Across the state, people are finding ways to become greener and more environmentally friendly. From the steps we take in our homes and businesses, to large community efforts, Mainers are working to protect and preserve our environment.

In the city of Waterville, residents have already reduced waste by 298.9 tons during the first year of municipal recycling. By recycling materials instead of throwing them into a municipal waste stream, the city saves and helps preserve the beauty of the state.

That’s why Summit Natural Gas was proud to be the recycling sponsor for the Taste of Waterville this summer.

Taste of Waterville is an annual community street festival showing off the best food central Maine has to offer. Local businesses serve thousands of slices of pizza, lobster rolls, hamburgers, hot dogs, and much more – and as you can imagine, there is a lot of waste that could be recycled.

Summit Natural Gas interns staffed the recycling center for the full length of the annual summer event, making sure bottles, paper and cans were properly picked off the streets, sorted, and recycled. The company also provided $1,000 to assist with the effort, keeping Waterville looking great while the city showed off its ample culinary creations and burgeoning downtown redevelopment.

It’s another way Summit invests in Waterville and the many other communities it serves — finding new ways to make Maine cleaner and more efficient while helping its economy expand.

Ross Nason, who serves on the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments and is chairman of the Recycling Committee for Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition which organized the composting and recycling effort for the Taste of Waterville, said it’s hard to quantify all the recyclables and compostables saved from the landfill and repurposed into valuable consumer products from the event.

“We fill 30 or so of the very large redemption composters with 50-gallon bags full of organic materials and numerous bags full of [bottle and can] returnables,” Nason said. “The bags are quite large” and the proceeds from the returnables are distributed among local charities.

Nason said the recycling effort “gives the community enjoying the Taste of Waterville an up-close-and-personal, firsthand experience in how to recycle, and what’s recyclable, and how to compost and what’s compostable. And it gives the residents and patrons of the event the chance to interface with people with knowledge to talk to.”

“Our goal is partly education in sustainability,” Nason said. “We hope people see how easy it is, and the tremendous volume of things that are repurposable. ‘Jeez, I could divert 80 or 90 percent of my trash! That’s much less costly trash I have to pay for at home.’

“We’re very thankful to Summit for helping us out so it can happen,” he said.

Why stick with the old way of doing something if it doesn’t create jobs, use resources efficiently or improve the quality of our hometowns?

At Summit, we’re in the business of giving Mainers better environmental options.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “burning natural gas for energy results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide per unit of heat than coal or refined petroleum products.” By converting from oil to natural gas, Maine residents can cut heating-related carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30 percent.

Summit Natural Gas is employing more than 100 Maine residents and 200 local contractors to install state-of-the-art, high efficiency natural gas delivery to Waterville and dozens of other Maine communities, strengthening our economy, improving our environment and creating clean, efficient communities in which we’re proud to live, work and do business.

As Summit grows its ability to deliver natural gas, and Maine communities are expanding their efforts to recycle, together we are making a better Maine.