While Boca Raton has always be at the forefront in regards to environmental actions, it took an even bigger step in the right direction when it hired Lindsey Nieratka to be the city’s first sustainability manager. Nieratka initially began her career wanting to to concentrate on biology. However that quickly changed when she realized that in order to have a larger impact on the community she was going to need to broaden her thought process. Sustainability was the perfect solution for her, since it is built on looking at three main pillars; economics, social equity and the environment. Sustainability not only looks at the current situation, but it also looks at how the decisions that we are making and the decisions that we have made and how they will impact future generations. One method that sustainability scientist such as Nieratka use to analysis a situation is through the use of systems diagrams. These diagrams indicate the feedback loops that are taking place in the system. Feedback loop tell whether the action is reinforcing the behavior or balancing the behavior. Sustainability experts also look at how resilient a system is and how it reactions to disturbances. Through using sustainability Nieratka was able to get that holistic picture of the city, something that she had been longing for.
Nieratka lucked out in that the city that she resides in happened to have similar interests in her. It does not hurt that there are pristine beaches and natural wildlife in the place that she calls home. Even with this advantage she is aware that in order for change to occur, that she needs her fellow residents to buy into want she is preaching. One way in which she is attempting to address this issue is through creating promoting environmental and sustainability oriented initiatives through monthly challenges. For example, July was plastic free July. The program offered a few simple substitutions that would ease the monthly challenge. Some examples of recommendations given were to stop buying plastic water bottles and instead buy a reusable bottle, to ask not to have a straw for your drink when eating at a restaurant, and to stop using plastic grocery bags and instead bring your own bag. The purpose of this challenge was to have a hands on way for local homeowners to indirectly address the city’s waste management problems.
Image courtesy of https://www.myboca.us/1572/Take-Action
Often times people get overwhelmed when complicated issues emerge and as a result they sit back and wait until it is too late. Nieratka is not like most people she is able to see both the short and long term problems and unlike so many others, she is willing to take the challenges head on. Her hope is through using several other environmental days here and there that local residents will start to become motivated towards improving the community. At the end of the day a small change by everyone in the community, something as simple as properly recycling or picking up litter off the street will go a long way. Do not hesitate to click on these links to learn more about how you can take action or to learn about up and coming sustainability events.