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

  • Lessened use of single-use plastic soap bottles in all visitor and staff restrooms and kitchens by buying bulk soaps + reusable containers. Packaging is recyclable or compostable.
  • Now using compostable waste bags in visitor and staff areas
  • Now using cleaning concentrates with recyclable or compostable packaging

Reduce waste

  • 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
  • Utilize a composting system at the Cole Fellows’ residence. Compost is used in Site’s gardens

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
  • Majority of historic site and offices source electricity from a local solar company in the Capital Region
  • 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

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.
  • Joined the interstate Pollinator Pathway by creating a pollinator-friendly habitat on our grounds—mowing less frequently, not using pesticides and herbicides, and planting native pollinator-friendly plants


  • Commit to using only sustainably sourced and 100% recycled materials for printed matter such as exhibitions labels, publications, marketing materials, interpretative materials, office printer paper
  • Make the switch to environmentally-friendly office products, such as compostable trash bags, non-toxic weed management for the walking paths, plastic-free bulk soaps and cleaners, and non-bleached and sustainably sourced paper towels and bathroom tissue
  • Begin a site-wide composting system


We are continually evaluating future steps. Ideas right now run from pulping and re-using outdated papers and harvesting rainwater, to upgrading our buildings so that they use only natural, and sustainable resources.

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.

Supported in part by Sean T. Buffington & Scott Heller, Nancy & Sébastien de la Selle, Patti Hanson, Osceola Foundation Inc., Charles H. Schaefer, Paul D. Schweizer, Arlene Shechet, Edwina Thorn and Maynard & Kay Toll.

Photo by Margaret DiStefano | Drone photography by Alon Koppel

Support for the Greening Initiative is provided by James B. Lebenthal, Warner Shook & Frank Swim, Maynard & Kay Toll 

Jennifer GreimGreening Initiative