Introducing: Ask an Environmentalist

In January, a proposed bill in California suggested making it illegal for restaurants to give guests plastic straws unless they requested them.

The bill was introduced by assemblyman Ian Calderon, who claimed that straws and stirrers were the sixth-most commonly collected item during California's Coastal Cleanup Day from 1989 to 2014.

Since then, similar moves to ban or limit the use of plastic straws in restaurants have been made across the country in places from Malibu, Calif.; to Seattle, Wash.; to Miami, Fla.

Then, within a matter of three months, Allen County, Indiana, also took a stand, encouraging residents to say, “No straw, please,” when ordering drinks and for restaurants to only supply straws when requested, and use sustainable paper straws instead.

Restaurants are encouraged to only supply straws when requested, and use sustainable paper straws instead.

Public service announcements will run on local television and social media, and restaurants that take the pledge will be recognized.

This is the work of the newly created Allen County Department of Environmental Management (ACDEM).

If you’ve lived in Allen County for some time, then you might know about the Allen County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD).

For the last 27 years, this government body has served county residents and businesses alike, helping them divert waste from landfills and properly dispose of hazardous materials. 

This March, it was reborn with a new name and an expanded mission.

In short, the ACDEM is a new organization for a new time. 

The idea is to help you live modern, clean and green lifestyles right here in northeast Indiana, and as environmentally aware residents ourselves, we know the challenges that come along with that. 

Many of us would like to live without feeling as though our existence is causing a strain on the Earth. We want to know that there are things we can do every day that will improve our habitat, preserve nature, and do a little bit to undo some of the damage that has already been done. 

But where do we begin? How do you live a green lifestyle on a local level? Jodi Leamon has degrees in environmental science and ecology.

The internet is full of information, but it can be contradictory or outdated, leaving you to wonder which sources you can trust.

Maybe you have even wanted to just give up because there seems no way to do everything right.

As a Waste Reduction Consultant by trade, I’m here to tell you that a lot of people taking small steps day-by-day do add up to make a big difference. There are ways to unravel some of the complications that can make it seem so hard to figure out what is the “right” thing to do.

You just have to know where to start.

“Ask an Environmentalist” is a new monthly column on Input Fort Wayne in partnership with the Allen County Department of Environmental Management.

We encourage you to write in to us, and ask us questions about things that confuse you about recycling, waste reduction, composting, or anything to do with green lifestyles. 

Then I will utilize my degrees in environmental science and ecology, or consult local experts, to seek the most current information on the topics you want to understand. 

Earth Day is coming up on April 22. It’s a great time to revisit your habits and intentions around leaving a lighter footprint.

So tell me: What is it you want to know? 

Email questions to me (Jodi Leamon) at [email protected].

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Jodi Leamon is a Fort Wayne native with degrees in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Biology from the University of Illinois Chicago. Send her your questions at [email protected].