These US cities have some innovative plans to help the environment


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New York voters overwhelmingly approved a $4.2 billion state environmental bond in 2022 that includes major investments to reduce flood risk.


The vote comes 10 years after Hurricane Sandy smashed into the city, causing $19 billion of damage and taking 44 lives.


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The Clean Air, Clean Water and Green Jobs Act will dedicate $1.1 billion to flood resilience measures, including restoring wetlands and streams to absorb flood waters, as well as relocating and repairing flood-prone roads or other infrastructure.


With the backing of a broad coalition of more than 300 labor unions, environmental advocates, farmers, firefighters, construction workers, local government groups and others from across the state, the measure passed with nearly 70% of the vote.


“States rarely dedicate long-term funding for coastal resilience work, and it’s desperately needed,” says Kate Boicourt of Environmental Defense Fund, who led a multilingual campaign to educate voters about the proposal. “This investment will benefit communities across the state for generations to come.”


Here’s what New York’s bond will do:

  • Fund $1.5 billion in climate pollution reduction and public health efforts, including energy efficiency upgrades in public buildings and schools, green roofs and gardens that reduce urban heat and zero emission school buses
  • Direct up to $650 million to initiatives to preserve farms, forests and parks
  • Invest $650 million to safeguard drinking water, such as replacing lead pipes, expanding sewers and upgrading water treatment plants
  • Provide $300 million in unallocated funds
  • Create or preserve a projected 84,000 local jobs
  • Direct at least 35% of the funds to benefit communities most harmed by pollution.

Initially proposed in 2020 as a $3 billion effort, the bond was put on hold when the pandemic hit New York. In 2021, legislators resurrected and Governor Kathy Hochul increased the amount to $4.2 billion.


Having state funds at the ready will help attract additional federal money from the Inflation Reduction Act, allowing New York to hit the ground running with major projects. “We hope the bond act can be a model for other states to follow,” says Boicourt.

Four more environmental wins this election day

New York State isn’t the only place in the U.S. where a ballot initiative helped advance environmental progress.

Cleaner Transit in San Francisco

The city by the bay can continue to expand and upgrade its transit system, thanks to voters’ extension of an existing half-cent transportation sales tax first enacted in 1989. Proposition L help electrify the city’s bus fleet and expand commuter rail, as well as increase equity, help leverage billions of dollars of federal and state funding, cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and reduce air pollution.

Rhode Island’s Green Bond

This $50 million bond measure enables Rhode Island to help communities adapt to climate change, offer no- and low-interest loans to small businesses making clean energy upgrades, restore forests, conserve open spaces, and help protect and restore Narragansett Bay and its watershed.

Detroit suburbs beef up their bus system

Voters in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties approved a property tax increase to fund the area’s Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, increasing transit availability to those who need it, while cutting climate and air pollution by reducing the number of cars on the road. “After this vote,” said Oakland County Commission Chair Dave Woodward on Twitter, “we finally move the conversation away from who needs or deserves access to transit, to how we make it work better for everyone, especially to help our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Recycling and composting in Denver

Businesses, apartment buildings, construction sites and large events are responsible for 82% of Denver’s waste. Yet until this election, they were not required to recycle or compost. That will change thanks to an effort championed by the grassroots group Waste No More Denver. Denver’s Ballot Measure 306 requires these businesses to recycle, compost food waste and provide educational materials on waste reduction in both English and Spanish.

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7 ways to be both frugal & eco-friendly


Being frugal and being eco-conscious often work hand-in-hand. Here are some cheap and affordable ways to be a little more eco-conscious.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

The more use we get out of items the more we save money and the more we reduce our footprint on the earth. Less garbage, less energy when getting new items, less waste. All these things go hand-in-hand.

Doing my part to reduce consumption

I am not what you would call a super eco-friendly person. For example, I do use a lot of plastic dishes and silverware, even though it something that I try to cut down on. Going zero-waste or plastic-free is not really in the cards right now but it is something I can aspire to at one point! Of course, being able to make choices like that is a privilege in of itself.  I do try to do my part to save the earth and save money at the same time.

Here are seven ways to be frugal and eco-friendly.





Cheap, easy, and sustainable. I have an old milk crate (I honestly have no clue where I got it from- possibly from my husband’s previous job) that I fill with all the old papers, leaflets, boxes, etc. that we receive. Plastic packaging, things that we get in the mail, toilet paper rolls, all get dumped into the box. I have also put in some crayons, markers, tape, glue, and safety scissors. My child can sit and play with it for hours. I am always throwing in new materials so there is something new to play with. My kids can sit and create tons of stuff from all the “junk” in there. They rarely get new, white paper to color with. If I have to print out papers for something- the extras and mess-ups get put in as well. Think school notices, old worksheets, etc. all of them have nice clear backs for the kids to color and stick stickers on. The papers from the stickers get colored on or cut when the stickers are gone as well. While a lot of these will still end up in the trash eventually it still gives us a whole entirely new use to it.


NataliaDeriabina / istockphoto


Speaking of crafts, are my kids the only ones who destroy crayons constantly? Every so often I go through eh crayons and collect all the small and broken pieces. These get saved until we have a nice amount. We then put them into muffin tins (I actually have some silicon muffin cups) and melt them to create new crayons. It gives them a new life and is an exciting activity as well. Even when things seem to have finished their usefulness there is still something you can do with them!


lyingv43 / istockphoto


 I save my kid’s clothes and try to use them as hand me downs as much as possible. Even if you are very particular about dressing your kids nicely or following strict gender norms out of the house there is no reason why pajamas or play clothes can’t be the “wrong color” or a little faded or out of date. Many of the clothes actually remain in great condition so they are perfectly able to be used from kid to kid. White shirts are particularly able to be passed down as they are easy to bleach and keep clean.


airspa / istockphoto


Speaking of clothes lasting, I try as much as possible not to use a dryer. I hang all my clothes. (I do dry towels, socks, and underwear). This reduces the number of dryer loads I have to do (save on electricity) and the clothes last much longer when hung to dry rather than put in the dryer. Light clothing, in particular, stays shinier and fresh when hung to dry in the sun. Of course, in winter when there is minimal sun this does force us to be more on top of the laundry so that things dry in time for when we need them.




Clothes that are beyond repair, ripped or otherwise dead get cut up into rags. I have a drawer full of rags of various sizes and materials. I can cut my paper towel supply significantly using the rags I have in my house. Old undershirts and pajamas work particularly well for this, as do kids’ T-shirts.


zimindmitry / istockphoto


As I said, I do buy stuff in plastic. Since many spices and other items come in plastic jars I try to reuse them as much as possible. I use them for other food or for toys or to organize the junk drawer. If I can’t find a good use for them I give them to my kids to play with. They can play kitchen or use them for dirt or for water pouring activities. I also sometimes give them old shampoo bottles to use as bath toys.




I wrote about this before but it’s worth re-mentioning. I take fruits and vegetables that are going bad and put them in the freezer for smoothies, pies, or stock. If you save vegetable scraps, like peels or tops and bottoms of vegetables, you can combine it with chicken bones and scraps to make a delicious chicken stock to be used as a base for chicken soup or for other chicken recipes.


luigi giordano / istockphoto


When you live a life of frugality and are intentional with your items and your material needs, then I think you are naturally going to be eco-friendly. I also think that it is OK to do these things just to save money.

There are so many things that naturally frugal people do that are also eco-friendly. Think about things like using reusable water bottles so as not to waste plastic bottles. You may do that because of money but it is also eco-friendly.

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