Payson Residents Strive To Be More Environmentally Friendly

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Every day, Wayne Gorry rides to work on his silver Moots road bike.

"For 32 years, I've commuted to work by bicycle for environmental and health reasons," said Gorry, a fifth-grade teacher at Julia Randall Elementary School. "It's a good opportunity to enjoy fresh air and get exercise."

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Wayne Gorry, a teacher at Julia Randall Elementary School, commutes to work by bicycle.

Many people, like Gorry, are thinking more about how their actions affect the environment, because of a rising awareness about global warming and the dwindling supply and escalating politics of oil.

"All of a sudden, everyone agrees it's a problem and we need to fix it," Gorry said.

Gorry's lifestyle is an example of how individuals can reduce their daily impact on our natural surroundings.

"I believe that doing what I do makes a difference," said Gorry, who also recycles. "I have to have faith that people will create the changes necessary to make the planet more environmentally friendly."

While not everyone is willing to trade his or her car for a bike, people can make other, easier changes.

Switching to fluorescent lights to reduce energy use and cost is one simple step.

"I use some fluorescent lights," Gorry said. "We're converting over to those, as we use up the old bulbs."

Shopping for healthier foods is another option.

As a vegetarian, Gorry said his diet is "earth-friendly."

"Our planet suffers a lot to meet our desire to consume animals," Gorry said, citing the large amounts of water and grain cattle consume.

Gorry said he also tries to eat organic foods.

"Even though they're more expensive, I think it's important to support organic agriculture because of the impact commercial agriculture has on the planet," Gorry said.

Other prominent members of the Payson community are beginning to think about changing environmentally harmful habits.

"Unfortunately, I'm not making a good enough, systematic effort to be more environmentally friendly," said Payson High School Principal Roy Sandoval.

One of the major inhibiting factors is cost, he said.

"One thing I wish I could do is have solar panels," Sandoval said. "It's a chunk of cash to make a change like that."

More research needs to be directed toward developing products such as cars that run on renewable resources, instead of oil. These goods should then be made cheaper and more accessible to the general public, Sandoval said.

"Imagine if we had people using hydrogen fuel cell cars for driving in a small town like Payson," Sandoval said. "If people used them in small towns across America, imagine how much carbon dioxide emissions we'd save."

Payson Town Manager Fred Carpenter said he has a short drive to work.

"I live about three minutes away from work, so I don't have a big commute," Carpenter said. "I don't have to wait much in traffic."

Mayor Bob Edwards said Payson is not exactly environmentally friendly.

"Specifically as a town, other than trying to convey the message that we ought to be, we aren't particularly," Edwards said.

As far as taking initiative to lessen human impact on the environment, "citizens need to do their part and set the tone," said Edwards, who added that being environmentally conscious is a way of life for him.

The Mayor's Recycling Task Force is currently exploring options such as curbside recycling.

So far, the task force has collected nearly 1,000 surveys from residents about their recycling preferences, said Christine Harrison, chair of the recycling task force.

Of respondents, 80 percent marked the statement, "I think that recycling is a value in itself and the Town of Payson should provide for a comprehensive recycling program."

"Many people are very committed to recycling," said Harrison, who will make recommendations to the Payson Town Council in coming months.

Change won't happen unless individuals make the effort, Gorry said. "Since we live in a capitalist, free-market society, the market continues to provide what people demand. If individuals don't change, it won't be done on a larger basis."

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