We often complain about bad city streets, unsafe water, high utility bills and apathetic citizens.

But how many of us actually take the lead in bringing about the change? Do we as citizens demonstrate sensible conduct? Throwing garbage on the streets, leaving water running unnecessarily, failing to unplug electronic devices and cruising around town wasting gasoline are not responsible actions. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If we want Italy to become a green city, we must develop a sense of responsibility and pride for our city.

On the bright side, the amount of garbage that citizens produce in Italy is already being addressed through an active recycling program. Many of our households and businesses recycle through our sanitation department. When the program began a couple of years ago, residential users were provided with sturdy containers with which to collect their recyclables. These containers are placed near the curb for pick-up on designated days. Commercial customers were given receptacles in which to place recyclables and Italy ISD schools offer educational information to students that encourage recycling in the classrooms.

However, citizens must be reminded about the amount of garbage they produce. They should be encouraged to go paperless. A growing number of businesses and banks offer statements online. There is an 800 number available if you want to request a reduction in the amount of junk mail you receive through the post office. This is necessary because although most junk mail can be recycled, countless numbers of trees have to be destroyed in order to produce these direct mailing. Tons of catalogs and telephone books end up in landfills. Disposing of junk mail affects our environment and pollutes lakes and streams.

In addition to recycling and going paperless, composting is an easy way to continue to go green in Italy. Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make a substance that will enrich garden soil, thus adding to a more environmentally friendly or green city. Most yard wastes like leaves, grass, plant stalks, twigs, fruit scraps, vegetables, coffee grinds, stale bread and eggshells can be composted easily.

Air quality in our city is sure indicator of how green it is in Italy. Unless we prepare for the future, as our city grows and becomes filled with more and more automobiles, we are bound to have bad air quality, especially during the hot summer months. Since Tour de Italia already comes to Italy annually, considerable accommodations should be added in all parts of town to encourage bicycling. Sturdy bike racks that don’t block doorways or interfere with vehicle traffic should be installed for parking. Designated bike trail or bike route markers should be erected to let the citizens know that they can safely ride bikes in our city. An increase in the number of trees will add to the quality of air. The city of Italy’s Park Department is generously supporting parks and green recreation areas. If we could ask our citizens to commit to planting one new tree each year, the quality of the air would continue to improve.

All these are factors impact the city’s ecosystem. A green city is evaluated by the quality of life, health and disturbances to the natural environment. Therefore, we need to keep in mind the needs of all the citizens when we make choices that affect our daily lives. Let us all think green when we plan for the future growth of the city of Italy, Texas.