Healthy Communities & Environmental Justice

February 16, 2023
On February 15, Executive Director, Reagan Bissonnette, and Communications Manager, Andrea Folsom, headed to Boston for a celebration of U.S. EPA - New England Region 1 Healthy Communities grants that were completed last year. We heard from nine grant recipient organizations covering everything from food waste, energy management, childhood lead exposure, mold and mildew in rentals, community leadership and engagement activities, and more. Though projects may have differed, the through-line of helping one community, one person, one day at a time adds up to big changes and healthier communities.
We also had the opportunity to lunch with a few like-minded organizations and expand on the unique challenges residents and transfer station operators in New Hampshire face, that are unheard of in neighboring states (for example, the fact that each NH town is in charge of its own waste and recycling). It highlighted the necessity of our organization to step in and work closely with our member communities to offer cooperative marketing and technical assistance.
NRRA is currently engaged in an EPA Healthy Communities grant-funded project: Increasing C&D Diversion in Coös County, NH. The goal of our project is to provide technical assistance to twenty Coös County communities so they can increase C&D diversion through reuse and recycling instead of landfilling.

Anyone who has visited Coös County knows how beautiful it is, so one may be surprised to learn it's also an environmental justice area, meaning that residents have been disproportionately affected by environmental and public health burdens, such as air pollution, proximity to hazardous waste, and greater socioeconomic challenges compared to the rest of the state. 

By increasing the amount of C&D that is reused or recycled - and thus, not landfilled - there will be a corresponding reduction in emissions related to hauling and landfilling. There will also be a reduction of C&D management costs and improved access to information and tools so that C&D diversion can continue after the project is complete.

NRRA is grateful for the financial support by the EPA through our Healthy Communities grant and looks forward to hopefully presenting on our own Healthy Communities grant project at next year's celebration! 

Finally, we couldn't leave without an appreciation photo of the recycling and composting bins in the presentation room. Certainly something to smile about (plus, check out the helpful image-driven graphic!)