EV Charging, Reduce Reuse Rejoice - Air Mail!

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Delivers - Information to keep you connected and informed from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
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This Month's Topics:

  • Public & Stakeholder Participation Information
  • Happy Holidays from Air Mail!Air Mail Stamp
  • Accessible EV Charging on the Horizon for NY
  • Greeting the Holidays with Less Food Waste
  • Reduce, Reuse, Rejoice
  • Helpful Links
  • Dates to Remember
  • AQI Alerts for Respiratory Health

Pinecones and holly string

Public & Stakeholder Participation Information:

Additional information and access to past announcements are on our Public & Stakeholder Participation Information page.

Air Mail! is the publication to announce public and stakeholder information about air quality topics. All NYS residents are environmental stakeholders – we welcome anyone to join the information sessions and other opportunities posted here.

The Air Mail! Team wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.

string of holiday lights

Accessible EV Charging on the Horizon for NY

In November, Gov. Cuomo announced the availability of $11 million to expand NY's network of electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations. The Direct Current Fast Charger program will be administered by the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to scale up EV infrastructure across the state. This program aims to install charging stations throughout the state with a priority for locations in disadvantaged communities. It will also improve access to charging stations and encourage the use of clean transportation supporting NYS’ goal for an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.Air EV charging

The transportation sector is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in NY, making up approximately 36 percent of the state's total emissions. The Direct Current Fast Charger program will contribute to the $1 billion investment to electrify our transportation sector, which is vital to NYS's climate and clean energy plan. Increasing access and availability to electric vehicles benefit all New Yorkers, especially those in low-income or disadvantaged areas, by reducing vehicle emissions to improve air quality and encourage healthier communities. Traveling to visit family during the holidays promises to become cleaner each year.

Greening the Holidays with Less Food Waste

Every year, a large amount of food goes to waste during the holiday season. According to the EPA, food waste accounts for about 24 percent of the municipal solid waste across the country. Without mindful planning, this number can only get worse.Air Food Scraps bin

Food is an important part of holiday celebrations, so that means we buy more, cook more and, on average, waste more during this time of year. The spoiled produce, expired products, and uneaten leftovers contribute to this waste which, most often, ends up in landfills. Food waste makes landfills the third largest human-related methane emission source in the country. The process of growing, processing and transporting food, and eventual hauling of the food waste also consumes a large amount of energy and generates emissions, polluting the air.

As consumers, we can help reduce food waste and its environmental impacts with the following tips:

Let’s do our part for the environment by reducing the amount of wasted food coming from our kitchens this holiday season. Keep reading to learn more tips on reducing household waste and air pollution for the holidays in the next article Reduce, Reuse, Rejoice. 

Reduce, Reuse, Rejoice

During the holiday season, waste increases dramatically to the tune of about 1 million tons of extra garbage each week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. With all the shipping, traveling, and manufacturing done during the holidays there is also extra air pollution created too.  There are many things people can do to reduce waste, and air pollution during the holiday season beyond the food waste reductions you just learned about above.Reduce Reuse Rejoice

Non-recyclable packages and gift wraps, decorative ribbons, and food are the biggest sources of increased waste during the holidays. The manufacturing and transportation of products add to the emissions, as well as the process of collecting, transporting, and disposing of the resulting household waste. There are also the often-overlooked shopping trip emissions associated with holiday buying.

As we prepare to celebrate our holidays differently this year, let’s be mindful of the environment too.

  • Choose to Reuse: Take reusable bags on all shopping trips. If you have any paper bags, you can reuse them as gift wraps or goodie bags. Let children doodle on the bags for fun and unique gift wrapping. You can also use old magazines and newspapers to wrap gifts too.
  • Get creative: Use the materials you have on hand to make your own gifts and holiday décor. Repurpose cardboard to make holiday decorations. Make snowflakes out of scrap paper. Reuse old jars by filling them with your favorite holiday treats.
  • Regift: Think about re-gifting or donating items that are in good condition that you don’t use.
  • E-gift cards: Send electronic gift cards or holiday cards to reduce paper and plastic waste.
  • Online celebrations: Schedule an online celebration with family and friends, both to keep safe from COVID-19 and to reduce transportation emissions.
  • Ecofriendly packaging: Look for products and companies that provide minimal, recyclable or biodegradable packaging with their products.
  • Minimize your shopping trips: Plan ahead on the food list and buy non-perishable food items in bulk to reduce the number of shopping trips and packaging.

Visit our website for more tips on celebrating the holiday season sustainably.

Helpful Links:

  • DECinfo Locator – An interactive map that lets you access DEC documents and public data about the environmental quality of specific sites in NYS, as well as outdoor recreation information.
  • DEC Delivers – Stay in-the-know by subscribing to the environmental topics that interest you. DEC Delivers will send you information, updates, and e-newsletters on the topics of your choosing. As an Air Mail! subscriber, you may be interested in subscribing to the Air Quality Alert topic so you know when air quality levels are a concern in your area.
  • AQI Forecasts – Check the daily ozone and particulate matter pollution forecast for your area of NYS.
  • NYSDEC YouTube – Keep up with what's going on with DEC staff by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Watch video clips of DEC public protection in action, learn about the Hudson River, or watch the latest episode of "On the Front Lines," DEC's video series.

Dates to Remember:

  • Second Tuesday of the Month: Sustainability Lunchtime Learning Webinars – A monthly series covering numerous topics of interest, such as choosing a green cleanser, climate-friendly air conditioning, and water conservation. Pre-registration is required.
  • December 14 through January 5: Holiday Bird Counts – Grab some binoculars and head out to conduct some citizen science by identifying and counting birds over the holidays. You can join up with your local birding group or head to a scheduled bird count event at one of DEC’s Environmental Education Centers. Be sure to wear your mask if birding with a group of people outside your immediate household.
  • December 31: Clean Air Act of 1970 was enacted – One of several upgrades to the Clean Air Act that put in place federal and state regulations to limit the interstate transport of air pollution and gave birth to some of the important pollution control programs that we still utilize today, such as NAAQS, SIPs, and NESHAPs.
  • January 1: New Year – Start the year off with a breath of fresh air by taking a First Day Hike. Find a great winter hiking spot near you on our website.
  • January 2 through May 15: DEC's annual Saratoga Tree Nursery native tree and shrub seedling sale – Dozens of native tree and shrub species will be available for purchase at a low cost.
  • January 18: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - Celebrate Dr. King's legacy at the 2021 NYS Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Observance Event. Due to COVID-19, this annual event will not be in person. PBS will broadcast a pre-recording of this one-hour event. Check online for airing time and other details when they become available.
  • February: Black History Month - We honor and celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history. DEC serves NYS residents by addressing environmental justice concerns in communities of color and low-income communities throughout NYS to ensure healthy air for all, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income. Check DEC's website in February for a special Black History Month tribute.

Stay Informed about Your Air Quality

NYS's ozone season runs from April through September. DEC publishes ground-level ozone forecasts during ozone season and particulate matter pollution forecasts year-round using a scale called the Air Quality Index (AQI). DEC sends out an air quality alert when there is a high AQI value, which indicates polluted air. Individuals with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions and people who exercise outdoors should take caution during an air quality alert. Find out if an Air Quality Alert is in effect by calling the toll-free Ozone Hotline: 1-800-535-1345.

The AQI can be accessed in three ways:

We would like to know what you think. Please send your Air Mail! questions or comments to us at DAR.web@dec.ny.gov.