Greening Initiative

We Are Taking Action to Become an Environmentally Sustainable Organization in Keeping with Thomas Cole’s Early Environmentalist Values

We know that every little bit counts, that’s why we are re-imagining our everyday practices to reduce our harm to the earth.

A few short years!—These valleys, greenly clad, these slumbering mountains, resting in our arms, shall naked glare beneath the scorching sun.”

Thomas Cole, from his poem, ‘Lament of the Forest,’ 1838


Reduce Air Toxins and General Chemical Use

  • Controlling plant growth on visitor walking paths with environmentally friendly methods
  • Installed public dual EV charger for local community and visitors
  • Mowing grass less frequently to reduce the amount of toxins in the air.
  • Using environmentally friendly soaps, paper products, and cleaning products in all visitor and staff restrooms, kitchens, and offices

Reduce use of single-use plastics

  • Trash bags: Compostable
  • Dish sponges: natural fiber
  • Now using compostable waste bags in visitor and staff areas
  • Now using cleaning concentrates with recyclable or compostable packaging
  • Created 1-page about initiative plus site-specific reference guide for employees
    • Share page with staff for feedback and make part of all employee onboarding

Reduce waste materials 

  • Regularly re-use exhibition cases, rather than build new cases each year
  • Recycle all printer toner cartridges, as well as all possible recyclable waste
  • Switched from non-recyclable coffee pods to refillable pod/filters and pour-over methods with compostable filters
  • Composting Garden/Yard scraps to reuse in garden
  • Utilize a composting system at the Cole Fellows’ residence. Compost is used in Site’s gardens
    • Bin is built from local White Oak

Reduce Waste of Natural Resources

  • Now using 100% recycled paper for office printing
  • Decreasing amount of office printing, reusing scrap paper, and printing double sided when able
  • All offices utilize scrap paper bins, so 1-sided scrap sheets are used again
  • Majority of historic site and office electricity now obtained through renewable resources
    • Obtained electric via community solar garden: Solstice. They’ve allocated a portion of a shared solar garden in Westerlo to provide us with a clean renewable source of energy for electricity. Previously a meadow used for making hay.
  • Re-using old scrap-paper to make office notepads, and sketchbooks for visitors to use on the grounds
  • Three recent publications are printed on paper made from sustainably harvested forest products using renewable wind/solar energy
  • Membership correspondence/materials is now 80% digital
  • Donation acknowledgements are 80% digital
  • Site’s endowment investment portfolios are comprised of less than 3% fossil fuels

Encourage Biodiversity

  • Mowing grass less frequently and at a height of ~4 inches in order to support healthy soil and provide essential habitats for pollinators
  • Continue to plant pollinator-friendly plants
  • Promoting growth of volunteer trees in a woodlot on the historic site
  • Developed pocket meadows. Read more here.
    • Designated spots have been chosen
    • Informational signs have been added
    • Gardeners watching growth and maintaining
    • Created a policy or statement about biodiversity on our site
    • Maintenance now part of routine
    • Add diversity of seeds/plants each year to avoid it becoming a monocrop (as advised by Cornell Cooperative
  • Joined the Pollinator Pathway Northeast project
  • Encourage growth of volunteer trees in woodlot (promote biodiversity, increase oxygen)
    • Volunteer trees are fenced to protect from winter deer grazing

I cannot but express my sorrow that the beauty of such landscapes are quickly passing away–the ravages of the axe are daily increasing – the most noble scenes are made desolate, and oftentimes with a wantonness and barbarism scarcely credible in a civilized nation. The wayside is becoming shadeless, and another generation will behold spots, now rife with beauty, desecrated by what is called improvement. […] Nature has spread for us a rich and delightful banquet – shall we turn from it? We are still in Eden; the wall that shuts us out of the garden is our own ignorance and folly.

Thomas Cole, Essay on American Scenery, 1835

The EV charging station was made possible by a gift from Sara and Tom de Swardt.

Photo by Margaret DiStefano | Drone photography by Alon Koppel

Sustain Environmental Action

Help support the increased costs to the museum operating budget to sustain these environmental actions.

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Jennifer GreimGreening Initiative