At "Going and Growing Green: What Does that Mean?" a presentation on eco-friendly practices, Shannon Norman, city planner for Greencastle, spoke about how the city is attempting to become greener.
Norman also serves as the local program director for the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Program, or MS-4. The program is regulated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and seeks to prevent pollution in the sewer system.
According to Norman, Greencastle has about 54,000 feet of linear feet of storm water conveyance, including ditches. Keeping grates and storm sewers clean and free of pollution means making some changes.
"Asphalt is a main pollutant of storm water," Norman said. "So, we need to keep parking lots clean and we are starting to fit filters onto storm drains."
The city is also testing a product called pervious concrete, which slows run-off and filters storm water, around the parking lot of the fire department.
The fire and police departments are also using biodegradable, phosphate-free soaps when washing their vehicles outside, according to Norman. This practice helps to keep pollutants for regular soaps out of the groundwater.
Limiting pollutants coming off of construction sites is another important element to a clean sewer system, according to Norman. Local contractors and city workers were educated on the precautions that should be taken to ensure clean sites.
"It's part of my job to keep the pollutants in the construction sites from getting out," Norman said. "That's what those orange mesh fences and wheel washes are for."
In addition to Norman's talk about the city's efforts, Anne Delchambre, Purdue agriculture extension and master gardener and Carolyn Robinson, program director for West Central Solid Waste District, spoke about ways individuals can be more eco-friendly.
Delchambre's presentation featured tips on saving money, while using organic and biodegradable products. For example, she said using baking soda and Borax instead of more commercial household cleaners can reduce pollutants and toxins.
Also, Delchambre outlined landscaping techniques to conserve energy, money and time. Lawns should be mowed at three inches, as well as blades being regularly sharpened, saving fuel and creating a prettier lawn.
"Planting shade trees at the south and west sides of your house can reduce energy costs by about 25 percent," Dechambre said.
Evergreen trees planted close to a residence can cut down on wind, also lowering energy costs, according to Dechambre.
According to Robinson, recent political and media coverage on environmental issues has created an opportunity for eco-activists.
"This is our time and our chance to get people interested in recycling and going green," Robinson said.