SustainableSaybrook.org is a community partnership. The website began as an outreach program for the Old Saybrook Conservation Commission and quickly evolved into a partnership between many citizens and community-based organizations.
Our mission is to foster collaboration among people and organizations in their efforts to make Saybrook Sustainable.
Sustainability is the capacity to endure.
For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well-being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship — the responsible management of resource use.
Old Saybrook is our home.
For us, Old Saybrook is the place where we choose to be — residents, businesses and visitors — and to thrive in a positive and exemplary way.
Sustainable Saybrook is where each aspect of life supports the others.
Our vision is a town where no aspect of life diminishes another. Our mission is to foster collaboration among people and organizations in their efforts to make Saybrook sustainable.
Choice, Access and Control in Achieving Wellness
Good health is not as simple as the absence of disease or infirmity but ideally encompasses a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. Good health is essential to the social, environmental and economic welfare of a community.
Personal health depends on a person’s knowledge, willingness and ability to manage physical or mental health conditions – overall or specifically – to prolong a single life. Personal health affects one’s quality of life as an individual, but it can also affect that of “the herd”.
Public health is an organized effort to inform society of its choices in keeping healthy – promoting community health to preventing or treating a disease-state. Public health promotion requires partnerships between the health sector (public health, doctors, hospitals, etc.), all levels of government, businesses, developers and community groups.
The Big Picture
Although pandemics are fewer in developed countries than elsewhere globally, there is evidence of resurgence and a call for on-going diligence in preventing widespread disease.
Currently, the predominant health concerns in developed countries are chronic disease brought on by otherwise-modifiable behavior – smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, obesity, physical inactivity and toxins from our environment. The resulting cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer are the main causes of poor physical health and death.
Many determinants of good health are social, economic and environmental factors encountered at the local level by residents in their communities: early life, a stable ecosystem, education, immigration status, employment security, food security and quality, gender equality, health care services, housing, social “safety net”, social inclusion, equity and justice.
Old SB is a town that enjoys great health as result of programs, regulations and on-going investment: Old SB regulates uses of the land to protect environmental health, leads in the State’s effort to regionalize administration of public health programs, and exemplifies early intervention in serving our youth and families. The Town built a new recreation facility, invested heavily in sidewalk repair, neighborhood treatment of wastewater management, and the beginnings of a very popular public transportation system that substantially reduces our air pollution.
We do well at acknowledging that not everyone has equality in access to the systems needed to obtain and maintain optimal health And, we’re innovative in putting safety nets in place: affordable and public housing, a community health center, and the mobile dental health clinic, community nurse and registered dietician at the food pantry.
Despite these successes, health challenges remain—and new ones are emerging—that require creative, modern shifts in how the town operates. We need to advance the cause of public health by requiring improvements in our air, water, and buildings. We need to enable individuals to live healthier lives, building upon and supporting the ongoing initiatives to promote equal access to the essentials of long-term good health – a smoke-free environment, fresh food, daily exercise, and preventive dental, vision, health care, including behavioral and sexual health care.
- Needs assessment to reveal prevalence and set priority in maximizing health of community
- Safe ways for people to exercise and participate in activities that promote well-being
Note to Self: It’s Easy Being Green- With “Green Exercise”
Most of us are paying a lot more attention to environmentally respectful living by recycling in our homes, reusing or repurposing items and trying to conserve our natural resources. Yet, we drive to an indoor gym to get our exercise by walking on a moving track called a treadmill and measure our progress on a sleek touchscreen.
As the flowers begin to grow, and our thoughts turn a world that’s busting out green all over, it’s time to step outside and enjoy a workout in the fresh air. Let’s call it Green Exercise.
In 2011 a study published by the by the American Chemical Society suggested that exercising outdoors may lead to greater mental and emotional benefits than indoor exercise. After examining 11 studies with 833 participating adults, the authors concluded that when compared to indoor exercise, outdoor exercise led to:
- Greater improvement in mental well-being
- Greater feelings of revitalization
- Increased energy and positive engagement
- Greater decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression
- Those who exercised outside also stated that when compared to working out indoors, they found greater enjoyment and satisfaction with outdoor activity and were more likely to continue with their outdoor workouts.
When you walk or run outside, your muscles provide the movement. Walking outside increases the intensity of your session, and offers an unstable platform (think sand or a trail) which requires you to balance- much harder than plodding along on a machine that’s doing some of the work for you.
Outdoor physical activity requires attention to where you are and what’s around you. You simply cannot read a book (a pet peeve of mine) while exercising outdoors, you might walk into a tree! The fancy word for keeping track of where your limbs are is proprioception. It is the basis of things like “hand-eye coordination. “This isn’t a reflex but a skill we can develop over time; we also can lose it if we don’t use it.
Activities we do outside require this level of attention to where we are in a space, and it’s a good thing.
“Go outside, it’s good for you,” my mother used to say to my sister and me; did your mom say the same thing? OK, maybe she just wanted to get us from underfoot, but being outside has many health benefits. Our bodies need Vitamin D, which comes from the sun. We don’t produce it naturally. Twenty minutes outside is enough exposure for an average adult, and if we are deficient, we can feel depressed. Lack of a vitamin D is a principal element in seasonal depression.
So, while all those engineers are working diligently to invent the next fitness machine, save yourself the trouble. Lace up your sneakers and enjoy green exercise!
Safeguarding Clean Water and Sufficient Water
Protecting the quantity and quality of our surface and groundwater resources is crucial for a Sustainable Old Saybrook. How we help protect our water resources from pollution is a measure of our shared responsibility for economic, social and environmental development.
Connecticut is fortunate to have aquifer, wetland and water resources in abundance. These resources sustain the quantity and quality of Connecticut’s drinking water, rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, and recreational waters and contribute to the beautiful natural mosaic that is Connecticut. These are shared resources and safeguarding them in a sustainable manner for future generations is crucial.
Old SB is bordered by the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. It’s natural watery mosaic is created by upland wetlands, and rivers and streams that meander into broad coastal marshes to then outlet into those exemplary heritage resources. Old SB is also home to substantial aquifer water. These resources should command added emphasis for protection so that future generations can enjoy the same clean and sufficient water Old SB citizens enjoy today.
- Work with the Old SB Land Trust and other partners to develop and implement a Sustainable Landscape program. The purpose would be to engage willing citizenry in adding to the natural beauty of Old SB while protecting its water resources and those of the CT River and Long Island Sound from polluted runoff.
- Develop a program to ensure that the aquifer under the existing transfer station is protected from pollutants such as mercury.