It is encouraging to see voices promoting sustainability gaining strength and influence in both River Forest and Oak Park. 

The actions taken by the River Forest Village Board at its Nov. 22 meeting, related to negotiating a new waste hauling contract, reflect the views of its own Sustainability Commission. The board heard strong recommendations on the need to expand composting options in the next contract, on adding and promoting the collection and recycling of electronics and hazardous materials.

Village staff told the board they heard those requests/demands clearly and would work on incorporating them into negotiations for a new five-year contract with its current vendor Lakeshore Recycling Services. 

Notable, too, Lakeshore is the recent buyer of the village’s longtime hauler, Roy Strom Refuse and Removal. The transition from the family-owned Strom to the larger entity has not been entirely smooth. That led the village board to direct staff to negotiate a one-year opt-out clause if Lakeshore can’t hit specific metrics built into the contract. 

In Oak Park there is a rising, if ad hoc, climate change group that is gaining in influence. As proof that elections have consequences, Oak Park’s current village board has made sustainability a priority. Trustee Susan Buchanan gets credit for her steady pressure and leadership on sustainability both inside the board and in the ad hoc setting.

A new village-backed project, Better Homes, Better Planet, is both a pragmatic approach to making Oak Park’s aging housing stock more energy efficient and part of an aspirational agenda to make the village a true leader in saving the planet, one town at a time.

Incorporating urgent sustainability initiatives into the many realms where local government has control and influence is a powerful step that we are happy to see in both villages.

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