Sustainable Tompkins is a citizen-based organization working towards the long-term well-being of our communities by integrating social equity, economic vitality, ecological stewardship, and shared responsibility.

More About Sustainable Tompkins

News & Events

Sustainable Tompkins Announces Youth Climate Challenge

The long journey back to climate stability will take several generations of sustained effort and innovation as we transition our economic and social systems to meet human needs without upsetting Earth’s life support system. We will need leaders of all ages on this journey.

Sustainable Tompkins is announcing a Youth Climate Challenge open to middle and high school students in Tompkins County. The Youth Climate Challenge will provide $5,000 for small grants up to $1,000 to support projects that reduce CO2 emissions or spread awareness of how climate change will affect the Finger Lakes Region. Funds can be used for equipment, supplies, or services such as printing. School classes and clubs, as well as local youth groups, are encouraged to take up the Challenge and see what kind of climate impact they can have by reducing dependency on fossil fuel, changing wasteful habits, or inspiring others to commit themselves to action on global warming. Read more…

ST Website To Be Part of National Sustainability Archive

Ivy Plus Libraries has selected our Sustainable Tompkins website for inclusion in CAUSEWAY: the Collaborative Architecture, Urbanism, and Sustainability Web Archive. The Archive is a newly launched initiative developed by art and architecture librarians at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale Universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania. The project aims to preserve websites devoted to the related topics of architecture, urban fabric, community development activism, public space, and sustainability in order to assure the continuing availability of these important, and potentially ephemeral, documents for use by researchers and scholars.

Mini-Grant Supports Creation of Finger Lakes Toy Library

Toys are an often-overlooked source of resource waste and resource inequality – bought and discarded in large quantities by some families, prohibitively expensive for others. Toy libraries, found across the nation and world, use lending collections and community play spaces to address these issues while fostering a culture of sharing and social connections. Finger Lakes Toy Library (FLTL) was founded in 2016 to bring this system to Ithaca and the surrounding communities. In March 2017, FLTL received a Neighborhood Mini-Grant from Sustainable Tompkins to purchase essential equipment along with several toys themed on environmental stewardship.

Since then, FLTL has become a flourishing local presence, with dozens of member families and hundreds of new and donated toys that members can borrow and play with at its headquarters in Ithaca’s Clinton West Plaza. Its collection prioritizes environmentally-friendly, gender-neutral, and educational toys that encourage open-ended creativity. With a mobile set of toys, tent, and table, it has brought “Playtimes” — open to all, some with themes such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) or Puzzles and Games — to events such as the Apple Harvest Festival, and hosted them at venues throughout Tompkins County and beyond.

Read more…

Signs of Sustainability
The Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration & Protection Plan

Tompkins Weekly     2-12-18

By Hilary Lambert

It is a challenge to unify the administratively complex Cayuga Lake watershed for restoration, conservation, and protection. This 785-square mile watershed includes:

• Three counties on the lakeshore (Cayuga, Seneca, and Tompkins) – and smaller upland portions of three more (Cortland, Tioga, and Schuyler).
• 45 municipalities (cities, towns, and villages).
• Numerous regional, state and federal agencies.
• Development pressures that pull the south end toward the Southern Tier and New York City; and the north end toward Syracuse, Rochester, and Lake Ontario.

Read more…

Composting: A Growing Effort in Our Community and Across the United States

Tompkins Weekly    1-22-18

By Adam Michaelides

It is widely reported that 40 percent of food produced in the United States is never eaten. Most is sent to the landfill where it takes up space and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Hauling and processing food waste involves the burning of fossil fuels. All of this contributes to climate change.

Tompkins County diverts 60 percent of waste from the landfill through recycling, composting and other innovative programs. To reach their goal of 75 percent diversion, the County has set up over a dozen sites for residents to drop off their food waste. Read more…

Test for Radon

Tompkins Weekly     1-8-18

By Guillermo Metz

Many people resolve to do something healthy with the start of each new year. Exercise, eat healthier, do yoga. We all know how long those resolutions actually last, but there’s one resolution that’s not only cheap and easy to keep, but may save your life: test your home (and business) for radon.

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, killing more than 21,000 people in the U.S. each year—about 1,000 in New York alone. And dangerously high levels are common in the Finger Lakes area. It’s a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless gas, yet it’s easy to test your home for radon, and relatively easy to do something about it if high levels are found.

Read more…

ST Blog

Older Posts

How to Get Active on Climate? Even More Locally
Fracking: What Are We FOR?
Sustainability is a Society of Systems Thinkers

Follow our RSS feed

Help ST Finish What We Started on Dryden Pipeline

Everyday you are probably getting 2 or 3 calls to action to help stop some new outrage. It’s important to help wherever you can, but it’s also important that our movement follow through on earlier efforts to make positive change and head toward greater stewardship and justice in our communities. We’re asking our supporters to take a minute today and help us complete a critical step in our community’s shared commitment to protect the climate and stop new fossil fuel infrastructure from being built in our county.

Three years ago, in the early summer of 2014, we began to hear about a proposed new gas pipeline to run through West Dryden to provide heating fuel for new development in Lansing. The large capacity of the pipe would mean that Tompkins County would be unable to meet its goal of 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

ST helped organize local opposition to the project and teamed up to present several workshops on viable alternatives to the pipeline to meet Lansing’s energy needs. A countywide task force on energy and economic development eventually came to the same conclusions and recommended to the Public Service Commission (PSC) that NYSEG address reliability concerns for existing Lansing gas customers by adding pressure boosters to the current pipeline. In addition, NYSEG would provide incentives to developers to build new structures in Lansing using smart design and ultra-efficient heat pumps to meet commercial and residential heating loads. (Many industrial processes can be powered with electricity rather than gas as well.) Read more…

Energy and Equity Go Hand in Hand


Extreme income inequality, persistent racism, and increasing climate disruption are undeniable plagues of our time. We are fortunate that many people in Tompkins County are working on these issues. Some are advocates for racial and economic justice, such as creating living-wage jobs, removing barriers to reentry from the prison system, and ensuring affordable housing for all. Many others are involved in initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, such as, stopping gas infrastructure development, switching from fossil fuels to renewable sources, and conserving energy in housing, transportation, food, water, and waste. Read more…

Home Rule and the Greater Good

After hours of discussion at the June 16th county legislative meeting, the vote on the fate of the Old Library ended in a stalemate of 6 in favor of a large apartment complex for seniors (TravisHyde), and 6 in favor of a smaller adaptive reuse condo project (Franklin Properties) which had hundreds of petition supporters and inspired dozens of citizens to show up and speak in favor of the Franklin proposal. Read more…