BY SAM WILLIAMS — At the September 17 city council meeting, attendees were given an update on the status of the search for a new head for the Department of Public Works, to replace our former director, Mr. Patrick Ryan.  DPW’s baseline responsibility is to clear the waste and refuse from our residential streets and public spaces. But as a citizen of Hyattsville, I implore the hiring committee to move beyond searching for a candidate merely capable of relocating garbage from point A to B, within budget. It should instead consider only those with a progressive view and affirmative track record on motivating our residents and employees to reduce their generated trash towards “zero-waste,” a common-sense approach to municipal waste management that diverts at least 90 percent of reusable items from being buried in a landfill or burned in an incinerator.

My neighborhood has many large apartment buildings and tenants there (like my family and me) are often pushed to dispose of electronics, clothing and furniture in dumpsters because there are no viable alternatives available, especially for those of us who commute primarily by bicycle or Metro.  We need an innovative Director of Public Works capable of providing us all with comprehensive recycling, e-waste disposal and regular pick-up service for useful goods.

According to the Environmental Sustainability Policy for the City of Hyattsville, our leadership clearly recognizes the need to “use environmentally preferable products, such as those that are repaired, restored, recycled, reusable, recyclable, non-toxic, of low-embodied energy content, and/or renewable.” A broad swath of our residents would actively support the efforts of our human resources department to hire a director who internalizes this message and is able to develop a city culture conscious of its overall waste reduction efforts (especially if residents and business are incentivized to discard less and reuse more). Our new hire should be willing to work at educating and guiding citizens on sustainability best practices and lowering our carbon footprint. If, instead, the job goes to someone who is clueless or willfully oblivious on how to implement the city’s own sustainability goals, we will fall further behind in creating a “green” vision for Hyattsville.

Samantha Williams is a resident of Ward 1.