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Environment Committee

The Environment Committee focuses on environmental issues impacting Wake County. Committee members explore issues related to water quality, sustainability, transit, and open space. Activities of this committee are featured in the League newsletter and highlighted below.


February Tip from the Environmental Committee

Want to know one simple thing YOU can DO to benefit our natural world??

Set out fresh water for birds when temperatures drop, inevitably freezing their usual sources of standing water. Water is a relatively easy resource to share. And although you may become inspired to dot your yard with gurgling water features and elegant pedestal bird baths, a stainless steel dog water bowl or ceramic kitchen bowl will get the job done. Do what works for you; you have options! You can continue the effort by providing water year round or  just the winter and summer seasons when temperatures drive an increased need for fresh water or simply focus on harsh winter months.

Find out more.


Valentine's Tip from the Environment Committee

Want to know one simple thing YOU can DO to benefit our natural world?

Cut off the beautiful red berries growing on your Nandina plants (heavenly bamboo) before they kill more birds. A recent NC Botanical Garden study found that Nandina leaves and berries (both the green, unripe berries and the bright red ones on the plants in winter) release cyanide when eaten. This highly invasive plant displaces native shrubs (which provide good food for critters) and poisons birds, particularly gorgeous Cedar Waxwings. Cut off the red berries ASAP, and come summer cut off the white flowers and green berries. Alternatively, remove the plant altogether, and replace it with a bird-friendly, low-maintenance native plant that provides healthy food for native wildlife, like American Beautyberry or Common Winterberry. You decide!


Wake County’s Solid Waste Outreach Supervisor and a few League members created a fantastic video and blog to shed light on the problem of recycling plastics

See the video and blog

To see inside the inner workings of the Sonoco recycling center, view this quick tour of the facilities from Wake County Government. 

If you are interested in more in-depth information about our recycling challenges, please read the 
U.S. GAO’s 2020 report. 

If you'd like a detailed description of the recycling process, read the Recycling Partnership’s "Recycling: How It Works"

You can also call (919) 850-7300 for any questions or concerns about recycling in Wake County.  For more information on how to recycle in Wake County specifically, visit their page here

For detailed information about how Wake County government is focusing on a sustainable future, visit their Office of Sustainability webpage.

Recycling News: Progress is being made! Raleigh's Sonoco Recycling Facility's new machinery for processing #5 polypropylene plastic items, which not all communities can accept for recycling, has been added to their lineup and is now in operation.

A group from our Environment Committee toured NC State's Compost Facility and Research Cooperative, where the university's compostable waste is turned into compost that is used by the Agroecology Education Farm to grow about 9,000 pounds of produce annually for NC State Dining. Next, we traveled a short distance to the two-acre Compost Learning Lab. After a quick picnic, we learned about vermicomposting and other ways to compost kitchen scraps in our own backyards.

Read more about our trip here.

We are greatly concerned about the problems caused by plastic and food waste.  We ask that the LWVWake Board recommend environmentally sound practices to League members who are planning meetings and public events, as detailed in our Proposal to LWV-Wake to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Compost.

By following environmentally friendly practices, we will act as good environmental stewards and, in keeping with our excellent image, will set an example for the community.  

Our committee members participated in the I Value Food: Too Good to Waste Challenge, then invited all Wake County League members to join. We became aware of how much food (and money) we wasted each week, while learning tips for reducing waste through menu planning, using leftovers, proper food storage and more. Check out the website and do the challenge yourself. Need more ideas for reducing food waste? Read "Food Waste Newsletter," by Environment Committee Co-Chair, Eve Vitaglione.

Environment Committee Tackles Litter

Last June, Environment Committee co-chairs Eve Vitaglione and Jackie Giordano, along with committee member Jeri Gray began discussions with Bianca Howard of the Wake County Solid Waste Department about the possibility of cooperating in a county-wide litter cleanup effort using a cellphone app called Litterati. 



Raleigh's Litter Problem

By Jeri Gray

Sonoco Recycling Tour

Nine members of the Environment committee toured the Sonoco Recycling Facility on Friday, Oct 28, 2022. We began with an informative talk and overview of the process and problems in dealing with Raleigh's recycling. An emphasis was placed on big recycling no-no's: No batteries of any kind- they cause fires; no bagging of materials for recycling- they just get thrown away; and no Styrofoam. Currently, #1 and #2 plastics are the only ones recycled. Sometime in 2023 a machine to recycle #5 will be added. If you have to ponder whether or not an item is recyclable, don't--just throw it away.

Next, we were led through the huge, noisy and busy plant where staff were manually clearing garbage out from the fast moving conveyor belts of cardboard, glass, plastics, and metals. Sonoco turns some of the materials into new packaging and sells the rest of the usable materials to plants mostly in the southeast US. It was a very impressive and informative visit, and we felt that we had a much better understanding of our local recycling efforts.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour

The Environment Committee took a field trip to the Smith Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in North Raleigh on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The facility is smaller than a football field and has a small office and lab but manages up to six million gallons of wastewater each day.  Our visit started with an hour-long presentation showing us cool graphics of the pipes, pumps, and constantly changing rates of flow on online monitors. Pipes can absorb rainwater during storms and increase volume. Smith Creek WTP can divert excess flow to other wastewater plants if necessaryThere was much discussion on how "flushable" wipes are NOT flushable but are great at clogging up sewer pipes. 

After the talk, we toured the lab and examined a water sample with lots of different microorganisms which are indicators on how well water treatment is proceeding.  We then toured the grounds and watched the pumps and filtering tanks in action. For those with kids who love "poop" talk, this is the place to go! Read our full report Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour.

Timely Topics Sponsored by the Environment Committee

Upcoming Events
Accordion Widget
Environment Committee Annual Reports
Environment Committee Annual Reports
Accordion Widget
Additional Resources for Environmental Issues
Additional Resources for Environmental Issues

Conservation & Environmental Resources - This one-page sheet lists other organizations with useful resources.

Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) at a Glance - This two-page handout summarizes the benefits of GSI.