  Under events, you will see what meetings are coming up, so that you can participate.  Go to our Envision Lehigh Valley Facebook page and like us.

The Smart Growth Book Discussion Club: Help Us Kickoff this Tuesday!

Come to the Allentown Brew Works at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, November 12 for the first meeting of the Smart Growth Book Discussion Club.

Come to network, educate yourself, and talk about how we can explore ideas to make the Lehigh Valley better.

We’ll dive right into James Howard Kunstler’s Home from Nowhere.  Publishers Weekly says, “In a slashing, fervent, practical, brilliant critique of the philosophy, or lack thereof, underpinning today’s dismal American cities and isolating suburbs, Kunstler argues that our streets, malls, parks, civic buildings and houses frustrate innate psychological needs, violate human scale and thwart our desire to participate in the larger world. An architectural design critic (The Geography of Nowhere) and a novelist, he champions “new urbanism,” an architectural reform movement dedicated to producing cohesive, mixed-use neighborhoods for people of widely different incomes, neighborhoods resembling U.S. towns prior to WWII. Using photos and line drawings throughout, he highlights numerous new urbanism-inspired projects around the country, from Seaside, a resort town on the Florida panhandle, to redevelopment schemes in Providence, Memphis, Columbus and Corning, N.Y.”

A few libraries have the book, or you can support RenewLV by purchasing it here

Don’t have time to read the book? No worries. We want your input about the future of the book club or anything else relevant to implementing smart growth. Or come just to listen and learn.

Email Joanne Guth at with questions or to RSVP (helpful, but not necessary).  Or better yet, sign up on Facebook:

Spread the word!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,905 other followers