April 22nd marks the annual celebration of Earth Day in the US. Since 1970 citizens all over the US have used this day in early Spring to recognize the importance to current and future generations to be aware of the impact human beings have had on the planet and to, insofar as possible, reduce our impact.
GreenPrisons is not now, nor has it ever aspired to be, an environmentalist organization. Rather we exist to support correctional practitioners in their effort to operate safe, secure institutions in a cost effective way. To do that we recognize that some compromises get made. For instance, prisons and jails are significant consumers of energy, water and produce large quantities of waste. We will never advocate for lighting that makes a facility less secure or a reduction in access to water that can impact institutional health and sanitation. Rather, our interest is to make sure that correctional administrators have access to the latest technologies that help reduce the consumption of these vital resources and thus their concomitant costs.
As an example the advent of more efficient lighting allows us to continue to operate safe, secure institutions while reducing the operating costs of those lights. Water saving technologies make it possible to not only reduce water consumption and the concurrent water treatment costs, they also make the prison environment safer by controlling the inmate’s ability to act out against staff using water as a weapon.
With each prisoner producing on average more than one pound of food waste daily, it is easy to see how correctional facilities can quickly have an impact on the municipalities in which they reside. By reducing their environmental footprint in those communities correctional facilities can save space in landfills, and reduce the drain they place on other municipal resources, thus becoming more responsible community partners.
As we celebrate Earth Day everyone is encouraged to examine their current practices in these critical areas and to consider strategies that will allow us to continue to reduce the impact of corrections not only on their budgets but on the environment as well. Join GreenPrisons in sharing your experiences this Earth Day on our blog.